A big concern that comes up for moms, and it did for me when considering kicking the overindulging habit is, “Will I still have fun?”

Society has taught us that alcohol is an integral part of our lives to have fun. Everywhere we go, adults have a drink in their hand, whether it’s at a restaurant, outdoor neighborhood pool, even at their kids playdates and little league baseball games! What are we teaching our children to believe? That drinking alcohol is a normal, necessary part of life and that you need to include it in your life to have fun. Is this really true? Is alcohol the key to our happiness and fun?

Here’s something to think about that may be helpful. You know what I think is fun? Waking up without a hangover, feeling full of energy, ready to take on the day without any wasted brain space, feeling guilty about what I did the night before.

I am able to actually have fun and enjoy the day because I have the energy and motivation to do it. What are you moving towards or looking forward to that is really fun and engaging for you? What is something that you can be fully present for? How many times did I drink, thinking it was fun but not even remembering half of what I said or did or acting like a total ass at times? How was that fun?!

Since going alcohol-free, I am fully present in my experiences with myself and my family, and it allows me to be authentic to myself and follow through on my goals (instead of being too tired to do so). I can now create memories with my loved ones and remember them, not like the thousands I lost because of my drinking. I go to bed every night feeling good about what I accomplished during the day, which wasn’t always the case. It is empowering to know that I have the choice of how I want to proceed with my day.

Alcohol only gives you that “feel good” euphoric effect for about the first 20–30 minutes when you have a drink as your blood alcohol content rises. Once your brain realizes it immediately needs to rid your body of the toxin so it can survive, it releases counter chemicals that are actually stress hormones — cortisol and adrenaline, to rid your body of the alcohol. About 30 minutes after one drink when your blood alcohol content starts to drop, dysphoria kicks in, which is a feeling of anxiousness and irritability, and will trigger you to want another drink. The cycle continues as you drink more, and you will never have that same initial “euphoric” feeling with subsequent drinks as you did with the first drink.

Once I learned about the science of overindulging in alcohol, and learned that for each drink you have, it sets you up for having two — three hours of dysphoria, it really had me questioning whether feeling good for 20–30 minutes is worth the two — three hours of not feeling good? And here I am only talking about the after effects of having just one drink! Who only has one?

If you have six drinks in a night, you will experience between 12–18 hours of dysphoria — that hangover effect that includes anxiousness, irritability, and just plain feeling like garbage! How is that fun?

When my boys were little, we would have Friday family movie night. I would sit down on the couch with my boys and a bottle of red wine and drink the entire bottle during the movie. I didn’t think about it much because I knew they didn’t understand what I was doing, but in my early 40s, they were getting older, and I felt like they were starting to realize that I was drinking a lot. All of a sudden, it didn’t feel so fun anymore. I started to think that I would rather be a more healthy and active role model for my boys so they grow up healthy and active and don’t think the only way to have fun and decompress is to drink alcohol.

I read a study that kids are more likely to exercise if their parents exercise. It made me think that kids are more likely to heavily drink alcohol if their parents do. I realized I had a choice and could have more fun by focusing and moving towards a purpose that would not only positively affect my life, but also my sons’.

You have a choice to have fun or to not have fun. It’s all in your mindset. And when you are not overindulging your mind is much more clear and motivated to explore things that maybe you never have thought about or tried before. You have a total open road to decide how you choose to spend your time, and no longer overindulging allows you to choose things that actually have meaning to what fun is really about to you. You start to find pure, unintoxicated fun in your life that may lead you to adventures that you never anticipated!