Julie Bowen Jokes: I 'Lowered Expectations' to Manage Without a Nanny

"If I got a nanny on the weekends when they were little, I would have relied on it so heavily," she tells PEOPLE

With three little boys, Julie Bowen knows just getting out the door with her young family can be a challenge.

“I had a plan. I aimed for a certain time of leaving the house, almost made that, but didn’t by 30 minutes,” the Modern Family star told PEOPLE at the Jenni Kayne + Pottery Barn Kids Collection Launch with Baby2Baby in West Hollywood on Saturday. “You just do your best. Then, after this, they get to go to an arcade.”

But even though she and husband Scott Phillips, 43, are outnumbered by their brood of boys — Oliver, 8, and twins John and Gus, 6 — the couple goes “nanny-free” on the weekends.

“We have three kids. We definitely have help during the week,” Bowen, 45, shares. “But I feel like if I got a nanny on the weekends when they were little, I would have relied on it so heavily that I would have been … like, ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ ”

She adds, “Millions of people have done this for millions of years or billions! So just suck it up. It’s not easy. Just do it, and now it’s so much easier. My husband can do it. I can do it. We got it down to a system. We have lowered expectations. They wear filthy clothing, I’m not going to lie. It’s gross.”

Julie Bowen Pottery Barn no nanny

Michael Simon/Startraks

And the mom of three — who admits she doesn’t “understand half the stuff” her boys are into, especially “if it’s about guns or blowing something up” — is really excited they finally share some of the same interests.

“They’re super into Legos — finally, something I understand,” she says. “I’m like, ‘Legos, I’m in!’ This phase, I’m into it. I’m like, ‘Let’s do it! Let’s make a Lego city!’ It’s really fun.”

Still, even with a chaotic schedule, the busy mom tries to fit in “me” time.

“There [are] days when I don’t feel like going for a run,” she explains. “[But] I’m like, ‘Take it, that’s your big “you” time.’ But I’m not really good at things like going and getting my nails done. I haven’t done that in two years.”

— Mariah Haas

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