Tia Mowry Reveals How She's Keeping Her Family 'Optimistic' amid 'Challenging' Quarantine Times
"There've been a lot of hurdles, but we are getting through it," Tia Mowry-Hardrict says
Tia Mowry-Hardrict isn't letting 2020 get her and her family down.
The mom of two, who has been social distancing with her family at their home in Los Angeles, is opening up about how she's keeping her loved ones "optimistic" amid in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm as real as it gets," Mowry-Hardrict tells PEOPLE. "... Quarantine has been challenging and it's something that I have had to adjust to but not just me, the whole entire family. My main goal as a parent is just to focus on the kids right now."
She continues: "I want to just put a spotlight on protecting everyone's mental health. I think that is one thing that we have really been focusing on here, not just for myself, but for my children."
Mowry-Hardrict goes on to stress the balance of keeping her children — son Cree, 9, and daughter Cairo, 2, whom she shares with husband Cory Hardrict — informed, but also protecting them "from the scary stuff."
"My son, he's nine, so he is aware of what is going on, but I try to protect him from the scary details because I don't want him to have any built-in anxiety whatsoever," she explains. "But he does know what coronavirus is. He knows how serious it is. We have adjusted. If you would have asked me the question maybe four months ago, I would have told you, 'I'm pulling my hair out.'"
And the key to adjusting to life amid a global pandemic? Keeping things routine, yet creative and fun.
"One thing that I have been making sure that we do as a family, especially with the kids, is just keeping them on schedule. The more they are engaged and unplugged from what is going on outside, the better," Mowry-Hardrict says.
"My kids have been having art time in the morning. Cairo will either work on her easel or she will sit down at her desk and the same thing with Cree — and one thing that I absolutely love and that we're huge fans of BIC Kids' new coloring line," the actress, who has recently partnered with the kid-friendly brand, says.
"It's incredible that BIC Kids' new coloring line has come out just in time to help me keep the kids busy," Mowry-Hardrict explains before elaborating on her son's artistic talents.
"They always like to showcase his artwork at school. I love coloring with Cree and I can just dive into some of the great products that BIC has," she says describing the brand's new line of long-lasting markers featuring strong tips that won't quickly dry out, and the vibrant break-resistant crayons with an easy wrap-free design.
"And I love the way the BIC crayons don't have the wrappers around them. So there is the no-fuss of the kids playing with the wrappers, or peeling it off," Mowry-Hardrict shares.
Coloring isn't the only activity keeping Mowry-Hardrict and her family entertained. The star says she and her husband have been "doing lots of cooking" in addition to educating their children about Black culture through movies, fashion and books, in light of the Black Lives Matter protests, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in May.
"I've talked to Cree about what's happening because even where we live, you can hear the protests going on. We took it as an opportunity to sit down with the kids and just educate them about everything," the BIC Kids partner says.
"You can share stories or read books. I have some incredible books ... about Rosa Parks, about Martin Luther King Jr. I also just bought some cute little T-shirts of African American leaders for my daughter to wear. So, even representation in that way at such a young age, I think it's incredible and beautiful," Mowry-Hardrict explains, adding that she and Hardrict also dedicated "a whole week" to watching movies with all African American casts to bring cultural awareness to their children.
"I think it starts with taking responsibility, number one, and having the conversation with your kids," she says.
And like most parents, Mowry-Hardrict has spent a lot of time in her house with her kids, joking about getting "a taste" of homeschooling in the earlier months of the pandemic. Now, the actress is mentally preparing for potential back to school fall sessions at home.
"It's up in the air. We still do not know. We are in constant communication with both of the kids' schools because Cairo is actually starting school in September and Cree will be going into the fourth grade," she explains. "There is some uncertainty there, but whether the kids go to school or not, the BIC coloring line will be available and there for all of us to enjoy."
But there have been some perks to being stuck at home.
"Prior to quarantine, when would you ever really sit together as a family and do artwork? And just create memories together," Mowry-Hardrict says, adding, "It's all about just keeping everybody busy, trying to remain optimistic. There've been a lot of hurdles, but we are getting through it and we are a strong family and we lean on each other and that is what really, really keeps us going."