Savannah Guthrie Gets Up For Work At 3 AM — & She Still Puts In A Full Day As "Mom"

Exactly one minute before she goes live as co-anchor of the Today show on a sunny Friday, Savannah Guthrie gets a ping from her nanny, wondering what time daughter Vale has swimming that day. Not even a superstar network anchor with every resource available to her is immune to last-minute childcare kerfuffles.

So yes, that’s her, typing away on her iPhone seconds before greeting viewers with a radiant smile at 7 a.m. “Like most moms, you’re always thinking about your kid. Right through our whole show, I’m texting with my husband, with the babysitter. They’re always at the forefront of my mind. But I’m concentrating, too,” Guthrie says.

She makes it seem so effortless, pivoting from mom doing mom things to a journalist who sat down with both Hillary Clinton and Jake Gyllenhaal within the space of a week. And Guthrie, in person, is warmth and breeziness personified — you never glimpse the sweat and work that goes into making everything look so easy. You don't see the "fire" in her to succeed, which landed her in front of the nation's top morning show, and had her put off having kids until she was in her 40s. That she's doing both now, at 45, feels to her like fortuitous timing.

Her life is a toggle between the needs of her son and daughter, and the demands of her job, which this week included rushing to Las Vegas for two days following the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

And then she adds more to the pile. A few weeks ago Guthrie released a kids’ book, Princesses Wear Pants, extolling girls (and boys) to pay as much attention to the inside as the outside, which has resulted in numerous promotional shoots and appearances that have eaten into her family time. Just how does she fit all this into her day-to-day? Okay, yes, a car delivers her to and from work, but the rest of the considerable effort comes from Guthrie herself.

Ahead, she gives a glimpse into a day in her life, from waking up before sunrise to caring for her kids to hitting the sack when the rest of us sit down to dinner.

Welcome to Mothership: Parenting stories you actually want to read, whether you're thinking about kids right now or not, from egg-freezing to taking home baby and beyond. Because motherhood is a big if — not when — and it's time we talked about it that way.

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Guthrie’s day begins just when most people are enjoying their deepest sleep. Although no two weeks are the same, she says she’s up long before the sun. “I wake, depending what’s on the show, between 3 and 4 in the morning," she says. And she's not rolling out of bed to zombie shuffle in front of the cameras. "I do my homework that I have, the preparation I have for the show, in the morning. The other morning we had Hillary Clinton on for her first live interview, and I think I woke up at 3 in the morning that day and I had a stack of research,” she says. She takes that stack and writes questions for the day's interview.
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Her car picks her up downtown, at her apartment, at 5 a.m. and takes her to 30 Rock; she gets to her office by 5:30. And then, she sits down to get glammed up. Her team, she says, performs “a miracle every day.”

While she’s being powdered and brushed, Guthrie is reviewing her research and prepping for upcoming segments. “When I leave the house I’m in jeans and sweats. We do a bunch of meetings, Matt [Lauer] comes in. That might be the time when we talk about how we want to approach an interview,” she says.
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As a freelance writer who's long covered the lives of celebrities, this was my maiden voyage into the morning show ecosystem, where scripts and promos are written by the Today production team and tweaked by Guthrie before most mortals have ingested a scrap of caffeine.

"At 6:30 we have to be on-set, doing teases, recording opens... Those have to be constantly updated for feeds, especially if you have a breaking news situation," she says. "We do a bunch of affiliate cross-talks. Then, we race through the morning. It flies by."
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The former NBC News legal and White House correspondent is vibrant and cordial in person — despite having been awake for six hours already when we sit down for an interview at 9:15 a.m. At this point in the day, she’d slugged back some beer for one of the show’s cooking segments, texted her babysitter to confirm a swim class, interviewed Jake Gyllenhaal, and recorded countless promos for network affiliates. She never yawns. A lesser woman would need Duct tape to keep her eyes open.
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If you’re not a morning person, the Today gig could be your undoing, because it requires a monastic commitment to rest and scheduling. But for Guthrie, it’s a blessing that enables her to see her kids during the day, instead of rushing home in traffic to carve out minutes before bedtime.

