I was a single mum when my daughter was 1 til 3.5 years old, in this time as a self-supporting single mum I was at my most fragile. I also lived on the party island of Ibiza where kids parties are often a piss up. It was during this time I noticed that when I had a drink, a couple of cocktails, the next day I had less patience and felt more distant from my daughter. I decided to play with being sober curious and went for months at a time without a drop of alcohol. I loved it.
This time I have been sober 2 years. My partner has now also stopped drinking and it is nowhere near as playful and silly, but we don’t have the arguments and insecurities that come when you are both drunk. Choosing to be sober has also had an incredible effect on my relationship with my daughter as I now have the patience to hold space and keep calm when she can not. I know lots of mums are sober curious so today I am interviewing Alyson of Sober Moms Tribe.
Hi Alyson, welcome to No Mum Is An Island. I am a great believer that no mum (or dad) should have to do everything herself, we can’t possibly know it all, and we need all the support we can get, there is a wealth of information out there to help us upgrade our parenting experience, to make our lives easier and this website is a hub for just that! We love that you have upgraded your life by getting sober and inspiring other mums to do the same.
Can you share with us a bit about why you decided to get sober and what the benefits have been for you?
In my case I didn’t GET sober I HAD to. The main reason I drank was to relieve my anxiety. What I didn’t know was that the alcohol was fuelling my anxiety every time I drank. And every time I drank I was building up a tolerance, so what once took one drink to feel a little relief from the anxiety,, turned into two, turned into three, and during the last of my drinking days it was all day long. Morning until night. I would fall asleep at 10 pm and wake up at 3 am with a racing heart and thoughts. In order to calm myself, I would drink wine to fall back to sleep. When I called my mother for help on November 14, 2016, I felt like I was going crazy because not even the alcohol was “curing” my anxiety. That’s when I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. My son needed me and I was slowly killing myself.
The benefits are endless but the top 3 for me would be: being able to appreciate true joy with my son, my anxiety has lessened so much that it’s almost non-existent, and no hangovers. What comes with no hangovers is not sleeping away your nausea or headache the whole next day and pretty much not feeling like death. Because alcohol is a poison. No wonder why we feel like absolute garbage the next day. There is seriously no benefit to drinking and when you shift your mindset to what alcohol is really doing to our mind and body, it just isn’t fun anymore.
Your Instagram bio says “Bringing together moms who are navigating sobriety in a “Mommy Wine Culture” why do you think the mummy wine culture is so big and you think it is damaging?
It’s all about the marketing. There are memes, shirts, mugs, and journals that portray the Mommy Wine Culture as hip or normal. I totally got sucked into that trap as well. It keeps mothers who think they may have a problem trapped. They see that drinking before noon or having a few glasses of wine every night is fine because others are doing it.
Before I got sober I was posting memes about having wine in my Yeti cup for soccer games, or loving shirts that said, “They Whine, I Wine”. We as moms think it’s normal to use alcohol to relax after a long day of kid’s activities or just because of motherhood. Yes, motherhood can be stressful at times. But alcohol isn’t making it any easier. Trust me. Having to take care of your kids with a nasty hangover isn’t fair to them. They deserve a present parent. Plus what kind of message are we sending our children that we need a mind-altering substance to deal with them? It’s like saying you’re too difficult and mommy just can’t handle you anymore. The best thing we can pass on to our children is how to cope in a healthy way, and that way isn’t alcohol.
When we talk about sobriety people think about alcoholism, AA and other more extreme requirements for sobriety. Do you think these stigmas put off the casual drinker from wanting to choose sobriety?
Yes I do. Some people don’t want to have a label like alcoholic put on them. And quite frankly some people who want to get sober aren’t struggling with addiction. They aren’t physically and mentally dependant on the substance. There is a spectrum of sobriety and I think it’s pretty amazing that we’re in a time where it’s getting easier to say alcohol isn’t serving me without labeling yourself as an alcoholic or going to AA. But in our society, there are still many who think that if someone is sober that automatically means they have a problem with alcohol. No, it just means that some people would rather abstain from the substance to be healthier. After all, alcohol is a poison, and that’s something the alcohol industry doesn’t want us to know.
I will say we are in the midst of a sober-curious movement so it is becoming less stigmatized to not want to drink. There are also so many more avenues to get help or to cut back. Sobriety challenges, sober coaches, people documenting their journey on blogs, Instagram, and Facebook, and sober events. The younger generations are drinking less as well, so I see a lot of hope for the future. Saying “I don’t want to drink” will come with less shame and more empowerment!
What advice can you give to mums and dads who feel they need help to kick the drinking habit?
My best advice would be to reach out for help either by telling a therapist or doctor, messaging someone through Facebook or Instagram, going to an AA meeting, reach out to a sober/recovery coach, or telling a friend or significant other that you’re having difficulty.
I would also suggest seeking out people who are sober or sober-curious as well. Following sober individuals on Instagram and blogs about sobriety are such good resources for those questioning their relationship with alcohol. Sober Mom Tribe also has a private Facebook group for those mothers who want to build connections with others going through a similar journey. And there are plenty of other private sober groups on Facebook as well. Type in sober or alcohol free and you’d be surprised how much support is out there.
What kind of boundaries can we set ourselves to support our sobriety?
In the beginning months of sobriety and even beyond it has to be all about YOU. Some may say that’s selfish, but it’s totally the opposite. Many people who struggle with addiction are people-pleasers and have a hard time setting boundaries. Being able to say no to things you don’t want to do or people you don’t want to be around is key in staying sober. Certain social situations can be triggering and that is the last thing you want to deal with in the beginning when your mental muscle to not drink is not strong enough yet. Don’t put yourself in a situation where it may compromise your sobriety because at the end of the day it’s not worth it.
How do you think out relationships with our partners and our children when we stop drinking?
I think it depends. Not everyone is the same. While some relationships may improve others may take a turn for the worse. The ones that take a downward spiral are usually the ones where the significant other doesn’t want to give up alcohol or they themselves are struggling with addiction. You may start realizing that the only bonding tool you had was alcohol, and see that your partner isn’t the one you want to be with anymore. But in most cases, the significant other is supportive and may not stop drinking entirely but they will cut back and only drink in a social setting and not in the house.
With your children, it can go either way as well, but I can confidently say for MOST parents their relationship with their kids changes for the good. You are more present and able to appreciate the little things so much more. Those little moments are actually the big moments in life. At a certain age (I would say 5 or 6) our kids pick up on things. They start to understand why mommy is sick the next morning, and they recognize that sober mom and drunk mom aren’t the same. They also pick up on the way we use alcohol to cope with life. Conditioning them that when we’re stressed, angry, upset, or even happy we drink to numb our emotions.
Is there anything else you would like to share with any parents who are sober curious?
I would say to try out a sober challenge for 30, 60, 90 days and see how you feel. If you feel that alcohol is negatively affecting your life in any way then that’s reason enough alone to take a break or stop completely. Questioning your relationship with alcohol isn’t easy, and if you find that you have a problem it is OK. There is nothing wrong with you because you got addicted to an addictive substance. But you can change that habit and get out of that cycle. Do it for those little eyes that are watching you.
You can find more support from Alyson at www.sobermomcoach.com and www.sobermomtribe.com
You can also follow her www.instagram.com/sobermomcoach www.instagram.com/sobermomtribe www.instagram.com/alys_wickedsober
For great books for the Sober Curious see below: