How to party sober at Halloween

Halloween themed food

Any festive time, such as Halloween, can seem daunting, particularly we’re first sober. Worries about drinking, triggers and social anxiety can all overwhelm the occasion, making what is supposed to be fun, no fun at all.

Do not despair! And do not give up! If you are newly sober, you have already done the hard bit. You have stopped drinking which is an achievement and act of self-love of epic proportions. The rest is just practice and resetting habits and neural pathways, hard at first but much easier as you go on (see Am I an alcoholic? and How to stop alcohol cravings for more on this)

If you haven’t yet, and you want to or you’re just reassessing your relationship with alcohol then have a look at some of my other blog posts such as

But I promise you the more you practice celebrations, the easier they becomes. And sober celebrations really will be fun again!

So, what will Halloween 2019 hold for you? Going out with friends? Staying in with family? Either way can be sober and awesome.

If you are heading out to town or a party, usually alcohol will abound at these types of events. You are forewarned, so now let’s make sure you are forearmed! Here are 7 tips for a fab sober Halloween.

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Halloween tip 1 – If you do not want to go, do not go!

Pumpkin carving

Do you want to go out? Now this may seem silly as you’ve probably already decided that you are going, but just check with yourself. Do a little breathing exercise. Breathe in for 5 and out for 5. Concentrate only on the feeling of your breath going in and out. Breathe as slowly as is comfortable.

When you are feeling relaxed, thing about your Halloween activity. In this quiet space, your real feelings about this activity will surface. Do you feel a knot of anxiety in your stomach or a clutch of fear in your chest? Do you feel an excited buzz? Is it a mixture of both? Once you have established your feeling towards your activity, you need to break it down a bit more. It is unlikely that there will be no worries, so try to dig a bit deeper and find out which part is worrying you most.

Here are examples of some worries

  1. Will I drink?
  2. What will I say when someone asks me why I’m not drinking?
  3. What will I say when someone offers me a drink?
  4. I feel silly dressing up
  5. I won’t know anyone
  6. I don’t like dancing

If you can find out which part is worrying you most, you can do some work prior to heading out to tackle those worries. More on this in the following Halloween tips

The upshot is, if you prospect of your Halloween activity is filling you with all out dread, or even filling you with anxiety for every aspect you have analysed, then don’t go. What on earth says that you have to go anywhere that makes you feel that way? If people think it’s strange, so what? Why does their opinion matter? If their opinion does matter to you, or you think they might be upset, then be honest with them. If it’s too early for honesty with this person or you think they won’t understand, this might be the time to have an honest look at this relationship and what is holding you back.  This is you looking after you, which, in your early sobriety, is THE most important thing to do.

You are vulnerable at this point and putting yourself in a position that causes you stress and anxiety will increase your vulnerability and increase the likelihood that you will drink. 

Halloween tip 2 – To drink or not to drink?

The Bot Halloween 2018

Like I have said, this is vulnerable time for you, and going out, surrounded by alcohol, can make you feel so much more vulnerable.

The question of will you drink boils down to a number of factors, which I am looking to address in this blog. A large part though, is that you have to not want to drink. Like the tip above, if you’re feeling that you shouldn’t drink, but actually you want to, maybe avoid the occasion all together. Don’t risk your sobriety when you have done so well. Maybe accept sitting this one out and try again next year when your sobriety is more secure.

So many people get totally freaked out by the idea that they may have to justify why they are not drinking. Unfortunately, this is often the case. I love the quote by Jolene Park, author or the website greyareadrinkers.com.

“Alcohol is the only drug in the world that you have to justify not taking”

Because, although it is madness, it’s true! The justification opens up a huge can of worms and all the hushed ‘are you an alcoholic?’ questions or the ‘you’re not that bad’ comments. Completely no one elses business, but unfortunately most drinkers don’t see it that way!

So, if someone offers you a drink, have a plan. Know beforehand what drink you are going to ask for, don’t even give yourself the option. If you are more comfortable drinking alcohol free alternatives, then drink those. I drank these a lot in the beginning and bars are getting a much wider selection – do your research before you go! If you’re at a party bring your own supplies. These are my favourites and they are 0%. I don’t like to even try the 0.05% or 0.5% but that’s just me (these links earn me a little commission – sorry to my friends across the pond but couldn’t seem to find US links that weren’t extortionate so you you’ll have to go to see what your local supermarket has).

