A woman is alone in her car for a few minutes


Busy parents are looking for a quiet few minutes — where are you getting yours?

May 12, 2021

I wake up and slowly open my eyes after another rough night of sleep.

As a mom to three kids and a puppy, there always seems to be at least one middle of the night wake-up.

“Do you want Timmies?” I whisper to my husband, the covers wrapped around his head to block out the sounds of our kids in the next room.

He mumbles something incomprehensible, but I shouldn’t even bother asking because I know that the answer is yes. I roll out of bed and pull on the clothes I wore yesterday — my eyes have barely adjusted to daylight, but I quickly creep out of the house and into our minivan.

Read about how a pair of emergency doctors are protecting their child during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

I can hear the birds chirping, and the sun is shining brightly already. I’m on a mission, and after checking my blindspots I carefully pull out of my driveway. In under five minutes I’ve driven through the drive-thru down the road, and I’m pulling back up to my house. Instead of immediately jumping out of the car, I wrap my hands around my cup and inhale deeply. I’m not ready to go inside and face the onslaught of kid chatter, or start our day of corporate and school Zoom calls. The quiet inside of my car with my warm tea is possibly the only moment of carefree silence I’ll have all day.

I’ve always loved a to-go cuppa, but I’ve gone back and forth over the years between a die-hard morning cup of tea drinker (I love their steeped tea, my husband tolerates their coffee), and cold turkey refusal after calculating how much we spent on drinks. However, throughout the pandemic I have embraced my caffeine runs as one of the few ways ways to practice self-care.

"It’s become the only thing I can cling to, a sense of normalcy from my pre-COVID life that I can still maintain."

Gone are the days of a luxurious two-hour hair appointment, or a dash off to the mall to get my eyebrows waxed and do a bit of window shopping. I can’t go to the bookstore or the library and run my fingers along the spines of beloved books I’ve read or want to read. Instead, I roll through the drive-thru for a few quiet moments, savouring the experience almost as much as the drink I purchase.

Sitting in your minivan with a warm drink, delaying the walk from the car into the house, feels like it could be a beneficial rite of passage for many parents who just need a break from the constant motion of parenting. And with COVID-19 forcing families indoors and together, constantly, it’s even more of a saving grace. It’s become the only thing I can cling to, a sense of normalcy from my pre-COVID life that I can still maintain.

Everyone is having a different experience. Here's what happened when Quentin Janes and his family all tested positive for a COVID variant of concern. Read that here.

While I may one day opt to make my caffeinated drinks inside my home, for now it’s something I’m happy to outsource — a tiny luxury in a world of only the essentials. It’s a morning routine that I’m not willing to give up.

If I’m being completely honest, sometimes I even need to return for an afternoon caffeine hit, and a second moment of silence for the day.

If you’re a parent who is struggling through the stay-at-home order, I hope you find whatever it is that offers you a glimpse of freedom. Whatever it is that recharges you and helps you to keep going.

For me, that just happens to be a few solitary minutes, in a drive-thru, waiting for that smell to transport me, for a few seconds at least, to somewhere else but here. 

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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