The Billions actress and mom to 3-year-old Sebastian talks about finding balance, raising a toddler, and her biggest parenting challenge so far.
Malin Akerman 2015 headshot
Credit: Helga Esteb/Shutterstock

If you’re a fan of Showtime’s hit series Billions, you know the main female character Lara Axelrod is one tough cookie. Lara grew up in the Bronx and fought her way to success. She’s also a mom who’s trying to raise her privileged kids with a healthy respect for hard work. It’s all a familiar tune for Malin Akerman, who plays the character. “There’s a bit of a parallel there,” says the gorgeous mama of 3-year-old Sebastian. “Lara and I both grew up a different way than our kids are growing up, and we both think, what can we do so they don’t grow up spoiled, and so they understand that to get these privileges in life you have to work for them.”

Born in Sweden, Akerman moved with her family to Toronto when she was a few months old. “We really didn’t have much growing up. We didn’t own a car until I was 8 or 9,” says the actress, who’s raising her son solo. “Now, we have a car, we live in a nice house, we have a pool—these things are luxuries, and I want to make sure [Sebastian] knows a lot of hard work goes into creating these things. I’m going to make sure he has chores, and that he definitely gets a job when he’s a teenager. He’s gonna have to make his own money to buy the things he wants.”

For now, though, the tot is enjoying the jet-set lifestyle with his mom, spending half the year in New York City and the other half in Los Angeles (“He comes with me everywhere I go,” Akerman says. “He’s my air, my oxygen.”). We got a chance to chat with Akerman about managing her busy lifestyle with a toddler in tow. Your schedule is pretty demanding. How do you find that balance between work and home life?

Malin Akerman: It’s a constant battle. Trying to keep a healthy balance is never easy, no matter who you are. I’m trying my best, but it doesn’t always happen.

Any tips for other moms on what’s worked for you?

I'm partnered with LG, and I really love the new LG SideKick washer. It’s a new toy for adults. You can do two loads of laundry at once. I can wash all of my son’s little clothes in it while I’m washing a full load of my clothes, and they’re done in a minute. It also has a special setting for my activewear. Plus, it uses one-eighth of the water of other washers, which is important to me as an environmentalist.

How about tips for looking pulled together even when you’re crazy-busy?

I think there’s this new trend of athleisure—it’s the fitness world meets fashion, and it’s a nice combo especially for mothers. You can wear cool tights that are comfortable with running shoes and pair it with one of your favorite tops, or a T-shirt with some funky tights. It’s easy and comfortable, and they have all these great new products and materials. I really love the SPF clothing—I can run around after my son and be comfortable and safe.

Was there anything that surprised you about toddlerhood, or anything you weren’t really prepared for?

Just how adamant they can be about their opinions—they really stick to their guns. This is the stage where they test boundaries a lot, and I didn’t know how much work that would be. But it’s really funny to have a little person one-third your size telling you “no.” I have to try not to giggle when he puts his hands on his hips and tells me he’s not going to do something.

What has been your biggest parenting challenge so far?

Setting boundaries, definitely. It’s hard to say no to your child—you don’t want to see them cry, but at the same time you don’t want them to end up spoiled.

Have you done anything you would consider a “parenting fail?”

Oh geez [laughs]. Yeah, I’m sure I have. I question everything I do. I’m not sure anything is right—it could all be a big fail.

What’s the best parenting advice you’ve ever gotten?

I think the best parenting advice was not to listen too much to too many different parents, because then confusion sets in. Go with your gut and trust yourself as a mother.