Mindy Kaling Gets Real About Mealtime With Toddlers

"She's 3, and she's really flexing right now," the actor and writer joked about her daughter, Katherine.
Mindy Kaling is mom to 8-month-old Spencer and 3-year-old Katherine. 
Mindy Kaling is mom to 8-month-old Spencer and 3-year-old Katherine. 

Mindy Kaling understands the frustrating obstinacy of toddlers, especially at mealtime. While her son Spencer is only 8 months old, her daughter Katherine is a full-on “threenager.”

“She’s 3, and she’s really flexing right now,” the actor and writer told HuffPost while promoting her partnership with Propel Immune Support water. “She’s learned the power of ‘no’ in her little mind, and one way that she can exert her power is just by what she chooses to eat.”

Dealing with a picky eater brings extra challenges to mealtime, which can be especially disappointing for Kaling, who loves trying out new recipes.

“I wish I could sit here and be like, ‘Yes, I cooked a delicious curry, and she’s having a bowlful with a big smile on her face!’” she said. “But in reality, I’ll cook something like pasta or Indian food or something delicious, and all she’ll want is dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese and like maybe broccoli. I have an air fryer, so she loves air-fried broccoli. But that’s kind of it. So it’s definitely a challenge with her.”

When she isn’t trying to make kid-friendly food, the “Office” alum is also working on kid-friendly media. Kaling lends her voice to the upcoming animated “Monsters, Inc.” spinoff show, “Monsters at Work,” which is due to premiere on Disney+ in July.

“I’m so excited because my daughter loves ‘Monsters, Inc.’ and I’m excited that I’m a monster in this new series,” she said, adding that she hopes her daughter enjoys her performance.

“I would say it’s going to blow her mind, but she’s so unimpressed that I feel like she’ll be like, ‘Hmm, call me when you’re in ‘Toy Story,’” she joked. “But I think she’ll be excited about it.”

“Monsters at Work” is one of many upcoming projects for Kaling, but when she isn’t diving into work or parenting her two kiddos, she tries to carve out a little time for self-care to maintain her sanity amid the pandemic.

“It’s been hard this past year. I’m not someone who in general was prioritizing self-care before this,” she explained. “Self-care is just giving myself the time to exercise because it really does help me emotionally and obviously physically. It keeps me sharp, puts me in a great mood.”

“During the pandemic when I went for a daily run, even if it was just 20-30 minutes, it was sometimes the only time I left the house, so it has kind of kept me from the brink of insanity some of the times. I believe for me personally, endorphins are incredible motivators. It’s not about weight loss. It’s really about modulating my mood and health.”

Now that vaccination rates are rising and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has eased its guidelines on outdoor gatherings, Kaling is excited to add another form of self-care to her everyday life: Spending time with loved ones.

“I’m going to become the grill master this summer!” she said. “I feel like my house was a hub for my friends with kids. Before the pandemic, they would come over for the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, every holiday. Now, most of my friends are vaccinated, and I’m absolutely thrilled for people to come over, to be on the grill, and test out new recipes. I have a feeling this summer is going to be three months of nonstop seeing friends.”