Like all parents, Vanessa Lachey has had plenty to contend with as she navigates life with young children in quarantine.
"It's another level of having to challenge yourself," says Vanessa, who shares Camden, 7, Brooklyn, 5 and Phoenix, 3, with husband Nick Lachey. "It challenged my marriage and my personal lifestyle. The whole idea of self-care went out the window."
But in the months since the pandemic hit, the actress, who stars in Lifetime's original holiday movie People Presents: Once Upon a Main Street, says she's found ways to take some necessary 'me' time.
"I need a minute so that I don't snap or scream or cry," she says. "So that I'm the best version of Mommy and the best version of wife."
- For more from Vanessa Lachey, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Filming the Christmas movie over the summer was a much appreciated return to a semblance of normalcy.
"We had to wear masks and take two tests a day, but we were all so grateful to be back to work that we were all willing to play ball," says Vanessa, 40.
And while Mom was working, "Nick has been stay-at-home superdad," she adds. (Nick's band, 98 Degrees, sings "Season of Love," the opening song in the film.) "But he came up to visit me in Tahoe and we went lazy river rafting and took naps. It was amazing!"
Next up, the couple, who also co-host Netflix's Love Is Blind, set to return in 2021, are readying for the holidays.
"I love Christmas," says Vanessa. "Usually we start decorating the day after Thanksgiving. But this year, I want to do it early. It's 2020. Do what makes you happy!"
Once Upon a Main Street premieres Nov. 29 on Lifetime.
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