Jennifer Garner opens up to Oprah about pandemic parenting and being 'gentle' on herself

Megan Johnson
·3-min read
Jennifer Garner, 48, joined Oprah Winfrey to discuss how she's staying safe and happy at home during the pandemic. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Jennifer Garner, 48, joined Oprah Winfrey to discuss how she's staying safe and happy at home during the pandemic. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Jennifer Garner is proud to be a force of positivity during the quarantine period. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy for the actress, entrepreneur and mother of three.

In a virtual appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s "Be The Love You Need" event with WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) on Saturday, Garner, 48, shared why she chooses to express her joy to the world during a challenging time.

“Jennifer Garner, one of the nicest people on the planet, has been a ray of sunshine during these dark days of quarantine,” Winfrey said. “The way you have embraced this lockdown life has been an inspiration.”

Garner explained that while she wants to share her joy, it’s also a tool for keeping herself steady during a tumultuous period.

“It just felt like, well, I need it,” said Garner. “And the best way to manifest it for yourself is to share it. And I’m so lucky there are all these great ladies out there to share it with, and it’s a virtuous cycle.”

But that doesn’t mean living through the pandemic has been simple for Garner, who has three children, Violet, 15, Sera, 12, and Sam, 8, with ex-husband Ben Affleck.

“Well, I think everyone has moments where you are not on the top of your to-do list. But there are a couple of things. One: I always move my body. That is for me. It’s for my brain, my happiness. I know you’re one step away from a good mood, so no matter what, one way or another, I move,” she said, adding that her favorite method of staying active is doing dance cardio.

“That’s one thing. And the other is that when I am overwhelmed, I put myself first by saying ‘go gentle on yourself.’ Be gentle. You don’t have to be everything to everyone and you don’t have to even be everything to yourself right now. Just never hurry, never worry. One step at a time. Remove guilt from the situation, even guilt for yourself. I’m not doing enough for myself today. Sometimes you aren’t, but remove the guilt from it. That’s a big step,” said Garner.

Winfrey added that negative self-talk is a toxic cycle that’s easy to fall into.

“I think if you can train your brain to do that instead of ‘aw, shucks, why did i do that,’ is just to immediately focus on being gentle for yourself,” Winfrey replied. “I think that’s really good advice. That’s a thing we can do to love ourselves a little more today.”

Winfrey also asked Garner about her experience being home with her three children during the quarantine period. Sharing that she knows many mothers “understand this feeling of being trapped” right now, Winfrey said “If I had a hat, I’d take it off right now.”

“And while you’re trying to juggle your own Zoom schedule for work and while you’re trying to be creative and write the emails you need to write and do the things you need to do and get food ordered and wipe it down, it’s been a little nutty,” Garner replied. “Luckily, my kids are bigger. They’re pretty self-sufficient and great about what they need to do.” Still, she added that she “tips my hat to all the moms of toddlers and little, little ones.”

Garner frequently chronicles her quarantine activities at home on social media. Last month, she posted a video of herself sporting a tartan flannel nightgown and fuzzy slippers as she cooked buttermilk biscones in the kitchen. She followed the cooking up with a dance in her cozy outfit to RuPaul’s classic 1993 song “Supermodel (You Better Work),” all while toting a cup of coffee in her hands.

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