Personally find the gin alternatives revolting but lots of people swear by it, the link is below.

Seedlip non alcoholic spirit

Alternatively, Sainsburys and Tesco have a good choice. Sorry if you are not UK based, I’m not sure about supermarkets abroad, although I know Carrefour in Italy sells 0% Birra Moretti!

Also, prepare a set answer for the ‘Why aren’t you drinking’ question. Could you drive to the event? Perfect get out of jail free card right there and a warm, easy ride home! If not, ‘I’m not antibiotics’ is an option. If you are more comfortable to be open, you can use the sober curious reason or I’m doing Sober October or I’m training for a marathon! Loads of reasons, just pick one for the night so you are not sidelined by the question.

I’m quite open if asked now. I say alcohol gave me anxiety, it doesn’t agree with my stomach and it is incompatible with raising 3 children and working. All completely true and although I get some odd looks, my choice is rarely questioned.

Halloween tip 3 – Go with support  

Vegetable Skeleton

It is so much easier to feel stronger and braver when you have someone at your side. Find someone who knows about your choice and is happy to come along and back you up in your decision. Parties can be scary, especially if there are lots of people you don’t know. One of the reasons most often given for drinking is social anxiety, (see Why do people drink?) so why put yourself in a position that made you want to drink in the first place!

Have a signal with your support for when you need an escape. It is very likely that at some point you’ll be in a conversation you don’t want to be in – whether because it’s controversial, awkward, dull or the other person is now so drunk they can’t speak – so have a back up plan. Signal your support, get another drink (alcohol free!) or go to the loo. Don’t feel you have to stick it out, they probably won’t remember anyway!

Halloween tip 4 – Don’t do what make you uncomfortable

The Bear Halloween 2018

Feeling uncomfortable makes you more vulnerable, so as well as the tips above, assess what makes you uncomfortable.

There is no earthly reason that you should dress up, dance or join in games. Remember – ‘could not should’! You can do anything but you do not have to do anything.

I often get the feeling that I’m going to go somewhere and be the only person dressed up. It always make me nervous. Not very likely at Halloween but if you’re worried, go in normal clothes and bring your dress up stuff with you – simple!

I personally adore dancing and games, but I know it is a no go area for many people without alcohol, so be true to yourself and do what is right for you. Phones are an amazing excuse to avoid many situations you don’t want to be in.

Halloween tip 5 – What do you want?

Me party 1 2019

So much focus can be taken up by avoiding what you don’t want to be involved in, but equally importantly, what do you want to be involved in.

Why are you going in the first place? What do you want to get out of the evening? As I said, I love dancing, so a dance space with good music is pretty much my only reason for going out ever! I also love dressing up and there are just not enough excuses to dress up once you are a mother.

But your reason could be to have fun with friends, or meet some new friends, or meet a new prospective partner. Whatever the reason, surely it is better to have this experience sober so that firstly, it is the real you that people are meeting or having fun with and secondly, that it is an experience you will remember. No hangovers, no guilt, no regrets, no embarrassment and if you’re lucky enough to meet someone – you’ll remember whatever transpires!!

If you’re not sure, use the breathing exercise above to find out what it is that you want to get out of the event. Consider what you used to enjoy at parties when you were a child, there will be some pre-drinking memory somewhere! Once you know, breathe deeply and picture how you want the evening to go. Stick to the positives here because visualisation is an incredibly powerful tool and you can change your experience of the event by using it.

Halloween tip 6 – Exit plan

The baby Halloween party 2019

Plan when and how you are going to arrive, but more importantly, have a plan for how you are going to escape!

You need to ensure that you can leave whenever you are ready to. If you feel stuck, your vulnerability will increase. For this reason, make sure you know how you are getting home (driving is perfect!), and try not to rely on anyone else for transportation, as you will then have to check they are happy to leave too.

Don’t ever feel you have to stay to the bitter end. One of the joys of sobriety is that your body is back in a healthy routine and it knows when it is tired and when it wants to wake up. If we start messing with this natural rhythm, and start getting tired, we make ourselves vulnerable. Most sober people will be looking for bed at 10 or 11pm – so go with what your body tells you not what you ‘should’ do.

So, that’s the end of the how to party sober at Halloween when you are out and about tips. Let’s have a brief look at how to party sober at Halloween at home.

