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Peter Alexander talks about balancing career and kids as a working dad: 'This is what matters'

The Saturday TODAY co-anchor shares two daughters with his wife of 10 years, Alison Starling: Ava, 9, and Emma, 7.

Peter Alexander understands all too well the balancing act that comes with being a working parent. 

Over his decades-long career, his priorities have naturally shifted after welcoming his two daughters, who he shares with his wife of 10 years, Alison Starling: Ava, 9, and Emma 7.

The Saturday TODAY co-anchor opened up to about how he juggles fatherhood and his career, ensuring that he’s putting his family first. While a decade ago, Alexander, 46, may have stayed the extra night away from home while on assignment, today he focuses on being at home as much as possible.

“I’ll take the last flight home just to be able to sleep in my own bed and kiss them, even if they’re already asleep when I get home, or I’ll take the earliest flight in the morning if that allows me to read and put them to bed the night before,” he said. “I’ll hustle back from anchoring (TODAY) in time to see my daughter’s soccer game and then my other daughter’s softball game. If we’re allowed to clear out of the White House before it’s too late, I’ll hustle over to a practice or parent-teacher night.”

Alexander said spending quality time with his family as often as he can is not only precious to himself, but something he notices in his daughters too. He explained, “I can see it in their eyes when I’m there to experience those things in person — how valuable it is for them too.”

His daughters aren’t afraid to let him know when they want their dad around, either. He told that when they were younger, they didn’t necessarily notice him missing, but today they will call him out if he can’t come to an event they want him to.

“Some days, you have a source meeting or an event late at night that you have to be a part of and you’re going to miss bedtime or reading at night,” he said. “But other times, you just gotta say, ‘Hey, this is what matters.’”

Whether it’s bedtime rituals or karaoke-filled birthday parties, Alexander said he is treasuring all of the moments he spends with his daughters.

“You just realize that just time is my most valuable resource,” he explained. “I don’t want for things. I want for memories. I’m just trying to make the most of those each day when I can.”

While Alexander has been there for his family during their special moments, they've returned the favor, too. On several occasions, Starling and the couple's two daughters have made appearances on TODAY, including in October 2018 to celebrate his new role as Weekend TODAY co-anchor.

In the following years, they also made a surprise appearance on the TODAY plaza to wish Alexander a happy Father's Day in person in 2019. Then in July 2020, he received a sweet video message on-air from his family to mark his birthday.

Alexander has been steadfast in his parenting philosophy since his daughters were toddlers. During a May 2016 interview with TODAY Parents when his daughters were just toddlers, he discussed how he makes his time count during the moments he is home with his family. 

“Put your phone down,” he said, offering a piece of advice to fellow working parents. “Easier said than done, but being truly present for 20 minutes is better than being distracted for an hour.”

He said that becoming a father and embracing parenthood has not only influenced his work and the assignments he chooses, but also shifted a focus in his priorities, too. 

“As for perspective, juggling work and fatherhood has given me a much greater appreciation for all working parents,” he said. “Similarly, my ability to empathize has grown dramatically since I became a dad. I feel the stories I’m telling much more deeply, especially about the sacrifices families make for their children.”Related: