How to survive a hangover with kids

Parenting with a hangover is sheer hell.
Parenting with a hangover is sheer hell. Photo: Shutterstock

Parenting kids with a hangover is enough to put you off alcohol altogether, but it's the silly season and for many of us we'll have a momentary lapse of reason and overindulge. 

We'll forget we have children, drink way too much champagne and be woken at the crack of dawn by a kid crawling into our bed. 

Some of us will vow never to drink again.

Naturopath Jess Blair said hangover symptoms can vary, but mostly are associated with dehydration.  

"Hangovers range from person-to-person depending on the alcohol consumed, what they ate, how dehydrated they are and other factors," Ms Blair said.

"Shakiness, weakness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and headaches are the most common symptoms."

And forget rushing out for a hamburger or the hair-of-the-dog to feel better.

"Some common misconceptions are that if you drink the next day you will feel better, as well as eating greasy and carb-loaded foods after drinking excessively," she said.

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"Unfortunately, pizza, hot chips, kebabs and the like can make your symptoms worse, making you more dehydrated and can irritate your stomach." 

If you do find yourself with a hangover, she suggested having a nap, rehydrating and replenishing the electrolytes lost during your night out and adding potassium back into your body that you lost when drinking, by eating a banana or avocado.

Clinical hypnotherapist and alcohol reduction expert Georgia Foster said while not drinking alcohol is the best way to avoid a hangover there's still ways to enjoy a drink without going overboard during the festive season.

"Christmas is fraught with lots of expectations for parents and it can be a massive balancing act," Ms Foster said.

"Then to add to an already crazy busy month, there's the financial pressure too. 

"It's also a time poor month and often mums and dads reach for the bottle as a quick way to defuse these frenzied few weeks after the kids have gone to bed and party a bit harder than normal."  

Add to that social anxiety and boredom of having your free time filled with out-of-hours work, school and family commitments.

"All of these reasons can be a perfect storm for drinking too much with very few, if any, alcohol-free days at this time of year," she said.

"I don't think people should necessarily feel guilty about the 'extra' drinks, however, using alcohol to relax after a demanding day can become an unhelpful habit."

Drinking alcohol produces dopamine – the chemical that makes you feel relaxed and happy – which is often why people reach for a drink during stressful and social times.

"Every parent knows when they're drinking too much," she said.

"They often feel guilty about this and ironically, it can make them drink more."  

But there are ways to still have a drink or two, but not to excess, and still have a fun time.

Here are her helpful tips:

  • Avoid unconscious drinking: This is what people often do when cooking, watching television or responding to emails at night, for example. Make sure you savour the taste of what you're drinking and enjoy it, rather than drinking it without thought and being surprised when the glass or entire bottle is gone.
  • Hold your drink in your less dominant hand: It might sound strange but, believe it or not, this slows down your consumption of alcohol.
  • Drink One, Water One (DOWO): Alternate drinking alcohol with water. It'll reduce how much you're drinking and help keep you hydrated.
  • Stick to your usual tipple of choice: Give the shots, cocktails and fruit punches a miss. It's really hard to tell how much alcohol is in them. 
  • Don't drink to please others: Have the confidence to stick to your guns and if you need to tell a little white lie to back that up, then tell people you have a 'cracking hangover' from last night so you're taking it easy tonight or you're on antibiotics or are sick. Or be the designated drinker.
  • Finish each drink before you have a top-up: This way you can keep tabs on how much you're drinking.