Mindy Kaling Reveals the Sweet Story Behind Daughter Kit Wearing Kobe Bryant's Jersey to Ballet

Mindy Kaling, Kobe Bryant
Mindy Kaling, Kobe Bryant

Mindy Kaling/Instagram; Inset: Charles Sykes/Bravo via Getty; Harry How/Getty

Mindy Kaling is making sure her kids never forget an icon like Kobe Bryant.

While recently chatting with PEOPLE about her new partnership with Epic — a digital reading platform for kids — to celebrate their National Parents' Day Off campaign, the 42-year-old star also spoke about the lasting legacy Bryant has on her daughter, Katherine "Kit" Swati, 3.

Last month, The Office alum shared a sweet photo of her little girl sporting a Bryant jersey set while attending a ballet class. "Happy birthday Kobe. I'm reminded of your impact daily," she wrote alongside the shot at the time. "For instance, here is a picture of my daughter at ballet when she refused to take off your jersey and put on her leotard and tutu."

Now, Kaling tells PEOPLE exclusively that Katherine is "a real tomboy" who "loves physical activity" such as dancing and biking. "I think she loves that jersey set and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it's really comfortable and yellow," she says with a laugh.

"And I tried to explain to her a bit who Kobe Bryant was, and I think it's exciting to her. Once I explained to her, she hasn't taken it off," she adds. "... I couldn't be happier with her being into Kobe and the Lakers as a big Lakers fan myself."

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Kaling, who is also mom to 1-year-old son Spencer Avu, says both of her kids are now at a stage in their lives where they are "feeling big and grown."

"[Spencer's] really feeling himself. He's standing, we think walking is coming any day now," she says. "And his sister just started her preschool."

"Yesterday was her first day, so everyone's feeling big and grown," she adds. "I mean, they aren't grown, but they themselves are feeling grown."

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Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling

Kevin Mazur/Getty

As Katherine is at school and "around people and sources of information that I'm not around during the day," Kaling says that "it's really funny hearing what she's picked up."

"Like our dynamic right now, she feels like she has to explain things to me that I might not know," Kaling adds.

Citing an example of how she will say, "Okay, one more book," to her little girl before bedtime — to which Katherine will then typically respond, "And time for bed" — Kaling says that her daughter will now add to her usual statement, "And time for bed because if I don't get my rest, I'm not going to be a good student tomorrow at school."

"I just love when she completes my sentences in ways that surprise me," the proud mom adds.

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Despite loving her role as a mother, Kaling knows — like any mom or dad — that being a parent can be stressful and there are rarely any opportunities to take a day off.

So, partnering with Epic came as a no-brainer to the Inside Out star, as the organization launches their #NationalParentsDayOff social media campaign Tuesday, which will encourage parents to do something for themselves.

"It's been such a challenging year for everyone, which probably is an understatement," Kaling tells PEOPLE as she and Epic ask parents to take part in their Instagram campaign by sharing images and videos of the ups and downs that come with parenting. (Participants are asked to use the hashtag #NationalParentsDayOff and tag @epic4kids for a chance to win prizes.)

As for her own perfect day? Kaling admits she's "completely basic" and says it all comes down to simplicity.

"I'm the first person to admit that I am completely basic when it comes to relaxing. I want to sleep in, I want to exercise using one of my online classes and be able to give myself permission to bail halfway through and then just lay on a yoga mat and play with my phone," she says. "I want someone else to either make me dinner or do takeout and just hang out with my kids, play and watch a movie. So there's nothing inventive about it, but to me, just the fact that there's nothing I have to come up with is what makes it a great relaxing day."