Being a working mother is hard, and no one can tell me any different. I was never meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I wasn’t happy doing that. I love my family, and I love my job, but I know the one thing that has to come before both of those things is my sobriety.
Sobriety First? What About My Kids?
When I first heard sobriety came first, I thought it was selfish. Why would I want to do that? My kids are a part of me, and I did not know how to understand this. Well, three years ago my daughter was 2, and I started working full-time helping others find recovery, and I finally realized what “sobriety first” means.
There is only so much time in the day to be a mom, a worker, and myself. If I spend all my time being the best mom and worker that I can be, I will never have enough time to be me. If I forget about myself, then my roles as a mom and worker will suffer. If I don’t feel like there is enough time in the day to do my best at my job, my work will not be as good. There is a cycle that people can go through if they’re not careful: we give too much to others without giving anything to ourselves.
Moms fall into this cycle even without having a substance use past, but as a working mom in recovery from substance use, there is an extra worry that comes into my head: “What if this becomes too much for me, and I fall back into substance use?” To me personally this will always be a concern – not because I feel an urge to use substances – but because now I have so much to lose. The only thing that I have ever wanted was a family, and I have that. It also means that I can also lose it if I am not careful. Which brings me back to the point: I have put myself first in terms of my mental health and wellbeing (and sobriety) so that I can first be a good mom that does all the things I have to and want to do as a mother, and second so I can be a good employee. My peace comes from within, and that means taking time out of my day to do the things I need to do to maintain that peace.
Motherhood and Recovery: Finding the Balance
In the beginning of my recovery, I went to meetings every day. The first two years were hard because I did not have much of a routine. Once I learned to be more mindful about my days, and once I found a routine and stuck with it, balancing motherhood, work, and recovery became easier (not easy, but easier than if I did not have a routine).
Now five years into my recovery, I go to meetings twice a month. I also go to therapy, take nature walks, and am active in my community. I get outside of myself in order to be myself. For me, I can not be everything for everyone all the time, but I can be enough if I take that time to be there for myself. It is not selfish to take that time out of your day for yourself. It will never make me a bad mother or worker to breathe when the weight of the world feels too much. There is power in speaking your needs and a burden in keeping it to yourself.
I had to learn what it meant to have time management skills, and there are still times where I will fail, but that is the joy of life. I will learn as I go. No one has all the answers, but I lean on others who have been there, and I am not afraid to ask for help. My oldest child is starting school in August, which is going to be another adjustment, but I will learn as we go. I just breathe, regroup, and reorganize.
Advice for People New to Motherhood and Recovery
There’s no one-size-fits all solution to find balance in your life. You have to find what works for you. Overall, I encourage you not to dwell on the past – it does no one any good. Make small changes in your life to find balance and find your routine. Build a strong community around you so that you have a support structure when you need it most. Incorporate small mindfulness practices in your day so you are prepared to handle stress and triggers when they show up. For example, I meditate every morning to focus on the day ahead and help manage stress and negative emotions.
There is no denying that balancing motherhood and recovery can be challenging. But they are also rewarding in life-changing, amazing ways. Putting your sobriety first makes sure you have enough to give your kids, your work, your family, and yourself. You can do this!
Miranda Hobson is a peer recovery coach with Youturn Health and helps people who struggle with substance misuse and stress. To learn more about substance use disorder (SUD), please visit our Substance Misuse page.