Gretchen Carlson, host of the Fox News morning show Fox & Friends, is also mom to two young kids: daughter Kaia, 7, and son Christian, 5. The former Miss America sat down with Celebrity Baby Scoop about a typical day at work, how she juggles motherhood and her career, and her involvement in bringing “the Miss America Pageant back to the prominence it once had.”
CBS: You’re the host of Fox news morning show Fox and Friends. Walk us through a typical day.
GC: “My motto is get things done as quickly as possible. I set three alarms that go off five minutes apart. It goes off at 3:45 a.m. the first time, 3:50 a.m. the second and, finally, 3:55 is the third. I rarely even get to the second one though. I jolt out of bed and my husband always says to me that I start my day with a jolt, but that’s the way I am, high energy. I jump in the shower and I am out the door in 9 minutes. I take the ride into the city as we are in the suburbs now and I study non stop on the ride in. So I have 50 minutes to study for all the interviews and the topics that we will be discussing. I arrive at 4:45 a.m. and then I’m doing hair from 5-5:30 when I can still study. From 5:30-5:55, I am in make up. This is my down time. This is when I get my head in the game and relax. I have a wonderful make up artist, she is also a friend, and she plays music. Today we played Pat Benatar because she was on the show today and we just had a lot of fun.
The show is live from 6-9 a.m. Eastern. Then we do an internet live show called The After the Show Show from 9-9:10 a.m. and then we are done with actual broadcast duties and go into meetings and onto the next day.”
CBS: What do you say to critics that say the show is too conservative?
GC: “I don’t really listen to the critics. I know who I am in my heart and I have more than 20 years of hard news experience. I sit in the middle for a reason. I feed both sides of issues and I really truly believe in the fair and balanced aspect of what we do on a daily basis.”
CBS: Who are some of your favorite interviews?
GC: “I love politics in general. In the political election in 2008, we had eight of the political contenders who were running for president all in one show. It was fascinating. That was the most exciting time for me. The show offers some fun aspects. Like today we had Pat Benatar and she followed Tom Gordon. We have such a fascinating group of people that we interview everyday, but I would say that number one to me are the prominent politicians.”
CBS: You and your husband, sports agent Casey Close, have two kids. Please tell us about them and what they’re into.
GC: “Kaia, our daughter, is 7 and Christian, our son, just turned 5. The have very Swedish names because I’m 100% Swedish. They’re both very musical. Which I think comes from my side of the family. My daughter is into the piano and has been playing already for two years. She played at Skyway Hall in NYC in April. My son is starting the piano this summer and he has been bopping to the beat of the music since he was barely sitting up.
My husband was a professional athlete prior to becoming a sports agent, so I think they are going to both be athletic as well. My daughter enjoys soccer and tennis right now and is also a good swimmer. Our little guy is already a baseball fanatic which is fascinating I always tell my husband that it must be in the genes. He not only loves to play baseball but he can tell you every stat-every game that was played last night, who won and what the score was. We figured it was a good way for him to learn math. As every parent says, they are great kids and we love them unconditionally.”
CBS: How do you juggle motherhood and a busy career?
GC: “It’s doable because of my marriage. My husband and I, luckily, have an immense respect for one another which I think is the most important thing. He and I have this common bond, in the sense that I spent so much of my time as a child practicing my music, and there was a lot of personal sacrifice practicing 4 or 5 hours a day. And he has that same understanding of a solitary goal, because he was a gifted baseball player and spent hours of his childhood honing that skill.
When we met on a blind date, we immediately, in addition to having a lot of fun, sort of had this soul mate connection. It was based on how we grew up and how we planned to live our lives as far as setting goals and achieving them. That was really our connection. Is it easy? No, marriage is work and we are very open and honest about that. It comes down to respect for one another and the fact that we want to be the best people we can be.
We also teach Sunday school together. One way we bring our morals and values together and do it as a team. Ironically, it is one place we know for a solid hour we are going to see one another.
Managing the kids works out well because I have a great schedule since I work 3 hours before my kids even get up. So I am one of those fortunate moms that most days can be there after school and take them to their lessons, do homework, eat dinner and put them to bed. I follow soon after. Right now, it’s a schedule that works pretty well and the only person that is sacrificing because of sleep is me, but that’s fine right now. From time to time it’s hard because I don’t get to stay up and have that chat time with my husband. But we make it work.”
