Parenting Hungover: A Survival Guide

*This post is sponsored by Optrex.

Becoming a parent doesn’t have to mean the end of your social life, but it can definitely put the brakes on it. When you only get the opportunity to hit the town once in a blue moon, it’s natural to go a little crazy and try to relive your glory days.

But, being so out of practice, your chances of suffering a hangover are exponentially higher than before you became a parent.

Parenting Hungover: A Survival Guide

Parenting when you’re hungover is horrendous, an experience we all vow never to repeat once we’ve had the misfortune to go through it once. But invariably it happens again, and we find ourselves completely unprepared.

I’ve put together this Parenting Hungover Survival Guide for parents of small children who find themselves hungover. Bookmark it for future reference! You’ll thank me one day.

A hangover can be hell to deal with at any stage of life, but when you’re a parent of small children you can feel like you’ve entered into one of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell. Little hands pulling at you, squeaky little voices demanding things of you. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

Hungover parenting: A survival guide |

They will find you

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).

Clearly the easiest course of action would be to avoid the situation altogether. That is, either don’t drink enough to get hungover, or don’t parent while you are hungover. Farm the kids out if you can, call in granny, aunty, your neighbour… anyone willing to take your kids for a few hours. A couple of extra hours sleep can make the world of difference.

But if you’re reading this, then it’s probably too late, and you’re already in the throes of hungover parenting. So read on…

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 the day-after-the-night-before with some of your dignity intact, and avoid the nightmare that is hungover parenting.

*Probably won’t.

Before you crash

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 probably 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 tripping over the Peppa Pig car that’s been left outside your bedroom as a ‘present’.

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…

Wake up call

Little kids are generally early risers, and if you’ve been out the night before then you can just about guarantee that the little buggers will be up extra early, and will be extra loud.

If you’re hungover parenting with a partner in the same state as you then you might be able to wangle some kind of deal – try peddling sex in exchange for the other one getting up with the kids. Not today obviously! Offer an IOU. But even if you get to lay your head back down on your pillow, it’s unlikely you’ll actually go back to sleep. Kids are LOUD. And they don’t care about hangovers, they’ll just want to know where you are, and will more than likely come in and jump all over you. Just try not to vomit on them (although it would be some kind of poetic justice).

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. Chug down a couple of paracetamol as soon as you wake up, and find some eye drops to fix your blood shot eyes. You don’t want to scare the kids.

Hungover Parenting: A Survival Guide |

It feels even worse than it looks

Feign illness

When I’m sick my kids are extra gentle with me. My daughter likes to brush my hair and my son likes to sit on my lap for cuddles. These activities are perfectly acceptable while hungover, so tell your kids you’re sick, and encourage them to play doctor.

“Doctor says mummy needs to go to bed for a hundred years.”

Well OK then, who am I to argue with a doctor.

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.

Note: this only works if your partner was out with you the night before, and wasn’t stuck home with the kids all night, and therefore pissed off to football as soon as he woke up. #notbitteratall


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.

Get them playing an educational app on the iPad, or let them play games on your phone. Just make sure you’ve deleted any incriminating photos of last night before you hand it over…

Get crafty

Bust out the craft kit and let the kids go wild. Yell directions from your position on the couch (or the bathroom floor if you’re feeling really poorly) and get them to create classic masterpieces like ‘a girl riding a ladybug’, or ‘a minion in the bath’. 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.

Don’t freak out about the mess, you can deal with that once you’ve recovered. Just leave the glitter in the cupboard or you really will regret it.

Get 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.

Feed the beasts

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.

Wine time

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.

Hit the sack

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? Any hot tips to share?

An edited version of this article has been published on Mamamia.



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