kids

Your essential survival guide to hungover parenting.

You are not alone.

We’ve all been there; you get the chance to go out for a night, and delude yourself into believing that you can still party like the good old days. You chug drink after drink, reliving your glory days and forgetting about your responsibilities.

Suddenly it’s the next morning. You prise open your stinging, bloodshot eyes and try to spit out the dirty sock that’s taken up residence in your mouth, before realising it’s actually your own tongue. And then it hits you. You’re a parent. And you are now staring down the barrel of a day of hungover parenting.

Before you have kids, when you wake up with a hangover you can usually get out of doing what you were supposed to do that day. Or at the very least you can roll over and have an extra hour’s sleep. But parenting is relentless. There is no calling in sick, no get out of jail free card, no hiding in the bathroom until someone else does it. And certainly no sleeping in (unless you have a particularly wonderful partner, who is not afflicted by the same hangover as you).

There are only two known ‘cures’ (and I use that term loosely) for a hangover and they are sleep and/or consuming more alcohol, neither of which you can do while parenting. Or rather, neither of which you should do while parenting.

The following steps may* help you to get through your hungover parenting experience with some of your dignity intact.

*Probably won’t.

1. Prevention is better than a cure.

When you get home from your boozy night, down some Berocca and a couple of paracetamol in a big glass of water. Seriously, it can work wonders. Unfortunately when you get home from the kind of nights that develop into the worse kind of hangovers, you’re usually in no state to remember this crucial point. Your biggest achievement will most likely be not waking the kids as you drunk-wiggle your key into the front door and crash land into the house. 10 points if you avoid stepping on the Lego that’s been strategically placed outside your bedroom like some kind of booby trap.

Leave a glass of water, a Berocca and some paracetamol beside your bed before you even go out – hopefully just seeing them there when you get home will remind you! Although probably not…

2. Hydrate & medicate.

You, not the kids. Although if you’ve got a bottle of Phernergan lying around… KIDDING! Make sure you’ve got some Powerade or Gatorade on hand, or break into the kids’ stash of Hydrolyte. It’s the same bloody thing anyway. Anything to rehydrate your poor, battered body. Force down a couple of paracetamol as soon as you wake up, and find some eye drops to sort out your blood shot eyes. You don’t want to scare the kids.

Hydration is key. You don’t want to scare the kids.

3. Tag-team parenting.

If your partner was also your partner-in-crime the night before, take parenting shifts while the other one goes back to bed. This is the true meaning of parental partnership.

4. Screen-time.

I know hours in front of the TV or iPad is not ideal, but when you’re hungover parenting any screen can be a godsend. ‘Frozen’ is guaranteed to provide 98 minutes of quiet in our house. That is, of course, if you can listen to ‘Let it Go’ again without being ill.

Sit them in front of this and make sure they never leave.

5. Get crafty.

Let the kids go wild with some arts and crafts. Yell directions from your position on the couch (or the bathroom floor if you’re feeling really bad) and get them to create classic masterpieces like ‘our family standing under a rainbow’, or ‘a day at the park’. Just keep the scissors and glue out of reach. We’re talking minimal supervision here parents, so be smart about it. You don’t want to get up off the couch to find your kid has a new homemade haircut.

Just leave the glitter in the cupboard or you really will regret it.

6. Take it outside.

If you’ve got a backyard, use it. Protect your sensitive eyes with some celebrity-style sunglasses and let the kids run free. Make up a game that involves you being the judge, position yourself on a comfy chair and shout “go” every few minutes. They’ll figure it out! With any luck they’ll soon start making up their own rules and you’ll become redundant and be able to sneak a nap behind your sunnies.

7. Carb it up.

Lining a hungover stomach with some salty, fatty carbs can actually help you to feel more human, and it just so happens that these types of foods are generally high on the list of foods that most small people will tolerate. They’ll think you’re the greatest parent in the world when you take them out for burgers and chips, or fish and chips, or any bloody thing with chips really. Just chips. Hot salty chips. In fact there may actually be three known cures for hangovers; sleep, alcohol and hot chips.

They’ll think you’re the greatest if you take them out for chips and burgers.

8. Wine o’clock.

Wine o’clock might need to come early when you’re hungover parenting. Just don’t overdo it, you don’t want to end up back where you started.

9. Early bedtime.

And I’m not just talking for the kids here. Have dinner at 5:30pm, skip the bath and get those kiddies into bed ASAP. As soon as they’re down GET INTO YOUR OWN BED! Don’t be fooled into thinking you actually feel better and should stay up for a few more drinks. You will have to repeat this whole process if you don’t go to bed right now!

How do you deal with hungover parenting? 

For more on parenting… 

“Let’s be honest. A lot of the time, parenting sucks.”

“My dirtiest parenting secrets.”

9 parenting dilemmas you never expected to have.

00:00 / ???