The Riverdale actor and the Live host's youngest son Joaquin plans to head off to college in 2021

By Kate Coyne
August 13, 2020 09:00 AM

Although Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos have relished the time at home with their three kids Michael, Lola and Joaquin amid the quarantine, they also look forward to it being just the two of them when their youngest heads off to college next year.

“We had our kids so young — we’d only been married for one year when we had Michael, so we have had kids pretty much our entire marriage,” Kelly, 49, tells PEOPLE in the cover story of this week's Family Issue. “So when it comes to an empty nest, we’re looking forward to it, honestly."

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Mark, also 49, heard from a famous friend about the glories of life as empty nesters. "Rob Lowe says that once your kids leave, you pretty much never put clothes on ever again; you’re just naked all the time,” the Riverdale actor says. "So there’s that too!”

Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa and their kids Michael (left), Lola and Joaquin on the cover of PEOPLE's Family Issue.

The Live with Kelly and Ryan host expects the kids to visit, though. "They’ll still be close to us, and they will come home, and we will still have plenty of times together ahead," she says.

RELATED VIDEO: Kelly Ripa, Mark Consuelos, Lola Consuelos, Joaquin Consuelos and Michael Consuelos Cover the Family Issue

Michael, 23, graduated virtually from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts in May and wants to be a screenwriter. Lola, 19, is an aspiring singer who will enter her sophomore year at NYU this fall, while her younger brother Joaquin, 17, used the quarantine to study up for college admissions tests.

Mark Consuelos and Kelly Ripa with their children
| Credit: Miller Mobley

“He’s doing all the ACT and SAT testing and trying to apply to schools, all during a pandemic," Mark says of Joaquin. Kelly adds that her youngest child "sparks all the debates in the house about anything — political, social, environmental, poetry."

No matter the path each of her children takes, though, Ripa knows they'll all stay close.

"We love each other — but we also really like each other, and we respect each other," the daytime talk show host says. "I don’t think any amount of college or growing up will take that away from us."

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