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Michelle Obama Is Every Mom of College Kids Back Home for Social Distancing

Some of us trapped at home with young kids right now might be dreaming of the days when they go off to college. We love them, but this is a lot of family time, guys. And we can only imagine what it’s like for parents whose college kids are suddenly back home now that their schools are closed. In a phone conversation with Ellen DeGeneres, Michelle Obama shared the pros and cons of having her empty nest filled again.

“My condolences that the kids are home, because you were expressing how happy you were that they were gone,” DeGeneres said in a video she posted to Twitter on Monday.

“I know!” Obama answered, joking. “I shouldn’t have boasted about that. The gods were getting me back.”

It’s a hilarious contrast to the interview Reese Witherspoon gave Emmy magazine (likely long before this era of social distancing) about how she felt when daughter Ava Phillippe was applying to colleges. She quoted Celeste Ng’s words in Little Fires Everywhere, the book upon which her new Hulu show is based.

“It was like training yourself to live on the smell of an apple alone, when what you really wanted was to devour it, to sink your teeth into it and consume it, seeds, core, and all,” Elena (Witherspoon’s character) says of motherhood.

“It’s such a vivid way to describe the loss of your children as they grow up,” Witherspoon told the magazine.

With her own apples back in the house, the former first lady said she, former President Barack Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, are all keeping quite busy on their own individual projects.

“We’re just trying to structure our days,” Michelle Obama told DeGeneres. “The girls are back because colleges are now online, so they’re in their respective rooms doing their online classes.”

But she said they are also trying to make time to be together.

“This is like no other time in history, especially for our kids who are so used to being occupied and stimulated all the time,” Obama said. “It’s forced us to continue to sit down with each other, have real conversations, really ask questions and figure out how to keep ourselves occupied without just TV or computers.”

While everyone stays home, without shopping for anything but necessities, and without interacting in person with any friends, Obama says this is a good teaching moment for everyone, not just her daughters.

“It’s a good exercise in reminding us that we just don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have,” she said. “We can do with a lot less, and I think that’s an important lesson I want my kids to understand. Be grateful for what you have and be ready to share it when the time comes.”

Here are ways to keep those younger kids busy when they’re stuck at home.

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