That she's a mom also makes some stories she covers more personal than others. “There’s a certain vulnerability you have when you have children. You know that something you’re completely invested in is walking around in the world and it’s your job to protect it. You couldn't have a greater stake in their wellbeing. My little kids, even if they have the sniffles, if they’re not at peace, I’m not at peace,” she says.
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While she's on-air, chatting during commercial breaks, and with fans outside, Guthrie is vivacious without being grating, and friendly without coming across as obsequious. She’s got a full morning yet ahead of her, with a book signing promoting her kiddie tome Princesses Wear Pants, followed by a pre-interview for an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which tapes later that day.

Somewhere in there, she’ll head home and hang out with her kids — Vale, 3, and Charley, nine months — with her second husband, Democratic political consultant Michael Feldman. There's not even an inkling that her day is grueling. But it truly, truly is.
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An unlikely role model for the laidback dreamers out there, Guthrie says she wasn't always so driven. She was born in Australia and raised in Arizona, earning a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Arizona and, in 2002, a law degree from Georgetown where she graduated magna cum laude. If that screams overachiever, Guthrie is happy to dispel any gauzy fantasies. “I wasn’t much of a go-getter in my younger years. In high school, I was kind of a slacker. It was only in college when I started taking journalism classes that the fire was lit, and I really wanted to accomplish things. Before that, I was happy to hang out with my friends and listen to grunge music and wear my chunky heels,” she says.
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How did she go from almost-wannabe to wunderkind? “That’s an interesting question," she says. "My parents were very focused on who we were and our character a lot more than, certainly, physical appearance. Even sports or activities. We did all that stuff. I was never any good at sports,” says Guthrie, the youngest of three.

“I grew up in a pretty spiritually centered home. My parents put a lot of emphasis on who you are and who you are when no one is looking. I think that’s kind of always been with me. I hope I can repeat that with my kids,” she says.
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She is at least walking the talk herself. As one of morning television’s most relatable and recognizable stars, she's equally at ease interviewing Gyllenhaal, and greeting Dame Judi Dench before the show, as sitting down with Barack Obama — or shooting the breeze with a sleepy reporter during what would otherwise be her between-segment breaks.
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There’s no time to catnap, anyway. “We quite literally run through the morning: inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs,” she says.

The show is over before there’s time for a second cup of coffee. The pace is frenetic, with Guthrie and the rest of the team dashing outdoors to press the flesh with fans, taking part in a cooking segment, and then running back inside. There’s barely time for a bathroom break.
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While covering legal issues for NBC in 2007, and then segueing to election and White House news from 2008 to 2011, Guthrie traveled with GOP vice presidential contender Sarah Palin. In general, she says, those years were both formative and hectic. And not particularly conducive to starting a family. For her, “Having kids changes everything. I feel extremely fortunate — particularly at my age, I’m in my 40s — to get to have two kids. I often reflect on how lucky I am and how, in a cosmic sense, the timing was so perfect. This job is completely rewarding and demanding and it does afford me the opportunity to be home midday. As a working mom, that is a dream come true.”
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The night before this interview, she’d watched Gyllenhaal’s new movie, Stronger, about the Boston Marathon bombing, which he was making the rounds to promote. When she's on-set, she goes through notes nonstop, even as she’s getting touched up. “Even when something seems lighter, you need to prepare for it. That’s what I really do in the morning with a ginormous cup of coffee,” she says.
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So, sure, the schedule can be a challenge. But here’s the major, major upside (aside from the high-profile gig and its inherent access to the top-tier celebrities and politicians) — Guthrie is home in time to eat lunch with her daughter, Vale, who is in preschool. "It’s right in the neighborhood so I walk her to preschool,” says Guthrie. “Charley goes down for a nap. If he naps, then mama naps. I wake up between 3 or 4 in the morning. We try to do a quick family nap [in the afternoon]."

Then, she loses herself in the parenting-time vortex until it's time to pick up Vale again: "It’s reading books, playing with their toys; we go to the park a lot. We might go to the store. When you have a toddler, every hour is six hours. We eat dinner. Then it’s bath time and bedtime.”

The kids go to bed around 7, and unless there’s a major event to attend, she says she’s on their schedule. “I go to sleep not long after that. My husband tries to get home so he can have dinner with me. I go to bed around 8. I try to get tired,” she says. And cooking, for her, is much more about sustenance than it is any kind of hobby or showy example of her lifestyle. “It’s so embarrassing what I eat for dinner. Last night we were at a book signing till late. I nuked a Morningstar Farms frozen veggie burger and ate it with some spicy mustard on an empty plate, and turned in for the night. How tragic is that?”
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Even while discussing such tragedies as her freezer-burger dinner, she doesn’t complain, ever. She understands that most parents don’t have the option of spending most of each day home with their families, while excelling at the job of their dreams, and so she's grateful — and downright cheery — because she can.

