Keri Russell

NEW YORK — Those close to Keri Russell joke that the actress needs a crash course in actress attitude.

Russell finds cleaning her house "therapeutic," does her own wash and buys her own clothes. Her bag isn't a Balenciaga but an off-white cotton satchel emblazoned with "Certified Organic Mom."

And because she doesn't have a nanny, when she needs to leave 5-month-old son River at home to fulfill her press duties, her mother flies in from Texas to baby-sit. That's the case as she does interviews to promote "August Rush," which opens Wednesday.

"I want to raise my kid. I was totally being a martyr at first, thinking I could totally do it on my own. And I did, for a while," says Russell, 31, who finally hired a sitter a few weeks ago so she and her husband could go out for a night.

As far as a full-time caretaker goes, "for a control freak like me, it ain't going to happen."

She and her carpenter husband, Shane Deary, live in Brooklyn, where they're renovating a brownstone themselves, and like most appliance-deprived New Yorkers, she dreams of having her own laundry room. The two were married on Valentine's Day, and son River Russell was born June 9 in New York. While she does interviews, Deary "is making our house," Russell says, literally rebuilding the roof. "It is soooo hot. He can fix anything. He has great ideas."