This article originally appeared on Levo.com.
It reads like a column of “Stars, They’re Just Like Us.” Jennifer Garner, in the latest issue of InStyle, reveals how she balances life as a sought-after actress and mother of three—who just happens to be married to a very busy Batman (aka Ben Affleck). Here, three times I felt like she was cribbing lines from one of my working mom friends:
On Realizing that 3 Kids Is a Game Changer:
It takes a village to raise a child, indeed, and Garner certainly has the means to hire a slew of babysitters. But her house is no whip-the-children-away Downton Abbey. You can’t help feel that she really wants to do this raising-kids thing just like you and me—using babysitters when necessary, but taking on the bulk of the parenting responsibility. And then, you’re suddenly outnumbered. “When I had him, Ben and I looked at each other and said, ‘Wow,’” Garner says. “I just felt overwhelmed. I don’t think I returned an email or a phone call for at least a year.”
On Making Time for Your Partner:
After tending to work, kids, and your home, your partner’s needs typically come last. This isn’t a good thing, it’s just reality. And a super couple like Ben and Jen face the same dilemmas. “It’s all about having your efforts acknowledged, ” Garner says. “When he’s filming, I spend a lot of time on set. At night, after I put the kids to bed, I’ll sit with him at the monitor. And sometimes you have to say, ‘This is all good, but I need a date.’”
On Balancing Work and Life:
Garner said after filming three movies in one year, she’s going to take a year off from work. Not everyone can be this fortunate (insert eye roll here), but the truth in what she’s saying holds true. The prioritizing-work scale needs to tip back and forth when you have two career-driven partners who both want to be involved in their kids’ lives. This doesn’t mean one person needs to opt out; rather, you both need to plan for the toll a certain project or busy season in your career (hello, accountants) will take on your family life. “When Ben is directing, he works around the clock,” Garner says. “He’s always preoccupied. So before he directs something, we have to ask, ‘Are we up for this? Are we ready?’ We have to do things as a team.”
If one partner is contemplating starting a new company, the other can’t also decide to do whatever it takes to make partner or take on a travel-heavy assignment, if it’s in your control. Ideally, there’s an ebb and flow to work pressure.
Fifty-fifty partnership role-model Sheryl Sandberg said in a 60 Minutes interview, ”Everyone knows that marriage is the biggest personal decision you make, but it’s the biggest career decision you can make. … Partner with the right person because you cannot have a full career and a full life at home with the children if you’re also doing all the housework and childcare.”
InStyle is a sister publication of TIME.