Actress Leigh-Allyn Baker has had many wonderful roles in her life. She’s played Hannah Webster on the TV show “Charmed,” Ellen on “Will & Grace” and Joy in "The Last Frontier"; had stints on “Hannah Montana, “Yes, Dear,” “That '70s Show” and “Early Edition”; been voice characters in “Star Trek” and “X-Men” video games and in the animated series "Back at the Barnyard; was Miss Calloway County Fair Queen in Murray, Ky., where she was born; and most recently stars as Amy Duncan in the Disney Channel’s live-action family sitcom "Good Luck Charlie ."
As Amy, Baker portrays a mom who returns to work as a late-shift nurse after having an unexpected surprise — a baby — while raising two teens and a tween with her exterminator husband. Of all her roles, it’s one she can most relate to — Baker returned to work while still nursing her son Griffin, now 14 months old
Baker, her husband, an entertainment executive, and their toddler live in Los Angeles.
You’re a working mother, just like the character you play in “Good Luck Charlie.” Obviously, your son is just a baby, but in what ways can you relate?
It’s pretty similar to chasing little Charlie [a girl] around, but boys are faster! It’s just trying to find the balance between being at work and being at home. That’s the biggest similarity.
In what ways has motherhood surprised you?
I didn’t know I would love it this much. I thought my days were so busy, how would I ever have the time to have a baby? Then I had him and I thought, what did I ever do before him? I think about a second one and it’s, how would I do it?
How do you manage the home-work balance?
I simplify my life as much as possible. I know what I’m wearing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday … and I make a punch list so no matter what goes on in my life, as long as I put it in the list, I’m good to go.
Does being an actress make things harder or easier?
Easier, because my hours are different. I can squeeze in time for Griffin or take him with me. It’s harder, too, because there’s no schedule. When I’m called, I’m called.
How do you and your husband handle household chores and childcare?
We’re honestly a mutual household. I’m very lucky. It’s not 50-50; I have a husband who’s 100 percent. We’re 100 percent and 100 percent.
What are the things you refuse to compromise when it comes to your family?
Safety, health, and the happiness of my family come first.
In a refreshingly honest article in Self magazine, you talked about the pressures and extremes you’ve had to go to to be Hollywood skinny. Did you ever think if might be easier to be a stay-at-home mom?
There was a part I thought I’d get, but I didn’t. That’s when I got pregnant with Griffin. Certainly after I had him, I didn’t want to leave him. I was the happiest I ever wanted to be, and also the fattest I ever was! And then came the Disney Channel calling, and for the first 15 episodes I carried an extra 15 pounds of weight because I was still breastfeeding. I breastfed him for a year. I view my body really differently now. I created life; why do I want to punish myself for that? I’m so in awe of my body now.
What’s the best advice you have about mothering?
Get a sleep trainer. Get a sleep trainer if your baby is not sleeping at 4 months. At 4 months, my son was sleeping 12 hours a night.
Do you set aside “me” time, and what do you do when you have it?
Yes! It’s going to be interesting when I’m on hiatus. Right now, when I’m working, I have a break between scenes; that’s my “me” time. My other “me” time is when I do Pilates every Monday night.
The Hollywood lifestyle can be a hard one in which to raise children. Is it important to you to give your son as normal a life as possible, and how do you hope to do that?
I’m from a little town in Kentucky. I grew up with a down-home, normal life. I’m hoping we raise our child the same way. I know there are many parents in Hollywood who have the best intentions, but something goes wrong. I hope to avoid that.
When your son looks back on his childhood, what do you hope he’ll think of you as a mom?
I hope that he knows that I always, no matter what happens, love him. He needs to know that he’s always loved. And I hope my child never fears me. I know the old way to get respect is to be feared, but I don't agree.
Actress Leigh-Allyn Baker was interviewed by Vicki Larson, Around the Watercooler  contributor. She is a journalist and single mom.