Thursday, 9 June 2016


I have a terrible confession. One of my major triggers, one of the things most likely to make me want to dive headfirst into a vat of fermented grapes, was..... my own children.

Don't get me wrong. I love the little blighters, obviously. And bringing them up is a constant delight and adventure. I would happily take a bullet or fight a tiger with my bare hands for them.

However, bringing up children is hard - at least I found it so.

There's the endless repetition (say please, wipe your nose, don't forget to flush the loo), the boredom (pushing swings for hours, pureeing vegetables, picking cereal off the floor), the frustration (what do you mean you can't remember where you left your book bag?)

It's no wonder that by the end of the day so many of us are gasping for a glass of vino (or, let's face it, a bottle).

But, slowly, slowly, all of these everyday stresses have got much easier since I quit. It is, I promise you, the case that the booze only increases the levels of anxiety, the lack of patience and the bad temper.

(See my post: Reasons to Quit Drinking #6: Because You're a Parent).

These days, the SM household is (relatively) calm. Zen. You hardly ever hear any shouting. A situation which seemed inconceivable this time last year.

There are, however, still child related things that push every one of my buttons, that have me longing for the Chablis, even after all this time.

(I generally end up eating a slice of cake bigger than my head and drinking twice as much Becks Blue as usual).

What I find most tricky is watching my children navigate major hurdles in life and not being able to help them. This inevitably comes with an awful lot of self blame, as I decide that, for some reason, it's all my fault.

A few months ago, for example, one of my kids was being bullied in the playground. I wanted to tear the limbs off the culprit one by one, and he was only a nine year old boy.

I spent hours debating strategies to solve the problem, and days berating myself, thinking that I must have done something that made my child look like a victim.

And this week has been a horribly hard one to navigate sober because it's exam week.

#1 has no issue with exams. She sails through them in a calmly ordered flotilla of revision timetables, colour coded notes and sharpened pencils, usually coming top.

#2 is a different matter. Trying to get him to concentrate on revision for longer than thirty minutes is almost impossible. So, despite that fact that he does really well in IQ tests, he struggles to get even average marks in exams.

He's not worried. He's perfectly happy, so long as he doesn't come bottom. And even that wouldn't bother him too much. But I wind myself up into a little stress ball, and - again - blame myself for not helping or inspiring him enough.

There are two things that I've found helpful:

One is remembering to be grateful.

My children are healthy and happy, and that's really all that matters.

I know that sounds terribly obvious, but it's amazing how seeing the things to be thankful for in a situation can completely diffuse it.

(For more on the power of being grateful see my post: Gratitude).

The second is reminding myself that they are not me. All three are totally different from me and each other. The way they work, how they think, what motivates them is not the same as me.

My job is to advise, nurture, encourage, but not to do it for them. Their failures are not my fault, in the same was as their successes are entirely their own, and - what's more - they need a few failures to learn from.

At least there's one thing I know for sure: this week wouldn't have been any easier if I'd been drinking through it. It would have been a hell of a lot worse. There would have been yelling and tears (theirs and mine). And that really wouldn't have helped.

For more on sober parenting, and all the ups and downs of the sobercoaster, check out NoWayRose's fabulous new blog by clicking here.

Love to you all,

SM x


  1. There is defo still some shouting in our house but not as much as there used to be. I'm also much happier to have them around. Before, I was delighted to have a playdate or a sleepover organsied. At the weekend I tried to get them to bed as soon as I could. I feel like we're more of a family now, that I'm a better mum and it's more about them, they're my priority now. Not wine. xxx

  2. Day 89 here, and I can very happily state I am a much better parent these days. I'm not as stressed out, and not as anxious. The house is much calmer in general. I'm actually enjoying spending time with my kids and their friends. I also think I am a much better wife too. I have lost inches (but no weight), feel healthier mentally .. and everyone in my house is benefiting from the happier calmer atmosphere.