The tips above can all be easily translated to apply to celebrating at home, for example:

  • Party? Trick or treating? – Don’t celebrate if you don’t want to
  • Don’t invite people you don’t want to be there
  • Have a reason that you’re not drinking
  • Know that you can escape to your room or the loo if you need a minute
  • Give the party a clear end time – maybe an afternoon children’s party?
  • Plan the party to do what you want to do and what you are comfortable with

I’m loving Halloween more and more in the last few years, especially since becoming sober. Before that I’d only really celebrated it as a child. This, interestingly, made a few things more obvious, as I hadn’t had that time to grow used to alcohol at Halloween. I had memories of childhood Halloweens and then memories of starting those traditions with my children a few years ago. But alcohol had never been a part of childhood Halloween so I couldn’t understand why our celebrations didn’t feel quite right – almost like I was quaffing back the prosecco with any excuse – which of course I was.

It is way more comfortable sober, because ultimately, I am doing it for the children. We decorate the house, do fancy dress, paint faces, carve pumpkins, make Halloween themed food and set up Halloween games like apple bobbing and pear hanging. I never went trick or treating as a child, so we don’t either, but we have everything set up for the trick or treaters that come our way – surprise doorbell, silly string and sweets. Where does prosecco fit into that?

If you are celebrating at home, try to enjoy yourself but most of all, try to enjoy other people’s enjoyment.

Halloween tip 7 – Be proud of your achievement 

Whatever you do this Halloween, be proud of your achievement. If you went out or had a party and stayed sober – that is phenomenal! So many huge pats on the back for you. Add it to your growing list of things to feel awesomely proud of.

If you decided not to celebrate, that is a brave and courageous act of self-love. In the end it is about you and your sobriety. It is not selfish, it is necessary. There is always the next year or the next celebration, when you can reassess what you can handle.

If you tried and slipped up, don’t beat yourself up. It is all a journey forward. No matter how disappointed you might be that you didn’t stay sober, you still tried and that is incredible. That shows you are on the right path, but just need to do a little more work to get there

See my other posts (links below) for more on this work.

Your journey to being happy celebrating sober, is like everything in your sober journey, one step forward at a time. Each step forward gets you a little closer to your goal.

I’m going to my first sober rave on Friday 1st November in the town centre. I have not been for a night out in town for years, and especially not a sober one. I am going with my husband you there won’t be many people I know – I did ask some friends, but no one seemed that keen when I mentioned the word sober! In my next post I’ll let you know all about it  xx  

How to survive and thrive as a sober mum

So, we have reached the final post in my four-part post on mums and alcohol. If you have missed any and my content resonates with you then please follow the links below.

The first post, Why do mums drink? Looks at the reasons that mums feel that they want or need to have a drink.

The second post looks at the problems associated with the societally accepted mummy wine culture that is so prevalent currently. Read that post here.

The penultimate post aims to show mums who are struggling with booze, all the benefits of not drinking and how much better off they can be without it. That post is Why mums DO NOT need to drink

In this final post, I want to show you that you can not only survive as a sober mum but you can thrive way beyond your expectations! 

Before you dismiss this as impossible, let me reassure you that I am living, breathing proof of this! I am a mother of 3 boys. I drank for 22 years and for 12 years I tried to quit. I believed there must just be something wrong with me that I couldn’t do it, when other people seemed to be able to. I also thought that if I did, I’d be unhappy and craving for the rest of my life.

Please let me reassure you, that now, at nearly 18 months sober, I have never looked back and I have never been happier. I am also craving free!

This post is not going to go into detail about how to quit. Instead I want to show you how you can manage being a mum while sober, and that when you are a sober mum, your life will be so much better and happier.

If you are still struggling with quitting drinking, I have some other posts that will help.

How to Quit drinking, is obviously the big post with practical tips about how to quit once you have decided that you want to. However, it is never quite that easy and there is groundwork that you need to commit to first.

Seeing alcohol for what it really is often helps people to realise that in reality it is not what they need – see How to beat the alcohol illusion for more on this.

The fear of cravings really put me off trying to quit for good, so have a read of How to stop alcohol cravings to find out how you can be craving free.

However, if you feel that you are physically addicted, by which I mean experiencing shakes, sweating, vomiting or uncontrollable irritability, please contact a health professional to discuss your needs.

How to survive as a sober mum

Tackle loneliness

Being a mum can be such a lonely time, and being a mum struggling with a problem with alcohol that you don’t feel like you can talk about, can be the loneliest feeling in the world.

