Sober Moms: Learning How to Parent Sober and Survive

Sometimes I feel like I really have no clue what I am doing when it comes to parenting. I think that I still hinder myself by the fact that I was an active alcoholic for much of my life and I feel like the life lessons that I was supposed to learn, I just didn’t. But I have to quickly remember that all of these “problems” are also my gifts of sobriety; I would never have all this to complain about if I was not sober today! So, I just need to get my big-girl britches on, and keep trudging!

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First day of school, 2014.

My kids are awesome and the best kids in the world! But I am sure I am very bias with that statement! Nevertheless they are still kids and are all in different stages of their lives; the two year old is working hard on his vocabulary and building sentences as well as potty training, the five year old has just started kindergarten and is learning how to read and write, and my 11 year old is excited about the new year of the drama club and girl scouts. I absolutely love watching them grow and develop!

But parenting is hard, period. One of the reasons that alcohol appealed to me so much was because I thought that it made me calm and relaxed. With a couple of drinks in me I thought that I could get through any stressful situation. Things didn’t seem to aggravate me so much and I was able to just sort of float by. But all that was fine and dandy for a little bit, but  then it all went down the hill and I was actually more aggravated and stressed out in the end.

Stress can come from many places, but for me the majority comes from parenting. Unlike work let’s say, where I know what I am supposed to be doing, (at least most of the time) parenting has me all confused! I have three kids and they are all in different growth stages of their life; the two-year old is tantrum city, the 5-year-old is demanding and seems to do everything exactly the opposite way of what you ask him, and the 11-year-old daughter… well lets just say she is very moody! So trying to manage 3 different ages can be challenging to say the least!

So, here I am… how the heck do I parent, stay sober and survive it all?!

The cool thing is that some of the same tools that have helped me stay sober are the same tools that are now helping me with parenting. Here is a few:

Get a good night’s sleep
YES! Top of the list! This is huge both for sobriety and managing stress. I know sleep seems like a privilege especially when you have little kids, but sleep is also absolutely the most important. The way you feel while you’re awake depends in part on what happens while you’re sleeping. And prolonged lack of good sleep can cause havoc on your system, your attitude and your overall well-being. So when the choice is to do another load of laundry or sleep, I choose sleep!

Take stress breaks
When I was first getting sober I had to take some stress breaks because I often found myself stressing about the traffic, the weather and other things that I had no control over. I don’t worry about those anymore, but I can’t possibly avoid all the stress. So, now I take little Mommy time outs, which for me are usually in the bathroom. Giving myself permission to take a stress break is often enough to decompress or just give a new perspective and avoid getting out of control.

Find support from other parents
Just like in early sobriety it was absolutely crucial that I could find people to relate to, hearing what other parents go through and how they deal with their children helps me feel optimistic, and it helps me gather new methods of dealing with kid issues. It also helps to know that other kids seem to do the same funny, or not so funny things, and that my kid’s behavior is not completely crazy.

Staying calm and level-headed
Stress often mounts at predictable times at my house, such as in the morning, at that dinner time and at bed time. When I prepare myself during these times and anticipate the chaos I am able to manage it better. This time is predictable so I really focus on staying calm. If I stay calm and my voice is pleasant and leveled it is easier to get the kids to listen and follow direction.

Take time to decompress
By the time I go to bed I am usually exhausted! But I read it somewhere that deep abdominal breathing, meditation, and prayer are proven to help moderate stress and help the body relax. So I have made a point to practice one of these every night. Even if I can only do 5 or 10 minutes of any one of those a night, I have an easier time falling asleep and sleeping better, as well as being better prepared for the day ahead.

I don’t always remember or am able to do all these things. If I had to choose two most important ones it would be sleep and taking the stress breaks. I am also working on making these into habits so they just become second nature.

Do you have any great techniques that help you with stress? Please share in the comments.

For other Sober Moms posts click HERE.


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16 Comments Add yours

  1. ainsobriety says:

    For me, it’s sleep and eating. If I don’t eat I easily become overwhelmed, cranky and forgetful.

    My kids are 9 and 11. They understand when I get past the point of rational thinking. I can usually be honest with them about needing a break and they help out. I know I have broken down into tears enough times that they take it seriously. I try hard not to get to that point, but it’s my reality and it’s way better than reaching for the wine!

    I usually have an emergency snack in my purse. Sometimes they need it too. Hunger makes everyone cranky!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course! Eating! That’s a huge one too, I can’t believe I missed it! Lol! My kids are nuts when they are hungry! That’s actually the first thing I do when I see too many meltdowns. Hunger sure makes them cranky!

      And yea, having a breakdown is still way better than getting drunk! So important to remember because I tend to beat myself up. Ugh. I call them my not so great parenting moments. Lol! And sometimes after doing so well, I am thinking, then I just blow up over something little. That I hate. So I’d rather go sit in the bathroom before that happens!

      Thanks for the great comment! Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I know you are a great Mom. As for stress and hectic, I believe humor and laughter relaxes us the most….oh and chocolate, lets not forget chocolate the magical cure for (almost) everything 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you! Yes laughter is the best! Also taking it easy. Not being so worried and picky. My new saying is if no one is bleeding than we’re doing ok! Lol!

      I am not much into chocolate, is that weird!? But lately anything pumpkin I just must have!

