Taking Care Of Yourself to Take Care of Your Kids
When a woman becomes her own best friend, life is easier.
— DIANE VON FURSTENBERG
Being a sober mom is my greatest blessing, and it can also be my most challenging endeavor.
In all my years of motherhood, not once did I hear my children say, “Hey, mom, why don’t you sit down and relax? Let me bring you a cup of tea!” Nor did Mary Poppins or Alice from The Brady Bunch ever appear at the door to help out. You may relate.
Before I entered recovery, a typical day for me looked like this: I’d wake up at six, jump in the shower and be dressed by six thirty. Then I’d wake up the kids for school, feed them breakfast, make their lunches, dress my two-year-old, help my five-year-old tie his shoes, and help my eight-year-old with her hair. Next it would be time to rush all of them into the car and drive them to their separate schools and daycare. Then I’d go to work and by mid-afternoon I’d realize I hadn’t eaten all day. Now hungry and tired, I’d stop at the nearest Starbucks and have more coffee and a muffin. After work I’d pick up the kids from school and deliver them to all their sports activities. At home I’d pour myself a huge glass of wine, make dinner, help with homework, have another generous glass, and hurry the kids to bed. Then I’d collapse into bed, wake up the next morning, and do it all over again.
A bottle of wine used to work to relax me and help me escape from the stress, but in sobriety I had to find substitutes for the wine. Bubble baths became my refuge at the end of the day. Sometimes the day seemed so unbearable that I took what I call a “double bubble day”: two baths in one day. When my kids started fighting I no longer gave them a time-out. Instead I began giving myself permission to take a break.
As I continued in recovery, I accumulated a list of other self-soothing remedies that still work for me today. I make myself a cup of hot tea; curl up with my favorite fur blanket and my hot lavender neck roll. I might take a nap, read a good book, walk in nature, call a friend to ask for help, or go see a funny movie
All of this self-care was vital to my sanity and helped me be a mother who was present and loving towards my children. However, there were days when I was so distraught and exhausted that I literally had no energy to do any of this. I would then call another sober mom and she would give me a simple suggestion for self-care along with permission to take care of myself. Occasionally, I’d have a day when I was pulling my hair out cursing at my Higher Power and screaming, “Hey, I could use a little help down here!” More than a few times there were those miracles where someone who was a good listener would show up at my door or call and offer to take my kids for a while. Those were the days when I was sure there was a Higher Power looking over me!
Sober Mom’s Tools for Self-care
- Make a list of five things that rejuvenate your spirit. Choose one of those things and do it twice a week. Continue doing this until it becomes a habit and a part of your regular routine.
- Map out your “radical self-care” day. This emergency plan will be a lifesaver when you feel completely depleted and don’t know what to do. For example, here is my plan.
- Write yourself a promise letter on taking care of yourself and post it where you can read it daily. Here’s a letter I wrote to myself.
I promise to put my relationship with God first.
I promise to be more concerned about disappointing myself than disappointing others.
I promise to care for my physical health by exercising and eating well.
I promise to always speak kindly to myself.
I promise to pursue my dreams and make them a reality.
I promise to love and forgive myself no matter what. I promise to go easy on myself.
I promise to hang out only with people who light my light, who honor and respect me.
I promise to have fun and laugh every day.