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Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson Delight in Their Daughters

07/16/2010 at 09:00 AM ET

Courtesy Good Housekeeping

Nanny McPhee costars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Emma Thompson open up to Good Housekeeping in their August issue, revealing that both revel in spending girlie-girl time with their daughters.

Thompson routinely plays “hair salon” at home with daughter Gaia Romilly, 10,  while Gyllenhaal says that she and Ramona, 3½, enjoy weekly manicures “at the nail place on the corner,” she says.

“I didn’t do that kind of thing much with my mother; she didn’t wear makeup or high heels; she didn’t, you know, moisturize. My mother was interested in political things,” Gyllenhaal explains.

“The joy of femininity wasn’t something she stressed. But all those feminine things can be wonderful, and I have really enjoyed finding all that stuff on my own.”

Much to Ramona’s delight!

Gyllenhaal says that there is often an extra set of eyes fixed upon her as she readies for a night out on the town. “It’s nice to watch your mother sitting at a vanity,” she says. “I do that. I almost never wear makeup, but sometimes when I’m going out I’ll do more, and my daughter loves watching.”

Their approach to raising daughters isn’t all the actresses have in common, for neither employs a full-time nanny. To that end, Thompson says that she and husband Greg Wise “take turns” as primary caregiver while the other is working. The workload isn’t quite so balanced for Gyllenhaal, however, who married actor Peter Sarsgaard in 2009.

“In our case, it has to be me more — for me, [a mother has] a different kind of connection to a child,” she explains. “The mother is the one who carried the baby around inside her. There’s something undeniable about that.”

Thompson is quick to point out, however, that no parent can “do it all.”

“I think that’s a revolting concept. It’s so false,” she opines. “You can’t be a great mom and work the whole time necessarily; those two things aren’t ideal. We have an awful lot to work on and to debate about in relation to our working lives, because it isn’t working for a lot of people, particularly for a lot of women.”

Musing that “the only way you can have it all is by delegating all the running of the home to other people,” Thompson says it is a scenario neither she nor Gyllenhaal are comfortable with. “So you do it yourself, and it takes time and energy and effort, and if you give it the time, it’s profoundly enjoyable,” she adds.

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Showing 6 comments

Ritz on

this cover looks like it would have been lying around my house back when I was little :)

maggie on

Ritz-what does that mean?

Ritz on

it looks old!

Michelle on

The “moisturize” comment cracks me up.

dfs on

Not all mothers carry their babies.

Raisa on

Aww, they both look so beautiful! Refreshing to see such exemplary people on this site.

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