Angela and Vanessa Simmons are currently starring in season 5 of Growing Up Hip Hop, airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on WE tv

By Jen Juneau
May 07, 2020 03:10 PM
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Vanessa Simmons Talks Mom 'Positivity' amid Pandemic While Angela Talks Being a Single Parent
Angela (L) and Vanessa Simmons
| Credit: WE tv

For Angela and Vanessa Simmons, parenting during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has just one primary rule: take it one day at a time.

PEOPLE recently caught up with the sisters about season 5 of their WE tv series Growing Up Hip Hop, as well as how they're faring as parents during the pandemic. (Vanessa, 36, is mom to 6-year-old daughter Ava Marie Jean, while Angela, 32, has a 3½-year-old son named Sutton Joseph.)

"Lots of activities, lots of reading. [Ava]'s 6 right now and she's just starting to be able to recognize words. A lot of baking and cooking with me," says Vanessa. "She does her P.E. class, so that keeps her pretty energized and active during this time. It's a new day every day and we take it one day at a time and keep the happy vibes flowing in my house."

Angela adds that at his young age, her son doesn't quite have the "attention span" that would allow him to sit and do work for long periods of time: "He's gotta play and he wants to bake cakes and all that good stuff."

Having already wrapped the recent season of their show, the sisters are currently living on opposite sides of the country — but Ava and Sutton are still able to connect and have playdates over FaceTime, along with brother Jojo Simmons' 4-year-old daughter Mia. "They did coloring the other day till my phone died," says Vanessa.

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Angela — who teases a skincare line coming out soon and juggles both her Built Not Bought program and her Purpose app, which provides tips and inspiration for motherhood, business and more — has the added challenge of parenting as a single mother, after losing her ex-fiancé Sutton Tennyson. (Tennyson was shot and killed in Atlanta in November 2018.)

"It's the balance of being a one-parent household that definitely makes it more work," she tells PEOPLE. "Normal single-mom stuff — just balancing work and everything [Sutton] needs at the same time. But it works itself out."

And self-care has "been [at the] top of the list" for the sisters says Vanessa, who is currently working as a kindergarten teacher on top of starring on Growing Up Hip Hop and running her businesses and blog.

"Baths every day — I've turned into Rev Run, it's really happened. I've turned into my dad," she jokes. "Baths and self-care definitely help keep me grounded, energized and happy for my daughter, which is important. Can't [pour] from an empty glass."

Jojo Simmons wedding
The Simmons family at Jojo Simmons' wedding

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Vanessa — who promises fans that they will get to see "a lot about the fitness journey" she has been on during the remainder of the season — advises other parents going through a similar situation to not "be so hard on yourself," as well as "to take care of your mind and make sure there's as much positivity around for the kids as possible."

"Don't beat yourself up if you miss a lesson plan; jump on it the next day. Just take it one day at a time and realize this isn't a productivity contest, but more so we're all going through something together and our mindsets are going to be different every day," she says.

"You have to make the best out of the time," Angela adds. "The positive part is that we get to slow down a little, be with our kids more. I think it's definitely a plus to be inside with them rather than gone all the time."

Growing Up Hip Hop airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on WE tv.

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