The 1 tip that helped Sarah Michelle Gellar be the best mom during the pandemic

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Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't kidding when she says she has tried to draw strict lines between work and time with her family during the pandemic.

The mother of two children with husband Freddie Prinze Jr. told TODAY that sometimes she just has to leave the house for a block of time to get any work done, so she rents a hotel room.

“My role has always been, focus on what you’re doing at that time with 100%,” Gellar said. “When I’m with the kids, I’m with the kids. My phone is down, it’s not work time, there’s no phones at our table in the kitchen.

“Then when you carve out a space for work, that’s work time. For me I found that leaving my house and getting a hotel room is key for when I need to focus on work because I have to be physically somewhere else. Because when mom is home, even if mom says ‘I’m in my office, don’t come in,’ they pop in.”

While Gellar stressed that she and Prinze also enjoyed the “beautiful moments” with their children Charlotte, 12, and Rocky, 9, during their time in lockdown together early in the pandemic, she is grateful for the return of in-person school this fall.

“I am very happy that I send them off to school in morning,” she said. “I learned that you’re not supposed to be teacher, mom, principal, gym teacher, referee, lunch lady and everything in between.”

She also learned not to feel like a parenting failure at a time of so much upheaval due to the pandemic.

“Do the best you can,” she said. “Good days, bad days, and each day you wake up you’re like, ‘Today’s a better day.’ It’s unlike anything any of us have experienced in our lifetime, and we have to give it that space and understand that there is no guidebook for this. We’re writing that book as we go.”

Gellar, 44, spoke to TODAY as part of a new campaign with the pharmaceutical company Teva in which she lent her voice to an animated inhaler to help encourage people with asthma to properly use their medication and stay on top of their routines.

While parenting during the pandemic was already stressful, Gellar also dealt with the worry over COVID-19 as someone who has had asthma all her life. It was even more unsettling to think that the respiratory virus could affect her two children, who both have asthma.

“It was really scary, especially as someone who has a young child,” Gellar she said. “My son, everything goes right to his lungs. He gets a cold, it goes right to his chest. Trying to differentiate between asthma, and (effects of air quality from) wildfires, and then you go to, ‘Oh my God, I have Covid.”

Maintaining a proper routine of using their inhalers became even more important and continues to be crucial with the pandemic still ongoing.

“We’re still really cautious of it, and we still live our lives cautiously because this disease is not eradicated, and it’s circulating among younger children right now,” she said. “It’s not something to let your guard down when you’re already living with asthma.”

A recent survey of asthma and COPD sufferers done in collaboration with Teva and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that only 45% of respondents are using their maintenance inhaler as prescribed, and almost 60% are overusing their rescue inhaler.

"There’s been so many instances where you can’t go to your doctor (during the pandemic), so it's really understanding that we have to be our own advocates and we have to be tell them what we’re experiencing so the doctors can get us on a treatment plan," she said.

Managing her asthma has been an issue Gellar has had to deal with for her entire acting career, including physical roles like her starring turn in the hit show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" from 1997 to 2003.

"I think that I’m a perfect example of someone who hasn’t let asthma stop them from doing anything athletic and difficult that they want to do," she said.

Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar in
Ryan Phillippe, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar in

Another one of those famous roles she was able to play was Helen Shivers in the 1997 horror hit "I Know What You Did Last Summer," which also starred Prinze, Ryan Phillippe and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Amazon has developed a television series based on the movie that started streaming on Friday, two weeks ahead of Halloween.

Gellar is not part of the project, but she knows what it's like to be in a television series based on a movie as the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series came out five years after the movie of the same name starring Luke Perry and Kristy Swanson.

"I’m excited for them," Gellar said. "I think that as an actor, all you do is hope that you make material that withstands time, that people are still interested in. And the fact that people still want to tell the story and that people are excited for it, I think it’s awesome.

"And I think it brings attention to the original source material which was a great book from the beginning. I can’t wait to see what they do with it."

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