I’m Cutting Down on Drinking for the Sake of My Kids

Spain, Barcelona, Placa Real, couple drinking wine at outdoor cafe

When you tell people that you’re trying to cut down on your alcohol intake, you usually get one of two reactions. They either think this is a painfully silly decision, one which will render you a boring old person. Or there is an uncomfortable silence where they naturally assume you have a drinking problem, otherwise, why be concerned? I am neither boring nor do I have a drinking problem, but I still consider the idea of cutting down on alcohol this year, especially as a mom, a rather important and lofty goal.

Like a lot of adults, I regularly enjoy alcoholic beverages several times a week; usually at least four nights a week I’ll have a couple of glasses of wine or a beer. Every few months I may even get wild and crazy and make myself a margarita or a vodka tonic. But for the most part, I stick with wine and I enjoy a glass while I’m preparing dinner and will often have a refill during dinner. It’s one of my favorite ways to wind down after a day of writing and working with the kids. I think it also happens to complement my food quite nicely. So why rock the boat if there isn’t a problem?

For starters, while I may love my almost nightly glass of wine, as I get older it doesn’t appear that my glass(es) of wine love me back. One slow glass over the course of an hour settles in quite nicely. But if I consume two glasses of wine over the course of the evening, the next day I wake up with an unsettled stomach and walk around in a groggy haze all morning. While I may be the one declaring to lower my tolerance, I think the aging process is naturally doing it for me. It seems I just can’t handle my alcohol like I used to. While waking up with a mild hangover used to leave me no worse for wear in my twenties, now in my late thirties and as a mother of three kids who depend on me, I really need to be at my best. And when I drink more than one glass of wine or a bottle of beer, I’m not.

One advantage of becoming a lightweight as I get older is that I seem to be saving myself quite a bit of cash. Like with most things, our tastes age as we get older. While a $6.99 bottle of wine used to fit the bill just fine when I was younger, we now opt for $15 ones. If we drink close to a bottle of wine 4 to 5 nights a week, we’re looking at a $60 to $75 weekly habit. Add it up and I can save myself a lot of money in 2015 that I can use towards a plethora of other things.

The older we get, us women tend to care less and less about having the perfect body, but I’m sure there are still plenty of us who watch what we eat and drink since our bodies don’t whip back into shape as quickly as they used to. We usually need to be a little more mindful so that we can maintain a certain physique, whether it’s for vanity or because we’re cheap and don’t want to have to buy new jeans every other year. So by cutting down on my alcohol consumption, I’m saving myself money and calories. The average alcoholic spirit has anywhere from 100 to 200 calories, not including any sugar-heavy mixes. Sticking with iced tea or water at dinner allows me to then be flexible in other areas. While calorie consumption isn’t something I think about on a daily basis, it is an interesting concept to think about switching from drinking my calories as I tend to do now, to eating them in the form of a yummy dessert or a few extra bites of cheese.

Lastly, and on a more serious note, I can’t help but think that decreasing the frequency in which I have a glass of wine or a drink to wind down may possibly have a good influence on my kids. My oldest two will be 8 and 10 years old in just a few short months, and they are already taking notice and asking questions when they see us drinking. They have shown curiosity by asking what it tastes like, smelling the cork from a wine bottle, and flat out asking us why we drink. Of course this is a natural part of growing up and by drinking responsibly and being open with them, we open ourselves up for many real-life teachable moments. I get all that. But I also grew up in an alcoholic home where my dad drank heavily until he became sober when I was about 10 years old. I was young enough to salvage some of my childhood and repair my relationship with my father, however my older brothers and sister were impacted for years to come. Because of my history, I acknowledge that I’m naturally more sensitive to the subject of alcohol and kids and how my kids view it as a part of our lives. I guess I just want them to see us enjoying a drink every now and then so they view it as a “normal” way for adults to enjoy themselves responsibly, instead of seeing it as something grown-ups need every night to chill out and de-stress. Of course I could be all wrong where this is concerned, but it’s just how my gut feels right now, and more often than not my gut hasn’t steered me wrong.

I’m happy to report that my dad will be sober for 29 years this February, and we have grown by leaps and bounds as a family. I’ve now come to appreciate my experiences as a child, as they are what made me the type of parent I am today. We all hope deep down inside we’re not screwing up this whole parenting thing, and at the end of the day, we’re all just trying to do the best we can. So because having a few less drinks each week can benefit me physically and financially and may possibly have a positive impact on my kids, it’s definitely something I’m going to strive for. Oh, and my husband is pretty happy about my decision because I’ve become quite a cheap date.

Image courtesy of Thinkstock

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