Has it crossed your mind in the last couple of weeks since lockdown started that your additional drinking is having a negative effect on your kids? Have you noticed how little patience you have with them as a result of your slightly too frequent hangovers?
Have you ever snapped at your child and realised afterwards that it’s because you have a bit of thick head from that 3rd fishbowl of wine last night or even a full blown hangover?
If you’ve said yes to any of those questions, then you’re not alone.
Institute of Alcohol Studies Report
A study by the Institute of Alcohol Studies reported that 3 in 10 parents said they have been drunk in front of their children and five in 10 “tipsy”, its survey found. My guess would be that this number has massively increased since the Coronavirus arrived and we’ve all been at home 24 x 7. They also reported that parents do not have to regularly drink large amounts around children for them to notice changes in adults’ behaviour.
It found that:
29% of parents reported having been drunk in front of their child
51% of parents reported having been tipsy in front of their child
29% of parents thought it was ok to get drunk in front their child as long as it did not happen regularly
When we drink in front of our children it’s so easy to think that because they are small that they don’t notice you drinking. And what’s the big deal? Lots of parents drink and bring up great kids, don’t they?
Of course, drinking in front of your children normalises alcohol for them in a way that advertising would kill to be able to achieve. Advertising can show alcohol as sexy, fun or relaxing but when children see the most important people in their life drinking alcohol, they will just accept that drinking is just what you do when you are a grown up.
Yes it’s stressful
Since this began we’ve all had to find our own ways of coping. I live alone, have work that I can do from home and I know I am safe. However, I have still had moments of feeling down, sad and lonely because I can’t see the end in sight and I am terrified that if I go out at all, having asthma will mean I am risking dying from this awful disease.
Of course, it’s stressful. How could it not be?
We all know that alcohol is the one thing that will, temporarily at least, relieve some of that tension. But the negative effects that it has on your mind, body and soul massively outweigh that one hour of relief.
Self Care or Survival?
Like every mother, your kids sometimes drive you crazy and having a glass of wine at the end of the day can feel like an act of survival, let alone self care.
However, as you have probably figured out, it’s very difficult to stick to one relaxing glass of wine with dinner in the evening when you are stressed and frazzled. These days with wine glasses that are the size of fishbowls, ‘one’ glass is more like 2-3 units a time and once you’ve had those few units it is really easy to pour another and whilst you think you’ve only had 3 glasses of wine, it actually adds up to most of the bottle.
And of course, there is the negative impact alcohol has on your sleep. Yes, it might be very good at initially knocking you out but it disturbs your vital REM sleep so you never get that critical restorative sleep. Waking up slightly tired and and slightly thick-headed will obviously have an impact on your energy levels and the amount of patience you have throughout the day.
Of course, there is a deeper issue here of connection to consider. How can we be the kind of parent that, in our hearts, we really want to be? How can we guide them or offer a set of principles and morals for them to live by, if the moment they are in bed we crack open a bottle of chardonnay so we can blot out the day? How can we teach them patience if we are impatient with them because we just can’t be bothered to listen?
Sobersistas Closed Group is full of mothers who are realising the benefits of sobriety for themselves but are also seeing the benefits for their children. Here are some comments from Sobersistas experiences over the last year or so:
“21 days sober today. My kids go back to school tomorrow and I’m going to really miss them and feel really sad it’s the end of the summer. Being alcohol free has made me such a better person, even in this short time. I have more patience and energy and my ability to love has grown so much too. I’m enjoying being with them (although that’s not to say they don’t drive me mad sometimes!) and wish I had given up at the start of the hols so I really enjoyed them more. I’ve really recognised that a lot of the stress at home that I put down to kids, husband etc was actually in large part down to me and my grumpiness and tiredness and inability to cope without a bloody drink in my hand. What a waste it’s been but I’m also so looking forward to a more balanced future and better relationships all around me.”
“Everything seems so much easier! After 4 months alcohol free the idea of waking with a hangover is horrible. I’ve new rewards. My life is so much better. Family life and friendships are so much better.”
“Weekend mornings now see me up early and raring to go. When I drank I was sluggish, irritable and had racing negative thoughts. I didn’t drink huge amounts but I drank regularly through the week to “ reward” myself after dealing with the kids and to “unwind”. Now I read a good book and enjoy a good sleep. I feel more hopeful, am eating better and generally appreciate my children more. I don’t have dramas in my head and life just seems more simple.”
“All I’ve ever wanted is for my children to be happy, and when I drink, the sadness in their eyes kills me.”
“I’m fairly impatient as it is but when I did drink I found my patience was VERY thin! That sort of low level tiredness you get from just one or two glasses the night before…makes good parenting a little tricky.”
“My drinking really changed when I had kids. It became a lonely and dark thing. And a daily thing. It also compounded my anxiety. You have so much on your plate as a mom and you think alcohol helps but it makes everything so much worse. You’re tired, impatient, etc. Not drinking on the other hand, and putting more effort towards self care makes motherhood so much more enjoyable. I hated my kids seeing me hungover and anxious and exhausted all the time. Sobriety has given me the patience and presence that motherhood demands.”
A Word About Moderation
As a Sobersista I would obviously advocate abstinence and the multitude of benefits that go with it but I’m not writing this to persuade you into an alcohol free life. For some, moderation is entirely possible – where you have a limited number of drinks and only on certain occasions – but it’s often only possible once you’ve reached the point in your heart where you can take or leave alcohol. Some Sobersistas do eventually go on to moderate but it is often after an extended period of abstinence, so that the habit is fully broken.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself
I know if you’ve gotten this far, something in this blog is resonating with you. For me Sobersistas is about always being kind and loving towards yourself. It’s the easiest and quickest way to let go of alcohol with joy and claim the brilliant new life that is waiting for you. If you’re not ready to give up, or you’re not sure where you are with alcohol at the moment, take a moment to answer the following questions. If you can be 100% honest with yourself, it might help you clarify things for you.
- What is my drinking making me miss out on?
- What will life be like when lockdown is lifted?
- What am I teaching my children about how to deal with stress?
Everyone says to you ‘you’ll blink and before you know it they will be off to college’ and you know it’s true because you can see how much your children have grown in just the last year. If you are drinking at the moment then it’s likely that you will miss out on so much of your children’s lives because you are too semi or fully hungover to notice.
My children are adults now and I drank heavily during their childhood. I had great excuses too. I was a single parent and out working full time earning a good living for us. I deserved my bottle of Merlot after work, and my late starts at the weekend, didn’t I? But I missed out on a lot and whilst we do now have great relationships I have to work quite hard at not thinking about what I know I have missed out on.
I wish better for you.
With love, Jules xx
It looks like we are going to be in lockdown for at least the next few weeks. If you’re ready to let go and claim your new, brilliant, life I have an e-course that you can do from the comfort of your own home. It’s called 31 Days to Freedom. Are you ready to be free for you AND your children? Click here to find out more. xxxxx