“I’ve learned that I’m letting myself go a little bit,” Hilaria told TODAY Parents, with Alec sitting beside her. “I was always very anti- any kind of app or any kind of electronic device. I was like, ‘Pencil and paper only! Everything should be hands-on!’ And, ultimately, now I’ve realized that I have to go with the flow with their generation."
"So I downloaded a bunch of apps. I got Osmo, which is amazing,” she continued, explaining that if her children do a certain amount of "pencil and paper work," they can play with an app or an iPad afterward. She's even been letting daughter Carmen, 6, FaceTime friends "like a teenager."
Earlier this week, the couple, who are hunkered down in their Hamptons home with their four kids — Carmen, Rafael, 4, Leonardo, 3, and Romeo, 22 months — told radio host Howard Stern that they avoid discussing the more frightening aspects of the COVID-19 virus in front of their children.
“We don’t talk about the scary stuff,” Hilaria, 36, elaborated. “They know there’s a virus and it’s called corona … But my kids are really little. As long as mommy and daddy are OK and we’re not freaked out about it in front of them, then they’re OK.
“Everybody with little kids knows that the moment a parent freaks out is the moment when the kids start to feel unsafe,” she added.
Though their little ones have been on spring break for the past two weeks, Hilaria has already begun homeschooling them. But with Carmen in first grade, Rafael in pre-K, Leo in pre-pre-K, and Romeo still on her hip, the process has been a challenge.
“Carmen is 6 so I can give her a page of work to do and she’ll do it. But the other two need serious handholding and focusing. It’s hard ... The other day we were doing ABCs and I turned and saw Leo had his foot literally in his mouth,” she said, laughing. “He was literally chewing on his toes. And I thought, ‘This is going poorly.’”
The "Mom Brain" podcast co-host added, "I’ve also been trying to kind of homeschool myself. I’ve been hearing from so many parents and they’re so right — this is so difficult,” she said.
Still, the couple are treating the family's time in quarantine as a learning process — one where their kids are sometimes the teachers.
“Alec and I were saying how much we miss our old life … And the things that we would complain about before now seem so stupid. After this, I will never complain about X, Y, and Z ever again because it’s so small."
“I will,” joked Alec, 61.
“At least you’re honest, honey,” Hilaria responded, laughing. "Anyway, we were complaining about it in the beginning. And Carmen looked at us and said, ‘I don’t hate this. I love this. All I want to do is be around my mommy and daddy, and now I get to be around you guys all the time.’”
“It was one of those things like, Whoa. Wisdom from a 6-year- old," recalled Hilaria. "Alec and I just looked at each other like, OK, we have to realize we are so lucky."
Hilaria has long described her Emmy-winning husband as a wonderful co-parent. Has Alec stepped up even more while the family is isolating?
“You know what he’s really great at? He’s really good at cleaning the kitchen. I’ll cook and then he loves to go clean the kitchen,” said Hilaria.
Then, to her husband, she added, “Isn’t that right, honey? Best kitchen cleaner ever!”