For the past nine years, Alyson Hannigan has entertained as the irrepressible Lily Aldrin on the hit television sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. Whether she’s high-fiving her sitcom hubby Marshall (played by Jason Segel) about their past sexual exploits, or failing miserably to keep a secret, Hannigan knows how to elicit laughs.
With the final season of her popular show launching on September 23, we asked the 39-year-old actress and mother of two daughters (Satyana, 4, and Keeva, 1) to share her future plans, parenting tips and details on her new children’s health campaign.
Daily Parent: Why did you decide to become involved with Tylenol’s new Smiling it Forward campaign and what do you hope to accomplish?
Alyson Hannigan: As a mom of two young daughters, I think the campaign is a fantastic way to raise awareness about children’s health. If people go to smilingitforward.com, and share a photo that makes them smile, Tylenol will donate a dollar to the Children’s Health Fund, which is this great organization that gives underprivileged kids access to medical care.
DP: How do you keep your own daughters healthy?
AH: After the birth of my oldest daughter, Satyana, I panicked a lot wondering if something was wrong and called my pediatrician frequently to make sure everything was okay. When Satyana started teething, I knew something was very wrong because she was miserable and crying all of the time. I took her to the pediatrician and asked what I could do to help her feel better, and she said, “Alyson, if she’s in pain, give her Tylenol.” It was such a simple solution, but it really took a weight off of my shoulders and it worked. Satyana was much happier and started sleeping through the night, and seeing her “feel better” smile made me smile too.
Now that she’s 4 years old and has started school, I am emphasizing to Satyana the importance of regular hand washing. We went to this public play space at the mall last week and I’m wondering how many germs are there, and I keep telling Satyana not to touch her face. She was so funny, she kept asking, “Why mommy? Why can’t I touch my face? Is it okay if I touch my hair?”
DP: What’s your best advice for new parents?
AH: Try to make things fun. If you’re trying to get your kids to wear a coat or put on their shoes, it’s so much easier if you can turn it into a game rather than making it a confrontation. I’ve found that when you can keep it light, you also avoid meltdowns with your child. Also, just take a deep breath and try to not stress out over every little thing. Try to enjoy the time with your little one because it goes by so fast. And lastly, find a pediatrician that you respect and feel comfortable with, because that makes all the difference.
DP: How do you balance being a mom with your acting career?
AH: I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to take the girls to the set of How I Met Your Mother. I think it’s good for my daughters to see I have a career that I love. I have a pretty flexible schedule so I haven’t missed any big events such as the first day of school. Having said that, I do still feel occasional mommy guilt. I think as a mom you always wonder if you could be doing more.
DP: How do you and your husband (actor Alexis Denisof) like to spend time with your daughters when you aren’t working?
AH: We like to do a lot of outdoor activities such as going to the beach or the playground. I really want my girls to have a relationship with nature and to enjoy things like getting dirty and climbing trees that are such an important part of childhood. We recently started an edible garden in our yard, and we also started a smaller fairy garden in a barrel. Satyana helped me make a little bridge and a river for the fairies and likes to help me in the garden. Keeva is still a little too young to help us in the garden. I was holding her the other day and turned my back for a minute and the next thing I knew, she had accidentally knocked a strainer full of lentils on the kitchen floor.
DP: This is the last season of your sitcom. How do you feel about that and what’s next for you?
AH: I feel grateful that we’ve had nine wonderful seasons, but at the same time, I’m going to miss not seeing everyone on the show on a daily basis. I’m in the process of developing a new sitcom, so I hope to be back on TV soon.
The ninth season of How I Met Your Mother kicks off with a one-hour premiere on Monday, September 23 (8 p.m., ET/PT) on CBS.