2020年4月8日 星期三

Crying in Your Car Counts as Self-Care

Ways to find headroom and even joy right now.

Crying in Your Car Counts as Self-Care

Tatjana Prenzel

One highlight of my week was crying in the car on my way to the grocery store. That sounds bleak as hell, but let me explain. I was alone, with no one asking me to do anything for 15 solid minutes, listening to music of my choosing that was in no way affiliated with Disney.

But perhaps more crucially, I have family members who are sick with the coronavirus, and I had been presenting a smooth, cheerful surface to my kids. I needed that car-cry for catharsis, and I felt better afterward.

Here’s a short list of other things I have done to carve out a place for emotions other than faux cheer: purchased pedicure socks at the grocery store; eaten a cookie in the bathroom so that I didn’t have to share it; sat outside, alone, in the cold at dusk while staring into the distance; purchased Season 4 of the yacht-based reality show “Below Deck” and watched it while folding laundry; played a rousing, middle-of-the-day game of “What Time Is It, Mr. Fox?” with my kids.

Let’s not pretend that everything isn’t terrible right now. It is! So while the details of our self-care may have only a passing resemblance to what we used to do before the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to access some headroom, and even some joy.


“Finding places where you can have space for yourself to reflect and think and feel” is crucial in this moment, said Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. Lakshmin pointed out that all of the “in between transition times” we used to have to ourselves — like during our commutes, and after we dropped off our kids at school — are gone. So it’s important to create those spaces for yourself in new ways, she said.

Dr. Lakshmin mentioned meditation as a great option. And in fact, parents with children under 18 at home are more likely to meditate than the general population right now, according to a new report from the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank. Thirty-six percent of these parents “say they have meditated to cope with stress in the past week,” the report said, compared with 30 percent of Americans overall. If you want to receive the full benefits of meditating, Dr. Lakshmin said, “consistency is the most important thing. Five minutes every day is a lot better than 30 minutes every week.”

One excellent self-care idea was sent by a reader named Anne Diss. “To mark the end of a good day, my husband and I have started having cocktails on some evenings: We sort through our drinks cabinet and pull out the things we never drink (like a bottle of Martini Bianco that has been with us, unopened, for decades) and try to find a nice online cocktail to make with it,” Anne emailed us. Anne lives in France, obviously. “We look for nice glasses, garnish them with whatever we have around and set out a few nibbles too. Our kids have a soft drink and we all gather around and toast to confinement,” she wrote.

Another ritual Dr. Lakshmin suggested is keeping a gratitude, or “silver lining,” list, which you can either do yourself or as an activity with your family. “You can put it up on a white board or on the fridge, for everyone to keep track of unexpectedly fun things that have come up during this time,” she said.


To be honest with you, in normal circumstances, meditation and gratitude journals are distinctly Not My Bag. But I am genuinely finding succor in talking to my kids about their favorite part of the day at dinnertime, and by chatting with my husband about what we’re most thankful for every night before we fall asleep.

I’m grateful that my family members are not in the hospital. I’m grateful that I have a job. I’m grateful that my children are safe with me, and grateful for their teachers, who are working so hard to make distance learning possible. I’m grateful for all the medical workers, delivery people and everyone else risking their lives to do their jobs. I’m grateful to have a car to cry in, and to be writing this to you.

P.S. Click here to read all NYT Parenting coverage on coronavirus. Follow us on Instagram @NYTParenting. Join us on Facebook. Find us on Twitter for the latest updates. Read last week’s newsletter for four ways to help your anxious kids.

Want More Distraction?

  • I am loving Samantha Irby’s hilarious new essay collection, “Wow, No Thank You.” Parul Sehgal, a book critic at The Times, wrote that Irby “might be our great bard of quarantine — with an unimpeachable daytime pajama look.”
  • Easter and Passover are approaching. The holidays might not look like what they did before, but Catherine Newman has suggestions for how to make them “feel warm and special and connected, without the extra shopping and prepping that would surely push you over the edge.”
  • Because there are no new red carpet looks to review, the fashion criticism site Go Fug Yourself is going through the photo archives. I particularly adored this ultra-low-rise lamentation. The site described the very low-rise waist as never a good idea and mostly requiring extra sunscreen for your pelvis.
  • I was charmed by this interview with the only full-time resident of Gothic, Colo., from NPR. Billy Barr has tips for social distancing because he does not see anyone in person on many days. My favorite tip is to embrace your grumpiness. “You get older and you start saying, ‘OK, I’m not going to necessarily be pleasant when I don’t feel pleasant,’” Barr said.
  • This is a video of a baby penguin chick.
  • Here are video games to play with your kids that won’t drive you crazy.

Tiny Victories

Parenting can be a grind. Let’s celebrate the tiny victories.
Set up a home office in our attic. My 4-year-old still hasn’t found it!— Amy Carnall, Newton Square, Pa.

If you want a chance to get your Tiny Victory published, find us on Instagram @NYTparenting and use the hashtag #tinyvictories; email us; or enter your Tiny Victory at the bottom of this page. Include your full name and location. Tiny Victories may be edited for clarity and style. Your name, location and comments may be published, but your contact information will not. By submitting to us, you agree that you have read, understand and accept the Reader Submission Terms in relation to all of the content and other information you send to us.


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