In January, many people like to take stock after the excesses of Christmas, and turn over a new leaf. Dry January is all about spending the month without any alcohol at all, in the aim of being healthier, abstemious and smug.
For us, Dry January is about finally, finally having successfully potty trained YoungestGirl (including night time, no less), and I will be heartily celebrating her dry-ness with a shit ton of alcohol.
I jest. Sort of. Before I had children, I was genuinely teetotal. A few things led to my decision not to drink. (Don’t worry – none of the reasons was rampant alcoholism.) I was working in a job that had a lot of semi-compulsory team nights out, with a corporate card behind the bar, I was drinking a lot during the working week. As an introvert, whose guard was down after a couple of drinks, I found myself getting anxious that I would do something or say something inappropriate. To be fair, this wasn’t just anxiety as this isn’t an unreasonable concern for me, even when I’m sober.
In a work situation, it was easier to say I didn’t drink than it was to try and convince people that I only wanted one. Also, I was moonlighting in stand-up comedy at the time. I had seen many fellow comics “need” to have a drink before they went on stage – and I didn’t want to wrap myself up in the mythology of “I only have a good gig when I’ve had (insert appropriate number) drinks”.
So I didn’t drink. For about three or four years. And I really didn’t miss it. I wasn’t a dick about it – if I was at a wedding, I would toast the happy couple with Champagne. I wouldn’t refuse cooking with alcohol in it. If the situation absolutely called for it, I would partake, very moderately. But I totally didn’t miss it. I didn’t miss the hangovers, the feeling the next morning like you probably said something very stupid, the not being able to drive afterwards. I didn’t miss it at all.
And then I had children.
Now, it would be unkind and unfair to say they drove me to alcohol, but Jesus. After a day of potty training, tantrums … and (as of last night) one of them threatening to run away from home*, sometimes all you really need is a massive bastarding mug of vodka.
I used to look forward to when the children were in bed, so I could pour myself a glass of wine, or a Long Island Iced Tea (yes it has five spirits in it. Don’t judge me.). But interestingly, once they were in bed, I almost immediately felt a lot more relaxed and could quite happily skip the drink.
So my advice is, instead of waiting to start drinking until the children are in bed, start an hour or so before that. They’re always at their most dickish for those two hours between dinner and bedtime, so take the edge off with a nice stiff drink, and make it work for the whole family. You’re happy, they’re happy, and once they’re in bed, you can ease off the booze and feel virtuous.
Dry-ish January. Win-win.
* Because I had asked her to do her piano practice.