Why giving up alcohol made me a better parent

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This used to be me: Friday afternoon would come around and I'd be hanging for a wine. I'd start looking forward to it from 3pm and justified 4pm as an acceptable time to drink. I'd crack open a bottle to mark the end of another week; a liquid reward, if you like.

The grind of the daily routine and parenting had taken its toll. The school pick up was done and the school bags unpacked. Friday night dinner was an oven-easy combination of yellow foods - chicken nuggets and chips were a favourite.

Sitting on the sofa I'd sip my wine and let the liquid gold run its fingers through my veins. I'd instantly relax and look at my children in a softer light. I wouldn't care that the house was a mess or they were eating another piece of cake.

Life was good. I was a great mum (so I thought). I danced with them and tickled them. Hell, I didn't even care if they were still up at 10 or if they didn't bother to clean their teeth.

All that mattered was that, in that moment in time, I was enveloped in alcohol-fuelled happiness.

Saturday morning was always different. With a pounding head, I'd struggle out of bed, urging my children to be quiet. Crawling onto the couch, I'd stay cocooned in a ball wanting everyone to leave me alone.

Sports activities were seen from behind a big pair of sunnies, and water and Panadol became my best friends.

In the afternoon, I'd hit an all time low. I'd be drained of energy and my enthusiasm for parenting was zilch. Focussing on not being sick and relieving the banging in my head became my primary goals.

As time went on my hangovers lessened – or rather, I got used to always feeling crap. My tolerance to alcohol built up and I began drinking more and more. A glass of wine while making the kids dinner was the norm, as was a glass when they were in bed.


The irony was that, even though I'd convinced myself that drinking made me a better, more relaxed and present parent, it was in fact doing the opposite.

Drinking didn't make me relax – it made me not care. Drinking didn't make me present – it sent me away with the fairies.

My kids had a mum who was sometimes up and sometimes down. She swung from dancing round the living room with them to yelling at them to be quiet. She went from laughing and joking to slurring her words and tripping over on her way to bed.

It was time for me to stop. Moderation wasn't an option. My personality is very much all or nothing, so I chose the latter.

When I gave up drinking, many things changed. I became healthier, happier and fitter. I could think clearly without hangovers and regret, and I could appreciate things for what they were.

I wasn't constantly seeking an unnatural high and I found other substitutes to relax. I now drink copious amounts of tea and have become something of a chocoholic – hey, no one's perfect.

But the biggest change to my life has been the relationship with my kids.

I parent in such a different way. I'm present, I listen, and I'm there for their needs. I care that they eat all their dinner and that they clean their teeth. I help with homework, play games and read stories at night.

I parent with much more patience and tolerance and enjoy our weekends together much more. Watching soccer is great without the headache and I can still dance with the boys – albeit badly – and have just as much fun.

I don't want to seem preachy and I certainly don't judge or care if anyone else drinks. Hell, there are days when I miss drinking and days when I desperately want to crack. I understand the escapism it provides all too well.

But to be the best mum I can be, I know wine's not the answer. For my children to be the best version of themselves, I need them to see the best version of me.

And for now, that is sober and only drinking tea.