She’s an A-list actress, producer, author and Oscar winner and been called one of the most influential people in the world, but Reese Witherspoon has much more modest goals when it comes to being a mom. She’d just like her kids — Ava, 19, Deacon, 15, and Tennessee, 6 — to pick up after themselves. “I feel like I’m always telling people to clean up. ‘Put your dishes in the dishwasher, put your clothes in the laundry, come on now,’” she reveals.

Reese Witherspoon with kids Ava, Deacon and Tennessee as well as husband Jim Toth
Todd Williamson/Getty Images

Raising a family the hands-on way isn’t glamorous, but it keeps the Big Little Lies star grounded. After all, awards don’t matter when she’s wiping a runny nose or arguing with her teenager about borrowing the car. “No one’s really doing it perfectly,” Reese, 43, says of parenting. “You love your kids with your whole heart, and you do the best you can.”

Using her own Tennessee upbringing as a guide, Reese taught her children to respect their elders, do chores around the house and attend church. When you have a child “you kind of look inward,” muses the star, who admits that becoming a mother made her want to address her own flaws. “I just wanted to exhibit good qualities for my daughter,” she says. “I was a little competitive before I had kids — probably really competitive, to be honest. It really made me let go of that.”

Her kids think she’s doing a great job. Reese nearly cried when Ava thanked her for being a great mom recently. “This is the gorgeous woman who taught me about the power of graciousness, love, ambition and hard work,” Ava wrote on Instagram. “She inspires me every day to live with gratitude for the life I’ve been given and compassion for others.” For Reese, Ava’s acknowledgement has been the greatest reward of all.

For more on your favorite celebs, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!