In the last year Danielle Niles, morning meteorologist on CBS Boston/WBZ-TV, has gone from chasing thunderstorms to chasing after a precocious one-year-old.
Which is harder to track? That depends on nap time.
Charlotte, the daughter Niles shares with fellow forecaster, Matt Noyes, has brought a new kind of whirlwind to the Haverhill’s couple’s world.
Matt and Danielle can’t remember the last time they slept through the night, though that has nothing to do with their little one (who happens to sleep up to 12 hour stretches). The former colleagues and now work rivals — he’s chief meteorologist on NBC 10/NECN — are usually up at 1 and 2 a.m., respectively — and that’s on a good day.
It’s 1 to 2 hours earlier on a busy storm day.
How do they balance their crazy work schedules, parenting baby Charlotte and Matt’s 8-year-old son from a previous marriage, Brandon — not to mention the pressure of delivering the weather to tens of thousands of viewers on television every morning?
“It takes a village,” said Matt. “It’s truly a family affair.”
The couple, who celebrate their third wedding anniversary this month and are expecting Baby No. 2 later this year, talked to baystateparent about weathering parenthood, come rain or shine.
Q: What’s a typical work day look like in the Noyes/Niles household?
On a normal, quiet weather day, Matt’s up at 1 a.m., Danielle is up at 2 – make that 1-2 hours earlier on a busy storm day. Matt’s first weathercast is a taping at 3:40 a.m. (live at 4 a.m.), Danielle is live at 4:30. Work in television is fast-paced and it’s important to bring positive energy, optimism and a can-do attitude to a morning show, where we are each waking our audiences up, be it on CBS for Danielle or NBC for Matt.
Danielle finishes up with work during the morning and shares the rest of the day with Charlotte. They play and get things done for our family and around the house, take care of errands like grocery shopping and Danielle prepares food for dinner that day and/or the rest of the week. Charlotte always gets an afternoon nap, her Mom usually does, too. As Chief Meteorologist, Matt usually has enough work to keep him busy until midday or early afternoon, and either shoots home for a quick bite to eat while the girls are napping before get his son, Brandon, from school, or just heads straight there. The four of us meet up for a couple of hours in the afternoon, then Brandon is off to sports while Charlotte gets ready for bed.
After our day is about 17 hours old and we’ve logged a combined 215 miles on our cars, it’s time for Mom and Dad to finally have dinner, get to bed (even though we know bed right after dinner is one of the most unhealthy eating habits), and grab about 5-6 hours of sleep before we wake up in exhausted pain, smile and channel our necessary positivity to do it all again.
Q: We’re exhausted just learning that! How do you share the parenting duties?
Danielle: We split up a lot of the parenting tasks for Charlotte and work as a team to take care of both her and Brandon. I put her to bed most nights. We loving getting her up together on weekend mornings! She is so happy when we go in to get her!
Matt: Danielle will tell you we divide the parenting tasks – she is very generous. There’s no question she handles the vast majority with the baby, partly because she has more time with Charlotte, but also in no small part because she is an endless well of good natured compassion. It doesn’t matter how long or hard her day was, Danielle never runs out of smiles, kisses and cute baby voices. I try to make up for that when it comes to running Brandon around, but she usually gives me a run for my money there, too.
Q: What have you learned about yourself through parenthood?
Danielle: I think I’m more relaxed and laid back as a parent than I thought I’d be. In the beginning I was pretty strict about sticking to a schedule but now I’m more flexible since she’s a bit older. Matt has really helped me with that.
Matt: You know those commercials that say you don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent? I’m not a perfect parent but I definitely subscribe to the truth in that premise: I’ve made so many mistakes, especially with my 8-year-old son because I’ve had eight whole years to make them, but those imperfections often are what we find the most laughter, love and lasting memories from.
Q: What kind of family traditions do you want to carry on — or start — with Brandon and Charlotte?
Being a blended family means you take traditions where you can get them, and you can’t be picky about them. We try to take our first dip of the year in Newfound Lake, New Hampshire, as close to Memorial Day as possible. If that doesn’t work, we make sure to all take our last trip of the year together in the fall – either first or last together. At Easter we “bash eggs,” a tradition handed down by Matt’s 98-year-old grandmother, to see whose hard-boiled egg will hold up longest when tapped point-to-point or butt-to-butt against everyone else’s. We are working on creating new family traditions as we grow as a family of 4 and soon to be 5 in the fall!
One thing we try to do is go to the Deerfield Fair every year in the fall, and we can’t make it to that one, a different fall fair. When it comes to Christmas, Matt actually was very lucky to run into the real Santa years ago, and his son saw them talking. Santa agreed to come on whatever night is closest to Christmas Eve that we can all be together. He has kept that promise every year.
Q: Do you have any advice for other working parents?
Danielle: Put the cell phone and devices down, even if it’s just for a set short amount of time each day. That really allows you to connect fully with your children and spouse, without distraction of work emails/texts etc.
Matt: Compartmentalize – if we can’t compartmentalize, work clouds home and home clouds work – trust yourself to crush it when you’re working, even if you have to take work home sometimes, so after you own that project you can put it down and crush it when you’re parenting. Also, look at parenting as a multi-decade marathon, not a ten year sprint – but you only see each mile once. Pace yourself, breathe, let your kids breathe and take it all in so you’ll have something more than just rushing between games and events to remember when the nest is empty and you can’t have that time back.
Matt also would offer advice for divorced parents: No matter how hard, try to forgive and let go of anger, which unknowingly takes energy that should be going entirely into love and compassion – two qualities no child has ever suffered from receiving too much of.