"I try not to give my opinion too much on what they like," Eva Mendes told PEOPLE of her daughters Amada Lee, 3½, and Esmeralda Amada, 5

Eva Mendes‘ daughters are independent little ladies!

During a Saturday chat with PEOPLE at Create & Cultivate Los Angeles, the actress and fashion designer talked about how her two girls with longtime beau Ryan Gosling aren’t as concerned with following in the footsteps of their parents as they are on forging their own identities.

“They are so their own women already. And it’s so beautiful to watch,” Mendes, 45, said of her “little maniacs”: 3½-year-old Amada Lee and Esmeralda Amada, 5. “I really feel like it’s my job to get out of their way.”

“To protect them, of course, but to just let them be what they want to be,” she clarified. “I try not to give my opinion too much on what they like.”

“My 5-year-old cut her socks, the foot part off, and she likes to wear socks as sleeves,” Mendes said of her older child. “And the other day she wore underwear as a hat and I was like, ‘That’s amazing.’ I wish I could do that. I can’t.”

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Eva Mendes attends Create & Cultivate Los Angeles at Rolling Greens Los Angeles on February 22, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty
'The Place Beyond the Pines' film premiere, New York, America - 28 Mar 2013
Eva Mendes (L) and Ryan Gosling
| Credit: Dave Allocca/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

From art projects to fashion, Mendes’ girls seem to have quite a creative streak, just like their parents. In September, the Hitch actress told PEOPLE she finds Amada and Esmeralda “so inspiring, because they just don’t care.”

“They care, in the best way,” she explained. “They’ll just be like, ‘Can I wear socks on my hands today?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, of course you can wear socks on your hands today.’ So we make that happen.”

“Or they’ll get a Halloween costume that we have hanging out and they’ll wear that with pajama pants and a headband, and it’s so cool,” added the mother of two. “It’s just such a freedom.”

Eva Mendes
Eva Mendes
| Credit: New York and Company

In her Saturday chat with PEOPLE, Mendes said she and Gosling, 39, speak both Spanish and English to their daughters at home, and that Amada and Esmeralda “speak Spanish for sure.”

She also opened up her response to an Instagram troll earlier this month who said “she’s getting old,” after which she embraced the critique, even thanking the commenter “for the reminder that I’m still here. ❤️❤️❤️.”

“I was excited by the reaction because in no way do I think that person that left that comment about me getting old was being malicious,” the New York & Company designer explained to PEOPLE. “I do not think it was a malicious comment, but I think it’s more dangerous because it wasn’t malicious because it’s just ingrained in society that getting older is something we should either fear or be ashamed of.”

“And I think the whole thing about not asking a woman what her age is archaic,” Mendes continued. “It’s like you can ask me my age and I will happily tell you, I’ll be shocked, somewhat shocked. I’m about to turn 46 and that’s somewhat shocking to me. But I’m proud of that.”