One on one with children’s entertainer Laurie Berkner
Many parents will recognize Laurie Berkner for her best-selling children’s music with The Laurie Berkner Band, but this New York City mom is also a children’s book author and TV personality, making regular appearances on Nick Jr. and Sprout. Her latest book, “We Are The Dinosaurs!” released in March. She and her husband Brian Mueller are parents to Lucy, 12, so we decided to ask this creative mom some questions about her career, kids and parenting.
You’ve been a professional musician since 1992. What led you to perform children’s music?
Back then, I was teaching pre-school music and playing in an all-female cover band. Ultimately, I found that it was much more rewarding to play songs I had written for kids during the day, than to play other people’s songs, for mostly drunk adults, in the middle of the night.
Out of all your songs, which one is your favorite?
That’s a really hard question to answer, but often the most recent songs I’ve written are at the top of the list. Right now I really like "Bubbles" (from my last album “Superhero”) and also an earlier song called "My Family."
In addition to singing, you often appear on Nick Jr. and Sprout. How often do you get recognized when you’re out in public with your family?
It varies a lot. It happens less now in Manhattan — where I’ve lived in the same neighborhood for 20 years — and more often when I’m traveling.
Do you have any advice to other working parents in regards to juggling a career and balancing a positive home life?
The best advice I ever got about parenting was: "Don’t listen to anybody else’s advice.” I think the person who said that to me meant that I was the only person who really knew what was best for me, regarding my relationship to my family. I think that’s true with balancing career and home life as well. We all have to find our own way and just do our best to make it all work out. For me, talking about the possible conflicts with Lucy and Brian as much as I can really helps. That way I don’t imagine that everything is fine when it isn’t, and I don’t feel horribly guilty about things that really aren’t that big a deal to them.
What do you do for your own Mommy time to unwind?
Some of the things I like to do are: knit, meditate, do yoga, listen to podcasts, go biking, work out, take care of my plants, cook (especially when there’s no deadline), read or watch whatever show I’m into at the moment.
Craziest thing you've done because you were sleep-deprived?
I can’t think of anything particularly crazy, I’m more the kind of person who gets extremely short-tempered and SUPER cranky. Ask my daughter.
What’s the funniest thing your daughter has ever done?
One funny story that we still tell is from when Lucy was a toddler and Susie, the Laurie Berkner Band keyboardist, was babysitting her. She was rocking Lucy to sleep in the glider in her room and as she rocked back and forth Lucy said sleepily, “I know” and Susie, trying to comfort her, said back to her, “I know you do, Lucy.” Then she continued to rock her and again Lucy said, “I know” and Susie, imagining that as a young soul perhaps Lucy was contemplating the universe, said back very supportively, “Yes, I know you do, Luce.” Then again Lucy said, “I know” and Susie again, sensing something very deep was happening, repeated, “Yes, Lucy, you know, you know” and this went on as Lucy continued to say “I know” several more times, and several more times Susie confirmed that indeed she did know, until finally, Lucy started to close her eyes, and as she nodded off to sleep, she said to Susie, “I know…I know…I know a chicken!” Which in case you don’t know, is the name of one of my more iconic songs.
What’s your favorite thing about being a mom?
Honestly, it’s how much I learn every day from being with Lucy.
You have a new book out. What can readers expect?
It’s a book that is based on my song “We Are the Dinosaurs.” It’s really fun to read the words to the song out loud, and also to follow the additional storyline through the pictures and the dialogue. Ben Clanton did a fantastic job of illustrating the book making the dinos are both very cute and, I think, humorous, especially because of their slight cross-over into our modern world.
What are you binge watching?
Are you a morning person or night owl?
I’m a night owl who longs to be a morning person.
If your parenting style was a book, what would it be called?
“Follow The Child (Except When You Don’t)”
What song do you sing most often to your daughter?
Sadly, she doesn’t often ask me to sing to her anymore, but for a long time she loved it when I sang “Your Beautiful Eyes” (which is a song on my lullaby album that I wrote for her) and also "St. Judy’s Comet" by Paul Simon.
Do you ever catch yourself doing things as a mom you thought you'd never do?
What is your favorite family ritual?
Reading out loud together.
What would surprise people about you?
I’ve seen every episode of the 90’s TV spin-off series “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues."
What has surprised you most about being a parent?
How truly all-consuming it can be.
One thing that always makes you laugh is…?
Louis C.K.’s jokes about parenting.
What is something important life has taught you?
It can be very fruitful to notice what you do well and follow it, even if it’s not what you expected.
What is the best gift a parent can give her child?
Really listening to your child with an open heart.