Mindy Kaling on Her Favorite Time of Day with Her Kids: 'After Dinner, Before [They] Become Demons'

The actress and writer jokes that her house of cards-building skills came from growing up with overprotective Indian parents, playing with cards "was a thing we had to do a lot"

When actress/writer/producer Mindy Kaling isn't busy juggling multiple work projects, like Netflix's Never Have I Ever and HBO Max's The Sex Lives of College Girls, she's enjoying the simple pleasure of being at home with her two kids, Katherine, 4, and Spencer, 19 months.

Kaling, who is featured in PEOPLE's Beautiful Issue, on newsstands Friday, says that for her family, the current sweet spot for when she and her kids are happiest is right after their early dinners.

"There's this time in the [early evening] before my children have become demons, just after dinner that I think is really happy," says the actress, 42. "Because they're full of food and have a lot of energy, but they're not over-tired for the day. And that's when it's great to go for a walk, or we run around the yard and I'll threaten to throw my daughter into the pool."

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"We just have a lot of fun at that time," she continues. "The light's really beautiful and that's really joyous time for me. And they eat really early. They eat like between 5 and 6:30 and then at 7, demons got to go to bed."

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Mindy Kaling shot at a location home on March 20, 2022.
Emily Shur

Kaling says the extra time at home during the pandemic has also been made joyful because of her son's adorable toddler antics and his emerging engaging personality.

"He's probably brought me the most joy in the past 18 months and he could not have come at a better time," says The Mindy Project alum. "That was a nice distraction from the pandemic and he's so fun and his personality is unlike anything in my family on either side."

"He's so full of joy and he's not neurotic. He's not anxious at all. He's just a boy who loves trucks and tires. And if you show him any tire, he'll be so happy. Like tiny on a car, anything, he just loves it." she adds. "So that's a real joy in my life."

The actress says Spencer constantly makes her laugh with a new little "performance" he does, intentionally crashing his toy cars and trucks.

"My son will take one of his trucks and he'll just like throw it across the room or hit someone in the head with it. It doesn't hurt and he'll go, 'Uh oh,' like it was a mistake and not something he did on purpose," she says with a smile. "And I don't know, that makes me laugh because he's like, 'I'm innocent.' And 'No, I saw you do it on purpose.' He does that a lot, that makes me laugh."

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