Jenna Bush Hager Dishes on Raising Outdoorsy Daughters in the City and How She Limits Their Screen Time

05/18/2016 at 08:45 PM ET

It’s no easy task raising outdoorsy daughters in the urban jungle that is New York City, but Jenna Bush Hager is up for the challenge.

The mother of two young girls — Poppy Louise, 9 months, and Mila, 3, with husband Henry Hager — tells PEOPLE, “I think the main part is you find the beauty wherever you live.”

Jenna, who hails from a long line of nature lovers, writes in Our Great Big Backyard about a girl whose family road trip to the national parks forces her to look up from her cell phone. It’s the second children’s book she’s co-written with her mom, former First Lady Laura Bush.

Jenna Bush Hager with mom Laura Bush and daughters Mila (left) and Poppy
Katherine Wolkoff

Our Great Big Backyard is about finding your beauty and also getting outdoors,” the Today show correspondent, 34, explains. “We go on family walks on Sundays, we go to our local park here in downtown Manhattan and my mom is an urban hiker, too, in Dallas.”

“That’s what George calls me and my friends,” Laura chimes in about her husband, former President George W. Bush. “We’d go to different neighborhoods and hike in different neighborhoods.”

And at the Bush family ranch in rural Crawford, Texas, Mila has made peace with the ickier things that come with nature.

“When we first went there, Mila was like, ‘Buggy! Buggy! No, buggy!’ I was like, ‘Mila, there’s bugs in New York City, and there’s even larger things called rats,’ ” Jenna recalls. “And she was a little trepidatious about being with her shoes off and running in the sand. But after being there for a week, I think she recognized how precious it was.”

Jenna Bush Hager with mom Laura Bush and daughters Mila (left) and Poppy
Katherine Wolkoff

Jenna also tries to ensure Poppy and Mila connect with the world around them by limiting her daughters’ screen time — which can be challenging.

“Of course I try to pay attention to Mila and Poppy,” Laura says of visits with her granddaughters, but “now Mila wants my phone because she wants to look at pictures of Bob — ”

” — the cat,” Laura and Jenna say in unison.

“It’s fun for kids to look at pictures on a phone. And that’s okay with us — to look at pictures of Bob or Jefe,” Jenna says, referencing her daughters’ nickname for their grandfather George. “So of course, whenever Grammy comes, [Mila] knows that she can sweet talk Grammy and Jefe into anything, which includes looking at the phone.

“But really, in our house, we try to not let her use technology and we try to do the same thing,” she adds. “And actually, it’s parents, mainly, who are setting the example and have the problem. I’m the one who’s maybe looking at work … instead of watching … my daughters be the hilarious girls I know they are.”

— Sandra Sobieraj Westfall and Tierney McAfee

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment

PEOPLE.com reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 13 comments

Geminismom on

I see ‘George Dubya’ in that little one! 👍

VoteforGeorgie on

Jenna has the cutest little girls!

SandyFeet on

Such a lovely family. The little girls are adorable.

ImALadyToo on

Aw, they’re both cute, but most little kids are. I love that Poppy’s hair looks like it is going to be a pretty shade of strawberry blonde.

stinky on

it’s nice to see them dressed like sweet little girls…little poppy looks just like george w

stinky on

laura bush looks great

Sarah on

Jenna’s girls are so adorable.

lilly pond on

Beautiful family.

Anonymous on

Poppy looks like her mama, and yes her mama looks like George W. Genetics😉

Paige on

Jenna is such a down to earth person coming from a former president’s daughter.

Anonymous on

Adorable pictures.

Amanda Tuttle on

I love the Bush family, Laura and Jenna are wonderful
However Jenna is a teacher, journalist and author of children’s books.
Therefore I am surprised that her English is not correct.
She uses “like” incorrectly and replaces “say with “go”.

Vanna on

Her kids are so adorable.

From Our Partners

Sign up for our daily newsletter and other special offers.
    Choose your newsletters
Thank you for signing up! Your request may take up to one week to be processed.
    see all newsletters