Julie Bowen is a very strict parent.

The 'Modern Family' star - who has three sons, Oliver, six, and four-year-old twins, Gustav and John, with her husband Scott Phillips - has learnt a lot about motherhood from playing Claire Dunphy on the comedy series but admits being a mum of three in real life is like ''running a small army''.

The 43-year-old actress told Working Mother magazine: ''[I've learned that] being your kids' best friend is not always the best parenting choice.

''It's not about everybody being happy all the time. It's about setting limits.

''In my house that makes my kids very unhappy, like tantrums-on-the-ground-twice-a-day unhappy. But the limits are set.''

Julie credits the show's writers, producers and actors for helping her to juggle filming with her real family.

She said: ''My schedule at 'Modern Family' is fantastic, so I didn't have to give up much. But I'm discovering that my kids now notice more when I'm gone, that they want more time and attention. So I shorten trips to a bare minimum or just don't go at all.''

Her husband Scott, whom she has been married to since 2004, works from their family home and she believes he is also central to her success.

She said: ''He writes software, so he has an office in our house. Essentially he's always there for the kids, even when he's off-duty and the door is closed and he's working.

''He's definitely the element of consistency our children need. He is amazing!''