Drew Barrymore opens up about mom guilt during the pandemic: 'It's just been such a roller coaster'

Drew Barrymore talks about embracing the unexpected. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Drew Barrymore talks about embracing the unexpected. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

After surviving an unprecedented year, Drew Barrymore is learning to embrace the unexpected and the little things that have kept her and her family grounded throughout the coronavirus pandemic. One example: having a routine — or some semblance of it — to help make the day-to-day feel as normal as possible.

"I remember when the pandemic first started and parents started posting on social media, like, a daily schedule with times — at 9 a.m. you do this, and at 10 a.m. you do this — and I felt so angry and rebellious," she tells Yahoo Life. "I was like, 'Are you kidding me? How dare you? I will never succeed at this.' Like, I was so angry. But two weeks in I was like, 'Oh yeah, this free-for-all definitely doesn't work.'"

Though she admits not having it all together all the time, the mother of two leans on simple habits for some structure these days. That includes enjoying breakfast as a family, which Barrymore has made easy by teaming up with Kellogg's cereals.

"I did a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies commercial in, like, 1981 when I was like 4 or 5 years old, so I love the full circle of it. I love that I'm a parent now feeding my kids cereal and I love that everybody cereals. It doesn't matter what age you are and where you live on the planet, everybody cereals. And it's something that brings us together and it isn't alienating or unaccessible," Barrymore says of the partnership. "Also it's good for you. And fiber is cool. And having your kids eating something that doesn't make you feel guilty or worried as a parent — that's cool."

What moments of mom guilt have you experienced during this time?

I mean, how long have you got? One day the kids were trying to entertain themselves while I was on a work call and they took out the entire pantry to set up a food store in the living room. And then instead of putting it back... I mean, it was everything, it was a lot. And I was like, I'm just going to leave it there for a while. I don't have the energy to put this back right now. And so we just lived with it, like our entire pantry on the living room floor for a while, because I couldn't bring myself to start putting it back.

I've definitely had iPad guilt. And I've also had moments where I've just thought my kids don't look at me as the teacher. I'm not their teacher, I’m their mom. I'm not their friend. And yet, I'm all they have. You know, it's just been such a roller coaster.

What have you found helpful for dealing with those feelings?

Just realizing that it's definitely different for every family and everybody has got to make it work for them.

I saw this tweet from The Conscious Kid, it was a woman that I think they retweeted and it's like, "Kids are not falling behind, they're surviving a pandemic." And I thought, [on] some days, does that apply for adults as well? You know, you beat up on yourself for being in the grind of just getting through the day and not being present and are you being creative enough? And you're like, I've been being creative for 360 days. Like, I'm out. I'm tapped.

You also started The Drew Barrymore Show during this time. How has that played into it all?

I definitely feel really lucky, as challenging as the show was to upstart. I feel so lucky to have a job, to be in the job that I'm in. That I get to refresh every day with what we're talking about and what we're doing. In a Groundhog Day kind of world that we're all living in, it's like I do get to hit that refresh button every single day. And it's hard, it's challenging to come up with an hour of television every single day. But I love it so much and every day I'm afraid I'm gonna get fired because I love this job so much.

What's the best piece of advice you've received from one of your guests?

There are definitely things almost on a daily or weekly basis where I've learned something that I then applied to my life. Deborah Norville came on and talked about making a gratitude list, and now I'm doing it. I did it for a whole month and I just put it in the doggy bag at the end of the show where I suggest things to people or we curate things. It has been not only like a good prayer at night where you acknowledge everything, it's actually made me aware throughout the day of, "Oh, I'm going to put that in a list." It's completely changed my perception. It's subtle, but it's huge. And it's just a ritual that I am in love with.

I am learning so much every day on this job. And that's all I want. I'm such a student and learning is so important. So I'm definitely soaking it all in and then trying to apply it.

What have you learned from this past year?

I just feel really grateful and humbled by this time. And I think we've all learned so much about so many important things and there has been such shift and change. This is clearly a time that no one will ever forget and they will know where they were and who they were with and what life was. This will not be a year that blurred into others and maybe we'll be better coming out the other side of it.

I think we're all gonna need, you know, a lot of mental wellness after all of this.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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