Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life’s parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.
“You have to rely on lots of people to do the mothering,” Busy Phillips tells Yahoo Life. “The term ‘it takes a village’ rings true, but we don’t live in villages anymore. You build your village with other ‘moms,’” and not necessarily actual mothers, she notes.
Philipps is not alone with her thoughts on motherhood. The Girls5Eva star is working with online superstore Zulily, whose State of Motherhood report revealed that 86% of parents that say a “motherer” is a person who has a substantial role in bringing up a child with care and affection. For Philipps, her kids Birdie, 14, and Cricket, 9, were raised in part by their beloved nanny, and the actress makes sure to honor her every Mother’s Day. She adds it’s been “really interesting to see who in my life has stepped up and taken on mothering roles” within her circle of family and friends as well.
“My best friend since childhood, Emily, has been in my kids’ lives since birth,” Philipps notes. “My sister was an aunt before she was a mother herself, and she was so dedicated to showing up for my kids. My friend Jen has taken on a really sweet maternal-type role with Birdie. I think that’s important: As kids become teenagers, they need other safe adults to rely on.”
That means plenty of Mother’s Day gifts to go around: For all those early shoppers, Zulily is launching a For All Moms Gift Advisor between March 9 and April 18, which will let anyone looking for gifts to give to the mom figures in their lives answer two questions and be prompted to curated events that will help you find the perfect item. (As for what Philipps likes for Mother’s Day, it’s time spent with her kids.)
One aspect of mothering she likes to be in charge of, though, is helming some of the tougher conversations. And as a mom raising kids native to the social media age, Philipps says she’s had plenty of chats with her children about navigating the internet landscape.
“My one thing that I repeat to my kids is ‘once you see something, you can never unsee it,’ and that has worked well for us, because my kids seem to fundamentally understand that concept,” she explains. “Both of my kids are part of the post-social media generation — they wouldn’t know anything other. It’s shifted for me in terms of my relationship with social media, in terms of how I share and what I share, but for my kids, it’s a piece of teaching them about life as much as about anything else.”
She adds that there are some “hard and fast rules” about what they share on social media, and what they don’t — just as “there are about life and privacy and how you show up every day as hopefully the best version of yourself.”
“Are you going to make mistakes? Of course, everyone makes mistakes,” she says of what happens if her kids slip up. “But are you going to double down and dig your heels in and let those mistakes define you, or are you going to learn from them and move on?”
Philipps and her ex-husband Marc Silverstein use a “nesting” strategy when it comes to parenting, meaning her kids don’t move households but she and Silverstein do, taking turns coming to their family home and returning to separate residences. Still, Philipps knows there’s no way to have a standard set of house rules for her kids that remains no matter which parent is in charge.
“I don’t think you can,” she explains. “Married, divorced — I have no idea if that has ever worked for anyone, ever. Kids are so great at knowing which parent to go to when they want to have candy, and which parent to go to when they need help with their math homework. We try to have consistency, but with the understanding that hey, maybe Mark has had a hard work day, and he’s exhausted, so he lets them have more screen time — it is what it is. It’s a part of being adaptable in parenting as you are in life.”
Philipps is taking on a new mothering role, as well: She’ll play mom to a brand-new Regina George (Sex Lives of College Girls star Renee Rapp) in the upcoming film adaptation of the Mean Girls musical. The role, which was originated in the film by Amy Poehler, famously declares that she’s “not a regular mom” but a “cool mom.” Of course, Philipps notes, that’s a title you can’t really give to yourself.
“My kids do not think I’m a cool mom,” she says. “My kids think I’m so embarrassing, and I’m so grateful for that…My kids like me enough, I think, but they do not think I’m cool. Though Birdie did think me playing Renee Rapp’s mom was pretty cool — so I got one win this year.”
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