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Jackie Fields and Jen Juneau
March 31, 2017 12:45 PM

Kerry Washington wasn’t rushing to the gym right after giving birth.

The Scandal star reveals to PEOPLE that she put her workout routine on the back burner following the birth of her son Caleb Kelechi, now 6 months.

“My doctor made me take my six weeks off, and I did,” says Washington, 40. “It was really important to me to have that downtime and then start working out slowly, which I’m still doing, I am still slowly getting back into it.”

“It was rumored somewhere that I was working out a week or two after he was born and it really upset me, actually,” she continues. “I never talk about rumors in the media, but I was really sad that somebody printed that because I felt like, ‘Oh, that makes women feel like they have to start working out’ — like, ‘Oh celebrities work out right away.’ And I was like, ‘No way!’ ”

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Of hitting the red carpet glowing just nine weeks after Caleb’s birth, Washington admits it’s just part of her job.

“I think you just show up,” the Emmy-nominated actress says. “It’s not like, ‘I’ve somehow achieved some level of perfection, and I’m ready to go back out in the world.’ ”

“Sometimes it’s about not letting my own concerns about what I may or may not look like get in the way of a bigger responsibility to the work that I do,” she explains.

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The Neutrogena brand ambassador and creative consultant shares that now that she’s a mom of two, she really looks to beauty products that will streamline her routine. Among her mommy must-haves: their Hydro Boost Water Gel with Sunscreen.

“Any product that does does double duty is a blessing,” Washington says, adding that she skips a full face of makeup altogether during her days off.

In fact, when she has an extra hour in her schedule, her main priority is spending time with husband Nnamdi Asomugha, 35, their two children (daughter Isabelle Amarachi is 2½) and the family pet.

“My favorite [downtime activity] would be hanging out with my husband, my kids and my dog [Josie]!” she says.

For more about Kerry Washington’s life as a new mom of two, beauty routine and more, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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