Photo credit: (c) Gus ButeraToday, Joan Lunden, America's favorite former TV journalist and the very organized mother of seven, is introducing Joan Lunden Home, her new bedding line, on QVC at 11 a.m. (ET).
I talked with Joan yesterday and she shared about motherhood today, her professional life, how she keeps it all organized and stays sane as a working mom, and how her worldly bedding collection came together.
Joan Lunden has three grown daughters, ages 22, 27, and 29, from her first marriage. She and her husband also have two sets of twins, just turned 5 and almost 7, via a surrogate. Her oldest daughter "followed her passion" and lives in Southern California training horses and doing Grand Prix jumping. Her second daughter works for Joan's company and does all the PR and web development for JoanLunden.com. Her third daughter graduated last May and is working for NBC in their page program. She, like her mother all those years on Good Morning America, has to report to work every day at 5 a.m.
Joan Lunden (regarding her daughter's early bird hours): Welcome to what my life was like for 20 years while I was raising you guys. She has a new-found respect, I think, for her mom.
Sheri: And she only has to get herself to work. You were a mom to three when you were doing it.
JL: I looked at the bright side of it. There was no traffic. At all. There were plenty of days I had to get on a plane after the show and go to Washington to do an interview, but there were also plenty of days where I’d be out of the studio by 10:30 or 11 a.m. and I could come home. It was really fun on those days.
I did have more of an opportunity to be around and be there to play with my kids than a mom who works from 9 to 5 or 9 to 6 every day, which is what most women have to do these days. There were advantages.
Sheri: What's your morning routine at home like now with the four little ones?
JL: In the morning, they all come running in and I love that. I love the sound of their little feet running down the hall in the morning and coming in to me. And they all crawl into bed.
The older ones are in first grade and the little ones are in nursery school. They go every day, but they get out a little before the others. Next year’s going to be amazing. That mini van’s going to drive up in front of that elementary school and that door’s going to open and all four of them are going to get out and they’re going to be there until 3:15! (laughs)
Sheri: How do you get it all done?
JL: Everything in our house is done in a production line. They get in the shower two at a time usually, in the bathtub, sometimes four at a time. And then we get them out and get their jammies and line them up.
When you have that many, I must say, there's much more of the tendency to teach them to be self-reliant. There’s a vested interest in making sure that they all know how to tie their shoes.
When they come through the door, they all know that they have to take off their shoes and jackets, hang them up, and put their little shoes in their cubbies. We’ve just really gotten them into those routines because, obviously, it makes life easier when there’s that many of them.
Sheri: And what about all their stuff?
JL: You can only imagine the clothes that get passed down. I went to the Container Store and got all of these big bins. I got them with blue fronts and pink fronts, and they’re all labeled: two years, three years, four years, girls. Everything, the second it comes out of their closet, goes right into those bins. Then when springtime rolls around and you want white sandals, you don’t go shooting off to the store. You go down to the bins first.
I figured that the only way I was going to be able to do it without becoming a total lunatic was to really be organized like that. And it’s been fantastic. And it’s not that hard once you set it up.
Sheri: It sounds like you're really organized.
JL: Having raised my first three girls while having a career that was so demanding, I really learned how to be organized. I guess I’m a somewhat organized person. Well, I don’t know if that’s actually true. I don’t think my office is so organized. But at home, the only way I can exist with all of it and do it without being totally stressed out is to really stay organized. And I do.
Sheri: What are some ways you stay organized?
JL: When you have this many little children, they’re in different classes so you have birthday parties all the time. The way I’ve learned to deal with that is I’ll go to the toy store, you look for the sales, you buy 10 things, like a great toy that would be great for a boy or girl. I have them wrapped, so I don’t have to worry about that. I put Post-It notes on them and put them in the closet so that they’re there.
I buy cards. If I’m at the drugstore waiting for a prescription, I’ll buy 20 cards because I happen to have a few minutes and I’m not doing anything else. I’ve got my little file folders, and I’ve got my Happy Birthday, Happy Father’s Day, Graduation, every single holiday, and I just drop them in there.
When you’re a working mom, you have to know what pushes your buttons. To me, it’s the “last-minute” things that catch you at the last minute.
