Lea Michele is teaming up with Carter's to celebrate Halloween DIY costumes kids will adore
Speaking with PEOPLE about her partnership with Carter’s celebrating their simple yet adorable DIY costumes inspired by pop culture and trending characters, the Glee star, 36, admitted she was "never that into Halloween growing up."
"I think as an actor, being that every day is sort of like Halloween — dressing up and becoming different characters, — [when it came to] that one day of the year for me, I was never like, 'Okay, it's time to dress up again,' " the actress tells PEOPLE.
That all changed when she welcomed son Ever Leo, 3, and suddenly, Halloween became "a completely different situation."
"Since my son was 1 year old, he's been obsessed with Halloween," the doting mom shares. "Seeing the decorations on the street every year and picking out what costumes he's gonna be, it’s a huge deal in our house."
The family enjoys "tons of traditions" at this time of year, "from carving pumpkins to making special Halloween desserts and treats."
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This year, Ever has already gotten into the spirit, with Michele sharing, "Yesterday, he wanted to buy this little ghost ice cube maker. And he's the best with it."
"We are very, very, very excited for Halloween in our house," she adds.
"This will be our son's third Halloween and I realize, as a parent, you usually get two costumes for your kid and then most of the time, they get packed up and passed on," she says, noting how Carter's refashioning of bold basics for the holiday makes it easy for the "unbelievably cute" styles to live on throughout the year.
"I think Carter's saw that I'm one of their top purchasers," she jokes. "I'm such a huge fan of the brand and especially now, with these super easy DIY Halloween sets, it's an even greater reason for me to love the brand and speak highly of them. They're great clothing options that make perfect costumes and you can reuse the clothes for everyday wear, which I really appreciate as a parent."
"We also love their Mario options and were thinking of doing a whole Super Mario family costume, which could also be great."
Aside from Halloween, the actress mom has enjoyed going "into mom mode 100%" this fall, which has included "getting settled back into school and all of the afterschool activities," with Ever recently participating in his first swim class.
"It's cute to watch and see him be so brave," the proud mom shares. "And this morning for school, I packed his first-ever lunch."
She admits, "I know it sounds so simple, but it was so emotional for me. I feel like just a couple of months ago, I was changing diapers and there were bottles in the house and now it's packing lunches in lunch boxes. And so it was really emotional for me."
"I also felt a lot of pressure," she continues. "I was texting photos to all of the other moms in the class, just making sure that everything was right. It's such a simple thing, but it was a really big milestone for us and we're so happy."
The joyous moment for the family comes as Michele takes a break after finishing her time as Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, a time and experience the actress says she "could have never imagined stepping into and discovering what this year would mean for us as a family."
"I'll never forget that my first night performing at Funny Girl was also my son's first day school. So in the morning, I put his little backpack on, I walked him into school and that night I made my debut."
"Over the months and weeks, it was a very big adjustment for our family figuring out how to balance the schedule and really just recognize the exhaustion of what it takes to be a mom in and of itself," she shares. "And then also, on top of that, having this very big responsibility but also very physical responsibility of doing the show every night. It took me a while to find that balance, but we came up with a great routine."
"I cannot believe I potty trained my son on top of playing Fanny Brice in seven shows a week," she laughs. "It's one of the greatest accomplishments of my entire life, for sure."
The couple took a "gentle and easy" approach to working through the hard moments, with Michele noting, "Saying goodbye at night was really hard. I know that there were nights when my son wanted me to put him to sleep and it was hard for us."
"I think that at the end of the day, we tried to really take things slowly. I found this amazing book that helps us so much, it's called The Kissing Hand and one of my cast members from Funny Girl, Leslie, she actually gave it to me. It was a great book that I would read to him before I would go to this theater at night and it would give a little sticker at the end that I would put in his palm, and then I would take a sticker as well. Sometimes it's the little things like that, figuring out how we can take care of each moment and get through it as best as possible."
Michele praised her husband as the "most incredible in the entire world" for his support, noting, "The best day of the whole year was when my husband took my son to see Funny Girl. They came to a matinee and the two of them were in the audience. My son sat through the entire show and it was so so special for me to have him there and see his mommy."
Her hope is that Ever will one day recognize, "There might have been moments that I missed here and there throughout the year, but for him to see where I was and what I was doing and the hard work that I was putting in, it meant everything, so much to me."
She adds, "I'm so unbelievably grateful to be able to now say that I did that, and I did it well. Now it's time to be just Ever’s mom for a little while."
As fall forges ahead, the family is looking forward to apple picking and other autumn favorites.
"We went last year and we loved it even a little earlier in the season and so it was a little warm out. We're definitely planning on doing that and taking Ever," she says.
"We're sort of newly back here on the East Coast and the majority of our time living here has been with me in the show, so now that we have all this new free time, we definitely want to explore all the East Coast activities. We're just really, really excited to have a wonderful fall here together as a family."
"Honestly, this has been such an incredible year for me, professionally but also personally, to watch our son grow and settle into city life. He adjusted so well this year to all the wild things we had going on, and I'm so grateful to now have this time to just dive in completely to family and all things Halloween DIY and lunch boxes and afterschool activities."
Of being a mom, she concludes, "Nothing makes me happier than this right now."
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