      Thank you for stopping by. Hugs!

      Like

  3. Viatoday says:

    All so true – this is a really great practical post. It’s so easy to forget these things, so thanks for the great reminders!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s often why I write these things, to remind myself! Lol!

      Hugs.

      Like

  4. I love this post! I need to print it out and stick it onto my fridge as stay-calm advice! The sleep bit is soooo true. When I’m tired, I’m at my most cranky and least patient, and therefore any issue tends to get blown up. I recognise so much of this post… the times of day that it all kicks off, the five year old (mine is 4 1/2) who does the exact opposite of what you say… Ugh. Mine has even started counting me down if I don’t do what she says! “Take my plate away or I will drop it on the floor in five seconds. Five … four … three … two…” No! No! It’s not supposed to work like that!
    One of the things I find hardest is to admit when I’m struggling and ask for help. Still trying to be that totally-perfect cope-with-it-all mum, which is both daft and doomed. I’m not very good at just saying to my partner, you need to take over for half an hour before I turn into a banshee. More stress breaks needed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, mine does the same things! Lol! He says, get me a drink, I say you are old enough to get your own, he says, but you’re older! Oh yeah he is funny.

      Asking for help is tough. I think as moms we think we should be able to do it all! But that’s just nuts. I am learning that the cool part about asking my husband to help more is that it make him feel like he is needed and that makes him happy.

      I don’t know why we feel like we must be perfect and who are those perfect moms anyways right!? We are sober and that’s really half the battle right there!

      Thanks for the great comment. Hugs.

      Like

  5. rivieradinah says:

    I’m with you 100% Especially:
    “But parenting is hard, period. One of the reasons that alcohol appealed to me so much was because I thought that it made me calm and relaxed. With a couple of drinks in me I thought that I could get through any stressful situation. Things didn’t seem to aggravate me so much and I was able to just sort of float by. But all that was fine and dandy for a little bit, but then it all went down the hill and I was actually more aggravated and stressed out in the end.”

    I think one of the things I look forward to the most is the ability to do all of the positive things you mentioned. My 5 year old still wants to be with me in the middle of the night, which makes getting a good night’s sleep a challenge sometimes. Sober sleep is great sleep, and I do NOT like being woken up! Anyway, we’re working on it. 🙂

    I agree totally that sometimes we just need to tell ourselves to have a positive mindset for parenting. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to be patient. It takes work, but this gets me through so many tough moments. And teaches my kids something positive as well.

    We’re moving house right now and it’s a pretty stressful time period. I was trying to catch a bus this morning and ended up yelling at my 5 year old … she’s a dreamer and just totally loses focus a lot, and this morning I ran out of patience. I put a boo-boo in her heart and I’m really regretting it today, even though I apologized, connected with her and told her that was MY fault, not hers. You can’t take those moments back!

    What I would add to your list is what we’re saying out loud a lot these days: It’s never too late to let the stress go, apologize, and remind everyone to be patient and loving with each other! We actually can start the day over!

    Hugs…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So much good stuff in your comment! Love the part bout teaching your kids too, I never though of it that way, but wow, it’s true. If w can show them how to cope and deal wish stress as we are trying to, that’s awesome.

      And the starting the day over. Oh I’ve done that. My daughter was taking rally long time getting ready one day and I blew up because we missed the bus and were running late. I did apologize and we made a pact to start the day over. I even said Good morning Ash, how are you? Did you have a good night sleep? Lol!

      I have to keep working on these things because I am still learning every day. And I still have moments when I just want to give up and run away! But running away is no longer an option!

      Thank you, Sending many hugs. And hang in!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. rivieradinah says:

        Oh I am sending YOU so many hugs. That feeling of wanting to run away, then the moment you realize you can’t. At least now, without alcohol, I do get to the point where I realize I don’t even want to run away. I think this mental cycle is a big reason I drank too much. So much here in this subject… ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  6. rivieradinah says:

    PS your kids are adorable. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the pic, Maggie. Very cute.

    As for the parenting…yeah. For sure it’s tough. Mornings are fairly good, and like you and everyone else mentioned, when the boys (I have two, 7 and 5) are grumpy in the morning, we try to feed them ASAP. And that usually mellows everything down. I too used to hide behind the botle. Days back then (we only had the one back then) were me just trying to get through the day (hell, I won’t lie, some days now are like that – few and far between though!). So booze helped big time. But I was never present, and today I am grateful to be present.

    There are days where I am asleep before they are. And that’s fine. They have the energy. I don’t…lol. But like in recovery, it’s about self-care, of being centered in ourselves (and well rested, fed, etc) so that we can be of maximum service to others. And it sounds like you are finding your balance (even if it is in the bathroom!)

    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul! Yep, it’s all back to self care for sure! If I am not well I can’t take care if anyone well either. It has really taken a long time to get that through my head! Lol!

      I have to admit that I have moments when I just want to escape but then I remember how it was and that whole not present thing is really hard to swallow even now. I don’t want to be there ever again. So yeah, trying to find my balance for sure. It’s all work in progress but it’s getting better. I am figuring out the things that work and the ones that don’t and tying new things.

      Still need more sleep! I think I could sleep for like 24h straight right now! Btw good job on two naps! I am surely envious! 😉

      Hugs!

      Like

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