Sometimes you need a glass of Chardonnay to take the edge off at the end of a long day. However, as a parent, when’s the last time you had a moment for yourself? Finding time to enjoy a cocktail or beer can be difficult when you have kids around. You also risk your children getting their hands on a bottle they’re not supposed to have. This guide outlines six ways you can safely imbibe as a parent.
1. Wait Until Their Bedtime
The best way to drink safely is to indulge when the kids aren’t around. Wait until they go to bed before you pour a glass. Depending on your child’s age, they need adequate sleep. Elementary and middle school-age kids need between nine and 12 hours nightly, while preschoolers need around 10 hours plus their naps.
If the kids can’t see you drink it, they’re less likely to ask questions. You know what they say — out of sight means out of mind. Waiting until nighttime to drink may be a good idea anyway because alcohol is a sedative that helps you sleep. However, it can disrupt your sleep cycle and lead to grogginess the next day. You should also consider your kids needing something at night, like protection from the bedtime monsters.
2. Lock It Up
Kids are naturally curious creatures. You can’t have your eyes on them for all of the 1,440 daily minutes. They’ll likely walk around the house, stumble upon a wine or whiskey bottle and inquire what’s inside. Your children might not know what alcohol is. They see a bottle with liquid and think it’s their favorite apple juice.
The best solution may be to lock it up. Some people keep their alcohol in the refrigerator, making it vulnerable because tiny children have better climbing abilities than you think. If you’re a collector, get a wine or spirit cabinet and install child-proof locks. These devices make accessing the cabinet difficult for even the most intelligent kids.
3. Educate Early
Your kids are going to find out about alcohol someday. They’ll see it on TV, hear about it from their friends or see you drink it in the kitchen. If your children ask, educate them about alcohol. Providing proper education now can be an effective tool for ensuring they have a healthy relationship with alcohol in the future.
Teach them about what alcohol is without letting them consume any. Alcohol can negatively harm brain development of children and affect their academic performance. Also, it’s illegal in many states for parents to provide alcohol for their children if they’re minors. Keep that in mind, especially if you have guests over.
4. Talk With Your Friends
It’s OK to let loose once in a while with your friends. You may plan a summer barbecue and invite your friends and loved ones. These parties are a cause for celebration and likely include alcoholic beverages. If the party is your first time hosting, talk with your friends about having alcohol at the party. Set firm boundaries about not letting the kids have alcohol of any kind. It’s improper, illegal and can lead to health emergencies.
There’s a good chance you’re friends with the parents of your kids’ friends. These bonds are essential for everybody involved as your children age and develop those relationships. Communication among the parents is crucial to ensure everyone is on the same page. Talk to them about alcohol consumption and ensure they’re as safe as you. Your kids are a product of their environment, so ensure they have honorable mentors around them.
5. Set a Good Example
It’s worth repeating that children are products of their environment. They watch what you do and will likely mimic those behaviors as they grow up. What habits did you subconsciously adopt from your parents? We’re more like our parents than we care to admit, so ensure your behavior is worth repeating.
Set a good example by being extremely safe with your drinking. For example, if you drink around your kids, only have one glass of wine at dinner. Call a trusted friend, neighbor or rideshare service to pick you and the kids up if you feel even slightly disorientated. Your kids will remember your choices in these situations, so demonstrate responsibility and be safe.
6. Be Mindful
The last tip is to be mindful when you drink, whether the kids are around or away for the night. Only having one glass of wine at dinner is one way to be cautious. You should also eat before you drink. Food in your stomach slows your body’s absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. A lack of food will make you inebriated much faster, and you need to be ready for emergencies. Drinking water in between glasses will also mitigate alcohol’s effects.
Accidents happen. Imagine your child is at a sleepover, and their friend becomes ill suddenly. Now, you need to hop in the car to pick them up. If you drink mindfully, you’ll be better prepared to act. You never know when an emergency is going to pop up.
Imbibing Safely in 2023
Long work days, soccer practice and PTA meetings call for a relaxing evening to unwind afterward. What sounds better than drawing a bath with a glass of wine? It’s OK for parents to indulge in alcohol once in a while. Employ these six tips for keeping yourself and your children safe with alcoholic beverages in the house.