Raise your hand if the past several months have literally driven you to drink…If mama just needs a little go-go juice to get through the painstakingly long days of being quarantined with kids…If the idea of an indoor summer and a homeschooling fall are just the excuses you need to justify “just one more drink.”
I see a lot of hands. And a lot of them are holding wine.
Look, I’m the first to say that alcohol is the Best, with a capital B, at relieving stress, tension, and anxiety. And it tastes so good (my poison of choice is Champagne. I know, a little bougie and expensive but, oh, look at that high alcohol content). Who can blame us for needing a little extra comfort right now? We are living in unprecedented times. We are mothers in the midst of global chaos. We’ve lost our jobs. We may have lost loved ones. We’re expected to keep it together and run a household. We miss our friends. Heck, I actually miss taking my toddler to the grocery store. That’s how I know times are particularly weird right now.
But after months of comfort sipping and munching (ALL the potato chips), I didn’t recognize my body anymore. And I certainly didn’t recognize myself as a whole. I let the world bring me down, and I chose the lazy path to self pacification. That is, until I decided enough was enough. And trust me, it took several tries to finally start stopping the bad habits.
A few weeks ago, I hopped on board my go-to, tried-and-true diet, started a daily routine, and even bought a self-help book about quitting alcohol. Now, I personally have no plans to completely quit drinking, but I needed to take a break and learn to be a little smarter about it. Plus, none of my leggings fit anymore. LEGGINGS. The non-pants that are always supposed to be there for me, betrayed me. Or did I betray them?
I know I’m not the only woman out there in Mom-Stuck-At-Home Land who turns to unhealthy-at-times creature comforts. So, mama, I’m here to try and help you. Ditch the suds—without too much grief—with this handy guide I’ve lived by for the past few weeks. If you’re a daily drinker, like I usually am, it won’t be easy. But it will get easier.
Get yourself a fancy drinking glass and fill ‘er up.
One thing that helps me tremendously anytime I’ve taken a booze break is using a wine glass for my drinks. Since I’m drawn to the effervescence and crisp bubbles of bubbly, I stock up on flavored fizzy waters. Feeling the weight of a wine glass and the pops of bubbles hit my nose really creates the illusion that I’m relaxing to my favorite drink. Fun(ny) fact: I’m so into this method, that Whole Foods recently cut me off from ordering my absolute favorite sparkling water, lime mint elderflower. Try it and thank me later. And then order me some more because I’m out.
Read books about quitting alcohol
I ordered a book called The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray the second day I started my booze cleanse, and let me tell you, it made my life so much easier (still does). Her’s is a point of view of a hardcore alcoholic. But her testimonials are relatable, even to the moderate drinker. And her words really illustrate the simply joys of not having alcohol in your system: sleep improvement, energy, appreciation for nature, to name a few. I mean, it’s very eye-opening. There are probably hundreds of books on giving up alcohol, so read around and find one that’s right for you.
Occupy yourself with learning new recipes
I never used to cook. I never really learned how. My husband, however, is a fantastic cook, so I just never thought I’d need to once I got married. Here’s the thing, though: cooking is one of the best ways I’ve found to pass time when I feel like just grabbing a drink and sitting on the couch. Not to mention, my low-carb diet sort of requires some cooking to keep things interesting. Find some recipes, go get your ingredients, and get lost in the art of cooking. Don’t forget to sip your fancy drink; it’ll help kick the booze craving even more.
Establish a daily routine
We know babies and toddlers thrive on routine, especially for a good night’s sleep. But so do adults. It’s in our human nature. Once you start a routine, your body just feels better. Add to that no alcohol, and your energy and sleep will improve tenfold. I used to stay up really late (and, honestly, I still do) but I also used to sleep in until I heard my son wake up through our baby monitor, which, lucky for me, was usually around 10 a.m.
Now? I’m up by 7:30, in my new leggings (which haven’t betrayed me yet,) downing a glass of water, pouring a cup of coffee, and heading out the door to walk a solid mile-and-a-half around my neighborhood. And I get time to myself before clocking in at the Mama Factory. I use my son’s nap time to do a hobby, and every night before bed, I actually take all my makeup off. A small thing, but I was usually too excited to settle in with a drink that I’d eventually get too sleepy and plop in bed: long, glorious false eyelashes and all.
Get outside (mornings are best right now)
It’s the summertime in Texas, so I know it’s almost impossible to spend too much time outside. I’m not even an outdoorsy person. I hate sweating, bugs, and getting a tan. But I’ve found that the sweet spot right now to get some outdoor time is early in the morning. Nature is a wonderful mood lifter, and it really puts things into perspective. Plus, a little vitamin D goes a long way. Close your eyes, listen to the morning songs of the birds, and breathe in that fresh air. It gives you a high that booze never can.
Find a TV show to binge
If TV is just something you watch so you can drink at the end of the day, replace that experience with relaxing to every episode of Blacklist that’s available (that’s been my binge of choice, anyway). You might like reality TV, or a comedy, or a true crime docu-series. Whatever you pick, let that be your wind down instead of booze.
Stock up on snacks
I can’t stress this one enough. Whether you’re a moderate drinker or are seriously considering quitting alcohol altogether because it’s ruining your life, you need to replace that craving and routine with something else. It’s all about adjusting behavior, not eliminating comfort. For me, I’ve got to have my snacks. I snack all day, but especially after my son goes to bed. I load up a plate of all of my favorite low-carb goodies, pour myself a glass of fizzy water, and head to the couch. If giving up booze means you need more carbs, sugar, caffeine, do it. You need some comfort, especially in the beginning.
Tell anyone you live with that you’re taking a booze break
Forgoing alcohol can be a very private, personal decision for some. For others, it’s a public statement. For me, as long as my husband knew I was taking a break, I was fine. He still drinks, and at first I’d see his delicious craft beer in the fridge and start salivating. But then I remembered how much weight I’d gained since the quarantine began, and, eventually, I was totally fine. I even bring him cold ones when he needs it. But for a lot of people, this would be impossible. My advice: Tell as many people as you feel comfortable telling, whether you’re just taking a break or making a serious life change. Accountability helps, and so does support.