CBS: What are some of values you are teaching your kids?
GC: “First and foremost, we show and teach them the wonderful Midwestern sensibility that I grew up with back in Anoka, Minnesota, and my husband in Ohio. Having lived all around the country, I miss that. My grandfather was a minister so we spent a tremendous amount of time in the church. I just really thank God every day that I grew up in a place like Minnesota, because the world can be very complicated and not that it was simple, but it was solid. I love coming home and visiting and I do frequently. We go home every summer and go up to a resort up North. I want my kids to see how I grew up. How I baited a hook and fished, swam, water skied, and tubed. That old fashioned upbringing is number one.
My grandfather always taught me, as a minister, not just the religious part of it, but to be humble in life. I think that in this day and age where it’s all about celebrities and all about people becoming famous for no reason at all, other than they were on a reality show, that’s an important lesson. I just think it is really important to teach the core values that I grew up with, which was the harder you work at something, the better you get. And the better you treat people, the better they treat you.
Just really simple core values and we weave into that a base of religion, because I believe that it’s important for your kids to have something to stand on. They need to have an explanation of why we are here so they don’t grow up feeling entitled. So that is sort of our message and I think I ended up with my husband from the Midwest for a reason and that is just one of the things we share.
One of the ways I bring that philosophy to a level where they can understand it, is, for example, a sticker chart on the refrigerator door. If my kids get 4 out of 5 stars for chores or good behavior, on a given day, they can do technology the next. Believe me, you don’t want to be around when the tantrum occurs because they did not get their 4 stars the day before.
It’s really important to have boundaries for your kids. That’s how I grew up and I just feel like that is going by the wayside a little bit. I know my kids don’t love it at the moment, but I know how excited they are at the end of the week when they get their little certificate, and they get $2. They feel like they achieved something and they worked at it, and they understand that when they don’t achieve it what the consequences are.”
CBS: How has motherhood changed you?
GC: “I always wanted to be a mom. Even though I am goal-driven, I always said to myself if I turn 40 and I look back and don’t have kids, that it will be the greatest mistake of my life. I was fortunate to meet my husband when I was in my early 30’s and we waited 5 years. It has really tempered me. I am still really high strung. I just love coming home and looking at my kids’ faces. They don’t even have to be doing anything. I just think how fortunate I am that I did not give up this opportunity to have these beautiful children. It has really just balanced me.”
CBS: You were Miss America. This is something many little girls dream of. Does your daughter have any interest in beauty pageants?
GC: “No, in fact my daughter only learned I was Miss America a few months ago. I, on purpose, have never talked with her about it. My message all the time with mothers has been to let your kids learn who they are from the inside out. I would encourage them to do well in school or play an instrument or do sports much before I would have them thinking about pageants.
I just sort of fell into the pageant circuit because I had this violin talent. I told my parents that I did not want to make it my career and they were devastated. So then my mom got this pamphlet in the mail that said half your points were based on your talent in the Miss America system and thought it would be a good way for me to use my talent. For me, it was only about the talent aspect, it was not a life goal that I thought about ever since I was a little girl. So I really want my daughter to just become who she is going to become from the inside out first. Fortunately, she loves school, music and sports. Down the road, if she wants to make that decision, that would be hers to make.”
CBS: We read that you are involved with the March of Dimes. Tell us a little bit about that.
GC: “How ironic, as I’m getting ready to host one of their luncheons here in the city today. I am one of their celebrity spokespersons. I’ve been involved with the March of Dimes since high school. My mom used to do the march so she got me involved in it. Since I became a mom and I had some complications with my children, it has become just really near and dear to my heart to do everything I can to try to get their message out. I’m going to attend their national volunteer convention in October as well. I do a lot of work for the organization and I really enjoy it and believe in the cause.”
CBS: Are there any other projects that you are working on?
GC: “I’m really involved in trying to bring the Miss America Pageant back to the prominence it once had. It was off the network for a couple of years but it’s back on ABC this year. There is so much confusion between Miss America and Miss USA, I’m just trying to make sure that we get the word out about the scholarship and talent aspect of the program. I will be part of the broadcast in January, so I work a lot on that and just want to make sure we are moving in the right direction.”