Before you air your quarantine woe, consider this: Pretty Little Liars star Shay Mitchell, a new mom as of November 2019, has been quarantining with her 8-month-old baby daughter Atlas Noa. To paraphrase every mother contemplating spending those early months in lockdown: Help! But Mitchell, who spoke exclusively with SheKnows about how she’s been holding up in quarantine, isn’t so easily shaken. Between teaching her grandma senior citizens aerobics classes and keeping up with Atlas’ bedtime routine, Mitchell’s also found time to pair up with the Safeguard Initiative, a hygiene education and product donation initiative to help young kids keep good habits in a post-lockdown world. But while Atlas’ post-lockdown life may be full of singing “Happy Birthday” over the sink, Mitchell has one specific plan in mind for when lockdown is over — and it’s so simple you’ll be mad you didn’t think of it first.
For those of you who don’t know Mitchell personally (hi), know this: the 33-year-old mama is a hugger. Asked about her first plan when lockdown is over (or, you know, when a vaccine exists), Mitchell admitted that just the feeling of hugging her friends was what she missed most.
“Not seeing family and friends in real life, it’s been the hardest thing,” she told SheKnows. “It’s one thing over FaceTime, and I’ll definitely take it right now. But I’m somebody who loves physical touch and I love being able to embrace my friends…that’s what I’ve definitely missed the most.”
Luckily, there is one person she can have plenty of skin-on-skin contact with: Atlas Noa, who she shares with dad Matte Babel. While Mitchell knows that Atlas is too young to remember most of what’s going on, she’s still hopeful about the power of imparting good habits early on — and her concern over Atlas’ handwashing protocol is right in line with the goal of the Safeguard Initiative.
“Being a new mother myself, I know that as things slowly start to open up again, we want to urge the little ones to continue their healthy routine of washing their hands and actually see them doing it properly,” she explained. So, where does Safeguard come in?
“The Safeguard Initiative actually donated $10 million worth of product and hygiene education to underserved communities,” Mitchell shared, explaining why it’s key that resources are directed there. “This pandemic swept across the world, it’s taken a lot of lives, and it’s had disproportionate effects on minority communities.”
As the mother of a biracial daughter, Mitchell is acutely aware of the importance of standing up for minority communities. And in light of the Black Lives Matter protests across the country, she’s vowed to hold herself accountable for fighting for change, starting with how she teaches baby Atlas about the world.
“What we’re doing with her is just saying, no matter what you look like, everybody deserves to love and be loved without judgment, period,” Mitchell tells us. “Who knows if she can understand this right now, but we’re going to keep talking to her.”
As a parent, you always try to lead by example — and Mitchell is off to a killer start.
Click here to see more celebrities celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time ever.