Minnie Driver is really owning motherhood these days: when she’s not playing the eccentric mom in NBC’s About a Boy or a mother grieving after a stillbirth in Lifetime’s new movie, Return to Zero, she’s dedicating 110 percent of her energy to her real-life son, Henry. We caught up with Minnie at a Claritin event in New York City to chat about motherhood, staying active, and how she avoids new-mom anxiety.
You play a mom on About a Boy. Do you take any inspiration from your character?
Marcus, my son on the show, is a really emotionally articulate person, and I notice that my son is that way. I think that really comes from talking to your children as human beings, and not talking down to them or patronizing them. I mean, you’re their parent, you’re laying down the boundaries, but I think there’s still a way to allow your children to have that emotional articulation. That’s what I take from my character, Fiona.
What should moms-to-be look forward to the most?
However much you love your partner, it’s nothing like the love of your child.
How do you balance your career and motherhood?
Henry comes first, before everything. But since I’m a single mum, and I don’t have an ex-husband paying me alimony, I need to support us. When you don’t have a choice, when you just need to do it, there’s no humming or hawing about it. I still need to work, and I still need to be an involved, great parent. So, I’m going to make that happen. Those are the coordinates that I’m setting, and that’s what we’re doing. I don’t know how you do it, I just know you need to decide that that’s what you want to do.
What advice would you give to someone who’s worried about becoming a parent?
Trust your instincts. I must have thrown every book across the room because I felt that so many of them were patronizing and fear-based, and were trying to tell me to be afraid of all of these things that might happen. But it [parenting] is very, very simple. If you’re handed a healthy baby, you know what to do. Babies need to eat, they need to sleep, and they need to be snuggled. That’s it. I think we overcomplicate it. There isn’t anything to be afraid of—we’ve been doing this for millions of years. We women know how to take care of our babies.
Related: 10 Ways to Be a More Confident Mom
What are the differences between being parent to a newborn and being a parent to a five-year-old?
You can relax a bit more: You don’t need to constantly be making sure your child doesn’t fall over or stick his finger in a plug. At five-years-old, of course my son still doesn’t know everything, but I foster his independence. There are hurdles, but you’re not so tired, so you really get to enjoy them more. It gets better and better.
Tell us about your commitment to the non-profit organization Rails to Trails (a non-profit that creates a network of trails out of former rail lines).
I grew up in the countryside, and I know how important it is to spend time outside in your community. It’s important that people stay connected to the earth; that’s how we take care of it. Plus, being outside fosters friendships, keeps you healthy, and it’s so much more interesting than the gym. There’s no downside to it. (Just take your Claritin before you go outside if you’re an allergy sufferer like me!)
Is there an outdoor activity you suggest for new moms?
Running with an all-terrain stroller, which I can’t recommend highly enough. The suspension is great and the wheels are fat. I have friends who share one because they’re quite expensive. People go, “well, my kid naps from 9:00 until 10:30,” and then someone else’s kid naps from 12:00 until 1:00. So they share the stroller. [Brilliant!]