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  • Jessica Harris

Expect the Unexpected: A tween perspective on our one-year booze snooze.

We are now approaching the end of the booze snooze with just 25 days left. With the finish line so close, I find myself reflecting on my long journey. I was motivated, willing, and focused on my desired outcomes on day one. I am still driven today.

Intended Outcomes

When I set up my goal 340 days ago I had some desired outcomes:

  • Feel healthier physically (lose weight, fewer headaches, more energy, sleep better)

  • Feel healthier mentally (less tired, more focused, stronger memory, motivated)

  • Strengthen my kidneys that are already weakened by ongoing kidney stone trauma

  • Establish new/alternative routines in my life


The interesting part about setting such a long-term goal is that I have also experienced some unintended outcomes along the way.

  • The further along in my journey I got the less often people focused on my drinking and just accepted that this is the new me

  • I recognize that I am capable of so much more than I imagined myself to be.

  • I found I love researching and writing

  • I think I may have inspired a few people along the way by sharing my journey so openly

  • Digging a little deep into my emotional side and writing about it encouraged me to start exploring my purpose, identify my core values, and start thinking about writing my own manifesto

Am I setting a good example?

Another outcome I never really considered when I started this journey would be what my children might learn from it. My key motivators were truly all about me and how I would feel and change. I didn’t really think about my relationship with alcohol and what message it might send to my 11 and 12-year-old daughters.

From the time children are born they learn how to live in the world by observing and imitating those around them. Kids learn to process what they see and hear. They make choices about what they should and should not do. They make choices about how to respond to stress and their own emotions. Our actions as parents leave a mark on children, whether they are good or bad. As an adult, I know it is important to make healthy and responsible decisions around my children. However, while I strive to be a good role model most of the time, could I have unwittingly demonstrated behavior that I want my kids to avoid in the future?

This got me thinking about talking to the girls about my booze snooze for an authentic “Tween” perspective. I was curious if they had any deep thoughts, opinions, or insight about the choice we made to stay sober for a year. I was curious if they associated alcohol as a negative or positive thing. As a result, Rick and I sat down with the girls and asked them what they thought about this past year. In true tween fashion, their responses were short and lacked detail at first. However, they started to open up a little bit when we asked specific questions. We had to get a bit creative with questioning techniques, think on our feet, and gently probe for information. The hardest part was just listening to their answers without responding with our opinions as much as possible. Active listening with young adults is really important and not always easy to do!


Parents and Alcohol: A Tween Perspective

What do you think about our one-year booze snooze?

I don’t really think about your snooze all that much, but I thought it would be challenging.

Why do you think adults drink at parties or restaurants?

To make themselves happy and feel better about themselves. They like the taste. They like to party.

Why do you think mommy and daddy started the one-year booze snooze?

I don’t really know but maybe to challenge yourselves.

Why do you think we picked 365 days for our booze snooze?

Because a long time makes it more challenging. Every goal should be achievable but challenging. One year is a good length. If the time were too short it wouldn’t do anything. But with the length you have the repetition of doing something for a long time. If you did it even longer like 2 or 3 years you might not stay motivated or continue blogging about it. It was the right length.

When mommy and daddy drank alcohol how do you think we were different?

You are loopy. Instead of being in this field, you're in the left field. You are not here, you are somewhere else in your mind. You are not present, you are not in the moment. Dadda gets a little crabby and controlling and also retreats and gets quiet. Momma gets tired.

In the beginning of the snooze, why would you ask what was in our cup?

I wanted to know if you were drinking alcohol. I wanted to help keep you on track. It is easier to back out of something at the beginning of a goal rather than later. Since you had already started, I wanted to make sure you kept doing it and followed your expectations.

You eventually stopped asking what was in our cups. Why did you stop?

Because I knew mommy liked her Kombucha’s and since they were good she usually drank those or flavored water. I watched dadda longer because he is just dad. I also just forgot about asking anymore.

Do you think Mommy and Daddy ever cheated during the year?

No, I knew you guys wouldn’t. I knew you would be responsible and accountable.

Do you think we are different now that we don’t drink alcohol?

No, you are not really different personality wise. You are the same. But you seem a little healthier.

Do you like us not having alcohol anymore?

It is pretty much the same except I think it is safer for us, healthier for us, and doing this will help you pace yourself if you go back to drinking.

What do you think is good about our one-year booze snooze?

I think you are healthier. I think it is safer because if we are at a party that is not at our house you can drive us home. I also think it is safer in regards to us kids to encourage us about not drinking later in life.

Would you like us to continue the snooze?

It doesn’t really matter as long as the year has taught you to pace yourself with how much you drink. If you do the exercise goal you talked about that will also help pace you because you said you would add more time to your workouts for each drink.

What do you think Mommy and Daddy learned from this experience?

Being healthier is always better, drinking can cause problems, and you learned to stick with something.

Could you do something for 365 days straight?

I’ve tried, but I don’t get on top of myself for it so it just dwindles off. But if I had someone to help me with it I think I could stick with it.


So what is my take away from our conversation?

Before the snooze, my girls didn’t necessarily associate alcohol as a negative component of our family life. However, they are already recognizing the importance of moderation. The statement that stood out the most to me was when they said that a positive part of our booze snooze is that it would encourage THEM to be safer about drinking later in life. To me, that statement is the girls way of telling us that what we do and what we say matters. They are impressionable.

While I didn’t plan for this outcome at the beginning of the snooze, I think through modeling sobriety for a full year, I may have taught my girls four important lessons:

  • It is okay to have a healthy relationship with alcohol

  • Alcohol should be an occasional indulgence

  • Abstaining from drinking shows them booze isn’t essential for having fun and enjoying life

  • They can learn to work through and solve problems in a healthy way

This has been an unpredictable journey with unexpected results.

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