If you feel there are people you can talk to then do talk to them. But if you are not keen, find some non-drinking friends to talk to. Social Media in great for this. I have met incredible people through Instagram, who are all on their own alcohol-free journey, and happy to share and talk. There are also loads on Facebook and places like Join Club Soda have a private group where you can air all your struggles and receive support and advise from fellow members.

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Also, you could join One Year No Beer and meet people who are similarly reassessing their relationship with alcohol. Or, if you are feeling brave, there are more and more sober cafés and sober events popping up. Find one and go along, find someone who will go with you to make it less daunting initially. My husband and I are off to our first sober rave for Halloween this year in our towns sober bar.

Community is often what will give you the strength to finally get to where you want to be. Be aware that you may lose people along the way but do not let this put you off! Sometimes we have to lose in some places to gain in others, and the friends that you make on your sober journey will be the ones who have your back.

Parenting jobs

So that’s outside life sorted, what about at home? Parenting is hard. More often than not as mums, we just keep going and going, and it can be completely overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. We need to break stuff up into bits, and then find out which the problem bits actually are. Try to really think about you day and what you actually do. Then as you are doing each thing assess how you feel when doing it. There unfortunately is no escape from some parenting jobs no matter how much we hate them! Washing has to be done, meals have to be cooked and the house needs to be cleaned.

This is an example that worked for me.

I loathe cleaning. I have said this before that hey ho! I did have a cleaner for while but working part time with 3 children I couldn’t really justify the expense. But if you can, (your drinking probably cost more than £20 a week!) the go for it!

I found every time I had to clean I ended up furious with everyone and everything! So I broke everything down. I realised that I actually I have no issue tidying I just hate actual cleaning. Then I broke it down further and realised that doing it all at once was just too much. So I broke each job down onto different days. On the days I don’t have a shift I’ll clean either the bathroom, or hoover downstairs, or clean the kitchen, but not all together. By doing this, each cleaning job takes less than 20 minutes, so not overwhelming, and it all gets done pretty painlessly. My worst job seems to be hoovering upstairs, so I make sure that I do it at a time where I am not feeling stressed or tired, but also that I get it out of the way as soon as possible!

It seems simple, but it is so easy to let everything become a massive overwhelming black whole when really, it’s all just little manageable bits put together. Just put them together differently in a way that works for you!

This will help so much later when it comes to nurturing yourself, which I talk more about it the next section.

Routine

It also helped me to find a routine that works with the children. Children usually respond really well to routine They want their freedom and independence, but routine helped them to feel safe, because they know what is coming and what is expected.

We have a routine where we use a 10 minute musical timer for The Baby to dress himself in the morning. It works, mostly, and the big boys love it too – they know it’s nearly time to leave and they know what they have to do.

In the evening, after supper, the boys (usually) clear the table, my husband and I will take turns for who does the washing up and who washes The Baby, and then I will read stories and he’ll go to sleep with his train nightlight and classic FM. My eldest goes to sleep every night with the fan and a low string of fairy lights.

I have found, if every member of the family understands of the rules of the game, it all becomes so much easier to manage!

You don’t always need to follow your plan or get frustrated if you don’t, you can just have it in the background as a fall back. But ultimately do what works for you, assessing how you feel and how your children are responding as you go.

Take time for yourself

Part of having a routine is ensuring that there is time for you. It is so important, as I have mentioned so many times, to have regular time for yourself! I will talk more about nurturing yourself in the next section but make sure every day, you routinely fit some ‘you time’ into the day.

When your ‘you time’ is routine, it will have become so normal that taking emergency time for yourself, when things are going wrong, will not seem too alien and you will know what you need to do with that time, whether that is have a bath, have a cup of tea, listen to music, paint, breath, yoga – whatever works for you.

Share the mental load

This isn’t really optional but can be extremely difficult.

Mental load is the idea that as mothers, we have everything for every family member going on in our heads. Not just the day to day household and parenting jobs, but we know who has homework for when, who has a doctors appointment, who needs what for a class trip, when they last saw the dentist, whose shoes are getting to small, who has what extracurricular class and what they need. Often this mental load includes partners as well as children. In my first marriage, there was an explosion because I had put the ironed shirt in the wrong drawer and he would have had to open a different draw to find it! Thinking more kindly, your partner just might not realise exactly what you have to juggle; so talk about it. It’s about your partner learning that they are equally responsible for the family mental load and are not there to ‘help you’ – they are there to share it all with you.

