ET spoke with the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star via video chat on Thursday -- once from inside a car, and a second time from outside her home -- to find out how she's handling the near-worldwide shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're going between our home and my husband's office, down the street," Denise tells ET. "And, right now, I'm outside getting a little fresh air."
Denise is at home with her husband, Aaron Phypers, and her three daughters -- Sam, 16, Lola, 14, and Eloise, 8.
"Whenever I can, like, get to a closet and have quiet time, or in a car, I do," she jokes. "Any parent will relate. I'm so happy to be spending all of this quality time with the kids, but they're already bored and doing school work. And they're teenagers, the older ones. But it's also good -- you really re-evaluate what's important and things that you love and sometimes it's the simplest things."
"I think it’s actually very good for my kids' generation to learn, when they say they’re bored, I say what my parents used to say, clean your room, do other things,” she adds. “Find other things to do outside of a phone or a computer. I actually think it’s -- that part of it, the silver lining, it’s nice. We were all cooking last night together, which we do a lot, but other times you’re very busy with work and other things. That part of it is reconnecting families, too. Back to basics.”
Denise says the hardest part, so far, is figuring out the new normal all being stuck inside -- her older daughters are doing school from home. She says her youngest daughter, Eloise's, routine hasn’t been upended as much, even though she has special needs.
"She's actually been good, because a lot of her stuff is very private and everyone's healthy," Denise shares. "Things have changed a little bit for her, too, but more so for the older girls who are in school. Our oldest daughter, Sami, turned 16. She was supposed to take her driving test. Unfortunately, she was very disappointed that it was canceled. It has to be rescheduled."
Both Sami and Denise's husband celebrated their birthdays in this strange time; ET spoke with Denise on Aaron's actual birthday, and she was having a hard time figuring out how to celebrate while in "quarantine."
"I'm still trying to figure out what to put a candle in, because I cannot even bake him a cake -- there isn't even flour available," she laments. "I can't believe it. I can't even find bread at the grocery stores where we've gone to. But that's all right. We'll celebrate -- well, we'll get a cake another time, too."
Aaron's birthday fell just one day after the trailer for season 10 of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills dropped, in which he is heavily featured. For months, Denise has been plagued by tabloid rumors about her marriage and an alleged affair she had with co-star Brandi Glanville, which she's vehemently denied. For the most part, Denise has stayed tight-lipped on the drama, and that remains true. She wants the RHOBH fans to tune in and see what went down for themselves.
"Well, you know trailers are meant to hopefully get people to want to watch a show or movie, and I definitely think that this trailer delivered for people who want to watch the show, which is good," she says. "There's a lot of stuff that goes on in this season for sure. It was a challenging season for me to say the least. Yeah… you'll have to watch."
Season 10 is Denise’s second on Housewives. Her first went relatively smoothly (her biggest issue was that she wasn't as fashionably dressed as the other ladies); but Denise admits, this time around was very different.
"This was something I was not expecting at all," she says. "I was very much caught off guard. And, you know, the subject matter that seems to be in all the tabloids of late is...I don't know. I think it's kind of disgusting that they even talk about it. But that's something they choose to, and I've had worse things said, so you know, I can rise above it."
Denise's marriage obviously survived the season, but viewers will have to watch to see how exactly she and Aaron navigated the whole ordeal.
"I am strong, but ... I'm human, too,"she says. "But I have a very solid marriage and I -- my husband and I, we just rise above it. You know, in the big picture, we can't worry about that stuff."
To keep her mind off the drama and the pandemic, Denise says she's resorted to snacking on too many chips (Pringles and kettle cooked are her favorites) and streamed comedy specials with her husband.
"But it's also been a good time to do spring cleaning," she adds. "Clean out the closets. Organize things. Go through the clothes. Cook a lot. It's been good, actually, that part of it. And I know there's obviously so much suffering and everything outside of that. The silver lining is all of us being together, you know, being home with the family."
Denise was actually abroad shooting her new series, Glow and Darkness, and was able to return home to the U.S. just in time.
"I was in Madrid, which things escalated quite quickly there," she says. "I got out the day before they shut down the airports – I was able to get to London and then, getting to L.A. the next day. You know, everyone is being screened, at least when I landed, and it’s actually, it’s very surreal. It’s a different thing to deal with."
"We are gonna finish [the show]," she continues. "We did get shut down like many productions have right now, for the time being until things are much better in the world … It’s a lot of fun, but I’m glad they kept us all safe and healthy, got us back home in time, so that was a relief for my family."
While fans will have to wait a little longer for Glow and Darkness, there are plenty of Denise’s old projects to binge in this time (Drop Dead Gorgeousand more are streaming!). Sadly, she doesn't have a specific recommendation
"You know, I don't like to watch myself," she confesses. "When I look back at every project, I always think about what happened off camera, what happened behind the scenes and us hanging out. Where I was personally… those are the memories that I really have from everything. But you know, whatever anyone wants to watch."
The longtime animal activist is also thinking about our furry friends at this time. She's currently holed up with her menagerie of dogs and asks that, if you can, rescue right now.
"I always encourage to adopt, and it’s difficult to hold the mobile adoptions right now, because people are not able to leave their home," she says. "But you know, trying to foster as much as we can and help out the rescue organizations that are able to still pull some of the dogs from the shelter. Just all come together and help these lovely animals that need love and homes, too."