You went out (or stayed in) and had fun — but now you have to pay the ultimate price of being hungover with your kids running around
We are good people. We take such good care of our children the vast majority of the time. But every once in a while — maybe on our birthday or New Year’s Eve or book club night — we have to cut loose a little bit, just for the night. It’s so much fun, it’s so needed, and those strawberry daiquiris/IPAs/four glasses of wine tasted so wonderful at the time. What a glorious, necessary, magical night, in which we almost remembered what it was like to be young and childless and social, without a care in the world.
And then the next day is a total freaking nightmare.
And it turns out that we have lots of cares in the world.
Not only do you feel like someone scooped your insides out and replaced them with sand, not only is your brain somehow pounding and buzzing at the same time, not only did you only get 3 hours and 37 minutes of sleep according to your FitBit, but unlike when you were young, you have kids to take care of. Kids with needs. Kids who scream and yell right next to your buzzing brain. Kids who need you to be fully functional and loving like usual.
But don’t worry, we’re here to help. While the day you spend hungover with your kids is not going to be very fun, we can make it more fun. Or, more likely: we can at least help you survive. After they get tired of watching movies or playing video games, we have the ideas that will get you through the best that you can and that won’t have you feeling like you sacrificed an entire day of your one precious life to the Party Gods.
Here’s what you can do to be a super mom on a day when you also have a hangover.
Dump the guilt right now
First and foremost: guilt makes hangovers way worse and will make your day so much more miserable. If going out late and/or drinking too much aren’t on your normal schedule, DO NOT feel bad about taking one isolated night farther than you had planned or for getting a much-needed break from your uber-responsible existence. Sure, if you had a time machine, maybe you would have said no to that last glass of champagne, but you do not (to our knowledge) have a time machine. Instead, own your actions and move on. You had fun. You maybe overindulged or stayed out too late. It’s fine and you are human.
Even if you do a not great job at parenting, just for today, your kids have an amazing parent 95 percent of the time, and that’s plenty.
You cannot possibly be an amazing parent when you filled up the tank with too much rosé while catching up with all your best friends the night before. But you can be an amazing parent the day before, if you’re anticipating a late night or a slightly drink-heavy situation.
Do yourself a favor and either buy or make something for the freezer if you don’t have some good options in there already. If you’re a total genius, you can pull it to defrost the night before. Be sure to pick something that needs zero preparation, like a frozen lasagna or enchiladas or pizza that can go straight in the oven even if you feel like complete trash.
If you want to level up, buy or make some cookie dough and stick it in the fridge. An incredible person could even make some icing and shove it in a piping bag so it’s ready to go. When you’re sleep deprived and/or have a hangover the next day, it’s easy to roll out some dough and decorate cookies — and also, pro tip, cookies cure hangovers.
Make a nest
This is also fun when you are just totally exhausted or when it’s super crappy outside. Take all of the blankets and pillows in your house and throw them on the floor in one room. That’s it. No fort-making — that too involved for someone who stayed out past midnight. Just a big old chaotic nest. You can clean it up later.
You can bring some books or screens with you if you’d like, but really the nest is optimal for cuddling and talking with your kids. Take turns asking each other questions, like, “If you could be any animal, what would you be?” or “If you could either fly or be invisible, which would you choose?”
Play “What’s on my butt?”
We do not know the original creator of “What’s on my butt?” but wherever she is, we salute her (and hope that she’s feeling more rested). All we know is that we learned it from Hillary Frank, the podcaster behind The Longest Shortest Time, who talked about it on NPR.
The rules are very simple: you lie down on the couch on your tummy, with your head down and your eyes closed (sounds nice, right?). Then your child places something on your butt and you have to guess what it is. Is it a teddy bear? A remote control? A lego? Who knows!?
Feel free to take a while between guesses, while jiggling the thing on your butt. Feel free to make ridiculous guesses to both prolong the game and make your kids laugh. Feel free to play enough rounds that you can recover a little bit.
Let celebrities read books to your children
If you’re feeling guilty about your kids watching 12 hours of screens, a good compromise is one of our favorite websites, Storyline Online. It’s a bunch of celebrities reading classic children’s books out loud — and there are so many of them. For example, you can watch Jennifer Garner read Maddi’s Fridge (this is a family favorite) or Wanda Sykes read The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.
It’s great because it’s slow-paced and soothing — and really not that different at all from you reading to your kid, except that you’re not famous (sorry). And they do better voices.
Play “Sleeping dragon”
Yes, we love a good game that has sleep in the title! Here’s how it works: You find a “treasure” (this could be anything: a favorite toy or a box of cookies — whatever) and “fall asleep” with it in your clutches. It’s up to your kids to sneak very quietly and carefully and slowly into the room and try to get the treasure from the sleeping beast. Younger kids find this game absolutely delightful and will play several rounds while you get to keep your eyes closed and reflect upon all of your mistakes.
Go on a short walk
Okay, this might sound horrible, especially if it’s New Year’s Day and freezing outside, but chances are that it will make both you and your kids feel better. We don’t want you to hike up a mountain or anything, but even a 20-minute turn about the neighborhood, Pride and Prejudice style, will get your blood pumping and your body moving a little — and while you shouldn’t exert yourself after you’ve overindulged, light exercise can be good for hangovers.
At the same time, getting outside, just for a bit, will let your kids get their wiggles out before returning home (hopefully to your huge nest you already made).
Keeping kids busy so that you can rest depends a lot on finding something to hold their interest for a long interval of time. One of the best ways to do this is to help them discover a toy or game that they’ve forgotten about. Have them go through a closet or cabinet or bin to organize and rediscover toys (and you can just sit there and watch).
If it’s New Year’s Day, it’s the perfect time for your kids to line up their new toys from the holidays. Chances are interest in one or two will re-spark, or they’ll discover something that got a little ignored because of a bigger gift on Christmas Day.
You might remember this one from when you were a kid. It’s like reverse hide and seek — and it can get you some good rest. Like you might guess, the game starts with one person hiding — that’s you. Go find a great and comfortable place to hid and wait while all your kids find you. As each person finds you, they have to join you in hiding.
We recommend hiding in cozy places like under your covers in bed. Once we hid in a huge pile of stuffed animals and didn’t get found for a solid 10 minutes of restful bliss.
Make over mom or dad
How about an art project where you are the canvas? It involves laying down (preferably on a pillowcase you don’t care about) and doing nothing. Get out some old make up or face paints and let your children loose upon you. You get to close your eyes and not talk and let’s be real: you can’t look any worse than you already do. Maybe they’ll take care of the bags under your eyes.
Remember there’s safety in numbers
Who did you get drunk with the night before that may also have a hangover? Chances are that they’re in their house cursing themselves and in your exact same boat, feeling queasy. Give them a call, have a laugh about how you both took it too far, and then join forces. A play date means that your kids will have other kids to play with (COVID-safely, of course) and that you’ll have someone to commiserate with. Eat some brunch food, rehydrate with some juice or tea, and probably skip the bloody Marys.