A mom at an event (Kevin Winter | WireImage )

Kim Raver is between feedings. The 38-year-old actress has grown accustomed to this frequent and seemingly fleeting state since October, when she brought her second son, Leo, home from the hospital. It's during these between times that the rest of her busy life takes place. "The rest" encompasses plenty: working 15 hours five to six days a week taping Lipstick Jungle, NBC's new dramedy about three high-powered Manhattan working women; taking 5-year-old son Luke to school, after a few minutes of playing dinosaurs; catching up with her husband, filmmaker Manu Boyer; frosting a homemade birthday cake; sewing a Halloween costume; sleeping a few hours; and, oh, taking the occasional shower. This life-as-spin-art juggle of career and motherhood has been part of the native New Yorker's world ever since Luke was born, and now that Kim's a mom of two, the pace doesn't show any signs of slowing. Luckily, she's learned a thing or two (or seven) since her first go-round at motherhood, and she's passionate about passing them on.

1. Recruit family and friends
"The day after I came home from the hospital with Leo, my mom came over. I had had a C-section and I was so sleep deprived – I'd been getting up to play with Luke so he wouldn't feel left out – and completely disheveled. I just felt like a mess.

"So my mom walked in with this cooler bag. She walked me into the kitchen and put the cooler on top of the counter and she started pulling out all this Tupperware. She gave me this piece of paper and was like, 'Okay, here's the menu.' She had made five meals, each of which had about three courses. And I started crying. Because all the meals were comfort food that she used to make for me as a kid. Except she had adapted them because she knew I would be squeezing into my work wardrobe in four or five weeks. So if it had originally been a heavy-cream sauce, she'd made a horseradish-yogurt sauce instead. And she'd made an apple-potato puree because she knew the apples would help my digestion; after a C-section, you need fiber. Basically my mom had factored all my needs into each of these low-fat, high-protein meals.

"I was so moved because it wasn't just food, it was an incredible gesture of motherhood. My mom – who raised me and my older sister on her own – realized how hard it is with a new baby. She had taken the time to make these meals in order to take care of me, so that I could take care of my sons. I'm crying right now just talking about it. So my advice is, for your baby shower, instead of asking for a closet full of stuff you don't end up using, ask a family member or a friend who loves to cook – or ask five friends – to make a meal for you when you first come home. It's so amazingly comforting to have that."

2. Know that it gets easier
"The whole week after you give birth is so intense: You're recuperating and nursing, and you're exhausted. But it's kind of like, Oh, my God – for me at least – and, not to sound all weird or profound, but it's kind of, That's why I'm on this planet! But I also remember being so tired with my first one and thinking, Is the rest of my life going to be like this? With Leo, it's gotten incrementally easier. I've started being okay with the sleepless nights because I know I won't be nursing every two hours for the rest of my life. And my husband and I are so much more relaxed as parents. Whereas whenever Luke cried, I was in complete angst and stomach turning, Oh, my God, what's not right? What's happening? I remember Luke getting a cold when he was a few weeks old, and I was a basket case. And then recently Leo got a cold – and he got a cold. With Luke, I was so worried about every little thing. With Leo, who I hear crying in the other room right now, I'm like, 'Okay, let's solve the problem.... What is it?'"

3. Play dinosaurs whenever possible
"Kids are so in the moment, and I learn from mine every day. Sometimes when I'm running around trying to get ready for work and trying to nurse Leo, Luke will be in the corner, playing with his dinosaurs. That's what's important to him, and it really brings me into what's important. Yes, you have to be the adult and get things done, but you can also take a few minutes and play dinosaurs, because life's too short. My kids give me these amazing reminders to love life and not get caught up in all the ridiculous minutiae that we do get caught up in.

"Another example is that because of my career, I can't always nurse Leo at home. So wherever I am with him – in my trailer or dressing room – I stop everyone and everything and make sure that is our time. People always want something from me; I'm sure so many parents feel that way. But sometimes you have to close the door and tell yourself, It's okay to take this time with my kids."

4. Follow your own dreams
"Whenever I worry about the hours I work – sometimes they're 16-hour days – I think about my mom. Even though she worked insane hours as a producer for commercials, she was always there for me. I don't know whether it was because she was a single mom – so it was me, my sister, and my mom, the three of us, through thick and thin – but there wasn't a moment, never a moment, growing up when I didn't feel loved by her. I mean, my Halloween costumes were handmade! I think that's what's given me the inspiration to have my career: I never felt my mom loved me any less because she was working. So I hope to pass that on – that it's a good thing to have dreams and pursue them, and you can still be there for your kids. Like last year, I was on set filming in a diner at 3 in the morning, and in between takes and memorizing lines, instead of just hanging out, I'd hang out and sew my son's lion costume."