Minnie Driver: “It’s the quality of time you spend with your child, not the quantity.”

Parents sat down with Minnie Driver during a lunch to celebrate the launch of the “Be a Claritin Trailblazer” campaign. In an effort to help everyone enjoy their time outdoors, the makers of Claritin have donated $50,000 to Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit that converts unused railways across the country into public parks. Minnie talked with us about why this project is so important to her and her son Henry, 5, their favorite outdoor activities, Easter plans, and her latest role as a single mom on NBC’s “About a Boy.”

P: How did you come to be involved in this cause?

MD: [On "About a Boy"] I play a very overprotective mother of a very sedentary child who doesn’t really like to go outside and do much. My son is the exact opposite of that. All he wants to do is go outside and run around, but I come from a long line of allergy sufferers—which is how I got involved. I love the idea of recycling aspects of where we live into something that is going to be healthful.

P: Does your son have allergies, as well? 

MD: He does. He actually has them worse than I do. I’m about to take him to an allergist when we get back because it’s only just properly surfaced. Poor little bean.

P: When he’s feeling under the weather, is there anything special that you do as mom to make him feel a little extra loved?

MD: Essential oils have really helped. Lavender oil and eucalyptus really help clear out his sinuses. I get him to lie down and I’ll give him a massage on his arms and his head. He loves that. Swimming helps, as well. He loves to be in the water because I think the itchiness goes away and the salt water really helps.

P: When neither of you are feeling the effects of the allergies, do you like trips to the park? What’s your go-to outdoor activity?

MD: We’re very outdoorsy. We surf. We live at the beach. We hike in the mountains in the back of our house. He plays soccer and tennis and tee ball. We’re outside a lot.

P: It sounds like you have him combining exercise and enjoyment and nature through his activities.

MD: Definitely. In Callifornia you can really do that. The weather permits you being outside a lot. Plus, he’s a boy. Running around is just the best thing for him to do.

P: Now that he’s 5 it is an age where he’s coming into his own, like a mini person instead of a baby. What’s your favorite thing about this age so far?

MD: You know, that he’s just so interested in the world. Just watching him explore it and now he’s sort of confident in it and in his exploration. It’s incredibly sweet to see his independence blossoming. He’s never been a shy boy, but I love the delight that he takes in the world.

P: Speaking of delight, do you have Easter plans?

MD: We have a big egg hunt planned. We live up on the bluff, and it goes all the way down the trail to the beach and then along the beach up until there are big flags where it ends. All the dads hide all the eggs early in the morning and we go for it. I can’t wait. It’s my favorite thing. The level of competitiveness also cracks me up.

Easter Chicks
Easter Chicks
Easter Chicks

P: Is Henry competitive?

MD: He just gets so excited. There is something so exciting about looking around in foliage and then seeing a pink egg. We dye them all like the week before. But I also do a thing where I know how to drain an egg and wash it out and then fill it with chocolate. It’s pretty cool. I did it last year for Henry and in the morning he came and hit the top of the egg like it was gonna be his breakfast and he was like, “It’s not cracking Mommy, what’s going on?” And I said, “I don’t know, open it!” And he opened it and [GASPED!] “It’s a CHOCOLATE EGG!”

P: During lunch you mentioned Henry’s love of Happy Feet and Frozen. I know you did the voice for Jane in Tarzan. Has he heard you in the movie?

MD: He absolutely loves it. It used to confuse him when he was little hearing my voice. I’m actually doing another movie for Disney, another big animation movie which will be out in a few years called Zootopia and he’s fascinated by me doing that. I’ve taken him to Disney. It’s really all coming together for him now and he realizes that me being a part of that is something special and amazing.

P: On your new show “About a Boy,” your character, Fiona, is this mix of an alternative mom yet super protective and hyper-vigilant. How do you compare on the Fiona scale?

MD: I’m not like that at all. I think it’s really funny, though, because I know so many women like that who think that they’re not. She’s a high perversion of some people that I know. And I have to be quite careful with dropping things in, not to identify. But I love her. She cracks me up.

P: In one episode she’s juggling life as a full time working mom and giving her son some freedom, but there is mom guilt. Do you ever experience mom guilt? What is your advice to other women who may experience that?

MD: I do all the time, but it is a choice. If you are choosing to go out to work, because you have to (which most women who work do), it’s sending such a strong message of having a great work ethic. It’s the quality of time you spend with your child, not necessarily the quantity. There are plenty of people who are around their kids all the time and don’t really connect with them. You have to trust that the time you spend with them is well spent and that there are many different ways to live your life. Mom’s not supposed to just be home. Dad’s not supposed to just go to work. I think if one can, it’s an amazing thing to be able to bring your child to your workplace at least just to see where it is, then they can picture you there. Whenever I’m going overseas, I find a picture of the place to show Henry.

Find printables for fun Easter crafts and activities here.

Photograph: Minnie Driver; Helga Esteb/Shutterstock.com

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