Society places the weight of the world on mothers’ shoulders. They’re pushed by the expectation that they always keep it together. They are expected to nurture, work, stay centered, exercise, prepare nutritional meals, and more. Perfection is hardly optional for mothers. This creates a stigma against any mom who isn’t Superwoman.
It’s especially prevalent, though, for moms living in recovery from substance use disorders. These moms are painted as selfish or negligent any time their attention isn’t fully on their children. Still, these women must allow time to focus on mental health maintenance, lest they relapse into substance abuse. If you’re a mom in recovery, this article will offer guidance on balancing motherhood and recovery.
Practice Self-Compassion and Forgiveness
In the midst of addiction, people frequently make choices they regret later. This can include active decisions like spending all their money on substances, or passive decisions like not preparing food regularly. Choices extend past the individual though. Addiction is a family disease. A mother’s substance use disorder symptoms profoundly impact their children. In recovery, a mother may feel shame, guilt, and regret any time they interact with their children. Avoidance will only worsen the situation.
If you’re tempted to push away your children, you need to build up your self-compassion. Substance use disorder is a chronic condition just like any other. You didn’t choose this affliction. You face a set of challenges created by your genetics and brain chemistry. You did, however, choose recovery. Every single day, you fight your predisposition toward substance use. You do the work necessary to maintain sobriety. You show up physically and mentally in your life.
By forgiving yourself for actions that harmed your children, you allow yourself to be a better parent. Your mistakes don’t shackle you. You can now build new, positive memories with your kids. They deserve your love and attention.
Attend Your Mental Health Appointments
As a caretaker, there’s a natural urge to put the care receiver before everything else. Society reinforces this, lifting the self-sacrificing image as the pinnacle of good parenting. It’s contrary to the truth though. The cliche metaphor is right; you can’t pour from an empty cup. You’re less equipped to parent your children when you ignore self-care.
For moms with substance use disorders, self-care includes mental health appointments. You should prioritize your individual and group therapies. If you attend a 12-step program or another support group, your meetings will provide consistency. Your therapist can guide you through strong emotions when cravings get more intense. Additionally, your mental health appointments will help you manage the stress of parenting. Given that stress is a major trigger for relapse, you need these pillars of support in place.
Involve Your Children in Recovery Activities
Recovery and motherhood don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Mothers shouldn’t make children responsible for their sobriety, but they don’t need to hide their illness either. They can discuss addiction in a way that is appropriate to their child’s age level. After this, families can practice holistic activities together. Moms can explain the benefits of each activity. The children can share in moments of peace and joy. Together they can destigmatize mental illnesses and build a foundation of trust.
If holistic therapies boost your recovery, consider involving your children in them. Teach them to meditate with you. Draw pictures together, encouraging your children to express their emotions through imagery and color. Attend Mommy and Me yoga classes. The numerous benefits will make this choice simple. Experiences provide endless opportunities to bond with your child. Holistic activities provide your children with coping skills. Plus, you won’t neglect your mental health.
Respond Proactively to Relapse Triggers
Moms in recovery need to remember that they aren’t powerless. A person new to recovery may still have communication with friends who use substances. They can proactively set boundaries by requesting that substances not be used or discussed around them. They can help plan sober “mom’s night out” evenings. When their child is invited to a birthday party, they can ask whether the parents will partake in any substances. If the answer is yes, they can decline the invitation and arrange for their child to see their friend another time.
As a mom in recovery, you aren’t stuck repeating old patterns. Your recovery actions may require people to adjust, but change isn’t bad. Adults who love you will be willing to support your needs. Your children may not always understand at the time, but they’ll likely be grateful when they get older that you prioritized your recovery. They’ll eventually realize that your sobriety made you a better parent.
Mothers in recovery face unique challenges. It can be difficult to balance recovery needs and parenting responsibilities. This article provides 4 ways to support both of these aspects of your life. To help you get to a place of recovery, you’ll need to attend a treatment program for substance use disorders. At Spero Recovery, we want to help you become the best version of yourself. Spero Recovery offers 30- to 90-day residential programs built on 12-step philosophy. Our women’s program enables you to receive support from other mothers, sisters, aunts, daughters, and friends. We offer experiential, holistic therapies that you can later practice with your kids. You’ll live, heal, and bond with other women who understand the pressures of being a woman in recovery. This support system will be useful when you’re reintegrating into your outside life. When you’re ready to make a change, call us at (303) 351-7888.