Mindy Kaling Says Parenting is 'An Emotionally Fraught Job' and All Caregivers Need a Break

Mindy Kaling is encouraging caregivers to take a breather and win prizes on National Parents Day Off on September 14. Here's what the actress, comedian, and producer has to say about pandemic parenting and being a single mom.

An image of Mindy Kaling.
Photo: Getty Images.

Move over, Ferris Bueller. On Tuesday, September 14, parents are encouraged to play hooky. And they're getting permission to do so from Emmy-nominated actress Mindy Kaling, who has starred in hit shows like The Office and The Mindy Project.

Kaling has teamed up with Epic, a digital reading platform for kids, to declare September 14 National Parents Day Off. Parents can now share a photo to Instagram that "tells everyone you're a parent without telling them you're a parent." You know, like opening the dryer and seeing that your white T-shirts are now multi-colored because your kid left crayons in their dirty pants pocket.

Tag Epic (@epic4kids) and use the hashtag #NationalParentsDayOff and the company will choose a few parents to win prizes tailored to their submission (so, in the case of the crayons in the dryer, a new appliance or shopping spree). And 100 caregivers will receive digital gift cards to wine.com so they can enjoy an adult beverage and binge-watch reality TV after their kids—finally—get to bed.

"It feels like a Netflix movie starring Jennifer Garner," says Kaling.

Kaling loved the idea as soon as she heard about it, especially because of how much more work parents have taken on during the pandemic. "[There's] all [these] added tasks we've had to pick up because the majority of our time at home the past 18 months," says Kaling. "When I'm not parenting, I'm cooking, cleaning."

The past 18 months haven't always been fun for parents. It's almost cliché at this point to say caregivers are burned out from juggling work, parenting, and helping their kids navigate school in a pandemic. Single parents, in particular, have had to take on an extra burden.

"Parenting, no matter how you are doing it, with a partner, without a partner, with whatever help, is an emotionally fraught job," says Kaling. "When it's a single parent, one of the things I long for is just feedback…I really rely on my village to help me—my nanny, who I adore, my mom, and stepmom."

Kaling, who had a daughter, Katherine Swati, in 2017, became a mom for a second time during the pandemic. Her second child, Spencer, was born on Sept. 3, 2020. Though pandemic parenting presented its unique challenges, she enjoyed watching her daughter become more independent and having extra time with her son. "There's an intimacy that I will really miss when we fully go back to [pre-pandemic times]," she says.

Kaling knows it can be challenging for parents to give themselves a break, in part because caregiving can be so rewarding.

"I have a job I love, but it's always a funny moment with my kids that is what I think about before I go to bed at night," she says. "Because [parenting is] so enjoyable, I think it's hard to [admit] it's a lot of work. It's good to have these days to commemorate and relax and honor the work you do as a parent."

So, she'll be taking advantage of the new annual holiday, too.

"I'm real basic when it comes to relaxation: mani, pedi, do an online workout class…and give myself permission to bail on it [after 35 minutes]," she says. "[Then], I'll lie down on my exercise mat and play with my son."

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