June 20, 2014 05:01 PM

John M. Heller/FilmMagic

Which is more difficult to decipher: forensics vocabulary or the babble of a 2½-year-old? These days, Bones star Emily Deschanel‘s favorite person to chat with is her sonHenry.

“I love this age because I can communicate with him so well and have conversations,” the actress, 37, told PEOPLE at WE tv and Paley Center’s ‘On the Beat: The Evolution of the Crime Drama Heroine’ event Thursday night in Beverly Hills.

Balancing mommy hood with nine seasons of her hit show has been “hard,” but Deschanel’s been enjoying her time off this summer “to hang out with my son, put him to bed, and cuddle — do all of the fun things I love doing with him.”

Something that’s a bit lower on her list of priorities? Getting her sweat on.

“You work all of these hours and when you have time off, you don’t want to spend it working out while raising a child,” she said. “[But it is] important … to be healthy and show him that that’s important.”

The actress — who was spotted taking selfies with The Divide creator Tony Goldwyn at the event — has also been passing along her vegan lifestyle to her son. “Henry is 99-percent vegan because my husband [David Hornsby] is not 100-percent vegan.”

And though she has her healthy diet plan set in stone, the star is taking motherhood day-by-day.

“You could be dealing with one issue, and then the next day it’s gone and you’re dealing with something else,” she said. “I don’t know how things change so quickly or how much he can surprise you.”

One milestone she couldn’t help but share? “[He’s] potty trained! That’s really big. The Star Wars undies — that’s exciting.”

— Nicole Sands

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