Neil Patrick Harris Opens Up About Working Away From His Kids: 'Long Distance Is Difficult'

"[I'm] just getting back into the routine of being a dad all the time," Neil Patrick Harris told PEOPLE Tuesday of taking a break from working

Neil Patrick Harris is taking a break from his A-list acting career to spend more time with his kids — and sort through his mail.

“My upcoming project is not working. It’s gleefully not working,” he joked to PEOPLE Tuesday evening at the live-streamed improv show he hosted at Caroline’s on Broadway in N.Y.C., promoting his new collaboration with Jif Power Ups.

The actor was approached by the peanut butter brand to work in a new campaign spotlighting the challenges parents face when choosing mutually agreeable snacks for their kids. “They wanted to talk about family parental struggles, and that’s definitely something that we’re in the middle of,” he said.

On stage, Harris spoke of his own issues with getting his kids to eat. “My son decided he only wanted sprinkles,” he said of twins Gideon Scott and Harper Grace, 7½, whom he told PEOPLE are “starting to read and write” as they make their way toward the second grade.

“We went back and forth, and finally settled on sprinkles over whole-grain bread, since his dad is an amazing chef,” the star, 45, joked of husband David Burtka.

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Jif Power Ups Launch Event in NYC
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Neil Patrick Harris and improv group OSFUG

Harris returned six weeks ago from filming the third and final season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which he plays the prosthetically transformed Count Olaf, and has been since basking in the freedom of his spare time along with his daddy duties.

“[I’m] just getting back into the routine of being a dad all the time, not just being a dad who’s there for a few days until I have to leave again,” he told PEOPLE. “Long distance is difficult. Necessary sometimes, but a challenge.”

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Harris acknowledges one thing that has by far been the most exciting and rewarding part of parenting for him. “Their senses of humor are developing pretty fast, so now they think they can come up with funny, clever repetitions that make us laugh,” he explained.

His plans for the near future involve sleeping in, making breakfasts and going on vacations, the former How I Met Your Mother star told PEOPLE.

And one more activity they’re currently bonding over as a family? Making puppets, Harris shared. “We’ve been spending a fair amount of time making inanimate objects animate,” he joked.

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