If you have no idea what I am talking about then have a read of this amazing comic that explains it all!

Manage your expectations

Realise that most of what you see on social media or in photographs or at church are just the good bits among all the same shit that you have to deal with on a daily basis. We really are all in the same boat! Be realistic about what family life is, one big messy, hopefully love filled, mess.

Manage your frustrations

I have mentioned that being a mum can often be frustrating because it isn’t the picture of the life you imagined, and it is hard once you are a mum to achieve the things that you hoped to achieve. If you are struggling with this, have a read of my posts How to build a life you do not want to escape from and Change your thoughts to change your life.

Bad days

Expect and accept that there will be bad days, emotional days, tough times, difficult stages. Everyone in a family is just a human with all the ups and downs that humans go through. Accept that a bad day or two or three doesn’t make you a bad mum. Again, you are human not superhuman. You children have shocking days and you still love them unconditionally, so your bad days won’t make them love you any less. Yes, you are an adult, and may have slightly more control over your emotions and reactions, but in reality, this often isn’t the case and being an adult doesn’t make you superhuman either.

There will be hard times but it’s ok – you will be ok.

How to thrive as a sober mum

Consciously nurture yourself

I cannot say this enough. Find something that fulfils you and brings you joy and do it every day. I love reading, I love yoga, I love meditating, I love watching a crime series episode at the end of the night, I love having a bath, I love writing this blog. Make sure, without fail, you put your small bit of time aside every day. It helps to nurture your soul and remind you who you are.  It gives you an non-alcohol related break in the circle of parenting life.

Find the activities you love

Don’t do things just because you feel like you should. I used to hate going to the play park, so don’t force yourself to go. Your children and you will both be aware that you’re not enjoying it.

Find the activities that you do enjoy and that you can enjoy together. We love cycling – this can be a big day out in clumber park with a picnic, or just a short cycle in the park. Equally, I realised that although I hate the play park in the day, I love it in the evening! Sunsets in summer, getting dark and the lights coming on in the winter. I love reading to my children. I used to see this as a school related chore, but we have put school stuff aside and I read what we’ve chosen together.

Try lots of different things but remember to assess your feelings as you go because then you know how you are genuinely feeling.

Exercise

I have talked about exercise a lot, and I also talk about it in my free 7 days to feel better about yourself course which you can sign up for below. It is too big a topic to broach here, and I will write a proper post about it soon.

But exercise, along with other health benefits, gives you some space, increases your confidence, improves your mood, increases your ability to cope, boosts your happy hormones and generally makes you feel amazing!

Don’t be put off. There will be an exercise that you love, you just have a try a few out to find it. Also, the first two weeks are usually a bit ugh, but your fitness and stamina will improve quickly and it will all become easier – I promise!!

Time

We can be so overwhelmed with parenting that we sometimes miss the whole point of it! Your children need your time and attention, but they don’t need it all the time. They want their own time to do their own thing too. So compromise. Give them your full attention at some point during each day, it doesn’t have to be for long, but they definitely know whether they have your attention for not. By doing this, your children are happy that they have had concentrated mummy time, and you don’t feel guilty about taking the time for yourself or for whatever else you need to do.

Practice gratitude

This is such a important topic that my next post will be all about gratitude. But gratitude is a practice. Sometimes it come naturally, but there are days when we can feel that we have nothing to be grateful for or if we say we are its not sincere. By looking every day to find even one thing to be grateful for, we build up a bank to things that we are grateful for, which we can drawn on on those crappy days. The more we feel grateful, the more there is to be grateful for. Gratitude is exponential.

Why it is so much better being a sober mum

To conclude, being a sober mum is a real and frightening experience. All those emotions and experiences to deal with! No hiding behind anything. But facing these experiences sober will give you so much strength and self-respect. These things are self-perpetuating and the more you face, the more you realise you can manage, the better and more secure you will feel.

For you and your children, you will share love, closeness and time. Your time together will be more enjoyable and more memorable.

Ultimately, as a sober mum, I am a happier mum.

Why mums DO NOT need to drink

Welcome to part 3 of my four-part mums and booze post.

Looking around supermarkets, online or in bookshops it is only too easy to see that the overarching theme is that mums need to drink. I am not criticising this as such, I have written in the first part of this post series, Why do mums drink?, about the stresses and strains that can come with being a mum, I completely get the need to feel like your doing OK. I was the first one to say that I needed a drink to cope with life and being a mum. The problem is that alcohol was a totally destructive force in my life, and destructive to my health, my mental health and my ability to cope with life and being a mum. It did the exact opposite of what I needed it to do.

