A former Brat Packer who stars in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Molly Ringwald knows plenty about adolescent angst. But being mom to Mathilda, 6, and fraternal twins Adele and Roman, 1, is an entirely different role for the 42-year-old actress and author.

By Patty A. Martinez

How did Mathilda take the news that she was getting a baby brother and sister?

It was an adjustment for her after being an only child for so many years. To keep it positive, we turned the twins' births into a celebration for her too. Before they were born we planned a "big-sister party" so she would have something to look forward to. We invited friends to bring presents for Mathilda in honor of her becoming a big sister.

It must be nice to have another pair of hands to help out with the twins.

She'll give them a bottle every once in a while, but her main job is to run around and make them laugh.

What was the biggest challenge going from one kid to three?

The lack of sleep! My husband, Panio (a writer and book editor), and I used to get up when Mathilda did. Now when she comes into our room, we give her a timer set for 30 minutes and tell her to come back when it rings.

Mathilda sounds like a handful.

She's very opinionated, so it's hard for her to hear that there's another way to do things. We work on that a lot. And apparently it's emphasized at school too. One day she came home and said, "I need to learn to be flexible." I thought to myself, "Where did she get that word?" It turns out her teacher told her that!

What's your favorite moment of the day as a family?

Dinner is our special sharing time. We sit down and talk about the day's high and low, or what Mathilda calls "rose and thorn." We explain what went well and what was challenging.

Does Mathilda remind you of yourself at her age?

Absolutely. She's creative and has a big imagination like I did. She also takes an art class, and she just played Tiger Lily in Peter Pan.

And whom do Adele and Roman take after?

It's still early, but personality-wise, Roman is incredibly happy and smiley, while Adele is more watchful and stoic. And they both look a little like Mathilda, although they don't resemble each other at all!

What was the hardest part about growing up in the public eye?

Feeling like I couldn't make a mistake without the world knowing about it. And it's important for people to slip up once in a while—that's how they grow.

Was it cool being part of the Brat Pack?

That term came from a magazine article; it's not like we were in a special club! But it was exciting making original movies—and of course it was so inspiring to work with director John Hughes.

In your book Getting the Pretty Back, you talk about motherhood, friendship, and fitness. What's the biggest lesson for readers?

That a woman who is confident can do anything! I want women to embrace their inner girls—when they were fearless—and pair that with the life experience that comes with adulthood. It truly is the best of both worlds.

Fast Facts

How you know her: Besides her Brat Pack flicks, she appeared in Cabaret and Sweet Charity on Broadway.

Favorite fashion tips for busy moms: "If you find something you like, buy it in every color! And definitely get to know a good tailor."

What's in a name: "Since Panio is Greek he wants the kids to call him baba, but Mathilda rebelled when she was 4 and only calls him daddy."

Guilty obsession: "Craigslist and eBay! I'm very into recycling and have furnished the house with items from online postings."

Love at first bite: "Panio won me over on our first date by making tzatziki. It was very romantic—even with all that garlic!"