Nia Vardalos, the Instant Mom

Actor and writer Nia Vardalos chats with us about her journey to motherhood, her recent adoption advocacy award and her new book, Instant Mom.Actor and writer Nia Vardalos chats with us about her journey to motherhood, her recent adoption advocacy award …Actress and screenwriter Nia Vardalos was recently honored by The American Fertility Association with the Carolyn Berger Adoption Advocacy Award for her outspoken leadership in the area of foster care adoption. It's an award she couldn't be more proud of as the AFA, an inclusive organization committed to helping others create their families of choice, "welcomes all people and all ways of becoming parents." Vardalos and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, adopted their little girl (almost 3 years old at the time) in 2008, and she has since become a proud advocate for the adoption community.

With her book, Instant Mom, (a recent recipient of the Mom's Choice Award), Vardalos chronicles the long journey of becoming a mother in a way she never expected.

After countless unsuccessful fertility treatments, she found the adoption process long and frustrating as well. Finally, with the help of an American Foster Family Agency, she became a mother overnight... literally. (They were given 14 hours notice before their daughter's arrival). Instant Mom captures Vardalos' path to motherhood and personal happiness, including how she got her start in the movie industry. The appendix details adoption information from all over the world, and Vardalos is generously donating all proceeds from the book to adoption groups.

Read on for some tips and helpful advice from one of Hollywood's most talented, hilarious and down-to-earth moms.

What's your golden rule of parenting?

There are no rules. Take each day as it comes! And don't forget, to be the best mom you can be, you have to take care of yourself.

Related: 12 Parenting Genius Moments

What's been your best moment of parenting so far?

When we got our daughter to sleep. When she came into our lives, she was not trusting. She would sleep in 20-second increments and wake up, startled. Not knowing what to do, we went to a sleep center, and they suggested buying a cot and sleeping with her in the bedroom. That way, every time she woke up, one of us would be there. If one of us had to use the bathroom, we'd call the other one in to take our place! It took five to six months for her to learn to trust us. Finally, inch by inch, we slowly moved her cot out, and she actually helped us do it. That was an amazing moment.

And the worst?

When my daughter choked on a piece of hard candy. I've never been so scared in my life. But I am so grateful for the first-aid course that we took (and we continue to take them for refreshers). I knew what to do, and thankfully, the candy came flying out.

What's the best advice you ever received about parenting?

Don't take it personally. Tell yourself, "This is not about me." Something else is going on. My daughter would lash out and hit, and it would be a struggle to get through to her. But you know what? Through those experiences I was able to see another side of the situation, and I actually grew to admire her strong will and tenacity.

What's the one thing you can't live without?

Check out Natural Candy Store--another mom told me about it, and we absolutely love it! Since becoming parents, my husband and I have turned into total health nuts and have really changed the kind of food we eat. We pay close attention to what we buy, and as a result, spend a ton of money on organic... which is another conversation altogether. Natural Candy Store has yummy sweets like chocolate and gummy bears but are all natural with no dyes, food colorings, some are gluten-free, etc.

Finish this sentence: You know you're in the toddler zone when...

...a tiny hand can karate chop you in the chin.

- By Ellen Schmidt

For 8 lies we tell when we're not parenting as we aspire to, visit BabyZone!

15 lessons to learn from your hardest parenting moments
The 13 most common humble-brags by parents
7 things moms can learn from dads