Vanessa Lachey and Nick Lachey share daughter Brooklyn, 6½, plus sons Camden, 8½, and Phoenix, 4½

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Vanessa Lachey is one proud mom!

The actress, who is set to star in the upcoming NCIS: Hawaii series, shared a sweet photo of her three kids, whom she shares with husband Nick Lachey, as they head off to their first day of school.

"And just like that... all three of my babies are in one school! 😩❤️👦🏻👧🏼🧒🏻🤙🏽 #Ohana," Vanessa, 40, captioned the back-to-school snapshot, which shows third-grader Camden John, 8½, first-grader Brooklyn Elisabeth, 6½, and pre-K student Phoenix Robert, 4½, smiling while wearing Hawaiian leis.

Last month, Vanessa told PEOPLE about filming on-location in Hawaii and living there with her family. She said she has "cherished" having work to focus on amid the chaos of the pandemic.

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"At the end of the day, I found the silver lining that I got to spend that much more time with my kids and get to know them even more," she said. "It really tested Nick and I's relationship, and I think we're better than ever. It was probably the hardest time for us because it forced us to really communicate more, and you literally couldn't run away from anything."

vanessa lachey and family
Credit: vanessa lachey/ instagram

While discussing her forthcoming book Life From Scratch, out in November, Vanessa told PEOPLE her advice to fellow mothers.

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"The thing that I would say to moms is instead of looking back at the things that we don't have, look at how exciting it can be to give your children something that they can latch onto," she said. "You can break that cycle and be the one that starts it all. It'll be your name that they talk about when they eat that recipe or when they do that fun dance night ... there's something really exciting and beautiful that you can create for generations to come."

"I get excited about having this for my family, and then when they come over when they're older, having it for their babies, and so on."