But when news breaks, as with the Las Vegas mass shooting on Monday, she’s either flown out of town at the drop of a dime, or staying put on air until 1 p.m. So for her, it’s about rolling with the punches and making the most of the time she has. “I come home and I see so much of my kids, and that means everything to me,” she says.
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Her connection to her role as a mom is part of why she co-wrote Princesses Wear Pants with Allison Oppenheim, wife of NBC head Noah Oppenheim. Both women have daughters, and both want their girls to understand that they can “be sparkly, but sparkle inside.” For Guthrie, this point feels especially salient working in an industry so focused on the external. By 9:30 a.m., she's at a book signing at the NBC store, meeting more fans.
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She and Oppenheim laugh at how their daughters were “such princesses.” Both moms wonder where it comes from. “Does the world put it on them?" she posits. But since the question had been looming over her, as it does so many moms of daughters, it didn't take much for the rest of the story to spill on out.

"Those first moments, writing it and putting it together, felt effortless," she says. "The whole idea is to inhabit this middle space. We’re not anti-princess. The cover of the book has glitter on it. The heroine also has an amazing collection of pants. The big picture message of the book is: Be a princess if you want, or don’t. Just make sure you’re thinking as much about what’s on the inside. A princess, when you boil it down, is a young lady in a leadership role.”
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And no, Guthrie is not wading into the fraught, churning waters of gender politics. “This is not an academic thesis on gender issues. This is a kids' book,” she says. It's a successful one, at that. Princesses Wear Pants was an instant No. 1 New York Times bestseller. It Debuted in September on both the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestseller lists.
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Between the book signing and night-show appearance, at roughly noon, Guthrie FaceTimes with her kids, now at home with their sitter, as she walks to her car. Her son, apparently, has a clothing-optional approach to life. “We’re not doing full frontal nudity here!” she jokes with Charley. “Are you getting dressed? Let me see your little face!”

Vale, meanwhile, wants her mom back. Now. Guthrie promises they’ll be reunited imminently, while asking about Vale's morning. “You went swimming?” says Guthrie. “Valey-Vale, how was swimming? Can you hear me? Boo-boo. How was swimming? Good? I’m going to come home and see you right now.”

At 4 o'clock, she'll leave home to get ready to be on TV again.
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By 5 p.m. Guthrie is getting made-up again, this time for her Fallon taping. She's self-deprecating, joking that the striking yellow Altuzarra dress she had on in the morning looks like a couch. "Don’t you remember the ‘70s? Doesn’t this remind you of a couch?” Actually, not at all, but it does bring up an adjacent point. In her line of work, looks count — a lot. How does she avoid raising kids who are dazzled by exteriors?

“I hope we’re focused on the beauty of their hearts and the beauty of who they are. We all struggle with our notions and ideals of physical beauty. Many women — certainly me — look in the mirror and see where we fall short. I want to protect my kids from that. And that starts with me. I don't want there to be too much focus on appearance in general. I want [my daughter] to feel good about herself,” says Guthrie, herself much more comfortable in jeans, a T-shirt and jacket — which she gets to wear, if only momentarily at her Princesses Wear Pants event.
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There may not be an 8 p.m. bedtime tonight. There will be heels — so many hours in heels.
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One of the reasons regular people find Guthrie relatable, and feel so comfortable coming up to her, is that, well, she is. She thanks fans for bringing her cookies and wine at signings. And yes, she eats the cookies. She poses for selfies in public when she has the time.
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Guthrie’s Instagram followers can see select shots of her kids, but the anchor tries to be as judicious and thoughtful as possible about what she puts out there. “If I had my way, I’d be posting pictures of my children 55 times a day because I’m in love with those kids. They’re just the most charming children ever. I try, and I don't know if I succeed, but I try to inhabit a middle ground. I don't want to overshare. It’s a work in progress,” she says.
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Guthrie finishes shooting Fallon at 6 p.m. and will be home by 6:30 to put her kids to bed, and that’s a wrap on her Friday. She'll have the weekend off, and then do it all again on Monday. Even if this schedule sounds punishing, you won't find Guthrie phoning anything in. "You have to be on your toes,” she says.

Even when they’re scrunched into nightmare heels.