updated 09/22/2009 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 09/22/2009 AT 3:50 PM ET
Jennifer Garner may downplay her mom abilities, but she has no shortage of ideas about encouraging her kids to think creatively, a friend says.
“Every day, you feel like you are off-balance one way or another,” Garner, at Monday’s Hollywood premiere of her comedy The Invention of Lying, told PEOPLE about the secret to juggling career and motherhood. “You just take it one day at a time. Oh gosh, let me know when you figure that out. I don’t think anyone has it.”
Looking slim and radiant in a Gucci dress and Cartier jewels, Garner, 37, attended the movie opening without husband Ben Affleck. She gave birth in January to the couple’s second daughter, Seraphina, who joined Violet, 3½.
Garner may know more about motherhood than she lets on, however.
“Most of the time that I did spend with her when it was off-set, Violet was cooking with her, or reading Jane Austen, or doing one of these remarkable things that Violet tends to do,” producer Lynda Obst told PEOPLE. “She encourages her kids to be independent. At the same time, kind of not television watchers. Readers. Thinkers. She is kind of old-fashioned. She is a very classic mom.”
And as a mom and grandmother herself, Obst says of Garner, “We talk about really fun things to do with our kids. I will talk about the marching band I just formed with my granddaughter. She will talk about interesting play things she is doing. We swap tips. We talk about theory of parenting. We talk about free play and not interfering with the kids when they re being creative. She is a remarkable mother.”
Adds funnyman Ricky Gervais, who costars in the movie and who also worked with Garner on Alias: “She is Miss Goody Two Shoes. When she swears, she says things like ‘dang it’ and ‘darn.’ Her favorite swear word is ‘rats.’ That’s not a swear word!”
Invention of Lying co-director Matthew Robinson, who shared helming duties with Gervais, says Garner kept mum – pun intended – about her pregnancy. She was in the early stages while filming.
“I think she didn’t want us babying her, no pun intended,” Robinson says. “Or worrying that we were pushing her too hard or working too long hours. She never told anybody. And it was a surprise to us when we found out a few months after we wrapped.”