Malin Akerman on Raising Her Son as a "Kind and Caring" Person

Malin Akerman

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If you don’t already know her name, you definitely know Malin Akerman’s face. The 43-year-old Hollywood darling has been in 70 movies and television shows (Showtime's "Billions," the "Rock of Ages" movie, and more). And although Akerman is best known as an “actor,” the title that carries the most weight for her is “mom.” The working mother to 8-year-old Sebastian says her priority is being with her family as much as possible.

Her main parenting focus is raising a “curious and inquisitive person,” she tells us. Akerman is confident he will read, write, and learn math, so she’s working hard to instill emotional intelligence. “I just want him to be a good human being,” Akerman shares.

In our exclusive interview, learn how she’s parenting during a pandemic, getting support thanks to a pod of families in her son’s class, and relieved her "mom guilt" while learning to take some time for herself.

Verywell Family: You’re a mom to an 8-year-old son, Sebastian. How do you prioritize family while working all over the world shooting movies?

Malin Akerman: The silver lining of this pandemic, for me, has been online learning. So I've been able to bring my son with me on the job. My husband—who happens to be a writer—he can write from anywhere. We really have an ideal situation.

It's not always like this, of course. During regular school years, it becomes much more difficult. Before the pandemic, I was shooting in Boston, and I would take the red-eye [back to Los Angeles] on Friday night, and be with my son on Saturday and a bit of Sunday. And [then] fly back out Sunday afternoon, every weekend. It's a bit of a hustle.

Malin Akerman

If he's very clingy and having trouble separating, then that might be a deciding factor for what job I take next.

— Malin Akerman

Instead of looking at things in the big picture, because that becomes too overwhelming, you just take one stride at a time. You just take it as it comes with each job.

Also, deciding what job to take, depending on where it's shooting. Depending on how often I can get back to my son. It's tough, and I [try to observe] what sort of emotional state he's in. Our kids go through different states of mind and different phases. If he's very clingy and having trouble separating, then that might be a deciding factor for what job I take next. It’s constantly trying to find a balance [between] work and family. And my priority is really to be with my family as much as possible.

Verywell Family: You just touched on it, and you’ve spoken in the past about mental health and the importance of speaking out about how you're feeling. How do you think that relates to working parents in 2021, especially after what we've gone through?

MA: I'm sure many parents feel a combination of relief and guilt going back to work and leaving our kids again. As hard as the struggles were, being together 24/7 was also the beauty of it. And I am definitely finding it hard to be away from my son more.

There's been such a stigma placed on [mental health] for so many years. One in five Americans suffers from mental health issues. And it's so important to talk about it. I grew up with a mother who suffered from depression, and I didn't know anything about depression because nobody talked about it. I didn't know what was happening with my mom. I so wished I had, as a kid.

It's so important for parents to feel that they're worthy of [having their own] time. So that they can be present with their children when they are with their children. We all have such guilt for not being there enough.

But then you see parents who are there, in body, but not in spirit. Again, it's a struggle, but I always feel like [if you] take it one minute at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time, then you don't get as overwhelmed.

Verywell Family: What do you love to do when you are home with your son? What activities do you do together?

MA: We've been so lucky. I've been working on an island in the Caribbean, and my son and husband were with me. And now we are in England finishing up a film. Next, I'm going to hop over to Sweden, and see my family for a week.

Then back to L.A. where my son will do some camps. He's very much into robots so we'll do some robotic camps. He's a busy body—he's an 8-year-old boy. There's not a lot of sitting down. I have to be an active mom with that one. He loves jumping on trampolines. We do a lot of trampolining, which keeps me in shape!

I try to get him out of the house as much as possible. We're lucky because we live close to a big park. We go and climb trees, and we just let him run free and look for lizards and all that. It's important for kids to get out in nature for—their well-being, for their mental health.

Malin Akerman

I want him to grow up a curious and inquisitive person. I want learning to be fun.

— Malin Akerman

Verywell Family: What values are you trying to teach your son?

MA: I want him to grow up a curious and inquisitive person. I want learning to be fun. Funnily enough, we put him in a new school right before COVID-19 hit. [It's] a charter school that focuses a lot on social and emotional learning.

It was important for me to find a school that makes learning fun. I know that he's going to learn how to read and write and do some math. And then we'll see as he grows up, sort of where his interests lie and feed into that. But for now, it really is about emotional intelligence. Being kind and caring. I just want him to be a good human being.

Verywell Family: How did you get through the pandemic? Do you have a group of moms that you rely on?

MA: Yes, I have a wonderful support system around me. It's been years and years in the making. It’s years and years of friendship with some of my closest girlfriends, and most of them do have children.

We also formed a little pod with three other families. It was for everyone's well-being, mental health, so the kids had kids to play with, and we had parents to talk to about everything that our kids were going through. We made that happen and set it up so that we were all taking COVID-19 tests every two weeks and keeping it safe. That was a wonderful support system—a great way to meet different types of parents who we never really gotten to know before because they just happened to be in our son's class. And they were really lovely people.

Some of my other closest girlfriends are parents in New York and all over the world. During the pandemic, we were just commiserating, supporting, and holding the space for each other. It was really great. It was really nice to have that. We all need some sort of a support system. It doesn't always come from family. Sometimes it's your own chosen family. It’s really important.  

Verywell Family: Tell us about your self-care routine as a mom and how you find time for it!

MA: It's a very good question. All moms are constantly trying to find that time. It's a miracle if I get through my skincare routine at night. Basically, it never happens in the morning, especially when school is in full swing.

It’s finding that balance. And you know that word balance—it’s so frustrating, because that's what we're all looking for constantly. But it's making time for myself. Over the years, I’ve learned to get over the mothers' guilt of not spending the 10 minutes with my son that I can give to myself. I will be a better parent for it.

Malin Akerman

Over the years, I’ve learned to get over the mothers' guilt of not spending the 10 minutes with my son that I can give to myself. I will be a better parent for it.

— Malin Akerman

My skincare routine is quite simple. I'm a true believer that beauty comes from the inside out and what you put in your body is sort of what exudes through your skin. If you're eating lots of vegetables and fruit and taking your vitamins, that exceeds everything else.

In the evenings, it's just a simple makeup remover. I'm not an addict to any sort of product, per se. It sort of varies. I'm so lucky because I work in a business where I meet different makeup artists, and they hand me different products to try. I enjoy trying different and new [products]. After the makeup remover, it’s a toner and a moisturizer. It's quite simple.

I have a friend named Shani Darden who has a wonderful skincare line. And so whenever her products come my way, I'm always super excited.

Verywell Family: In addition to eating healthy, I know you enjoy staying active. Can you talk about how you're looking after your body through the pandemic?

MA: I’m sure we're all familiar now with—instead of the freshman 15—the COVID-19. It was like, we're just gonna treat this like a vacation, and have nachos and cheese at midnight! There was truly a while of not doing much for myself and not being able to go to the gym. I was not finding that time for me, and I just noticed a little bit of a shift in my body.

I decided to go meet up with Dr. Grant Stevens and start my body contouring journey with him. [I've been doing CoolSculpting treatments] for the past year. Most recently, for my follow-up, I went in and I discovered the CoolSculpting Elite device, which is incredible because it has two applicators instead of one. So you get double the surface area to treat within that same half-hour period. I saw a difference in the results. And I'm so happy. I mean, really, I am such a fan. I recommend it! [Editor's note: Akerman is a brand ambassador for CoolSculpting.]

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.