"We are so lucky that we can be together," mother of two Lisa Ling tells PEOPLE

By Ashley Boucher
May 12, 2020 04:05 PM
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Lisa Ling and family
| Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty

Like many parents, Lisa Ling is beginning to feel the effects of being cooped up with her kids for months on end due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) — but the longtime journalist refuses to complain about her situation.

"I'm not gonna lie, my kids can certainly drive me nuts at times because they're with me 24/7," Ling, 46, tells PEOPLE while discussing her latest series, Road to a Vaccine. "But at the same time, I refuse to complain, because under the circumstances, we are so lucky that we can be together."

"Not a day has gone by when I don't think about those front-line healthcare workers who, in some cases, are having to leave their families and go to work and who are risking their lives trying to save people," adds Ling, who is social distancing at her home in Santa Monica, California, with husband Paul Song and their two daughters: Ray, 4 next month, and big sister Jett, 7.

"So as frustrated as I become with my kids, which is fairly frequently, I refuse to complain," she adds.

To keep everyone occupied — and to expel energy — during isolation, Ling reveals that they got a trampoline, "which has been incredible," and that both Jett and Ray have learned how to ride a bike.

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Lisa Ling and family
| Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

As for indoor activities, "We've become puzzle fanatics," says Ling, who adds that she's also leaned into her crafty side during the time at home.

"I never thought this humanly possible, but I've become a bit of a crafter. I know, my friends will be shocked to hear it, but yeah, I've gotten into painting rocks, making little figures out of egg cartons and covering dinosaur figurines with clay," the CNN host says. "I'm proud of myself!"

Time spent at home crafting is certainly a new endeavor for Ling, who is used to traveling the world for work and even had her bags packed for Morocco the night before President Donald Trump announced bans on travel from Europe because of the virus.

"Even though I was going to Morocco [and not Europe], we had to cancel the trip at that moment," she explains to PEOPLE. "Not a week later did the government of Morocco cut off all flights to the United States because we had become a hotspot."

Lisa Ling and her daughters
| Credit: Amy Sussman/Getty

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"It's really disappointing," Ling admits of not being able to travel right now. "And again, my job/life has been so travel intensive. So thinking about, 'What am I going to do with my life moving forward until a vaccine is developed?' is a little daunting."

But Ling's new series, Road to a Vaccine, has given her an outlet while working from home — and it's something she says is perfect for parents and kids to watch together to learn more about COVID-19.

"A number of my friends are watching the series with their young children," Ling says, calling the series "a great science lesson for adults and kids alike."

"It's really important for kids to understand what this disease is to the extent that they can know, because still there is so much that is unknown," she adds. "My friends' kids who are 10, 11, 12 years old, they are finding this riveting. I think that this is such an unprecedented time in history where people really are hungry to want to know more."

Lisa Ling

Ling has also found time to work with her older daughter, Jett, on homework — and has found that she just might have a mini journalist on her hands.

"It's been fun to work with my 7-year-old on writing," Ling says. "Because that's what I do, right? So it's really fun to ask her questions. Right now she's writing about how much she likes spring."

"And to kind of interrogate her about describing, in detail, the colors that she's seeing around her," she explains. "Like, 'How would you describe that purple color of the flowers that are outside of our home?' Just challenging her to really think about the language that she uses to describe things has been really fun for me."

"Math, on the other hand," Ling jokes, "I've left to her dad."

The Road to a Vaccine airs Tuesdays at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and JNJ.com.

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