Mindy Kaling had multi-tasking down to a science.
The former star of The Office and The Mindy Project has written two memoirs and is now out with a third, Nothing Like I Imagined, a digital collection available on Amazon Original Stories. She created the acclaimed Netflix series Never Have I Ever and she's currently writing for multiple upcoming projects, including Legally Blonde 3 – all while raising daughter Katherine, nicknamed Kit, as a single parent.
And then the pandemic hit. To Kaling's surprise, sheltering at home in L.A. has allowed for some welcome breathing room.
"A lot of the stuff I thought was going to drive me crazy about being cooped up with a 2-year-old for seven months has actually bonded us really close together," she tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.
With a support team that includes her father, Avu (her mom, Swati, died of pancreatic cancer in 2012), and her best friend, actor B.J. Novak, 41, who's Katherine's godfather, Kaling, 41, feels lucky.
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″I'm most grateful for the fact that I'm blessed enough to have the resources to help take care of my daughter, so I can work full-time at the job that I love,″ she says.
Like many, the pandemic has still been an adjustment. ″My child was supposed to start preschool this year. And we were so excited. She was going to go to this school that I love,″ Kaling says. ″Now I have the writers' rooms filling up for two of my shows on Zoom, while I'm also leading my child through her day-long preschool.″
She adds, ″I'm so lucky because I have help. I'm at home all the time, and I don't want to eat takeout every single night. I have to be a full-time single parent who has to make the money for this household. So it's been challenging.″
Any me-time she's found for herself has entailed ″watching so much TV,″ the actress says. ″And working in TV, I absolutely love TV. So for me, it's like catching up on Succession and Rick and Morty. I always give myself about 90 minutes before I go to sleep just watching TV in my bedroom. I've also been going for pretty long walks around my neighborhood and getting to know my neighbors."
And she still tries to get on the treadmill at least three to four times a week. ″You know my whole philosophy with exercise is I tell myself I'm going to do it every day because inevitably I won't be able to,″ Kaling adds. ″But when I exercise, I jog very slowly and I try to do it for 30 minutes. I jog what is like probably a fast walk to an actually athletic person. It's not like that has these major health benefits, but it has really good mental health benefits.″
As for her daughter, Kaling insists she hasn't seen herself in Katherine just yet. ″So far, no. She is not very much like me,″ she says. ″I was a very shy, diffident kid who was really suspicious of people and new situations. And she is not at all. She's very chatty.″
She continues, ″I remember even at 5 or 6, the idea of trick-or-treating was terrifying to me. So we took [Kit] last year and she had zero problem marching up to people's houses and saying 'trick-or-treat.' Our temperaments are pretty different. Which has been a surprise, but I'm so happy for her that she's not like that."
For more of Kaling's exclusive interview, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.
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