Jennifer Garner, Meghan Markle and More Celebs Who Have Spoken Out About Motherhood During the Pandemic
By Antoinette Bueno, Paige Gawley, Rachel McRady
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As we celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday, let's take a moment to recognize that although it's been a tough year on everyone, it's especially been challenging for moms! Navigating a global pandemic while also being there for your children has proven to be an unusual challenge. Celebrity moms have been candid and vulnerable about their struggles, their triumphs, and the lessons they've learned while raising their kids in a pandemic.
From Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, opening up about her heartbreaking miscarriage to Amy Schumer keeping it real about her less-than-glamorous quarantine, these stars haven't sugarcoated the good, the bad, or the ugly.
Here's what some of your favorite celebrity moms had to say:
"I got an extended maternity leave that I never thought I would get, so that was really the silver lining in all of it," Graham told ET in February. "I had eight months straight with him, that me and Justin got to spend with him, so that was so beautiful."
Graham talked about the struggles she's faced so far.
"Being a parent, a lot of it is trial and error," she shared. "Looking for help, building up confidence along the way and just having enough confidence in yourself that Mom and Dad know what's best for the baby. And forgiving yourself along the way."
She also told ET that she's trying to help eliminate any stigma around breastfeeding in public and on social media.
"To me, breastfeeding, whether you do it or don't do it as a mother, like, it should just be normalized," she continued. "Just like anything else when it comes to being a parent. Everybody parents differently, everybody treats their body differently. So to post yourself breastfeeding should be normalized just as much as giving your child a bottle."
The talk show host and actress got real about parenting amid the pandemic during her appearance on the Today show last April. While talking about balancing her work and educating her two daughters -- Olive, 8, and Frankie, 6 -- Barrymore admitted that she "cried every day."
"I don't know if there are good days and bad days. I think there are good hours and bad hours… I cried every day, all day long," she confessed. "It was like every church and state. It was the messiest plate I've ever held in my life to be the teacher, the parent, the disciplinarian, the caretaker."
"I didn't think I needed to respect and appreciate teachers any more than I did," she added. "Then you start to get some systems and you see people on social media making lists and you're like, 'Aaarghh!' You find your way. You're resilient."
"I have been making a gratitude list at night," she shared. "This is a new thing for me, but my daughters are involved and we clock things and people and names to put on the list," The Drew Barrymore Show host shared.
The mother of six talked to British Vogue in February about her children -- Maddox, 19, Pax, 16, Zahara, 15, Shiloh, 14, and 12-year-old twins Vivienne and Knox -- pulling together during the coronavirus pandemic. She described her children as "capable" and "resilient," and shared that they've been working together as a team to get through it.
"I think that like most families, we have had this bigger thing happening with the pandemic," she said. "But of course you also have these life markers. We went into it having just gotten out of the hospital with Zahara [who underwent surgery last March], and we were so happy she was OK that we entered lockdown in a different state of mind. But, you know, there are also these other markers of life: Pax going into his senior year, but not being able to enjoy all that it is to be a senior; Zahara finally getting her driving license, but she’s taking the test with the driver wrapped in the full outfit with the masks. It’s not how you imagine these moments. But birthdays go on, and I think that for many people, it's made us all feel very human together. There’s something beautiful about that."
ET spoke with Jolie in August, where she also talked about her children being there for her as well as each other while quarantining together.
"You know, I am so lucky," she said. "We are so used to being tight together for a long time. ... I'm lucky, and I think when you have that many children, they really take care of each other. They help me. I'm not alone managing everything. They are an amazing team, so I'm very, very fortunate."
The Duchess of Sussex had to navigate several moves with her young son, Archie, throughout the global pandemic. After the family had finally relocated to their Montecito, California, home, they've settled into a more laid-back lifestyle.
"Oh, my gosh. He's on a roll. In the past couple weeks, [his favorite word] has been 'hydrate,' which is just hysterical,'" Meghan shared of Archie.
Her husband also revealed that the young family enjoys their new outdoor space, going for walks and to the beach.
"I guess, the highlight for me is sticking him on the back of a bicycle in his little baby seat and take him on these bike rides, which is something I was never able to do when I was young," Harry told Oprah of their son. "I can see him on the back, and he's got his arms out. And he's like, 'Whoooo,' chatting, chatting, chatting; going, 'Palm tree,' and all this sort of stuff."
