Drew Barrymore shares daughters Frankie, 6 this month, and Olive, 7½, with ex Will Kopelman

By Jen Juneau
April 14, 2020 01:00 PM
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Drew Barrymore is getting candid about the overwhelming task of balancing work and her regular parenting routine with the added challenge of homeschooling while her family follows social distancing guidelines surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The actress — who shares daughters Frankie, 6 this month, and Olive, 7½, with ex Will Kopelman — called in to the Today show on Tuesday, giving Savannah Guthrie the rundown on how life at home has been as of late as she tries to take on educating her girls while schools remain closed.

“School started, and it all went out the window,” Barrymore, 45, said of her “inventive” ideas for her daughters’ day-to-day, like using chalk to make hopscotch drawings and taking bike rides. “The minute I thought, ‘Oh, I’m three weeks in, I’ve got this,’ I cried every day, all day long.”

“It was the messiest plate I’ve ever held in my life, to be the teacher, the parent, the disciplinarian, the caretaker. And I thought, ‘Oh my God, and teachers have children [of their own]. Do they survive it because they get to go away and work with other kids? Have they had their children in their classroom? How did this all work?’ ” she added.

“I didn’t think I needed to respect and appreciate teachers any more than I did,” Barrymore said.

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Drew Barrymore (L) and Will Kopelman with daughter Frankie
Will Kopelman/Instagram
Drew Barrymore (L) with daughter Olive
Drew Barrymore/Instagram

The Santa Clarita Diet actress has started getting “some systems” in place for her girls, but admits that seeing “people on social media making lists” sometimes grinds her gears.

“[But] you find your way. We’re resilient,” she added.

Barrymore also touched on the importance of choosing happiness, saying that it’s “a war you fight every day, and the victory is if you accomplished any of those wins, that is a win.”

“It’s about reaction, it’s about the energy you put out there, it’s about the way you treat people with dignity and take a quick exchange as a moment to connect,” she continued. “I march in the army of optimism and I’m looking for recruits, but I’m very real about it. I am not some vapid hippie who’s like, ‘You just gotta be happy, man.’ ”

Drew Barrymore
Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

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The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.

As of Tuesday morning, there have been at least 580,878 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and 23,607 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

The U.S. now has the highest number of cases worldwide by a large margin, though the true numbers are likely far higher because sufficient testing has not been available.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.