NBC's Dylan Dreyer says she's had to 'force' herself to stop saying 'don't do that' as a mom of 3 boys under 5
Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of child-rearing.
If there's one thing meteorologist and mom of three Dylan Dreyer knows, it's kids and weather metaphors. And so it's little wonder that the morning show favorite is back with her second children's book, Misty the Cloud: Friends Through Rain or Shine, the follow-up to her 2021 New York Times bestseller, Misty the Cloud: A Very Stormy Day.
Featuring illustrations by Rosie Butcher, the just-released sequel mixes science (her oldest son Calvin's favorite part), playful storytelling and important lessons about resolving conflicts with siblings and friends. As a parent with three sons aged 5 and under, the Today co-host knows more than most about nipping spats in the bud. Dreyer — who shares Calvin, 5, Oliver, 2 1/2, and Russell ("Rusty"), 11 months, with husband Brian Fichera — says she tries to teach her boys about having patience with each other. For firstborn Calvin, that means encouraging him to show his younger brothers how to do something, rather than scold them not for not knowing.
"I'm big into not just yelling at Calvin to do something so that he doesn't get Oliver upset," she tells Yahoo Life. "It's more: 'here's why Oliver's upset; you need to understand what you're doing that's making him upset.'
"I feel like I'm always trying to explain things to kids in a way that they listen to, in a way that they understand," she adds. "I've really had to force myself to stop saying, 'don't do that' or 'do it this way, don't do it like that.' I need to explain things."
Dreyer credits husband Brian — who has worked behind the scenes as a cameraman and producer — with helping the family talk openly and honestly about whatever they're going through, whether it's a falling out with a friend or arguing with a sibling. She admits that, "as a mama bear," she's inclined to automatically side with her sons in any conflict, but has come to appreciate the value in talking through things as a family, and feels like she and her spouse have a mutual respect in how they approach conflicts.
"I was never a talker growing up," the TV personality says. "My family was very much: If you got in trouble for something, you just went to your room. I never got punished, but I would put myself in my room because I didn't want to talk to anybody, and we all kind of closed off. Brian has really opened us up. So I think communication goes a long way, and it's just nice. We all talk about our day — the good, the bad and everything in between."
In terms of logistics, Brian also makes it easier for Dreyer to keep up with the demands of a busy morning show career.
"I don't think I could do it all if if I didn't have him," she says. "We're such a good team because he does do the mornings and I do the nights. so scheduling-wise, it works great."
Getting out of the house when it's still dark outside sounds like a challenge for anyone, never mind someone with three kids. But Dreyer says that the mornings when she needs to get to work early are actually easier to handle.
"I get up and out of the house by 4:30, 4:45 and that's nice and quiet," she shares. "I make my coffee, I get dressed. I tiptoe out of the house and everything's nice and calm. And then Brian just takes over when everybody wakes up."
The mornings when she can leave a couple of hours later, however, can be more chaotic.
"I know when I leave the house if the kids are awake or not, because if I leave on time, the kids are still sleeping," she says. "But if I leave late, of course the kids are awake. ... If I'm on my normal shift, I leave at about 6:45 in the morning, so it's harder on that shift because everybody's kind of waking up and my husband doesn't go into work 'til 11 o'clock in the morning. He's morning guy: He gets the kids fed, he gets them dressed, he gets them off to school. And when I'm there, I'm the one who throws a wrench into things because when Mommy's home, 'Mommy has to make breakfast' and 'Mommy has to get me dressed' and 'Mommy has to change my diaper.' But Mommy has 15 minutes to get out of the house and get to work, so Mommy can't do anything. And then it's tears and everything's happening and Brian's like, 'OK, you need to leave because everything goes real smoothly and there are no tears when you're not home.'"
Dreyer takes over in the evenings, but with three little ones, finding time for it all can be a big struggle.
"It's really hard to find the patience for everything because we are on such a tight schedule," she says. "It's the only way I can do things. As soon as 5 o'clock comes, dinner's on the table. And then as soon as dinner's done, we go put our pajamas on, and I don't leave any wiggle room for anything to go wrong. So when something does go wrong, it's hard for me to keep my patience ... and I need to, like, take a deep breath and just allow things to happen. Sometimes the schedule doesn't go the way you want it to, and I need to leave room for that — but it's hard to do with three kids."
But Dreyer wouldn't have it any other way. Having back-to-back-to-back boys — who don't quite understand weather forecasts yet, but do love having a mom who can answer their pressing questions about why it's raining or why the thunder is so loud — has brought the author and anchor endless joy as they grow older and grow closer to each other.
"I always thought I would miss Calvin being little, but now Calvin's the oldest one," she notes, "and just watching him learn is fascinating to me. He loves soccer and he loves playing golf, and to actually see him get better at something now that he's more coordinated — it's just so fun to watch him do something right, and be so proud of himself. So he's like at that end of the spectrum, and then we've got Rusty the baby, who's so proud of himself because he pulled himself up on the side of the bathtub for the first time, you know? I love watching him go through and master something. It's my favorite thing.
"But then at the same time watching Oliver go through something is totally different than when Calvin went through something," she continues. "Calvin always just looked for our approval; he would look up at us and he's so attached to us. And then Oliver is so attached to Calvin; he looks up to Calvin for his approval and it's like, 'Calvin, I did it. Calvin look, Calvin look.' And sure, he loves for us to watch too, and he likes to brag about it to us, but just that dynamic of watching them as brothers, and just Calvin being so proud of Ollie and Ollie wanting to show off for Calvin and soon Rusty will be right in the mix. ... I love sitting there watching this all play out and watching the whole dynamic happen right in front of me."
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