During the pandemic, Meghan also opened up about suffering a miscarriage in an emotional essay for The New York Times. She wrote about caring for Archie during that heartbreaking time.
"After changing his diaper, I felt a sharp cramp. I dropped to the floor with him in my arms, humming a lullaby to keep us both calm, the cheerful tune a stark contrast to my sense that something was not right," she wrote. "I knew, as I clutched my firstborn child, that I was losing my second."
The couple has since announced that they are expecting a baby girl this summer.
The 48-year-old mother of three has been embracing her quarantine life with her kids while also acknowledging the struggles of parenthood.
"This has been such a hard year for moms. We have had to say 'No, no, no.' We've had to watch our kids be home, miss out on things," Garner told ET in February. "It is one thing to miss out on something as an adult, but to watch your kids miss something they have looked forward to or just how hard it has been to see them isolated and on Zoom every day."
Last summer, Garner got candid about how difficult it's been as a parent to see her kids struggle.
"I feel so lucky. I've been in the luckiest possible circumstance. I have a roof, I have food, I have health, and so does my family," she said at the time. "I'm really thinking about my kids. And what their experience is going to be."
And while she's grateful her kids have access to the internet and good teachers, she added, "It is heavy. It's heavy for everyone. And it's just, how do kids in this world not just live in all this heaviness?"
Mill Kunis and her husband, Ashton Kutcher, have spent their quarantine with their two kids, Wyatt, 6, and Dimitri, 4, trying to keep busy.
"We just did a lot of drive-thru experiences... we've done all of them," she shared on Jimmy Kimmel Live in February. "I'm not kidding you, I took my 4-year-old and my 6-year-old and my grown-a** husband to a baby rave... You felt like you were tripping on acid. They give you these glasses... My kids were like, 'This is the best experience ever!' I was like, 'Oh no!'"
Kunis opened up to ET in January about her close-knit family's quarantine life together.
"Our whole family is already co-dependent, so this pandemic just feeds into our entire co-dependency," Kunis told ET. "And my husband and I were super co-dependent for, like, eight years and in this pandemic our kids are like, 'Where are you going?' And I was like, 'The bathroom.' We haven't left each other. We're in the house. Yeah, it was really weird for them. They forgot that we have to go out of the house…"
Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, are known for keeping it real and that certainly applies to their approach to parenting in the pandemic.
"Homeschooling still sucks," Bell told ET in June 2020. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it... my kids, we dyed their hair last week. So dying my hair has been one of the funnest things in quarantine."
She added that her kids' antics have led to some unexpected situations in quarantine.
"We have a 5 and a 7-year-old so we have had a couple near stitches situations," she shared. "We've also definitely had to move the scissors because one of our daughters has cut her bangs more than a few times."
During a podcast interview in September 2020, Bell also opened up about her daughter drinking non-alcoholic beer on a school Zoom call.
"I walk in to check on them at 9:30 and both of them are drinking an O'Doul's on their Zooms," Bell said. "They're both just sipping their Doulies. And I'm like, 'What must these other parents and teachers think of me?'"
While the 47-year-old actress is notoriously private about her two daughters with longtime love, Ryan Gosling -- daughters Esmeralda, 6, and Amada, 4 -- she did share a funny moment about having "mom pandemic guilt" in December.
"My little girl wanted to cut out Maria Callas' face from the record cover," she captioned a black-and-white photo. "I quietly died a little inside but I quickly said yes. Mom pandemic guilt in full effect."
In October, she told The Sunday Morning Herald that life amid the coronavirus for her and 40-year-old Gosling is all about her kids.
"Sometimes it feels like we are running some kind of bed-and-breakfast with very drunk and aggressive guests," she joked. "We really do feel like we are working in a hotel, and the guests are angry and bossy and demand food brought to them. And by the time they go to sleep, we’re left to just clean up and talk about how they’ve treated us that day!"
Still, she is grateful for their moments together.
"When we feel like we’re just ‘in it,’ like all parents do during these times, we remind ourselves that these are the good times, because we’re all together and we’re all safe right now," she shared.
"To just have a baby, you're already spending the first six weeks home, and all of a sudden it's extended [with quarantine], so I've been home for a couple months already," Milian said. "But I've managed to become really creative with my boredom ... to be honest, everybody's experiencing it in some way, but it makes you appreciate what you have and make sure you get the best of it."
Raising a newborn and homeschooling Violet has definitely kept the Falling Inn Love star busy.
