The older a person gets, the more difficult the body finds it to recover from alcohol. As the years roll by it becomes harder and harder to enjoy an all night bender and then drag yourself to work the next day with the help of a few painkillers, coffee and a bacon sandwich. But when your job happens to be taking care of children, struggling on with a hangover becomes more than just a challenge – it is pure torture.
Having recently been lucky enough to celebrate my latest birthday with an epic bender not seen since my early 20s, I then woke up to the reality of having to parent a small child whilst my body was in shutdown. As I shuddered and groaned my way through the next 24 hours, regretting every sip of booze that had ever passed my lips, I began to feel that attempting to care for my child with a hangover was possibly more agonising than actually giving birth to them in the first place.
The most useful piece of advice for treating this form of self-harm is, ‘Just don’t do it to yourself.’ But should you find yourself in charge of demanding, screeching, perky little people whilst suffering delirium tremens, here are some basic steps to get you through the darkest hours.
Don’t trip up at the first hurdle
By this I mean don’t literally trip over something whilst staggering into bed at 4am, causing a loud racket that wakes your sleeping child and results in you attempting to drunk parent at 5.30am.
When your little bundle of joy does awake, eager for you to join them in the land of the living, you may find yourself lying facedown with a throbbing head whilst they jump up and down on you, slapping your cheeks and singing loudly in your ears. Some kind of head protection, albeit a pillow, may help to soften the blow here, but probably not for long.
Agree to everything
Your body is already undergoing an inner battle with itself, there is no point putting up a fight against your child as well. Whatever they ask for – cake for breakfast, the pyjamas off your back, money – just say yes. Anything to be left in bed for a few more minutes.
Remember your responsibilities
As focused as you may be on taking care of yourself, do try to bear in mind that you are supposed to be nurturing your dependants as well. When they take a piece of bacon from your plate, fight off the urge to snatch it back from them and stuff it in your mouth before they have a chance to try it again.
Throw the rule book out of the window
You are already out of the running for Parent Of The Year in the state you’re in, so there’s no point trying to keep up the pretence. Forget limiting screen time, feeding them healthy food and giving them your undivided attention. Hand them a large bowl of junk food, stick the TV on and take advantage of being able to slump beside them on the sofa with your sunglasses on for as long as you possibly can.
Bribe your babysitter
It’s all very well having someone in the house to watch over your children while they are asleep, but it is the day after the night before when you really need help with the childcare. Plan ahead and arrange a babysitter who will take them off your hands while you sleep it off and suffer in peace.