Why I've given up drinking until my kids go back to school

I'm giving up drinking while homeschool is in which those who know me will know is entirely out of character.

If you believe all the chat on social media, coronavirus isolation is a time when we've all given ourselves permission to live by "airport rules" – there are even memes doing the rounds about teaching children fractions with what's left in your wine glass – but I've decided that's just not going to work for me.

Don't get me wrong, I like wine as much as the next person – and when we all first started to live in isolation, I was giving the wine a decent nudge. Each evening, my partner and I would mark the end of the work day and the start of the evening with a wine or two. Then we'd celebrate the weekend with three or four.

It seemed the only way to draw a line in our day between work and play. And a wine or two helped take the edge off of all this stress and uncertainty.

But I found the strangeness of this new way of life, anxiety and uncertainty about the future, and life's general stressors were still there. And what's worse, when the happy buzz of the wine wore off, they felt more difficult to cope with.

I'd wake up in the morning and half the time I'd skip my morning run because I felt dull and unmotivated, which of course then affected the rest of my day. I was annoyed at myself, and felt less able to handle whatever life was throwing at me on a daily basis, and less desire to engage with my kids.

I felt like a victim of my own life, rather than the one in charge. And when home schooling was added to the mix, it became…a lot.

The only way, I decided, was to face all the feelings I was experiencing, so I could feel them and either find a solution for them or put them to bed. I wanted to be a leader in my home, to reassure my children that everything was going to be okay, to have the energy to find fun ways to teach them, and to actively ensure we all came out of isolation happy and healthy.

So at the start of April I decided it was time to go cold turkey on the booze.

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Moderation has never been my strong suit: if you can have one, why can't you have two? If you can drink on Tuesdays, why not on Mondays? If you can have a small pinot grigio, why not six margaritas? Nope, it was all or nothing.

I was cranky for a few days, my family will happily tell you, while I adjusted to my new normal, but didn't go in unprepared. My fridge was stocked with fun replacement beverages so I didn't feel left out of happy hour. I'm not a fan of sugary drinks but a blood orange soda or a lemon, lime and bitters in the evening seemed to help ease that transition.

Then I noticed it start to happen: the sleep. I was sleeping more deeply than I have in years, and was waking up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day – and even better – ready to head out for a run.

I was looking better, feeling better, and parenting better without the wine that I'd thought was helping me get through the day.

It's been a couple of weeks now since I stopped drinking, and I'm thinking I'll keep it up until the home school term is finished. There's so much going on in the home already, and I want to be on the ball while I'm helping my three kids learn.

And instead of drawing a line in my day with a large rosé, I now head out for a walk with the kids or a run with my partner to catch up about our days. My kids and I play tag in the park or we go on a bear hunt around the local community, seeing how many homes have teddy bears in their windows.

Do I miss wine? God, yes.

But when I have another, it will be because it's a delightful treat, not because I feel like I need it to get through my day. And until that can happen, I'm on the wagon.

I'm pretty sure my family and my body will thank me.

This article Why I've given up drinking until my kids go back to school was originally published in Essential Kids.

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