"It's double the work. I'm multitasking like crazy, especially when we first started doing this homeschooling thing. I was going nuts, because I'm like, 'I'm not a teacher,'" she confessed. "I feel like I'm going back to school again. Like, I have to look up on Google and YouTube how to do subtractions, multiplying fractions... but it’s been nice to brush up on that stuff again, and you have to be patient with your kids."
"I give teachers a ton of credit because, man, doing this on a daily basis is not fun," she joked. "But we make it fun. I'm having fun. I'm having a good time with Violet."
The 39-year-old comedian has been busy being a mom to her 1-year-old son, Gene, with her husband, Chris Fischer. In January, she hilariously joked on Instagram that she and Fischer were not allowing Gene to have "any screen time at all," then at the end of the video, she said they let him "watch a lot of TV."
ET also spoke with Schumer that month about her Super Bowl commercial and what it's been like having all this extra time at home with Gene amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and explained her screen time rules.
"It's the best," she said of their moments together. "We have chosen to do no screen time except for about 90 minutes every day when he watches television. I actually did the Today show today and he and I showed how he knows how to hail a taxi."
"He's so good, and he's starting to talk in full sentences," she continued. "He doesn't say any words but he has a lot of conviction. He's basically me, because he uses his hands a lot."
And Schumer said she has more to look forward to when she turns 40 on June 1.
"I feel really good. I'm excited to turn 40," she exclaimed. "I'm not worried about aging. I've never really been celebrated for being, like, young and hot, so I'm not worried about anything."
"I think I'm just getting started, and life's getting better," she added.
In December, the 35-year-old actress opened up about her life at home with husband Thomas Sadoski and their two kids -- 3-year-old daughter Nina and their son, Thomas, whom they welcomed in September -- during her appearance on The Talk.
“It’s incredible. I just ran back to my house just to sniff him," she said of her newborn son. "It’s kind of crazy, you know everybody says it’s crazy to be home, but this is a silver lining, I get to be with him."
And it appears her daughter is already taking after her parents.
“I think because she’s three and a half…we prepared her really well and she’s the sweetest, gentlest…she’s been a dream…she’s performing all the time," Seyfried revealed. "She sings all the time, decently. She’s a decent singer and she’s always performing. She has her dolls. She just doesn’t shut up and it’s a good thing."
She later hilariously got real about sometimes reaching her limit.
"I don’t want her to stop, but sometimes we have to say to her, can you bring it down a notch? … I don’t want to stop any of that, but, man, it’s too much sometimes," she acknowledged. "I’m just like, ‘Can you just be into science right now?’”
"I don't share her face or anything [online]; I'll let her choose when she wants to do that later on in life," she noted. "But I can't help but share these insane conversations that [I'm] having with this 3-year-old. I mean, they're so in touch sometimes it's scary, but it's also super funny. I love it, and if I can share any of that, I will."
She also shared that the feeling was mutual when it comes to how her daughter feels about her own singing.
"She knows how badly I want to sing, and she will not let me," Seyfried said about what life is like at home with the toddler. "She's smart. I gotta think of a way to [negotiate] because I'm a singer, and if she starts walking out of the room when I start singing, I'm going to get, like, an even bigger complex than I already have."
The former 30 Rock star opened up to ET in January about her time in quarantine with her 9-year-old son, Bennett, whom she shares with her ex, Robert Godley. The mother-son duo spent most of the pandemic in New York City, where Bennett kept busy with remote schooling.
"I successfully somehow made it through the third grade again," Krakowski, 52, quipped. "… Fourth grade math is getting a little more complicated, so sometimes I have to just be out and say, ‘We have to call your teacher,’ but I try to do my best."
While the actress acknowledged that the last year has "been a very hard time for everybody," she noted that the "silver lining" is extra time with her son.
"It’s kind of lovely to have the extra time for me to be home with my son and to have that time with my son," she said, before explaining one upside to Bennett's at-home learning.
"You go to your parent-teacher conference and I feel like, ‘Oh, that’s not the kid I see at home,’ or I’m like, ‘That’s weird, he seems different at home to me,’ but then watching him learn, I do understand a lot of what the teachers have been telling me, seeing how he actually does his work and how he learns," she said. "It’s been an added bonus to learn how he learns and therefore we can all help him moving forward, and just bring out the best in him by me having a greater understanding of that."
Though the time with her son and a better understanding of him are both "small pluses" to "a very tough time," Krakowski said she still feels "so bad for kids" in the wake of the pandemic.