I am absolutely not challenging or criticising mums here, I am just trying to reach out to those mums who feel like they are alone in their struggle with motherhood and alcohol and say, ‘Hey, you are strong enough to manage everything in your life and I want to show you how!’.  In next weeks post I will go through how you can not only survive but thrive as a sober mum!

But for this week, I want to look at why mums DO NOT need a drink.

No hangovers!

I am not sure that this need any further explanation. Who would not like to never have a hangover again?!

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Better physical health

Not to mention reducing the risk of a whole host of health problems as you get older, not drinking will make you feel so much better immediately. No hangovers, no dehydration and not full of toxins – let’s face it these make you feel pretty dreadful! You will sleep better and have more energy – who doesn’t need more of these things as a mum!

More energy means you are more likely to exercise.

So, let’s look at the health benefits of better sleep and more exercise. Both are shown individually to

  • Improve mood
  • Improve memory
  • Increase energy
  • Aid weight loss
  • Reduce the risk of ill health and chronic disease
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve the health of your brain, heart, bones, muscles and skin

Imagine what they do together! It’s a kind of self-perpetuating good cycle. It is basically the opposite of what alcohol does to us!

Better mental health

As you can see, a better physical state will lead to improved mental health. Definitely something that would help a lot of mums.

Depression rates are high among mums, for many reasons (see Why do mums drink?) and anxiety is rife. Modern life is almost designed to make mums feel like they cannot cope. These feelings affect our sense of self worth and our confidence in a negative spiral.

I know I suffered badly from depression, post and antenatal depression and anxiety. Then I added to it the shame, guilt and remorse I felt about my drinking.

So much time was spent in my head battling with these feelings. Most often, the overwhelming empty blackhole feeling would hit me around 4/5pm and I would drink to hide from it because it was so awful. I used to talk to My Love and say, maybe I just have to accept that my body and mind are designed to feel this way. But now, I absolutely know that it is no coincidence that since I quit drinking, I no longer have these feelings.

Obviously, I still get feelings and emotions. Obviously, I can still get a bit overwhelmed, but never in the same way and I never feel like I am being consumed and can’t handle it.

What I didn’t expect, and I’m sorry if I’ve said this a thousand times, is the complete disappearance of anxiety. I had anxiety to the point of not being able to leave the house. Before this happened to me, I didn’t even believe it could. It improved enough for me to start functioning normally again, but it was always present and was gradually increasing over the last few years before I quit drinking. My anxiety was one of the main reasons that I kept drinking, it allowed me to be free of it, however briefly. My anxiety did not disappear immediately after I stopped drinking, but at about the 6 months point, I realised that I wasn’t anxious anymore, I would almost say I was internally calm. No twisting stomach, no racing brain, no tight chest, no internal shaking and no anger. I was so stunned that I concentrated on noticing this lack of anxiety, in case it was some kind of accidental one off. But no, although I am not completely Zen (haha!) the anxiety is not there and I am the calmest I have ever been.

What would you give to be a mum who is not struggling daily with anxiety and low mood?

Feeling better

There is a feeling that I want you to imagine. Think about one of the occasions, even if it was a long time ago, when you felt genuinely good about yourself. Your body felt right, what you were wearing felt good, you seemed to glide easily through whatever occasion it was, people seemed drawn to you. Deep down things felt right.

Even if you it is not recent, I’m sure everyone has a memory like this, even if it was just one time! Wouldn’t it be lovely to feel like this more often, maybe even all the time?

When I stopped drinking for the final time, I gradually started to feel like this more often. I had more energy, better sleep (even if not more sleep!), I was exercising more, I lost 8kg in 9 months, I actually felt comfortable in my own body for the first time as an adult. I liked the way I looked; I no longer hid from photos. I started to actually know myself and what I was like. For the first time, I didn’t mind that person, and as my sobriety has continued, I actually quite liked her. This feeling, the feeling right in yourself, really started to manifest at about a year sober and the confidence that comes from knowing and respecting your own value is phenomenal.

Better social life

People worry so much about their social life once they stop drinking. It is naturally a very daunting prospect because everything in our society is geared up to join socialising with alcohol. Being the one who is different, the one standing out, is terrifying! Even more so if your confidence and sense of self-worth is shot.

