How Can I Balance Recovery and Parenting?

When you are in the throes of your disease or co-occurring disorders, your responsibilities to your families can become a low priority. While this may be unintentional, it is common in people’s lives who suffer from one or both of these things. As you begin your recovery process, you may feel fearful of all the needs you will have to meet for others, especially if you are a parent. The truth is, you are stepping into a new way of living that will require support, community, and a bit of “reparenting” of yourself. When you add parenting responsibilities while attempting to balance the new life you’ve forged, you can experience feelings of doubt or frustration. 

Sometimes you may also carry feelings of guilt and shame for the things you did or didn’t do while in active addiction and will unconsciously allow that guilt to dictate how you show up for your children. As a result, you may find yourself putting your needs on the back burner to tend to the needs of your children, and while that may be reasonable to a certain extent, you know that you cannot afford to miss out on what you need to maintain your recovery. It is important to remember that you get to be the parent you want because you nourish your recovery by keeping it in good repair. Here are some ideas that can help you balance recovery and parenting as you navigate your new life.

Develop a Treatment Plan

When you first get to treatment, you most likely are introduced to your therapist. Because a treatment plan is based on specific needs, it is best to begin this relationship with honesty and open-mindedness. That way, your therapist will be able to effectively set realistic goals and schedules with you that help you achieve greater freedom from your addiction(s) or co-occurring disorders. Then, you will work in tandem with them to create a plan of action that you will carry throughout your treatment program and into your life after completion. 

Your therapist may be able to help you carve out self-care time which can consist of rest, exercise, bathing, journaling, and more. Sometimes, you may need others to help point out when you are leaving yourself out of your day-to-day life. You may find that you need time to get comfortable with the idea of self-care, especially when feelings of guilt creep in. Your therapist can help you process those feelings and provide you with coping skills while also encouraging you in the form of affirmations or congratulatory statements when you reach milestones and achieve your goals. 

Find a Program that Works for You

While in treatment, you may be taken to various 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). While one size does not fit all, you may feel that you resonate with AA, NA, SMART, Refuge Recovery, or a different program altogether. Should this happen, taking special care to build your schedule around your selected meetings or other support activities will help you feel a sense of stability when you leave treatment. Before discharging from treatment, you can look at meetings or therapists near your home that you can realistically commit to regularly attending once you are able. If you are unsure of how to fit these meetings or appointments into your life, you can talk to your therapist or other safe people that want the best for you. Once you make a list of the meeting days and times or therapy appointments, you commit to attending those meetings each week. Establishing a weekly schedule will ensure that you do not grow stagnant in your recovery. 

Ask for Help

It may be one of the hardest things to do, but asking for help is a skill you should try to acquire, and it is something that we at NorthStar encourage from our clients. Most of us have heard the saying “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed,” and that is true. How can anyone help you if you don’t let them know you need it? 

You may find yourself still earning the trust of your family members back, so you may not be able to reach out and immediately ask them for help just yet. Healing takes time, and that is okay. While that may be one part of your reality, it is not the entirety. The truth is, you still need support as you move forward, away from active addiction. You can find this support in your spiritual or religious communities, if applicable, your therapists, your sober friends, 12-Step or other support groups, your sponsor, etc. You may find that you feel more comfortable moving into a sober living house while attending day treatment at an outpatient facility before you try to fully discharge and go home. A part of asking for help is being honest with yourself and what you truly need to succeed. 

We get to celebrate a new way of living when we gain freedom from active addiction or co-occurring disorders. Amidst the celebration and the hard work it took to get us to where we are now, we begin to make plans for our future and the future of our children and family. We may know what we want but are unsure of how to connect the dots. Sometimes the plans we make can be easier than the actual execution of those plans, and that is where NorthStar Transitions can provide added support for us to reach our goals and then some. We understand that life doesn’t stop, and that is why we have programs such as day treatment, professional treatment, and active military treatment. The NorthStar difference is clinical excellence, evidence-based therapeutic modalities, and personalized treatment plans. For more information about our Boulder, CO facility and the programs we offer, call us today at (303) 558-6400.

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