The 'Dawson's Creek' alum shares Cricket, 10, and Birdie, 15, with ex Marc Silverstein
Busy Philipps is getting ready to a shift in her household this back-to-school season.
Speaking with PEOPLE about her partnership with Two Good Yogurt and their nonprofit partner organizations, City Harvest and We Don’t Waste, the mom of two, 44, opens up about how her family is preparing for older child Birdie, 15, to head to her first year at boarding school.
The Girls5Eva actress admits that she wasn't immediately fond of the idea of Birdie leaving the nest, giving credit to ex-husband Marc Silverstein, 52, for being "a little bit more thoughtful in his response."
"I have to give the kids' dad so much credit because I immediately was like, 'Absolutely no, not happening," she tells PEOPLE. "He was like, 'Listen, why don't we hear this kid out? Why don't we see it through and go look at the school, talk to them and see where it takes us?'"
"Ultimately, the plan is that she will be where she goes for all of high school, but I'm also open to this if it's just a year. That would be an amazing experience for her to have either way," says Philipps. "One thing I also took into consideration is that these kids have been through a really intense few years with the pandemic and essentially being stuck in the house with their parents. So maybe it's not a bad thing for Birdie to go live with some other kids and have that socialization that maybe was missed out on a bit during the pandemic."
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Still, the decision took "a lot of conversations," with Philipps admitting she's "still in the process of dealing with it myself as a mom who, of course, just wants my babies to stay close to me."
"But I feel confident like Birdie's such a strong individual. She's such a smart, unique person that I feel really confident in her ability to succeed in whatever situation she's in," says the proud mom — who also shares daughter Cricket, 10, with Silverstein. "And if it turns out this is not the situation for her, and I'm not saying that will be the case, so be it."
"It's a constant process. Parenting is constantly learning, and I think one thing that I try to return to is that I'm not going to nail it every time," Philipps says. "The important thing is that I'm able to acknowledge and apologize when I need to, and also give myself grace and move on."
She continues, "I have a tendency to be really hard on myself, so continually reminding myself, that no one's a perfect parent and no one wants you to be a perfect parent. I think kids would be really boring if they all had perfect parents."
In the meantime, the actress mom is embracing her freer-than-usual time, courtesy of the current strikes, and getting in all the family time she can.
"We had a really sweet moment the other night. I think that the kids, they are both realizing that Birdie's going to be away at school. She has a lot of breaks; it's not like she's going away forever — not even like college, really, there are way more breaks and we're going to see her more often than that since she is just 15 — but I think that the girls are realizing that they are not going to be with each other daily," she shares.
"And so there's a real sweetness that they've had with one another, playing this weird little stacking game that was popular on TikTok. We were all crammed in Birdie's bedroom and their dad was there too, and we were just laughing," Philipps recalls.
"They were kind of making fun of me because I kept crying but it was fun. We were laughing, too. It was just such a sweet moment. I feel like in that half an hour, I was like, 'This is like a movie moment. This is our movie moment where for one second, everything is great,'" she continues. "No one's fighting; everyone's happy. There are no devices. We're just all engaged and listening to each other and playing games and laughing. It was really sweet."
Back-to-school comes during Hunger Action Month, where Philipps will work with these organizations to turn "hanger" into good.
"We've all experienced being hungry to some degree and how that's an overriding emotion. As a mom, I always have to take into consideration if somebody is in a bad mood, whether that's coming from an actual bad mood or whether it's because someone needs a Two Good smoothie or a snack to get them back on track," she explains. "So many people in our country face food insecurity. The statistics are staggering."
"Considering the fact that we have enough food in this country to feed everyone, it shouldn't be an issue. And considering how much perfectly good food ends up in landfills, it's horrendous when you think about it. Organizations like City Harvest and We Don't Waste do incredible work on both ends of addressing food insecurity and food waste. So for the month of September, every time someone uses the hashtag #GetHangryForGood or purchases a Too Good Smoothie, it donates a dollar to those organizations to help fight food insecurity and hunger."
Volunteering is important to the family, with volunteering being "part of our lives, in the kind of way that it's woven into our daily routine."
"They see me and their dad in action, as well. My older daughter, several years ago for her birthday in August, said, 'I'm going to get everything I want from you and dad and the grandparents, so how about for my party, we have kids bring school supplies and backpacks.' And we collected all these like, new school supplies and backpacks, and donated them," she recalls.
"I was so proud of her in that moment for thinking outside of herself and also that she has the knowledge of her privilege and how she doesn't have to worry about not having new backpacks, when she goes back to school. She doesn't have to worry about not getting presents for her birthday as a then-10-year-old. But there are kids out there that do, and I'm grateful that both my kids, we talk about it."
Parenting has been a wild ride for Philipps, who says the journey "only gets harder in weirder ways."
"I never want to upset parents or my friends who have babies and toddlers by saying that, but it's true. It also only gets better in the best ways. I love having people that I can have really interesting conversations with. I love being introduced to new pop culture and music through my kids' eyes."
"Through Birdie's intense fandom, I've become such a huge fan of Taylor Swift and her music. I just turned 44, so I sort of missed her because I wasn't that age when she broke onto the scene. But it's been so nice to share that with my kids."
"My younger daughter is into anime, which I never knew anything about, but now I'm being exposed to this whole new world, from the classics like My Neighbor Totoro to newer things like My Hero Academia, as well as different graphic novels and whatnot. It's cool to have kids that are interested in a variety of things," she says.
"I love helping them and encouraging them to seek out their own interests, and showing interest in their interests is super important as a parent. Even if I don't get it at first — and full disclosure, some stuff, I don't get it at first — I do feel like I have such an appreciation for how strong their likes and dislikes are. I want to validate their interests."
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