Mindy Kaling Reveals the Biggest Misconception About Being a Single Mom
Plus, the star tells HelloGiggles why she keeps her kids' identities private.
Mindy Kaling has her hands full. In September, The Office alum gave birth to her second child, son Spencer, making her three-year-old daughter, Katherine (Kit), a big sister. Oh, and she did it in the midst of the pandemic, keeping her entire pregnancy a secret while simultaneously writing Legally Blonde 3 and Season 2 of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever, for which she’s also an executive producer. But despite parenting two kids adding a lot to her already jam-packed personal and professional schedules, Kaling says she thinks there’s one big misconception about single motherhood.
“When people think of single moms, I think they think of being overwhelmed and [having] no fun at all,” Kaling tells HelloGiggles over a recent phone call. “I feel really lucky, because even though I have a 3-month-old and can’t sleep longer than three hours because he needs to get fed, I do feel like we’re really enjoying it and having a lot of fun.”
“I think that sometimes people think that there’s less joy in it because [single moms] have to do it all themselves,” the 41-year-old continues. “I feel so lucky because I’m in a position where I can have help.”
Since Kit was born in 2017, Kaling has kept the paternity of her children private, along with their identities on social media. The former Mindy Project star has maintained the opinion that her daughter isn’t old enough to give consent when it comes to sharing her face with the world.
“It’s hard because she’s such a big part of my life, and I love sharing my life with people who are fans of me or my shows,” Kaling admits. “But I’ve found what really makes sense to me, which is just showing the back of her head, so she has privacy if she goes out. There are so many celebrities’ kids that I would recognize if I saw them at the airport, and I would say their name like I know them. I don’t want people to do that to my kids—to be like, ‘Oh, Katherine Kaling,’ or ‘Oh, Spencer!’ and have [my kids] be like, ‘Oh, should I know you?’”
While Kaling sticks to that anonymity boundary, she has no qualms about talking about her kids and motherhood in general—or admitting that she’s happy to accept plenty of help along the way. Case in point: The actress recently partnered with Walgreens for its new app myWalgreens, which aims to make healthy living and shopping more convenient for busy people like her.
“I have a lot going on right now,” Kaling says. “Because I’m a single mom, any special hacks that I can involve in my life, like myWalgreens, are really incredible. I can order something for my son like diapers, or toys for my daughter, or melatonin or cough medicine for me. I just type it into my phone, drive up to a Walgreens in 30 minutes, and somebody hands it to me curbside. I don’t have to wait for packages to arrive, and I don’t have to break down recycling—it’s just immediate gratification.”
Juggling parenting, work, and staying healthy is a lot to manage at any time, but especially during the holidays—and even more so during the pandemic. This year, Kaling says she’s gotten creative about keeping her daughter entertained while it’s just the two of them and baby Spencer at home for the holidays. For Halloween, Kaling created a makeshift trick or treating experience for Kit. “I went to all the different doors in the house, and I’d hide behind the door and she’d knock on it,” the actress explains. “I’d open it and she’d say, ‘Trick or treat!’ We did that like nine times at all the different doors in my house.”
To keep the Christmas spirit alive this year, Kaling and Kit decorated their tree together for the first time, and the star has also been teaching her daughter how to sing holiday songs. “I love playing the piano, but I don’t [normally] get an opportunity to practice,” she says. “So, playing little carols for us and teaching them to my daughter because she doesn’t know them yet is really fun for me.”
Plus, in lieu of visiting Santa at The Grove in L.A., like Kaling has done with Kit the past two holiday seasons, the star reveals she’s bringing Santa home this year. “My dad is dressing up as Santa Claus so my daughter can sit on his lap and tell him what she wants,” Kaling says, laughing. “Everyone is just taking on all these new responsibilities to make the holidays fun for little kids.”
While caroling and visiting Santa are time-honored childhood traditions, a popular adult tradition which Kaling herself appreciates is rewatching The Office Christmas episodes. Her favorite, she reveals, is Season 7’s “Classy Christmas,” which she wrote. Fans will remember the epic showdown between Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert, which started with one snowball thrown at Dwight, who then took the fight to a whole other level (naturally) by hiding inside a snowman in the parking lot and bursting out to pelt Jim with snowballs.
“The last scene is Jim walking through the parking lot filled with 12 different snowmen, and he’s so worried that Dwight is in one of them,” Kaling recalls. “That’s probably my favorite The Office Christmas moment—Jim walking through a parking lot full of snowmen.”
Watching shows and movies has become a more common pastime for Kaling during quarantine, part of which she spent on maternity leave. “I’m watching so much more TV than I used to because I’m waking up in the middle of the night to pump,” she explains. “I’ll turn on the TV and watch for 45 minutes while I pump, so I’ve been getting so much inspiration from other shows that I wouldn’t normally watch, like Money Heist. It’s enormously inspiring and makes me want to write different kinds of things.”
Kaling’s latest writing project is the highly anticipated Legally Blonde 3, in which Reese Witherspoon will return to our screens as the beloved Elle Woods on May 22nd, 2022. Kaling says that working with her former A Wrinkle in Time and The Morning Show costar is what excites her most about the film.
“Working with Reese and hearing her notes is so fun,” Kaling says. “No one is smarter about that character than her—she knows that character inside and out. It’s fun talking to Reese about, ‘We know what Elle Woods was like when she was 22, but in the threequel, she’s in her mid-40s, so what’s she like at that age?’ That’s been really fun to discover while writing it.”
Between penning a big-budget film and a hit TV show, raising a toddler and newborn, and making the holidays special for her kids, Kaling says her top priority this year is still her family’s health and wellbeing.
“What’s motivated me to keep up with my wellness is that it feels more ‘life and death’ right now, especially since I have a 3-year-old who always wants to touch things and put her hand in her mouth,” she explains. “It’s really been a learning curve for us, but wellness isn’t just about feeling tranquil or whatever. It’s really like, ‘Hey, we need to survive this next year unscathed.’”