Have you ever wondered whether your well deserved wine o'clock reward is having an impact on your children? Or your relationship with your children?
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 either 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. 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 'little' 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 in a way that advertising would kill for 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.
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, never mind self-care.
However, as you may know 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 a fully restorative sleep. Waking up slightly tired 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 have a thick head?
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 thoughts on motherhood from Sobersistas:
"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."
"It alienates you from your family, its traps you in a selfish world of deceit and disgust, it steals away all the precious minutes that can never be taken back, it sets a terrible example, it weakens you in so many ways, it makes you fat and unable to participate, it makes you hate yourself, it does so many negative things. There is nothing good in drinking. Nothing. Except that first initial escape which is why we often go back to it."
"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 simpler."
"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, to break the habit.
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 just in 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 long sleep-ins 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 missed out on.
I wish better for you.
With love, Jules xx
You can reach out to Jules at SoberSistas
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