When it comes to parenting — or her 20-year marriage to husband Freddie Prinze Jr. — Sarah Michelle Gellar still doesn’t have all the answers. And that’s OK. The Buffy The Vampire Slayer star and mom of Charlotte Grace, 13, and Rocky James, 10, tells SheKnows that she’s still figuring out this whole motherhood thing, and, well … same. It’s not easy! As her kids become more independent, Gellar has a hard time stepping back, something all moms have gone through at one time or another.
“One parenting thing I struggle with is wanting to fix everything,” Gellar tells SheKnows over Zoom, and I’m already nodding my head in agreement. Your kids go from babies who need milk and toddlers who need their boo-boos kissed to kids and teenagers who sometimes just want to do things on their own. The transition happens so fast that it’s hard to remember to step back and not say anything, especially if you know what’s best.
“You never want your children to suffer or be in pain or feel badly about themselves,” the Cruel Intentions star says. “And I think I can be guilty of wanting to solve all the problems and have an answer, and sometimes you just need to be there to listen.”
“Understanding the difference” in the two situations is vital, according to Gellar, who asks herself, “Is this a moment we’re just hearing them out?”
“They just want to get it out. And it’s not so much about the problem or solution — it’s about being heard,” she adds.
We all want others to listen and acknowledge our thoughts and feelings and frustrations, so why is it so hard to give the same grace to our kiddos? Validating their feelings, without offering your own input, is definitely a challenge.
Gellar is also still learning what makes her kids tick — “You’re fooling yourself if you think you’ve got anything figured out, because tomorrow it’s going to completely change,” she says — but one thing she’s focused on right now is teaching her kids to be flexible.
“I think that’s where it gets stressful, if you’re so rigid that you can’t take changes in the schedule or the routine,” she tells SheKnows. “So for me, it’s about making my kids flexible. Sometimes, you have to sit in the car while this one has this class or do this. You have to be flexible because we have to make it work for everybody in the family. There’s not one person in the family, there’s all of us.”
Gellar partnered with Rite Aid this flu season because of their flexibility, too. The drugstore is encouraging people to show off their #FluFlex, which is sharing a picture of their arm after getting a flu vaccine to help spread awareness. But Gellar thinks the company’s campaign should also be “Flu Flexible” because they make it easy to schedule ahead or be spontaneous.
“It hits both sides of my personality,” Gellar explains. “So, for the OCD side of me, I go online, I make my appointment, I have all the paperwork done ahead of time. That’s my happy place. There’s also, I’m a parent — a working parent — and it’s like, ‘Oh great, we have five minutes. Run across the street at Rite Aid. Let’s get our shots, they’ll take us right now!’ and they do. That’s really what the Flu Flex should be. Flexible to fit your schedule.”
She says her kids have never been afraid of getting their flu shot because she always goes with them to model the behavior. “So, every year I would get the flu shot first and then they would get it. For years, I would get it with them. It’d be like, ‘Can I get a lollipop afterwards?’” she laughs. “But again, you can’t expect them to not have reactions if they’re not seeing you do it first.”
In addition to getting the flu shot early, Gellar recommends reminding your family to wash their hands, eat healthy, and exercise in order to protect against the flu. “It’s all intertwined. And if we do get sick, our immune system is strong enough to fight it off,” she says, adding that she likes to help her kids “understand holistically that it all goes together. Good meals and sleep and exercise. That’s all part of staying healthy.”
The Do Revenge star explained that the coronavirus pandemic reinforced her belief in the importance of getting vaccinated early. “Getting a flu shot is like number one this time of year, going back to school,” she says. “Especially I think the importance comes now, when we’ve had two and a half years my kids have been masked or they’ve been home or they’ve been six feet apart and now for the first time, they’re really interacting [with other people].”
“My son went back to school, week one came back with a cold. Because our bodies just aren’t used to that,” she continues. “Even though I think that we were always one of the first ones to remember to get the flu shot, I think this year there is an importance to getting it early.”
When the family is all home together — and not feeling sick — they like to play board games. “We love board games in our household,” she says. “There was a big Catan phase, there was a Ticket to Ride phase. If we’re all home, which does not always happen, we all watch Jeopardy together and it’s always like a big battle to see who can get the most right answers.”
She may be able to get Jeopardy answers right, but don’t ask her about relationship advice. “If I had all the answers, I would write the book,” she tells SheKnows about her two-decades-long marriage. “Really, you just have to put in the work and the time, and nurture it. It’s not like a phone, where you can just upgrade to a new one. You have to put the work in.”
Even when you’re famous, Mom Guilt is a thing, as these celebrity moms show.