Drew Barrymore Recalls the Self-Care Routine That Helped Her Cope as 'Nervous' New Mom

Drew Barrymore told PEOPLE at a Baby2Baby diaper distribution event in New York City that she's teaching her daughters, 9 and 7, to "become citizens of the world"

Drew Barrymore attends Baby2Baby Hearts NY - A Covid Relief Diaper Distribution Hosted By Drew Barrymore on September 29, 2021 in New York City
Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Drew Barrymore found her footing as a new mom thanks to this self-care practice — and she's passing it down to her daughters, too.

The actress, 46, became a mom nine years ago with the addition of daughter Olive, a transition in her life she's previously been open about as being terrifying and lonely. But what helped Barrymore (who is also mom to 7-year-old Frankie) through that adjustment to parenthood?

"Somebody gave me a journal, actually, that helped me, because I just started writing in it; it was very succinct and it helped me, because I wasn't a confident new mom. I was a nervous new mom, and I just wanted to get it right. I wasn't sleeping or eating," she told PEOPLE on Wednesday while giving away diapers and other essentials to families in New York City's Harlem for the "Baby2Baby Hearts NY COVID Relief Diaper Distribution" event.

"This journal, it weirdly very much grounded me. I could just write a couple of sentences about what each day was, and it did help me. It did come from a woman who has many children," added Barrymore.

The daytime talk show host says that today, she uses a "gratitude book," and Frankie and Olive both contribute to it: "My girls and I try to write in it every night that we can. What's cool is they now recognize something and they go, 'That's going in the gratitude book tonight!' "

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Barrymore says her daughters, whom she shares with ex Will Kopelman, already have a passion for activism.

"They definitely love to get involved with voting and women's movements, and they like to go to marches and rallies and they make signs. This is an incredible time as a parent to have your kids be so aware of everything that's going on in an empowering way that isn't just scary," she says. "There's a real sense of activism going on, and so they can participate in that. For that, I'm very grateful."

"I did not grow up that way," adds Barrymore. "That was something I had to learn and find. The good news is it can be — you don't have to be raised that way to find your way there, but it is good if you can get a good start."

The event Wednesday coincided with Baby2Baby's announcement that the organization is now manufacturing diapers to donate to families they serve, becoming the first nonprofit to do so. Earlier this year, too, they established the New York State Cares - Baby2Baby Diaper Bank, pledging 20 million diapers to families in need across the state.

Baby2Baby says it has received requests for 731 million diapers, which marked more than a 500-percent increase from 2020, and the demand has "not slowed down" amid the pandemic, co-CEO Kelly Sawyer Patricof tells PEOPLE.

Drew Barrymore attends Baby2Baby Hearts NY - A Covid Relief Diaper Distribution Hosted By Drew Barrymore on September 29, 2021 in New York City
Slaven Vlasic/Getty

Adds co-CEO Norah Weinstein, "This is the first time in our history that we're distributing diapers that we manufactured ourselves. And the reason that's so exciting is because by doing that we were able to bring the price down to a fraction of the cost, and that just means we get to serve that many more low-income families."

"Drew has been involved since day 1 and she's an incredible ambassador," says Sawyer Patricof. "She's so passionate about Baby2Baby and about children, so we feel so lucky that she is involved and that she does so much work for us."

Her passion for giving back to her community is something she's impressing upon her own kids as well, Barrymore says.

"I want them to become citizens of the world," the proud mom says. "When they're young, you're catering to them. You're taking care of them. I can't wait. I've been trying to teach them how important it is to take care of other people, and to instill what beauty is, and what kindness is and all of that. They get it, and they're becoming good people. It just gets more and more interesting."

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