If you follow her on Instagram you already know, Busy Philips doesn't pretend to know everything about parenting. Like the rest of us, she's just trying to do the best she can (although, unlike the rest of us, the actress is doing it in front of more than a million Instagram followers).
"I call myself the all-over-the-place, doesn't-have-a-plan mom. Is that a parenting philosophy? On a daily basis, I'm just trying to hold it together," Philipps tells Parents in the magazine's November cover story.
Mom to 10-year-old Birdie and 5-year-old Cricket, Philipps says she's essentially winging it when it comes to big parenting topics like sleep, sugar and screen time. She does what works for her family when it works for her family. "Our family has no absolute rules about screen time or sugar or anything. I mean, Marc and I were raised that way, and we turned out fine," shares Phillips.
Phillips may not have a plan when it comes to parenthood, but she does have a plan for adding more female voices to late-night TV, having just sold a show to E! (Busy Tonight premiers October 28.) Phillips says the network first offered her a one night a week show, but she pushed for more, pointing out that the men of late night do it all week long, and so can she.
Studies show that mothers are often underestimated, looked over, or pushed to slow down in the workplace, and Philipps isn't having it. "I'm just over it. Smash the patriarchy. Seriously. I'm done," she tells Parents, adding that while one night a week certainly would have been more manageable for her, it's not fair that a mother should get a quarter of the opportunity offered to male counterparts.
If Colbert, Kimmel, Fallon and Myers can manage to balance parenthood with shooting a late-night talk show, so can she. (After all, the only other woman with a late-night show right now, Samantha Bee, is also a mother, with three kids close in age to Philipps'.)
In her wide-ranging chat with Parents, Phillips says she is keen to take on the challenge of her own talk show, but admits that saying yes to (or rather, making the network say yes to) a full work week means she's had to say no in other areas. Although that little word is something a lot of women struggle to say, Phillips is finding power in it. She hopes other moms can also recognize when there is just no room for a yes to something.
"I'm an overextender. I agree to everything. But now, with my own TV show, I have to learn to say no," she tells Parents. "I was signing up to be Cricket's room mom at her elementary school because I knew it would make her happy, and then it occurred to me that that would be a truly insane thing to do. You can't volunteer for everything, and that's okay."
It is okay. We can only be in so many places at once, doing so many things. As moms, we can't always make everyone happy at all times. We can only do our best, and part of that is making sure we are happy (at least some of the time). Phillips says she's prioritizing her own happiness and mental health as much as anything else.
"I live to make sure everyone is happy, but I also make sure I'm taking care of my own mental health. I see a therapist. I work out almost every day because cardio knocks out my anxiety. It makes me happy when I spend time with friends and see bands, so I do that. Occasionally, I watch TV, but even that can feel overwhelming. I can't keep up with all the new shows. That's why I stick with Friends and Seinfeld reruns. They soothe me."
Perhaps her new show will be the soothing wind-down for other mamas at the end of a busy day. Late night TV is a hard game, but Philipps is coming to play.