How To… Navigate Parenting While Hungover

I’ll never forget my bleary-eyed brother-in-law grabbing me by the shoulders at last orders, saying “Have another one, for me. I’m up with the kids in the morning. Enjoy your nights out while you still can.” Wise words. If only kids-free me had listened…  

Whether it’s after a massive wedding or binging on beer and boxsets of a Saturday night, few parents actually PLAN to be hungover. You’re just having the one! You’re off to see the mates for a few much-needed sociables and grownup chats, what could go wrong?! Well, that’s just it – flowing alcohol and unbridled adult conversation creates an intoxicating sense of abandonment. Forget tomorrow! It’ll be grand – right now, YOU’RE FRREEEEEEEEE!

It’s the next morning… Your child rouses you by either shrieking from the other room or hoisting your eyelids open with their fingernails. The universal initial thought is “Something is terribly wrong.” This remarkably astute feeling then morphs into one of two things A) “Ohholyjaysis I’m never drinking again” or B) “DOn’T fEEl toO BaD! I’VE TotALLy GoT thIS!” If it’s the latter, you’re still drunk.

Either way, the scenario will play out similarly; you crawling through the day by your teeth and SWEARING – as God is your witness – you will never be hungover again. Until next time… Because, dear people, being hungover is often a necessary evil as an often housebound new parent. We all need a break from reality sometimes, and drinking alcohol is often seen as the quickest conduit to that sense of elusive freedom. Moderation isn’t always heeded, though, unfortunately…

It was my first night out since the firstborn’s arrival. Three mums who don’t get out much and all the red wine later; what had been packaged as a “quiet meal with the sisters” became a lock-in at the local and a revisitation of said meal all over our bathroom at 4am. It looked like a particularly gruesome murder scene… but not nearly as horrifying as what followed.

Given Lara was about six months old, she’d been awake since 5am, and the husband was gunning to get back to bed. Therefore, I woke up to her being deposited on my face and drooling into my mouth. Not a good start. Husband now burrowed under the covers grumbling about the stench in the bathroom, I was cast adrift while holding my excitedly expectant bundle of odours. She’d just started on solids. And now she needed changing.

What unfolded became the stuff of nightmares. The nappy switcheroo went smoothly enough, but not without instilling the dry heaves. Unfortunately, this triggered the gag reflex and resulted in me hurling into a basin while trying to feed Lara a lunch of mashed carrot and fear.

Four hours later (but, in actuality, about 45 minutes later; time reverses when you’re parenting hungover) I pleaded with himself to get out of bed, but was met with “Sorry, feel really rough. Must be coming down with the flu. I’m actually sick”… The flush of panic was real; I had to kill eight hours solo?! While vomming every 30 minutes?! Don’t worry, I got through it, and you will too.

Now that we’ve collectively validated our drinking, behold some practical tips to help deal with your current predicament.

Like I said, no one “plans” to be hungover. Instead, we skip out the door in a state of delusion, crowing we’ll be home on the last train. Should you have the opportunity for a blowout, just ensure you always have a few things in reserve in case you stumble through the door at 4am. They are, in order of importance…

• Crisps. Salt & vinegar help nausea. Crisps can also be used to bribe your children with, whatever works
• Daycent breakfast. While it’s not always possible to have sausages and/or rashers waiting for you in the fridge, it is more likely you’ll have eggs in the press and potato waffles in the freezer. Fried eggs on waffles will provide the carb and protein hit you’ll need before you face anything
• Ice pops. Calippos, preferably. They slowly and steadily rehydrate you while also quenching the bang of decaying badger from your palette (albeit momentarily)
• Dioralyte, Alka-Seltzer, plus a paper straw. Why the straw? I can’t stomach the taste of any powder-based drinks, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. If you use a straw, ensure the top of it is placed towards the back of your tongue, that way you’ll bypass the tastebuds. Just don’t put the straw too far back as the outcome is obvious

Now that you’ve indulged in the hangover remedies even people without kids considered standard, it’s time to remember you’re a parent and there are little humans that need entertaining/keeping alive. Now that the WHO has declared any screen time detrimental to infants, that’s a six-hour Peppa Pig marathon off the menu. It’s OK, there are other ways to wile away some time which require minimum effort.

• Get out early… Walk somewhere if possible. Your hangover is only going to get worse as the day snails on so you might as well try and create the illusion of being active
• Fort Building… Now that you’ve returned from your possible jaunt – and there’s absolutely no way in hell you’re going near the front door again until the inevitable pizza delivery – muster your remaining energy and grab pillows, a couple of chairs as props and a sheet. Make something resembling a blanket fort (or, better yet, if you have slightly older children, enlist their help as builders). Lie down in blanket fort for the rest of the day.
• Lay Back Play… There are a number of activities that require being reclined. For example, Doctors & Nurses (they get to bandage your extremities while whispering as you’ve hurt your head/are in a coma), Treasure Hunt (you regale a number of things they need to find while you lie in wait), Story Time (self-explanatory), Don’t Poke The Bear (they have to go about their day without making any noise to annoy Mammy Bear), and Cinderfella (a gender-neutral take on a classic which still involves a step parent giving orders, such as “fluff my pillow”, “fetch my slippers” and “tidy while I ‘pretend’ to nap.”
• Cataloguing… Always have a Smyths or Argos catalogue lying around the house. You may live to regret inviting them to circle what they want for Christmas/their birthday/as a random reward, but it’s the only way of getting complete silence with no screens for a sustained period.

Congratulations, you’ve killed a few hours and now earned yourselves a movie marathon that will take you up to dinner (you’re ordering pizza, remember?) then, you’re on the home straight.

Now that you’re little darlings are tucked up in bed, before you ring the local Chinese for some Bang Bang Chicken, video yourself. You’re going to vow never to parent hungover again, and force yourself to watch it every time you head out “just for the one.”

A wise man once said “moderation in all things”… what he really meant was “easy now, you can’t tear the arse out of it anymore, you’re a parent with limited energy reserves so don’t mug yourself.”

Originally posted on TheJournal.ie

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