By peoplestaff225
Updated October 03, 2008 05:00 PM

Having her last child well into her 40s gave Jane Kaczmarek a new perspective on parenting. Now 52, Jane feels that her kids — Frances, 11, George, 8, and Mary Louisa, 5 ½, with husband Bradley Whitford — “definitely” keep her young, because she more often than not finds herself “hanging out with all these women in their 30s.” Even more importantly, Jane says that unlike some of her younger mom peers, she’s acutely aware that every day spent with her children “is a gift.”

It was that realization which led Jane to let her nanny go and take time off after Malcolm In the Middle wrapped to be a full-time mom. Although the people she had caring for the kids were “extraordinary,” Jane says she decided that she “didn’t want somebody else, no matter how good they are” to fill that role. “I want to be taking care of them,” Jane explains. “They are my kids.”

Despite having celebrities for parents, the children are remarkably grounded — due in no small part to the efforts of Jane and Brad. The family has just one television “that’s usually never on,” Jane says, and both mom and dad drive Hondas. For birthdays, the couple request that in lieu of a gift party-goers bring a check for Smile Train or the Children’s Defense Fund or another children’s charity. Sometimes their method requires a little deception, however! Jane says that when the family would travel to New York City they would make the obligatory trip to FAO Schwarz, but told the kids that “this is the most famous toy museum in the world and nothing here is for sale.”

Jane can currently be seen in Raising The Bar.