The Wild Mountain Thyme star has two daughters with husband John Krasinski

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Emily blunt
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Emily Blunt says it's her kids who have really helped keep her spirits up during the pandemic.

The London-born actress, 37, who has two daughters, Hazel, 6, and Violet, 4, with husband John Krasinski, has been spending lots of time at home with her family this year.

"Being around little ones during the pandemic was such a saving grace because they would just be bouncing around the house, and your job is to protect them from what is happening and make sure their life remains joyful," Blunt tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.

Adds Blunt, "That was a pretty great lifeline for John and me during the pandemic, for sure."

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Emily blunt and John Krasinski
John Krasinski and Emily Blunt
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Blunt, who plays an Irish farmer in her new movie Wild Mountain Thyme, says watching her girls develop their own personalities has been one of life's greatest joys.

"It's wonderful when you see them become their own little people," she says. "I think they come out the way [they're meant to]."

"They're like bowling balls," Blunt explains. "They come out, and you're the bumpers trying to make sure they don't get too hurt. But they're on their own path."

Blunt starred in 2018's Mary Poppins Returns and says when she looks back on the iconic role first made famous by Julie Andrews in the 1964 original,  she's proud she was able to make her own version of the magical nanny.

Emily Blunt; Jamie Dornan, Wild Mountain Thyme
Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan in Wild Mountain Thyme
| Credit: Bleecker Street
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"Even though my children still cry out for the Julie Andrews version in our house," she says with a laugh. "I didn't win my own children over."

And despite the challenges 2020 has brought, she will always be grateful for the extra family time.

"I'm so thankful I've been able to have the time together with my family," she says, "because I think I will probably look back on it and realize how precious it's really been."

Wild Mountain Thyme will be in theaters and on demand on Friday.

For more on Emily Blunt, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.