So many of us sign up to dry January. The excesses of Christmas leave us with snug-fitting clothes, feeling bloated and tired from over-indulgence and lack of sleep.   Dry January goes hand in hand with healthy eating and new gym resolutions.

Personally, I have been watching my relationship with alcohol over the years. Around 18 months ago, I decided to go alcohol free. I am not a huge drinker – I rarely get drunk and I know when to stop.

But I have a wine habit that isn’t healthy.   For me the point at which I start cooking the girls’ supper is best accompanied with a glass of wine.   Only one or 2, but I don’t watch the measures and it soon adds up.

I know I’m not alone.   So many of us turn to alcohol as a crutch to help manage the parenting minefield.  When it all gets too much, a glass of wine or a beer can signify a shut off from the relentless noise and demands that we referee the latest row or give in to the pestering for sweets, games or an ipad. It’s a sign of adult-time; the end of the day and our need to switch off or to ease ourselves through the remaining hours before bedtime.

It’s an accepted and celebrated part of parenting. Our FB feeds are full of it.   Everytime we share our frustrations of long days and difficult kids, sympathy often comes in comments full of suggestions of a glass of something cold or a G & T and we are flooded with memes about it being time for “mummy-juice”.

And yet, so much of what we believe about alcohol is a lie. Leaving aside the wasted calories, the inability to drive after one or 2, or the fact that half the time it sends us to sleep – let’s face it: no one liked the taste when they first drank. We had to learn (through peer pressure) to do it.   Alcohol doesn’t relax us – at least not after the first glass. It dulls our senses and keeps us trapped.

And alcohol is a false friend. It robs us of our time as our attention blurs and perhaps we fall asleep earlier on the sofa. Restless, dehydrated nights leave us tired and cranky, craving carbs, depressed and anxious – none of which is conducive to a positive parenting experience…   Our kids suffer along with us.

I managed 6 months at the time (and only went back to it after my father passed away). It was awesome.   I lost weight, slept well and obtained that sober glow that often returns when we give up dehydrating our bodies on a regular basis.   But one of the biggest benefits I found when I was alcohol-free was the clear-headedness and ability to really be present with my girls. Rather than cooking with wine, I cooked with them – allowing them to open up whilst chopping veg or stirring a sauce. I used my extra time gained from not falling asleep on the sofa to get down on the floor and play cards and board games.

So although I’m starting late into the month, I’m now re-starting my alcohol free journey (hopefully for at least 3 months) and I’m excited to share that I’ve created a special download (“Alcohol-Free Parenting”) to support any of you that have decided to do Dry January, or otherwise take a break from alcohol – whether for a couple of weeks or for longer. And it’s free for the month of Jan. We’ve had a couple of technical hitches but it should be up in the next day or so… do sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out when it’s out…

And here’s to a happy, healthy 2019 – with or without a glass of something cold…