If you're a parent who's been struggling to balance all your new roles during quarantine (caring for kids 24/7, taking over teaching, making every meal every day) with all your old ones (working, taking care of yourself, keeping your home clean), Saved by the Bell star Tiffani Thiessen is right there with you, and she totally gets your struggle. "Trying to navigate all the things you now have to do in the day and still trying to work, it’s not easy," she says.
But one of the tools that's, well, kind of saved her is Nature Bakery's Snack Sized Adventures site. The microsite (which hands down has the best URL ever: whatonearthshouldidowithmykids.com) was designed for every parent struggling to find fresh ways to keep their kids entertained during quarantine. "It's absolutely amazing," Thiessen says. "It's got 100-plus different types of ideas that you can do as a family. And it's so user-friendly—that's what I love about it."
We caught up with Thiessen to hear about some of her favorite activities from the site and chat about what else she's up to in quarantine.
Rachael Ray In Season: 1. You’re a mom of two—Harper, 10, and Holt, 5. How was it transitioning into the role of full-time educator and entertainer?
Tiffani Thiessen: I’m not gonna lie, it was definitely difficult. I find myself to be multi-talented in many ways, but I’ve never had to do it all at once. Trying to navigate all the things you now have to do in the day and still trying to work, it’s not easy. And it wasn’t easy for our kids! I think my youngest was probably the easiest in the sense that he felt, “We’re staying home! This is awesome. I love my house.” But still trying to educate him—he’s in preschool—was challenging because he doesn’t want to sit and do stuff that he would normally do in preschool. So I had to be very creative in that sense. And I also had to not over-stress myself knowing that it’s preschool, it’s OK.
My daughter, on the other hand... She’s a social butterfly. So it was hard. It’s still hard! But we’re getting into a better rhythm. She kind of likes that she drives herself to get it all done and at a pretty decent hour so she’s not sitting on that computer all day. And she and her classmates have created study groups and things like that. So it’s definitely gotten better, but I would be a liar if I told you it was easy.
One of the things that's helped you is Nature's Bakery's Snack Sized Adventures. Why did you decide to partner with them?
I'm already a fan of Nature’s Bakery in general—like, my kids are obsessed with the bars. And as a mom I love them because they don’t melt, they don’t get everywhere, and they’re completely wholesome. There’s not any of the stuff that as a mom you don’t want in your kids’ snack bars. And because I like what’s in them and the kids like how they taste, you’ve got a win-win.
What do you enjoy most about the Snack Sized Adventures microsite?
They developed something that I think speaks to a lot of us as parents out there. Like I said, I find myself to be pretty creative, but it gets to a point where you feel drained in your creativity—you’re at home and you only have so much you can do. But they’ve done this microsite that is absolutely amazing. It’s endless. It’s got 100-plus different types of ideas that you can do as a family, because that’s of course what you’re doing right now, spending all your time with the family.
It's especially nice to have ideas that get you away from technology. I published a book with my husband that was all about getting away from the computers and the phones and iPads and stuff, which is sadly what we are kind of having to do to connect with people right now. But Nature's Bakery's site allows parents and kids to navigate it together and pick out these really fun activities you guys can do as a family, whether it’s crafting, creating a moment, adventuring outside, painting rocks—there are so many ideas. Some are super simple, some are a little more intense. I'm obsessed. It's nice because sometimes you're searching for ideas, and Pinterest is endless. But this is all right there, it's easy to use. I think it's amazing.
Which activity from the site do your kids like the most?
There isn’t one they don’t like. You can favorite the activities you want to do, and I would say that my kids have already favorited, like, 80 of them. We’ve done the rainbow of leaves—that was great, we did it on one of our walks. One that we’re actually going to do next week is, I got some tennis shoes and we’re going to decorate the shoes. That’s going to be a really fun process, and then they get to wear it, which is super cute.
Outside of childcare, what have you been up to in quarantine?
We watched the usual stuff that everybody did, like Tiger King and that kind of stuff. But I love cookbooks and food magazines. Those are where I find my inspiration and my sort of “let-loose." And especially now that I’m cooking nine million meals a day, I need all the inspiration I can get!
What kinds of things are you cooking?
Last night we had French-style mussels in a beautiful fennel broth and wine. It was so good. I let the kids pick out one night that they get to choose, my husband gets to choose one, I get to choose one. We do a lot of homemade pizzas. We do Mexican food a lot. Now that it's getting warmer I'm starting to do more grilling. Just all sorts of things.
Will your episodes of the Saved by the Bell reboot still be airing at some point?
Yes! We literally were days away—like, I want to say two days away—from shooting. Mark-Paul and I had to shoot our stuff at the end of the season because we both were doing other shows. I had Alexa & Katie and he was doing a show on ABC called Mixed-ish. Quarantine happened right before we were supposed to start shooting, so we will get to it when we can. It’s so up in the air. I have other projects I was supposed to start shooting, as well, and everything’s on hold, you know.
Have you enjoyed having this downtime?
You know, it’s funny. It’s like, there’s some enjoyment of not putting makeup on and constantly having my hair in a bun and wearing one pair of shorts and walking barefoot all day—all those kinds of things that definitely are great. But at the same time, I’m also missing the other part of it of, like putting a dress on or going to work or seeing my friends or going to a restaurant. But I think there are silver linings in all of it, and I can see many, many silver linings. We’re just trying to focus on those.