"It's literally the opposite of what I've been telling them," Nicole Richie says of son Sparrow, 10, and daughter Harlow, 12

By Jen Juneau and Dave Quinn
March 27, 2020 01:40 PM
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Nicole Richie‘s tune about screen time for her kids has changed amid the social distancing requirements related to the novel coronavirus spread.

The actress and fashion designer, 38, opened up Friday during a video call-in interview on Live with Kelly and Ryan about how she, husband Joel Madden and their kids Sparrow James Midnight, 10, and Harlow Winter Kate, 12, are making it work while stuck indoors as a result of the virus.

“They’re in home school so they’re doing their Zooms,” said Nicole. “It’s weird, I spent 10 years preaching no screens and now they’ve become kind of a lifeline over here. It’s literally the opposite of what I’ve been telling them. They’re doing school but they’re also doing their extracurricular activities and they’re communicating with their friends.”

“They really need that time. They need that time away — I’m sure a lot of moms feel like they need time away from their kids too, but it’s true, a lot of time kids need time away from us,” she added. “They want to talk about other things, and I think they’re doing a really great job.”

“Big picture,” Nicole told the hosts, is that “we are healthy and we’re home and that’s the most important thing you can do right now, stay home. We’re home.”

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Nicole Richie (R) and Joel Madden with their kids in 2010
| Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty
Nicole Richie

“We are doing okay,” she added. “I think there’s so many waves of emotions. You don’t have to feel okay all the time, but the kids are adjusting really well. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a 10- and 12-year-old right now and only being around adults and having adults talk about one thing all day long.”

Another screen Sparrow and Harlow are being allowed to view is the television when their granddad, Lionel Richie, makes his weekly appearance as a judge on American Idol — and the siblings “like to be embarrassed by” Lionel, 70, whom they call “Pop-Pop.”

“They’re like, ‘Oh, Pop-Pop’s so crazy, he’s so silly.’ And he is,” Nicole shared. “Here’s the thing about my dad: He’s the same person off camera as he is on camera,” Nicole shared. “Any day I call him … he doesn’t say hello, he goes, ‘Showtime!’ And I’m like, ‘Dad it’s me.’ ”

“And then he’s got the zingers and the one-liners and zoom zoom zoom,” she continued. “And I’m like, ‘Are you waiting for me to call? Do you have a list down? How do you have so many jokes just ready to go?’ ”

Nicole (L) and Lionel Richie
| Credit: Christopher Polk/ACMA2012/Getty Images for ACM

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Nicole and her family are among the many celebs in California and elsewhere who are currently practicing social distancing amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The U.S. now has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the world, at more than 85,000 as of Friday morning with 1,275 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

Worldwide, Johns Hopkins reports, 566,269 people have become infected with the virus while more than 25,000 have died as a result of COVID-19.

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, and visit our coronavirus hub.