November 28, 2011 04:00 PM

Matt Baron/BEImages

Since stepping back from the spotlight over 12 years ago, Mayim Bialik earned a doctorate in neuroscience, tied the knot and started a family.

But now Bialik is back and learning to weave two worlds — acting and motherhood — together with the help of husband Michael Stone.

“When we had our first son [Miles, 6] we were both in grad school. It was really only after we fell in love with attachment parenting that we realized we wanted me to be the primary [caregiver] for the first year,” the actress, 35, tells PEOPLE at the Nov. 14 premiere of Breaking Dawn – Part 1 in Los Angeles.

“I honestly tried acting again just to see if I could work sporadically and be home with the boys and, a year later, here I am.”

Her return to television in The Big Bang Theory was mostly made possible by Stone, Bialik admits. “I can only do it because my husband has made the commitment to be home with our boys,” she says.

However, nothing quite eased the challenge of balancing breastfeeding — Bialik pumped for younger son Fred, 3, while she worked — with an already demanding schedule.

“When I think of those working moms who are pumping in between, to me, that’s a working mom. I’m a happily working mom, but it’s really that my husband is home and parenting our kids,” she explains.

“We’re both kind of juggling it and working it out together. It’s hard. It’s very hard.”

But not everyone is impressed with Bialik’s return to stardom and all the responsibilities it includes.

“I was never good at [the Hollywood party scene back then], but it’s different [now]. My perspective is different. I want to get home to my boys,” she reveals.

“And [my boys] don’t like when I [get dressed up] at all. Miles said, ‘You look like a clown, like a girl clown.’ That’s what he said. Thank you, Miles.”

— Anya Leon with reporting by Jessica Wedemeyer

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