As actors and the parents of eight-year-old twins, Neil Patrick Harris, and his husband, David Burtka, who is also a chef, know how to improvise. “There is no consistency to our routine except that we’re together and spending quality time with the kids,” Mr. Burtka, 44, said.
Mr. Burtka’s first cookbook, “Life Is A Party,” a collection of recipes and tips on entertaining, was published in April. Mr. Harris, 46, recently gave a character-stretching performance in the Netflix show, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
The couple also co-produced the documentary, “Wig,” which traces the history and influence of “Wigstock,” an annual drag festival that had a 20-year run in Manhattan’s East Village. The film will be shown on HBO this fall.
Mr. Harris and Mr. Burtka live with their son, Gideon, their daughter, Harper, and a dog named Gidget, in Harlem.
PANCAKE BAR Neil Patrick Harris: The kids usually wake us up between 6:30 and 7. David and I get out of bed together, and we all head downstairs. Before anything, we use our Jura machine to make ourselves espressos. David Burtka: Harper is into making pancakes and uses a recipe I wrote. The secret ingredient is vanilla. Gideon whips up slow scrambled eggs with herbs, and I make sausage or bacon. I set up a pancake bar with toppings like syrup, lemon curd, peanut butter and powdered sugar.
The pancake bar.CreditAnnie Tritt for The New York Times
LIFE SKILLS, VIA PIANO DB: Gideon and Harper are into playing on the iPad. As much we try to limit it, we allow them to use it on Sundays. Both love Hay Day, a farming game where you advance by planting crops. NPH: While one plays, their piano teacher, Michael Lapinsky, gives the other a lesson. I played piano when I was growing up, and I think it teaches you a lot beyond melody. You learn about rhythm and manual dexterity. It can be frustrating to learn, and working through frustration is a good skill to have. They didn’t love it at first, but as they’re getting better, they’re starting to enjoy it more.
WHEELS NPH: By the time the kids are done with piano, we’re all antsy to get out. All of us, including Gidget, head to Marcus Garvey Park near our house. It’s an extraordinary park and has contemporary art installations, an amphitheater and a dog park. Harper is into skateboarding. Or, they may ride their scooters. Gideon is super excited that he can now ride a two-wheel bike so biking is often on the agenda, too.
BROADWAY BOUND DB: We drop Gidget back at home and grab a quick lunch before heading out again. NPH: We may do something cultural with the kids like seeing a Broadway show. They’ve seen all the popular ones, including “Frozen” and “The Lion King.” We all loved “My Fair Lady,” especially Harper, and both of them sat through and loved the Harry Potter shows. Next, we’re planning on taking them to see “Pip’s Island,” which is an immersive show.
GLOBAL MENU DB: In the spring, one of our favorite outings is going to the farmers market on 79th Street. That morning, we’ll set the menu. I start by asking them where they want to go in the world that night. Is it Turkey, Greece, Thailand? At the market, I teach them how to pick the best vegetables and herbs for what we’re making.
SOUS CHEFS DB: The kids are usually tired and like to chill out with their iPads. I try to recruit them at some point when I’m making dinner whether it’s to stir or set the table or pick herbs. The last meal I made was roast chicken and cumin carrots with yogurt from my book. We also had potatoes.
THE RITUAL NPH: We’ll bathe the kids and get them in pajamas and have a family dinner. David doesn’t drink too much, but I may have wine. After eating, we go upstairs to our den. Gideon and Harper each pick out a couple of books from the shelf, and we settle into our big leather couch. We read to them until 7:30, and then they go to their rooms for bed under duress. Gideon can have trouble sleeping so we put on this meditation app called Headspace for him. Luckily, once they’re down, they don’t wake up again until the morning.
ADULTS ONLY DB: Neil and I will hang out and watch a show. The last one was “Game of Thrones.” I like to go to bed around 10. NPH: I stay up later and may do a bit of work or catch up on emails. This is my alone time, and I love it.