Like many second-time mothers, Hilary Duff struggled with mom guilt after welcoming her daughter Banks in late 2018.
“A newborn needs their mom so much, and so much of that time is sitting and nursing. You’re kind of incapable of physically doing anything else with another child,” the 32-year-old actress — who’s partnering with Kohl’s for their Amazing Moms Contest (open now through April 15) — tells PEOPLE exclusively. “[My son] Luca was almost seven when I had her. I had a lot of guilt and felt like, ‘Am I giving him enough?'”
But after seeing Luca (whom Duff shares with ex-husband Mike Comrie) embrace his role as big brother to Banks, who turns 2 in October, Duff says she felt a weight lift off her shoulders.
“Their bond was so sweet right away. It helped me overcome that [guilt] because I saw that he was old enough to [understand],” says the Younger star. “If I could give him a finite, ‘Hey, I have to do this for the next 35 minutes, and then it’s going to be your time with me,’ he could wrap his head around that. The age gap is actually really great. They’re buddies.”
Over the last couple of weeks, Duff has been social distancing at home with her kids and husband Matthew Koma. And while it hasn’t been easy, the entertainer is cherishing her extra time at home with her family while keeping her children occupied.
“I’ve never been spread so thin because I’m now keeping a house clean, keeping everybody fed for almost every single meal and doing four-plus hours of homeschooling a day,” says Duff. “It’s not like I can just give Luca an assignment and be like, ‘Here, you have 30 minutes or you have an hour.’ I have to be there with him helping every step of the way.”
Duff says she and Koma have been tag-teaming, and “it’s just a real conquer and divide kind of situation right now,” she adds. “We’re trying to make it fun and playful and trying to involve the kids in cooking. Trying to make everything fun has been key, and we just feel really accomplished by the end of the day!”
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching and likely looking much different for families all around the world this year, Duff hopes to celebrate all the extra work moms are currently putting in.
“This partnership started before there was a worldwide pandemic, but the whole thing started because I was really excited to just be able to honor moms,” she says of teaming up with Kohl’s. “As a mom, I know that we give 110 percent every day, and I truly believe that every day should be Mother’s Day.”
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Fans 18 or older who submit essays about why their moms are so deserving will have the chance to win an Amazing Moms Gift Bundle — which includes items like Apple AirPods, a NutriBullet blender, an Elizabeth and James bag and much more — curated by Duff, or a $500 Kohl’s gift card. (The first 500 entrants will receive a $10 gift card.)
Though she had originally been scheduled to be in New York for work on Younger, Duff says “a really big positive” is that she’ll now get to spend Mother’s Day with her kids.
Hilary Duff Is Teaching Her Kids About Sustainability: My Son Is ‘Getting More Involved’
The star is also trying to figure out how to celebrate her own mom — who has been isolating separately — this year.
“We’re taking this really seriously. Luca goes between two households and we don’t know who’s carrying,” she says. “My mom is a diabetic [so we’re being extra careful]. She did something really sweet for Luca’s birthday [last month]. She made a big sign, and her and her boyfriend drove by the house and played an interactive game with him. It was really cute, so we might do something like that to make her feel special.”
While shooting for Younger is currently on hold because of the pandemic, Duff is still being creative professionally and looking forward to getting back on a TV set.
In late February, she broke her silence about the Lizzie McGuire reboot being put on hold, urging Disney to move the show from Disney+ to Hulu so her character’s journey can be as authentic as possible.
The star — who first stepped into McGuire’s shoes as a pre-teen — tells PEOPLE there’s no bad blood, and discussions are still ongoing.
“There’s still conversations going on in hopes that we can find a way to meet in the middle and both bend a little bit,” she says. “I understand that they have to protect their brand and there’s pretty strict guidelines on what that looks like.”
Adds Duff: “I just have to make sure it’s the right move for me and that I feel like I’m honoring her and the character, and that it will be relatable to the people who grew up with her because those are the people I really want to speak to.”
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