Chris O’Donnell: Eric Christian Olsen Is Feeling the Effects of Daddy Duty

09/24/2013 at 01:00 PM ET

Chris O'Donnell Christian Olsen Daddy Duty
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Chris O’Donnell is the star of a hit TV series, a husband and doting dad of five, but has seamlessly been able to do it all and still find time to support a good cause.

“It’s about priorities more than anything. My family will always be first and work is right up there,” the NCIS: Los Angeles star, 43, told PEOPLE on Monday as he wore his orange shirt in honor of Hunger Action Month.

“Orange is the color of hunger. I’m helping [ConAgra Foods] raise awareness, getting people involved to spread the word by taking pictures of any sort of orange moment [and] posting it on different social media channels with the hashtag #Orange4Hunger,” explains O’Donnell.

With a full schedule, O’Donnell is quick to admit he’s not “getting to coach all of [the kids’] sports teams like [he] used to, but any free time goes to them.”

They even occasionally visit dad on the Paramount set.

“If we’re on the lot in Paramount and it’s a slow day, I love having the kids pop over even just for a quick visit. The little ones aren’t that interested in me, they’re more interested in craft service,” says O’Donnell with a laugh, “but the older ones are generally interested in the process.”

O’Donnell’s kids — Lily, 14, Chip, 12, Charlie, 10, Finley, 7½, and Maeve, 5½ — aren’t the only NCIS: L.A. babies though. Costar Eric Christian Olsen and his wife recently welcomed their baby boy, while Daniela Ruah just announced she and her husband are expecting their first child.

When asked if his costars were ready for the sleepless nights, O’Donnell jokes that “[He] has been coming in with some bags under his eyes. Eric is right in the thick of it.”

But as for mommy-to-be Ruah, O’Donnell says, “She’ll get there. She’s just so excited and amped up, getting her little nursery ready at home.”

The best piece of advice O’Donnell can offer the two? Get the little ones in a routine right away.

“I can’t say that I was the one responsible for getting them on a schedule — that was my wife,” says the actor. “But having witnessed it over and over, the quicker you can get your kids on a schedule for sleeping, napping and eating, it makes life easier for everybody.”

— Mariah Haas

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Marky on

I’ve had a lot of children (bio, adopted. and foster), and truthfully Chris is right, a semi-schedul makes for a much happier baby, a more pleasant, loving toddler and child, and parents who can function. When I am watching how young women BF and deal with having babies, those who just “wing it” seem to have fussier babies, and the moms seem to be at their wits” end! Nothing overly rigid; just reasonable, flexible, and lots of love as well!

berdeanyolles on

Hey guys. LOVE the show. Hattie is one miss tight ruler. I guess she has to keep ya’ll in line !!!!!!! LOVE the show. Every thing I do on the night your on,is wored around you

Elizabeth on

He seems so cool and realistic about life

Totally agree…a schedule told wonders. My fourth is now 11 months. I’ve dealt with 4 personalities and a great thing is to schedule and figure out their personality and preferences and adjust your schedule to suit.

Lynette on

I agree with the other post and Chris O’Donnell regarding the schedule. That is my piece of advice to all new parents. It makes it difficult for the parents sometime to have to stick to their babies schedule but it is totally worth it and my kids were much happier and pleasant. And we were better off too in the big picture.