  3. I'm with you SoberMummy. My boys are the primary reason I started drinking heavily. And now that I've stopped, I can see that while drinking appeared to numb my anxieties around my boys, it ended up magnifying them. Life is so much smoother now. Even during the hard times. Raising children is the hardest job we'll do.

  4. Thank you for the shout out sober mummy. I've had my first sober birthday today which involved dinner with the kids at 6pm in our local pub with big pints of blackberry cordial and soda not vats of rosé, and more importantly not stuffing the smalls into bed so I could go out and get wrecked. Phew. X

  5. My kids are why I started to drink too. I think that I thought I wasn't good enough for them. It was so hard when they were young...and then they got older. Bigger kids...bigger problems. So I drank more. The times where I couldn't "save" them really hurt my self esteem as a mother. Now, sober, I can look back and see that those times were times my children grew as human beings. Growth happens during difficult times. It took being sober for me to fully realize that...and to stop beating myself up because I wasn't the "perfect" mom. Great, honest post. And I will check out No Way Rose! xo

  6. Yes, I can understand this. The small stressors that are constant and the loss of control over my own life have been difficult. My drinking escalated after kids. I love them but they are messy, they fight, they won't eat what I cook, they cry over not being allowed to wear shorts in the middle of winter. It definitely creates tension, and lots of us go straight for the wine. I'm looking forward to a calmer house. I think kids can feed off their parents, hopefully if I'm calmer they will be too?

  7. Ooh yes, this is all so true and so hard to admit. Even harder when it was a long battle to be a mum in the first place. You are absolutely right SM when you say that we take it so personally when things go wrong. Why don't they do things properly? Don't they realise the consequences of not working hard, skipping practice, skiving off? Let alone not brushing your teeth(God help me!).
    It is so much easier sober. I do not miss the shouting or the tears. i do not miss the self loathing of feeling like a bad mother.
    I prefer the calm. And the kisses.

  8. Such a great post, so SO true! My drinking definitely ramped up after #1 was born in 2005 (a very difficult "high need" baby). I've been off the booze about 5 months now and ABSOLUTELY notice a difference around the house, - there is still bickering - but less and I'm calmer and much more able to put things in perspective and laugh things off and step away. phew!

    1. Also, on this topic, my favorite quote from Rachel Black's (first) book:

      "...our real craving when the children are young is not for wine, it is for peace, tranquility, and an unbroken night's sleep. the last thing we need is to compound the challenge of children with the debilitation brought on by wine. How are we so blind to that?"

  9. No kids here just an ex drunk but I think what you do is fantastic but every problem I face sober is more digestible than it was when drunk. A problem is still a problem - drinking may well have numbed the issue but it was still there albeit with a hangover. My self-control was definitely impaired when drinking - not a good side to me really. Are you allowed to stake your offspring out on the lawn, pour sugar on their heads and tell em that they will be eaten by giant ants? My cousins did that to me - no wonder I drank.

    Have a great weekend aggro its football - I hate football!!!


  10. To he honest I sometimes think wine got me through those first few difficult years with young children. It's so full on and I loved using wine to switch off. Just a shame it got to such horrible levels and I certainly don't regret stopping. Life is calmer and as my children get older and about to become teenagers I want to be a good example and show there are other choices apart from getting drunk to cope with hard times.

  11. Hit the nail on the head here SM - as usual (hey - would you consider starting a parenting blog I could benefit from too!!) I used to feel so guilty for the fact that I had these amazing little people who I adored - but who drove me mad - and to help cope with the fury of them misbehaving (well just being normal kids really) and the boredom (of them just being normal kids ) I tried to drown it all out with the nasty vino. The house is so much calmer now I am AF, and I am so much happier with the normality of motherhood. Thank you thank you for helping me to realise I could really make this change. I just pray to God that my kids somehow avoid the nasty addiction that I fell into. At least they'll be getting an awesome example from me now. Day 160 in the SFM household. Happy sober weekend my lovely friends. xxx