The last time we chatted with Hilary Duff, she was an actor, an entrepreneur, a jet-setter, a SHE Media #BlogHer20 speaker, a period warrior, an eco-crusader, and a mom of two, among other things. Today, she’s a second-grade teacher. My, how times have changed.
Of course, Duff has been spending the past weeks (it’s been…one thousand weeks, right?) self-isolating at home with her family: partner Matt Koma and kids Luca Cruz and Banks Violet. This has included, so far, daytime White Claw consumption, allowing Koma to dye her hair blue, general chaos, and a whole lot of homeschooling. So, basically, she sounds like every mom trying to WFH and homeschool and stay sane right now. Except, of course, she’s a famous celebrity living in a chic house in Los Angeles. But, as Duff so wisely pointed out to us when we spoke this week in the midst of her Mother’s Day partnership with Kohl’s, having her health and her income means she’s lucky; it does not mean she’s not struggling with this scary “new normal,” just like the rest of us.
SK: How are you doing?
Hilary Duff: Oh, you know. I’m hanging in there. How are you?
SK: Same. My 4-year-old is sleeping on my office floor behind me right now, so we’re all good.
HD: Oh man! Well, at least you’re not teaching second grade right now. But I know every age is coming with struggles these days. But yeah, I’ve become a second grade teacher.
SK: Congrats! Haha. No really that sounds rough.
HD: It is. My husband has a small studio in the valley, and he’s been working at home, but had to go do a couple things at his studio the other day, and the kids were asleep and he came back and was like do you want to have a stoop date?
SK: Aww! That’s sweet.
HD: So he was like, cruising around in front of the house on his scooter, and I was like sitting there talking to him, and he was like, “How are you?” And I said, “Today was rough. It was a crazy school day.” And that’s not something I’d normally say.
SK: Do you feel like you’re not “allowed” to complain? Like, because you’re a celebrity and healthy and all that?
HD: Yes! Exactly. I feel bad complaining. But it is so hard. The patience I’m exercising is insane, and to then deal with my 1.5-year-old on top of it… But Matt was just like, “Well, Drew Barrymore cried on TV about being a homeschool teacher.” So at least it’s not just me! I just cry in my bedroom though.
SK: Ugh, don’t we all at this point. So homeschooling has taken over your life.
HD: It’s 8:30 AM-2 PM every single day. Luca has only been doing real school for two years; kindergarten is a joke. It’s like, I have to be there with him through everything, and it’s not just like we’re doing homework; we’re teaching curriculum, and I’ve never done this before so it’s just wild. But yes, we’re healthy, we’re not in New York, where people don’t have a backyard, where people are sick all around you. It’s different here, but we’re still all experiencing loss. We’re all going through a big life change now. Even my publicist yesterday was like, “How are you?” and I said “I’m great — yesterday I was not good.” It’s like, finally OK to tell someone you’re not doing good. Where before, if I was having a bad day, I’d still be like, “I’m good!”
SK: Exactly. And the yard thing is huge with kids. I’m so grateful every day that I moved to Nashville a few years ago and I’m not doing this in my home city, NYC.
HD: I can’t imagine. I have a friend who lives in New York and is so scared to even go up and down the elevator and walk the dog — it’s just a tiny space and news coming out every day that the virus can live in the air.
SK: So scary. Do you think your kids understand what’s going on? Well, not the baby.
HD: Luca gets it, but he doesn’t always get the severity of it. He doesn’t realize. I’m like, let’s zoom out: This is the entire world that can’t go outside right now. The entire world is wearing masks. That’s too big of a concept for him. But he gets it. And so I’m just thinking, how do I not completely overwhelm him and give him anxiety?
But yeah my baby’s doing good, she goes on walks every day; I tackle school with Luca while Matt watches Banks, and then it switches. He’s really good and wants to hang out with her too. It’s hard because she’s 1.5 and Luca’s 8, so they’re in very different places. People are like, ‘What kinds of things are you doing with them?’ And it’s like, well, we can go on a walk together or go swimming. But even then I’m like, making sure she doesn’t drown while he’s doing cannonballs.
SK: How did you decide to give back to fellow stressed moms via your Kohl’s partnership?
HD: So I started working with them pre-pandemic, before this insanity. We started this partnership because I got to shoot a commercial and dress up as different kinds of moms. And I feel like I relate, too, because I am the sporty mom, the sensitive mom, sometimes the organized mom…well, let’s not lie, I’m not that one. So I created this Mother’s Day gift basket, and the winners get sent a $600 basket full of goodies, and the person who enters the mom to win gets $500 to Kohl’s, which is amazing. Moms are wearing so many hats right now, so if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy a Mother’s Day gift, it’s good to support retailers right now.
SK: How did you curate your contest items?
HD: It’s items I’m obsessed with and that are so useful, like a cast-iron skillet if you like to cook.
SK: I mean, I am also obsessed with that record player.
HD: HOW cool is that record player? Also, certain Kohl’s locations are still open and are doing curbside pickup. And honestly, as moms, we deserve a gift — we are doing amazing things right now. Every day at home with kids is like making a mountain move. And thank god for the wine (which, unfortunately, they don’t sell at Kohl’s…yet).
SK: What kind of mom do you think Lizzie McGuire would be? Would she be struggling with all this as well?
I think she would be a little shook. To be honest. A good mom, but a little frazzled. Like, how her mom was always so calming and knew what was going on? I think it would take Lizzie time to tackle all the elements, but she’d get it. One thing she was, was so compassionate. Everyone could relate to that. And honestly, you never know what kind of kid you’re going to get.
SK: What kind of kid(s) did you get? Have their personalities been a surprise?
HD: It’s always shifting. I was a bad baby and a great kid. Luca’s been a good baby and a great kid, and sometimes he surprises me and says a weird thing, but Banks is a little terror. She’s been a terror her whole life and now she’s being sweet. I feel sad for her; she doesn’t have any of her classes she loved, we don’t get to watch her be mean to babies anymore. She’d be a little bulldozer and take things from them and we‘d laugh — she’s such a badass. I worry more about my son because he’s so sensitive and sweet. She’ll hurt his feelings! And she’s not even 2!
SK: That’s amazing. My son is definitely the sensitive type too, always snuggling.
HD: Cherish that, because they forget! My kids used to say, “I love you mom” out of nowhere, it was the sweetest.
Hilary Duff and other celeb moms share their #1 children’s book picks here.