Like so many moms right now, Haylie Duff is of two minds about the current state of the world and the state of her life. She is, of course, upset about the pandemic taking lives and jobs. As an actor and the co-owner of kids clothing company Little Moon Society, with a store in Los Angeles, her work life has changed drastically. All the while, just like her little sister Hilary Duff, she has suddenly become a homeschool teacher to daughters Ryan, 4, and Lulu, 1, along with husband Matt Rosenberg.
Still, Duff is also starting to make the most of her quarantine time, slowing down her life and being with her kids. And in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home in the wee hours of the morning — one of the more painful WFH-with-kids hacks — Duff told SheKnows that she has found the secret to making teaching her kids much easier: printable activities. And even though we know she’s telling us this as part of her partnership with HP’s Print Play Learn site, we can very much believe it. Rather than have her preschooler glued to a screen all day, HP’s hub of learning activities offer a hands-on, three-dimensional way to teach children, ages 2 to 12. It’s just one of the ways Duff is making the most of her time at home.
SheKnows: It’s so early for you [5:30 am]! Is this the only time you can find peace in the house?
Haylie Duff: Early and late at night, after everyone’s sleep in bed, is pretty much the only alone time happening over here. It’s all right. The truth is … I’m kind of adjusted to this now. I know it’s weird, but I kind of like being home, and I think my kids like being home. We’re living a much slower-paced life right now. And so many kids can really benefit from that, especially at these younger ages.
SK: I know you’ve been working and taking care of your kids, so how are managing to do both?
HD: Matt and I trade off as much as we possibly can. But, you know, when Mom’s home, Mom tends to be the main attraction, so. … I read an article not too long ago that was encouraging parents to be B-minus parents instead of an A-plus parents — just encouraging people to take pressure off themselves and know that everyone’s doing the best that they can. That was week two or week three [of quarantine]. And I was like, “OK, I’m going to just chill out a little bit,” and we all seem to be better for it.
SK: Was there a particular area where you took your foot off the gas pedal?
HD: I was really trying to do an exciting craft or an exciting activity every day at the beginning of all of this. There weren’t a lot of resources to go to where you could get stuff that would make it easy on you. That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to partner with HP, because their Print Play Learn resource has hundreds of printable activities. My printer wasn’t set up when we first started, so school was a real mess for me, and I think finding something to make that easier has made me calm down and relax a little bit.
SK: Do you feel like you have to be productive every day during this time?
HD: Yes and no. I have the days where we just play outside, we collect flowers, and we do just very simple, low-key stuff. And then there’s other days where [Ryan is] doing her school over Zoom and all of the activities that come along with that. … Every day is a little bit different, to be honest.
SK:Printable activities seem like a good way to give kids a break from the screen.
HD: I do feel like blended learning is really important. For me, [I like] getting back to the basics of handing her something tangible like these printouts. I feel like she responds better to them. One of her favorite things to do off of this HP resource is the puzzles. At her preschool, they find ways to work on fine motor skills and to be way more creative with doing something as simple as a puzzle. For me, because I’m not a teacher, I would probably cut out the puzzle pieces and be like, “OK, let’s put the puzzle together.” But Print Play Learn has instructions on how to print out the puzzle and then encourage your child to use scissors and glue the puzzle together on an additional piece of paper.
SK: I never would have thought of that! I’m constantly realizing all the things I never knew I should be teaching my kids.
HD: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted the preschool teachers and just said, “We miss you. We appreciate you. I appreciated you [before], but I didn’t appreciate you on the level that I should have.”
SK: What are you doing to take care of yourself during this time?
HD: A glass of wine in the evenings — that’s a big part of my self-care. I’m trying to find some type of way to be active every day, whether it’s even just going on a walk and clearing your head a little bit, looking at something other than the walls around you, getting everything pumping.
I think the biggest part of self-care for me, as I’ve as I’ve gotten older a little bit and my kids have gotten a little older, is making time for fun things for me. The other night, a bunch of the moms from my school all got on and did a game night.
SK: How fun! What did you play?
HD: One of them was you answer questions like Mad Libs. And then the other one was a drawing one, which I failed at miserably. … It gives you that feeling of going and doing something fun with your girlfriends.
SK: So much of the entertainment industry has come to a stop, and we still don’t know when things are coming back. How have people you know in the business been keeping their spirits up?
HD: Obviously, this has affected so many types of businesses and types of careers. But also for me, it has felt like this wonderful pause of the constant wheel that we all run on. And it really is giving us time to find inspiration, to be creative. I feel like the entertainment industry particularly is finding fun ways to engage audiences with the content that they’re creating [online].
I always try to look on the positive side of things. As terrible as the situation is. Family units are becoming stronger. That time with your kids is so important. … Ryan is about to go off to kindergarten. While I have so many devastated feelings about her missing this last bit of her preschool — and her friends and her teachers and all those wonderful things — I’m also looking at it like, when kindergarten starts, she has to be at school on time. She has to go to school every day. It’s not like she can skip a day like she does preschool. And when would I ever get this time to just have my child at this age all to myself? So, you know, there’s bad but there’s good.
Here are plenty of other suggestions for how to keep your kids busy at home.