Sobriety and Motherhood: Finding Balance

Balancing motherhood and sobriety is like pulling double-duty. As women we’re told we should prioritize our children above all else-- even our own well-being-- which is contradictory to the lessons of addiction recovery and sobriety. Finding balance between prioritizing your continued health and well-being and the duties of motherhood is a huge challenge for many women in recovery. We want to be present and active in our children’s lives in ways we may not have been able to be before. We try to make up for lost time and may continue to harbor guilt for the ways our active substance use has affected our children. But it’s important to remember even as we strive to provide the best we can for our children, part of that is also taking care of ourselves.

Challenges in Sober Motherhood

A mother’s job is never done. Between keeping your children fed, making sure they bathe, helping with homework and school projects, treating minor bumps and bruises, and keeping up with their schedule of extracurricular activities, finding a moment just to breathe feels like an impossible task some days. That’s not even to mention maintaining the home itself, making sure bills are paid and the fridge is filled with nutritious foods and their favorite snakes. 

There’s a reason motherhood is viewed as one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs a person can have. That level of stress is a lot for anyone to manage, but for those in recovery burnout comes with the added risk of potential relapse. Other common triggers of relapse moms in recovery need to mindful of include:

  • Frustration and anger, feeling the need to just ‘take the edge off’
  • Guilt for not being perfect or for the damage caused by past actions
  • Anxiety around personal or external expectations, the future, and obligations
  • Grief for a life and future you once imagined for yourself
  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy and post-birth

Finding Balance Between Sobriety and Motherhood

It may seem counterintuitive, but taking care of yourself and prioritizing your own well-being is integral to being the best parent you can be. As the saying goes, you cannot pour from an empty cup, and this is especially true for sober moms. Pushing yourself beyond your limits and overextending yourself to try and fill the many roles of motherhood can quickly lead to dangerous situations. Our Discovery Point Retreat alumni, Joy, details her experiences relapsing while juggling motherhood responsibilities in the testimonial below:

So how do you find balance between motherhood and sobriety? What does that even look like? For many moms in recovery, it’s making time for self-care. While that term may bring to mind images of bubble baths and facials, self-care is more than just pampering yourself. Sometimes it looks like ignoring the mess in your living room in favor of decompressing with a good book or movie. Or perhaps it’s reawakening a passion for crafts, gardening, or martial arts. Self-care takes on any form you need. From basics like proper hygiene and nutrition to more challenging goals like mental health improvement, self-care is about nurturing yourself in the same way you care for your children and loved ones.

The most vital part of keeping your sobriety a priority is continuing your ongoing therapy and involvement in the recovery community. Detaching from your support system, missing therapy sessions, or otherwise neglecting your mental health and continued recovery can be early signs of potential danger. If you are feeling off balance or at risk for relapse, please don’t be afraid to . Here at Niznik Behavioral Health you’ll always find an open ear and help if you need it.

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