Like the rest of us, Jennifer Garner saw many of her plans change when the coronavirus pandemic started. But the actor and mom of three said the most important thing she’s learned in quarantine is to accept not having a packed schedule.
“Last year, I think I traveled almost every single week,” Garner told TODAY. “This year, I was already on a pretty good roll. And at first to have all of those things canceled made me feel kind of panicked.”
“But, you know what? It’s OK to slow down,” added Garner, who has three children, Violet, 14, Seraphina, 11, and Samuel, 8. “It’s OK to just be home, and I’m grateful that we’re finding ways to connect remotely while we can still sleep in our own beds at night. I think that there are a ton of really beautiful silver linings. And my kids were so busy as well, so it’s nice to just be home and all be together.”
However, there’s plenty that she’s missed over the past six months.
“I miss going to church in person,” Garner, 48, said. “I miss airplanes. I miss the adventures. And I really miss and worry about going to live performances. I can’t even think of how many different ballet performances, Broadway performances, plays here in Los Angeles I would’ve wiggled my way into, if it were not for quarantine.”
One event Garner is looking forward to is a drive-in screening of “Wonder Woman” in her home state of West Virginia, where she’ll be appearing as a spokesperson for Walmart; the retailer is hosting more than 300 free movie showings in various states from now through Oct. 21 (see the full list here).
“Everyone is so sick of being stuck at home,” she said. “We’re all just looking for that connection with community and the adventure of just doing something safely, but also having the opportunity to make eye contact with a teacher that you run into or a friend you sit next to at church or a checkout lady from the grocery store. We’re just ready to commune with other people in our neighborhoods and communities.”
Garner, whose favorite comfort movies include family classics like “Mary Poppins” (both versions) and “The Wizard of Oz,” acknowledged that people often cite one of her own films as theirs.
“I do hear overwhelmingly that people watch ‘13 Going on 30’ as kind of a comfort movie. I talked to somebody who was going through a hard time and watched it every night to go to sleep for like two years.”
Garner also raises fans’ spirits with her delightfully curated Instagram account.
“I don’t always stay positive, but I do try to put positive stuff out there because it makes me feel better,” she said. “I think being creative makes us all feel better. So if there’s a way that you can just drum up some creativity for yourself and for your family — like I make my kids do little videos of us dancing and we cut them together, and I don’t share them with anyone but it just gets us up and doing something together and being creative. We’re just all looking for a way to get through it with our souls intact, aren’t we?”
Another one of Garner’s playful activities is hosting “pop-up restaurants” for her kids.
“I’m a different kind of waitress every time and I wear a costume,” she explained. “And I give them a menu and I take their order and we pretend like we’re having a night out. As silly as that sounds, it’s not fancy, it’s not like we’re doing anything major, but it just is fun. And I will set up a table for them outside and I’ll leave some games for them to play while I’m making their dinner.”
Earlier this month, she posted a charming video of herself giving her daughter’s fifth grade class a history lesson on uses of the folded fan in American colonial society.
“I think the more that parents can band together and help the teacher and take turns doing fun things like that and just surprising their own children and the class, by taking over and really preparing and doing something fun to shake up the day and give the teachers a minute to prepare for something else — and meanwhile, it’s impossible because moms and dads are all trying to work and manage everything else and help with younger siblings. But if you can take turns and just spruce up the day a little bit, I think how fun. How fun for the kids and how great for the teachers and for everyone.”
She added, “I’ll loan out my colonial costume to anyone who needs it.”