It’s like the nutritionist I worked with years ago who said, “Why would you ever cook one lasagna?” You have to get it all out and you have to do it all at once. And she was so right. If I cooked one, I’d cook two or three. Then you have other meals you don’t have to worry about.
Sheri: Yeah, that's really smart.
JL: Quite honestly, those kinds of little things have allowed me to be a working mom without always feeling like I’m always getting caught at the last minute and getting stressed out by it.
I have a huge family calendar in the kitchen and everything has to go on that calendar so that everyone can see when I have to be out of town. I have to do a lot of traveling in my career. I’m all over the country speaking at women’s groups. I’ve been to eight different states in the last three weeks. So [with the calendar], everybody knows if I’m going to be gone or my husband’s going to be gone. We’re just incredibly organized as a family.
When you get back from soccer, everything gets washed and put right back into its little spot so that next Saturday, it’s right there. When I get back from a trip (my daughter always laughs at me because she travels with me a lot), she knows that when I walk in, as I’m unpacking, I’ll refill all the little bottles, shampoo and conditioner and everything, cause the next time I go to pack, it’s done!
It’s just my way of doing things and being able to not get stressed out trying to keep up with everything.
Sheri: What's your favorite everyday ritual at home?
JL: Storytime at night with the kids. What they love the most is for me to tell them a story and I tell them a story about someone, but I don’t tell them who it is. That’s one of their favorite things right as we turn the lights out at night to do that story that they can guess who it’s about. They love hearing stories about what life was like when we were kids or stories about what they were like when they were babies. No matter how much we read, when the lights go off, they all ask for that.
Sheri: Do you work from home now?
JL: I moved my office at one point from NYC to the house. The kids were really little at the time. It was difficult. So now I moved the office back out of the house because I feel like I get a lot more done, and when I come home, I can let go this way -- because I leave the work behind in the office. I think it’s much healthier now the way I do it.
Sheri: What are you up to professionally?
JL: I have a show on Lifetime and a show on DirectTV. I work on a lot of different media campaigns with big organizations like the American Heart Association and Colon Cancer Alliance, and I work on large programs with pharmaceuticals and medical institutions. My website JoanLunden.com is Joan Lunden’s Healthy Living.
I really feel my whole life is disseminating information to help people make better-informed decisions about their health and about their homes. It’s being a woman’s advocate and really having a passion to make their lives easier that was a leading contributor even going into the linen line.
Sheri: Yes, tell us how the bedding collection came about. What were your initial hopes for the bedding line?
JL: Obviously first off, I wanted them to be pretty. I wanted them to be great looking. I wanted them to be something I would buy. I then wanted them to be affordable. Money’s tight all over the country right now. I wanted them to be for Americans everywhere and affordable for a lot of the people who have connected with me and watched me over the years. I also wanted to be sure that they were easy care. I don’t think, in general, people really want to buy bedding that they have to have the pillow shams dry cleaned. Especially those of us with kids. And I wanted to be sure that they were made well. I’m beyond thrilled at the level of luxury that we were able to manufacture for the price.
Of course, I also wanted it to have something that was unique to Joan Lunden. [In my career], I’ve gotten to see so much that the average person would never get to see. I’ve been inside the private residence of the White House. I’ve been inside the private residences of palaces when I went to interview kings and queens. It’s been an extraordinary life.
I shared these things in a fleeting way on the air, but sometimes I didn’t even do that because I went in to interview a President and I got to go into a private residence to see the bedroom doesn’t mean I got to show that on the air. I let those stories and the things I’ve gotten to see over the course of my career inspire each collection.
Park AvenueThere’s a collection called Stockholm, and that was inspired by going to Drottningholm Palace when we were doing Good Morning America live for a week from Sweden. I went there to interview King Gustaf who’s still in power, and his wife Queen Silvia took me through the royal residence. I saw one of the bedrooms in this beautiful deep royal blue. The bed just said “fit for a queen.” I wanted to create a bed that might evoke that story.
StockholmKenya is based on going through the Serengeti Plains and seeing the Maasai tribeswomen.
KenyaI’m very happy to say that I’ve got these linens on my beds at home. I sleep in them. I’ve washed them. I’m really thrilled.
Along with the linens launching on QVC today, there's more coming soon from Joan Lunden Home, including bath and tabletop collections. Soon enough, we may even see the collections in retail stores, and not surprisingly, the coming collections may also include a line of organizational storage.