There's a reason they say it takes a village.
Hard as you may try to find it, there's no guidebook filled with the answers to all your parenting questions: What should they be eating? Are they getting too much screen time? Am I even doing this right? (Spoiler: You are.) So, we're here to help. We've asked your favorite celebrity moms for their tips, tricks and hacks that are guaranteed to get you through every meltdown and milestone.
Welcome to E!'s Moms in the Moment.
With daughter Scarlett's fifth birthday coming up, Molly Sims knew she needed to make a big splash.
The requested mermaid party was out thanks to the social distancing that went into effect mere days ahead of the big day March 25, so it was up to the actress to suit up. Literally an expert on these sorts of things (check out her wisdom at MollySims.com), the Everyday Chic author scrambled to gather the appropriate supplies and costumes from Amazon. She also culled the guest list (there was much debate over whether brothers Brooks, 7, and Grey, 3, would make the cut but as Sims pointed out, "considering there's only two other people invited, I really needed them to come,") and spent four hours creating a Flour Shop-worthy exploding confetti cake.
"I bought a mermaid float, we gave her a treasure chest, we were diving for jewels," the 46-year-old tells E! News of the experience that saw her in full mermaid regalia. "We just made it as special as we possibly could."
Any lingering doubts about her success were assuaged by the fact that a week later, her second born was still dressing in her mermaid outfit for pool adventures. "That's still working," the Kentucky native notes of the gift that keeps on entertaining. "We're still doing it."
So, yeah, the multi-hyphenate mom of three is killing this quarantine thing.
But you needn't go full Ariel to follow her lead. She's made it a point to reframe her mindset from thinking that juggling round-the-clock parenting, home schooling and work on her third book is something she has to do and think about how spending time with her brood is something she gets to do. But she's also realistic that not all days are sunshine and rainbow cakes.
"I think especially for working moms who have to do all of it, it can be extremely stressful," she allows, "but we can do it!"
Step one: Find a good emergency hiding spot. After her cover was blown in both the pantry and her closet, Sims "did a call yesterday in the garage," she admits. Then, follow these tips for keeping your busy brood amused.
For Sims it's not just a motto for Girl Scouts and Lion King characters. The lifestyle expert has transformed her L.A.-area home into a veritable playhouse for her three kids. "We have a lot of different stations in our house," Sims tells E! News, displaying an outdoor table that's been transformed into a parking lot for matchbox cars. It also houses various sensory projects—think sand boxes and slime.
"We have things that are really good to play with and dig in and use your imagination," she says. The variety means her little ones can move from activity to activity with ease: "We have markers set up with paper and scissors and then we have a word game set up, we have molding clay thing set up, and then we have slime with bugs."
Embrace the arts.
Using tape to create chalk art is pretty common place at their spread, as is fort-building. But when the lifestyle expert is looking for fresh ideas, she turns to a studio called Smudge in her native Kentucky. "They send you arts and crafts," she raves. "They're watercolor series or how to make a rainbow out of colored tissue paper that you wrinkle up and glue in like a rainbow."
Get creative with math class.
Let's be real: arithmetic is never going to be quite as fun as sidewalk chalk, but Sims and producer husband Scott Stuber do their best to weave addition and subtraction into more enjoyable activities like cooking. (Something that's extra popular these days with Scarlett thanks to the Easy-Bake Oven she got for her birthday.
"We make smoothies, we are making cupcakes today, we're making pizza, we're making chicken," she says. "I mean, I really get them in on the action because they can learn to count, they can learn to do it, they see me do it." Of course half of the recipe ingredients (cauliflower pizza and chicken tenders with panko bread crumbs are popular choices) get consumed before they ever hit the oven, she jokes, "but it's fine."
Make your own home gym.
The actress' comes complete with wine bottle dumbbells, milk jug kettle bells and a roughly 44-pound barbell (read: her 5-year-old daughter, though newbies can opt for the 30-pound, 3-year-old variety). And she's been sharing her creative kid-incorporated workouts on the 'gram.
When they're not serving as weights, her trio will get in on the act. "We do push-ups, we do planks," she shares. "We did a challenge of running up the stairs and back again. I know that sounds boring but it bought me, like, 15 minutes."
Try a germ show-and-tell.
With her kids mastering social distancing and cough- and sneeze-covering ("They bend their elbow and call it the chicken wing!") she came up with a clever way to teach them about the importance of soap with hand washing.
"You have a bowl of soap and you have a bowl of water which we put pepper into," she explains. "So you're going to put your finger in the soap and the pepper acts like germs. So what the soap does, if you look closely, it pushes the germs away. It's a really great trick way to explain what germs are and why you have to constantly wash your hands."
Play hide-and-seek with the toy box.
With a bit of creativity, kids can make do with their current stash. Sims advises hiding half of their toy collection to bring out at a later date: "Put some away and all of a sudden, they become new again you know?"
One she's leaning into heavily these days is the iPad. To say she has an increased appreciation for Stuber's gig as Netflix's head of original films would be a vast understatement. With her kids' screen time at an all-time high, she says, "I know my husband works for Netflix but I gotta be honest...thank God for Netflix!" The built-in entertainment means she's able to sneak in the occasional face mask or their "date night" walks around the neighborhood."We're walking around with a cocktail!" she says. "I'll just hold up a lighter and pretend it's a candle."
She's nothing if not creative.