"Most of their play dates are on Zoom and the socializing time is not there at the moment, so I look forward to when we can return to what new life will be… and kids will have a chance to be kids again," she said.
Though the former Grey's Anatomy actressmsuffered "intense anxiety" throughout quarantine, she was thankful for it too, as it afforded her more time with her children. Drew, 40, shares Micha, 9, and Hannah, 6, with her husband, Peter Lanfer.
"We've had so much time with the kids," she told ET last year. "My son has developed a great love of filmmaking. We've made tons of movies. I bought a green screen. My agent actually got [us] a little Steadicam and a boom mic."
Along with some of their neighbors, Drew's kids even used quarantine to shoot an abridged version of The Greatest Showman.
"That's our project that we've been doing for the last six weeks," she said. "It's actually been a really amazing time."
The Greatest Showman project, which Drew edited throughout quarantine, and additional family time in general, helped the actress appreciate every moment with her loved ones.
"As crazy as it is, we've been able to really find the beauty in the simplifying of everything, without forgetting about how intense everything is and how privileged I am to not be in dire straits for not working for a year," she said.
The actress and her husband, Dwyane Wade, used their quarantine time to teach their daughter, 2-year-old Kaavia, how to swim.
Last April, the couple took to Instagram to share pics and videos of the tot's successful swim lesson, which they dubbed "PE Home School." Meanwhile, Kaavia's at-home music class went well, too, as the proud parents shared a clip of her dancing to Carlos Arroyo's 2017 track, "Baila Reggaeton."
While Kaavia was happy to learn from her parents in quarantine, 13-year-old Zaya, whom Wade shares with his ex, Siohvaughn Funches, preferred to stick to learning from her teachers.
"I mean, homeschool is happening. Zaya does not trust us to even look at her [homework]," Union said on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in May. "She's like, 'I'll wait for my tutors.'"
Zaya's insistence may have been for the best, though, as Union admitted with a laugh, "Somebody asked me, 'How are you on the new math?' And I'm like, 'I wasn't solid on the old math.'"
That same month, Union opened up to Refinery29about watching Zaya blossom in quarantine.
"Since I’m usually working away from home, being present every day is really different for me. I’m watching the girls change every day," she said. "Zaya is almost 13, and to see her light bulbs go off with schoolwork is amazing... I love watching her be independent and communicate with her friends because I usually miss it all."
"Being able to witness it up close reminds me that it doesn’t matter whether you're a stay-at-home mom with your kids physically at school for a good chunk of the day, or you're a working mom, we all miss a lot," she added.
In a December interview with Parents, Union revealed the two parenting lessons she learned over the last year.
"Needing help does not make you weak or vulnerable -- it just means you need help like everybody else," she said, before sharing her second "very humbling" lesson.
"I don't have all the answers," she said. "'I don't know' is a real answer that more people should embrace."
After adopting two 18-year-old boys in 2019, the 45-year-old singer got unexpected time with her sons as a result of the pandemic. In a May 2020 interview with SiriusXM Hits 1′s The Morning Mash Up, Sia revealed that both her boys were finding quarantine "pretty difficult."
"But they’re both doing things that are really good for them right now, that are really helpful," she said. "They’re really doing a lot of educational stuff that’s good for them."
In October 2020, Sia opened up about living with one of her sons, Che, during quarantine, and how the experience has allowed them to grow closer.
"I’m proud that he’s able to have a really full life," she said. "We have bonded a lot during this time, and we have so many shared idiosyncrasies. We’re both hyper-vigilant, we’re fast thinkers, and we love dogs -- we’ve got lots of them now."
"We’ve been watching movies and TV together, and since my sons love to listen to music, we’ve been doing a lot of that too," Sia continued. "It’s funny because both of them have come into my room with one of my songs playing and said, 'Mama, you sing this song? You wrote this? Wow, I didn’t know that!' It’s really sweet."
For Sia, becoming a mom changed her "in every way."
"I’ve learned how to be patient and compassionate. I’ve learned how to set strong boundaries. I’ve learned that as a single parent, I need a great support system so I can ask questions about what’s normal and what’s not," she said. "I’ve learned what it means to unconditionally love another person."
"But the most important thing I’ve learned is that just because my sons didn’t come out of me 19 years ago doesn’t mean they’re not my children," she continued. "I’ve already started thinking about adopting more kids. And I’ve realized that this is exactly the way that motherhood was supposed to happen for me."