Now, as I have mentioned before, I am something of a social introvert. I can pull it off when I have to, but there are times when I am just not comfortable.

My answer is simple: if you really don’t want to be a part of some social occasion, don’t be! I’m not saying reject it out of hand, I’m not saying don’t do it just because you’re afraid, what I am saying is assess why you feel the way you do, question yourself, and if you are still uncomfortable, go with your gut feeling and stay away!

There is a very real chance, and people get worried about this, that you may lose some friends along your path to being a sober mum. Some people won’t understand, some people will feel challenged, some people will have their own battles to deal with. Whatever the case, please know, that the friends you have left, will be the ones that have your best interests at heart – and those are the people you need to be around! I promise you, that the friends you make on your sober journey, will not be the ones who want to bring you down – because your increasing self-worth won’t let that happen anymore.

Better relationships

Not only your friendships, but most importantly your closer relationships will improve. Not being in your own head all the time gives you so much more head space to focus on those you love, and it makes a HUGE difference.

My relationships with My Love, my boys, my mother, my sister and my nieces and nephews feel so much more supportive and connected. My Love has been through the most awful 6 months due to the loss of close family members to cancer. It terrifies me to think of the lack of support he would probably have received had I still been drinking.

If you are not in a romantic relationships at the minute but would like to be, I can almost guarantee that your increasing sense of confidence and self-worth, not to mention the fact that you like and respect yourself more, will not allow you to slip back into any negative patterns of relationships. I cannot guarantee you the best relationships, relationships are funny things that work and don’t work for all sorts of reasons, but I can guarantee that your sober self will be less likely to head into a bad relationship or self-sabotage a good one.

Better mum

I mean this is the crucial bit isn’t it? Who doesn’t want to be the best mum they can be? Although I’ve always been a good and committed mum and I’ve always loved my boys more than anything, I have never been a happy mum. It always felt like something I had to do rather than something I wanted to do.

I remember so many bad days where I knew during that day that I was actually creating that bad day. Children being their usual naughty boisterous selves but me not having the capacity to deal with it – usually due to a niggling hangover and bad sleep (I am still a monster with no sleep!).  Those days ended with me annoyed, frustrated and unhappy and the boys disgruntled. Then cue the mum guilt and beating myself up about it, because I knew that on a different day in a different set of circumstances those days would have been absolutely fine.

Alcohol, no sleep, no energy and hangovers all deplete our capacity to cope with anything, let alone the demands of our offspring!

Being sober has given me a much longer fuse. The lack of anxiety has given me the ability to see the funny side of a lot of situations. It has all ultimately made me a much happier mother who really wants to be with her children. In turn has made my children happier and more secure.

More real fun

I have always been driven, and true to form, I always made sure we did lots of ‘fun’ things. By this stage, my drinking was not really what I could pretend was ’fun’ anymore. Trying desperately to reach fun yes, but real fun, no. The made ‘fun’ with a grim, controlled determination and although the boys and My Love did actually have fun, if I did it was by the exception rather than the rule.  

In becoming sober I have become less anxious and more go with the flow. My family will probably howl with laughter reading this, but that only go to prove how bad I was!

Just to prove what I was like, even though I love the sea, I hardly ever went with my children and on one memorable occasion I had a complete melt down and left 10 minutes after traipsing everything to the beach. Why? Because I couldn’t cope with sandy children.

Another time, I was on holiday in a stunning location on the Pembrokeshire coast, I couldn’t cope with cleaning the caravan and the mess of 5 people in the gazebo, so I packed up a week into out two week holiday and drove our caravan the 8 hours back home. I then sold our hardly used caravan.

Even sober, the fear of the old me rearing her head again almost put me off going to the Greenman Festival because of having to deal with rain-soaked children. I am so eternally grateful that this didn’t put me off, and yes it rained! See more on this in my post Greenman Festival – Sober!

I’ll talk more about finding the sober activities that you love in the next post.

Don’t get me wrong, at times stuff can still accumulate and go wrong, See Furious Sober Yoga Mummy for an example of this, but thankfully these situation are now the exception.

Time

I have talked about time in my previous post, What’s wrong with the mummy wine culture? and I will talk about it lots more in my next post, but having the extra time, created by being sober, open up so much opportunity.

Happier

Maybe not immediately, but I promise you, over time, as you get used to your sobriety, you will be genuinely far happier than you have ever been, not only as a mum but in your own life.