Here's a Sarah Michelle Gellar quarantruth: At some point (or many, TBH) while handling virtual schooling, you will do something that deeply annoys your kids.
For the actress, who's been juggling calls and meetings related to her organic baked goods company Foodstirs, her in-the-works TV series and other ventures while overseeing the virtual learning for daughter Charlotte, 11, and son Rocky, 8, that moment came last week as she was attempting some serious multitasking.
She was mid-Instagram Live when she responded to an email about an upcoming school performance, "and I signed my son up to be a girl because I didn't read it properly and realize that they had to actually perform these people in front of the whole school," she shared in a recent interview with E! News. "And my son's probably not going to want to have to be a girl for this thing. The teacher just wrote me, 'Did you mean to do this?'"
Simultaneously trying to work and parent at the same time—can anyone relate? "Just typical," Gellar allowed of the not especially uncommon slip-up. "We all have those days."
Good thing Rocky has a few pros on hand should he require any acting tips.
To navigate this past year at home, away from most family, friends and normalcy ("I haven't, you know, left a 15-mile radius of my house," Gellar cracked), she and Freddie Prinze Jr., her husband of 18 years, have had to lean hard into a new mantra. "It's all balance," she noted. "It's understanding that some days, you know, the water glass is halfway filled and some days it's half empty and understanding that."
This has meant relaxing screen time rules and some of the pressures on schooling ("I don't have a master's in teaching!") and leaning into other important life lessons about giving back. "Helping others helps me, it centers me," she explained of her work with various charitable endeavors. "It reminds me to be appreciative of what I do have, not what I'm missing right now."
Teaming up with Subaru to spread the word about their campaign to donate 100 million meals to hunger relief organization Feeding America has given her an opportunity to talk to her children about food insecurity. "For my kids, they're very lucky, they think you call UberEats or you call Postmates and food comes," she said. "But understand that someone has to grow those crops and somebody has to farm and fish and it has to travel."
The partnership also felt like an actionable way to help when the need is so high. "As a parent, I can't even imagine what it would be like to feel like I couldn't put food on the table," she noted. "And when you work with a company like Feeding America, you realize that $1 can put 10 meals on the table. So if every single person donated $1, you realize that answers the question of, 'I'm one person, I'm barely making ends meet. What can I do?'"
These are the sorts of actions that feed her soul as Gellar copes with other hardships. "We haven't seen Freddie's mom in over a year," she shared. "And my mom, who lives here, she didn't even have Thanksgiving with us. It's definitely challenging."
"I had a girlfriend, just yesterday, show up at my doorstep," Gellar recalled of one surprise visit. "She was dropping a cheese plate and she just said, 'You seem like you're having a hard day, and I thought this would cheer you up.' And it was just some great cheeses and some olives and it was my, you know, my afternoon delight. Although, I don't think that's actually what an afternoon delight is. But for me these days that was mine."
And then there's the tradeoff that many a parent has discovered as they've embraced round-the-clock family time.
"My kids are at an age where their weekends would normally be filled with playdates and sleepovers and classes and performances," said Gellar, "and instead, you know, we're together. And that's time and bonding that I'll never be able to replicate again and I'm appreciative of that."
In fact, stay-at-home orders have provided the perfect opportunity to introduce her kids to an alter ego that a whole generation of stake-wielding, Scooby gang wannabe millennials already adore.
"I mean, look, anything I can get to make me cooler is really important," she explained of binge-watching her iconic TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "And I think it probably did help a little bit. At least with my son. He was like, 'Okay, you can fight. You are cool.' My daughter thinks I'm cool right now because I can do hairdos and makeup and stuff. I think I'm good for her for a little bit. But I needed the boost with my son."
Should he require further convincing, might we suggest a visit to her Instagram page where some 3.5 million fans live for her tongue-in-cheek quarantips. (A recent gem: "If, like me, you're struggling with distance learning and new math, just post the math problems on Facebook as one of those 'weird' math problems and let your smart friends figure it out.")
Clearly humor is something of a family love language as evidenced by a recent prank Prinze pulled. "He was out with my son, and I had asked him to pick up these slippers for me," Gellar explained of the Punky Brewster actor, 44. Instead, he returned with what "was literally as if someone had single-handedly found the world's ugliest slipper ever made," she continued, "and I was like, 'Oh, thanks. I'm not sure these are going to fit...'"
It was then that she realized her boys were "just dying laughing," with Rocky holding up the slides she'd actually asked for in his hand. "He literally went out to find the ugliest pair just to see what I would do when he gave it to me," she said of Prinze. The answer, as it turned out, was "laugh so hard I wound up crying out of happiness."
Two decades together have given the pair all the tools necessary to navigate pandemic life.
"We joke it depends on the day—I don't think anyone should be around me 24/7 ever," she quipped. But she's certainly glad it's the partner she chose back in her early twenties. "I think that being together as long as we have, we know the cues," she said. "We know when someone needs a little space and we know when someone needs a hug and when someone needs a laugh."
And they know when someone needs the least attractive house shoes ever created. "It was just so good," she raved of Prinze's gag. "He was like, 'You're the only person that I could play a prank on that cries out of happiness that they just got got.' But this meant so much to me."