I'm not sure if anyone else saw 20/20's recent special entitled "Mother's Little Helper." The program featured moms who use alcohol to cope with the stresses and issues of motherhood. I was intrigued by their stories, and it got me thinking that there are probably more moms struggling with this issue than people care to imagine or admit.
I grew up in an alcohol-free home. My parents didn't drink, nor did any of my immediate family members. In fact, I had never tasted wine until I studied overseas in college, and even then it was as part of a church communion service. (My church back home always used good ole Welch's Grape Juice.) I think since I wasn't exposed to it as a child or young adult I was less likely to partake in it even when I had reached a legal drinking age.
And yet, as a busy stay-at-home mom, I can understand the temptation to find something to "take the edge off." That's why I've committed not to ever have alcohol in my home. Not because it is some sort of inherent evil - plenty of people are able to drink responsibly and appropriately. I choose not to allow it in my home because honestly, I don't know that I trust myself. I can see how easy it could be to allow one drink to turn into two.
Let's face it. Raising kids is one of the most challenging jobs out there. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to spend all day playing with play dough or cleaning poop off of a child's clothes, but it does take inordinate amounts of patience, consistency, and love. And if we're being honest, a lot of times, this hard work is not even acknowledged or appreciated.
The good news is there are alternatives to drinking. There are ways to relieve stress at the end of a day that do not involve things that impair your abilities or judgment. Consider the following:
- I know, I know . . . I probably hate it as much as you do, but I find that it does so much to improve my mood and relieve stress. I notice a big difference in my perspective and attitude when I take care of my body.
- Take some QUIET time each day to tend to your thoughts and emotions. Dwell on a scripture verse or devotional thought to focus your mind and deal with your issues. Prayer can be a huge part of this as well.
- Write down your woes in a journal, BUT for every one negative see if you can find something else to be grateful for. I've learned that you will find what you are looking for - if you focus on the negative, you will see the negative; if you focus on the positive that is what will draw your attention.
- Girlfriend, chances are you are not the only one struggling. There are moms just like you across the country (and the world) that are facing similar stresses. Sometimes it's good just to tell someone else what a bad day you're having. Don't have a girlfriend nearby? There are hundreds upon hundreds of mommy blogs and forums that you can participate with!
- Set aside some "Me" time
- Put it on the calendar and protect it. Go to a coffee shop. Get a massage. Lock your bedroom door and read a book (I know some moms who lock themselves in the bathroom for at least 15 minutes a day just so they can get a chance to take a breather). Your mental well-being is critical to your family. You are worth the investment
- Find a support system:
- Check your local newspaper for parenting groups or playgroups. I'm active in my local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I can't begin to tell you how beneficial it is for me to get out of the house and spend time with other moms. I know that if I have a problem I can call on them for help.
If you do have a problem don't be afraid to seek help. There are hundreds of other women going through the same thing. 20/20's website has a few resources that can help. There are links to an Alcoholic's Anonymous Quiz you can take if you think your drinking has gotten out of hand. There is also information on places you can go to find help.
The graphic at the top of the page is from 20/20's website.