A Sober Moms Guide to Enjoying the Holidays - 12 Tips for the 12 Days!
While Eleven Pipers are Piping and Ten Lords a Leaping may be all having a great time; as moms, during the holiday season, we may feel more like Seven Swans a Swimming upstream in rough waters. Due to all the high-stress and expectations of others, and ourselves we may feel more like the Grinch than Jolly Old St. Nick. While it would be nice to have the Eight Maids a Milking arrive at your door to help with the long to-do-list, it is possible to enjoy the holidays without them.
Here is a self-care plan to help you not just survive the holidays, but to actually enjoy them.
1. Lower your expectations of yourself.
For years I tried to keep up with the Jones (whoever the heck they are) and I pictured everyone having a Hallmark holiday and living happily ever after. I worked tirelessly to have the perfect house, the perfect kids in the matching outfits, buy the perfect gifts, and send the perfect Christmas card. In recovery, I’ve learned that perfectionism would kill me if I didn’t slow down and take care of myself.
2. Keep it simple.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can put us in the frenzy if we decide to jump on the crazy train with everyone. As alcoholics, we can overcomplicate things. Try the ‘less is more’ game and make a decision to not over-do, over-give, or overspend.
3. Cut the ‘to do’ list.
As moms, we are not known for putting ourselves very high on the ‘to do’ list, and our self-care is the first thing we throw out the window. Ask for help! I know this can feel worse than going to the dentist but consider asking for help your Novocain. Give the kids the broom, the mop, the vacuum. Have someone wrap the gifts. My favorite wrapping became bags with tissue! With all this extra time, add to your ‘to do’ list naps, hot baths, walks, or sitting for five minutes of hot tea.
4. You are not a victim.
Sometimes going to our families or friends for holidays can be very stressful. There may be a lot of drinking and craziness, but you don’t have to put yourself in a position to be harmed by toxic people, places, or things like alcohol. Write yourself a permission slip to give yourself a break from with a simple statement like: “Oh thanks so much for inviting me and I’m not able to make it.” End of sentence! Plan a get-a-way (literally) and go out of town. Swap houses with another friend who also wants to get away from the craziness. The family may try to guilt trip you but don’t fall for it. Trust me, the party will go on with or without you.
5. Have Fun!
Recovery is not meant to be dull, and it is possible to have fun sober without drugs or alcohol. Hang out with other sober people who know how to have fun. Try something new like having friends over to play games or have a potluck.
6. Do something different.
One holiday when a friend and I didn’t have our kids, we went to a hotel, sat in bed, and ordered popcorn from room service for dinner. Boy, it was lovely not to spend all the time shopping, cooking, and cleaning up the mess. Some skip the holidays and go to the movies, go on a long hike with friends, have a jammie day and stay in bed and read a book, or binge watch your favorite Netflix shows.
7. Renew your spirit with prayer and meditation.
During busy times we can forget our normal routines of prayer and meditation. However busy times are when we need this quiet time more than ever. Meditation and prayer are a great way to increase your resilience against stress.
8. Go late, leave early.
If you go to a party where alcohol is served plan to go late and leave early. When you are at the party it’s a good idea always to have a drink in your hand (non-alcoholic of course), so you can avoid answering the question, “can I get you a drink.”
9. Don’t isolate.
Loneliness can be one of the reasons we drink or use. Maybe you have lost your kids or don’t have any family. While this may be true, you don’t have to be alone. There are many recovery meetings all over the world where people are gathering and celebrating together sober. To find a meeting nearby go to www.AA.org, www.na.org, www.womenforsobriety.org, www.smartrecovery.org. Thanksgiving 1999 I was twelve days sober, and I didn’t have my kids. I was so sad and lonely, and even though I was VERY uncomfortable, I went to two recovery meetings that day. I didn’t want to go, but I knew I needed to be in a safe place. I was grateful when I woke up the next morning that I survived my first sober holiday without a drink!
10. Do something nice for someone else without them knowing!
Leave flowers on your neighbor’s doorstep; donate a toy or food to someone less fortunate than you.
11. Give up the self-pity and practice gratitude.
As alcoholics, we sometimes focus on what we don’t have. We can look around and compare ourselves to others and when we compare we despair! Make a daily gratitude list and try to be thankful for all that you do have. At the very least, be thankful you are sober today!
12. Don’t drink no matter what.
Remember, it’s just another day of the week that ends in “Y” like all the others.
So even if you don’t receive Five Golden Rings or are one of the Nine Ladies Dancing, the best way to enjoy the holidays is to be grateful for another day sober. Hopefully, you can find a way to be your own True Love and give yourself the gift of a sane and sober holiday!
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