I’m an older mom. I had my daughter at 41. She’s now 11, and our adopted son is 14. Navigating motherhood is intense at any age, but I find being a menopausal woman and a mom of a teen and preteen has its own set of challenges. My hormones are wacky, my moods can be all over the place, and stress really wears me down.
When I was consuming cannabis medicinally for insomnia and chronic pain relief, I found it made me mellow—even days after a small nighttime dose. The fact that I was a more relaxed and less stressed overall made me feel like I could be a better mother.
I contacted several other moms to get their take on cannabis and motherhood. The answers varied, but showed the importance of finding healthy ways to be well-rested, present and creative—all hallmarks of a great parent.
Jessie Gill, a cannabis nurse and blogger at Marijuana Mommy feels cannabis is a positive in her role as a mom. “My pain levels and anxiety are far better managed with cannabis. Cannabis also greatly enhances my patience, creativity and spirit of adventure, which significantly benefits my kids,” she says.
Leah Maurer, co-owner and editorial lead for The Weed Blog takes a slightly different view. “I don't think any substance can make you a better mom. I think that drive, love and dedication need to come from within,” she says. “That being said, mothers who are suffering from chronic pain, migraines, nervous system conditions and a variety of other mental-health or medical issues can definitely be better moms if they are able to use cannabis as medicine, rather than opioids or other medicines with more severe or harsh side effects.”
Jenn Lauder, co-founder and content director of Splimm: The Pot and Parenting newsletter, agrees with Leah’s stance that cannabis doesn’t necessarily make you a better mom, but adds, “I do believe it's the most versatile and effective tool I have at my disposal, as a mother and as a human.”
Jenn says she includes cannabis as part of her everyday wellness routine, turning to it to deal with PMS, migraines and stress management. She also consumes marijuana for creativity and focus, as well as to enhance her meditation and yoga practices.
“Cannabis helps me prioritize my wellness in ways that don't detract from my ability to parent,” Jenn says. “And it's a safe and relatively benign way to relax, unwind or recreate. I also find that I'm more easygoing, more patient, more present with my daughter, and more able to interrupt my often-frenetic multitasking in order to follow her lead or be there in the way that she needs,” she says.
Writer Aimee Altman doesn’t hesitate when she says, “Yes, cannabis definitely makes me a better mom.” Before marijuana, Aimee recalls being prescribed medications—for her anxiety and insomnia—that caused her to become “apathetic or completely shut … down.” She knew she needed to be able to wake up in the middle of the night if her boys needed her.
Today, Aimee says cannabis helps her connect with her kids, inspiring her to get down on the floor with them to play games, go for bike rides, bake cookies or make art. “Cannabis also helps me maintain an opiate-free lifestyle. As a long-term survivor of opioid addiction, I welcome all the tools I can to keep me on a recovery path because remaining opioid-free definitely makes me the best mom I can be,” she says.
Keeping kids safe is at the top of mom’s list. So, what are some challenges—and potential dangers—of consuming marijuana at home?
“Depending on how cannabis is consumed, secondhand smoke can result in lung and heart problems,” says Dr. Shivani Amin of Green Health Docs. “I always advise my patients to consume cannabis away from children if possible to avoid any complications.”
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Dr. Amin advises trying sublingual marijuana drops or capsules. If permitted where you live, cannabis topicals and edibles are also smoke-free ways to consume the plant when kids are in the home.
For Jenn, safety also means “keeping cannabis and associated products out of reach from wandering hands as well as using cannabis with intention.”
Jenn points out that there are many new products and secure storage options out there that make it easy to consume discreetly and to keep your cannabis away from children and pets.
Aimee leans toward marijuana edibles when kids are around. “[Cannabis edibles] make consumption easy and the long-lasting effects are helpful for activities such as bike rides to the park for the afternoon,” she explains. “It's all about knowing our bodies and the appropriate dose. Too much cannabis usually means a late afternoon nap for me, and my kids are past the napping stage, so that doesn't work.”
Leah thinks cannabis gets a bit of an unfair rap. “There is this completely normalized idea of ‘mommy needs her coffee’ or ‘mommy needs her wine’ type of mentality—in the U.S. in particular,” Leah says. “Yet mothers who choose to consume cannabis regularly to unwind or deal with the inevitable stresses of parenting are shunned and looked down. This is because of the stigma that surrounds this plant due to decades of conjecture and propaganda that have been fed to us by our federal government.”
Don’t smoke cannabis around kids because of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Consider other forms of consumption that can provide the desired effect without producing potentially harmful byproducts.
Treat cannabis as you would any prescription drug, alcohol, cleaning product or other substance that can be toxic to children and pets. Keep cannabis out of reach of small hands and paws.
Invest in a lockable storage bag or box for extra security and peace of mind when keeping cannabis in the home.
Consume responsibly, knowing how your body and brain react to the plant, including your appropriate dosages. You want to be able to respond to your children’s needs at all times.
“I do believe in the power of this plant,” says Dr. Amin. “It treats a host of chronic medical conditions including pain, anxiety and depression. If these conditions are being treated with cannabis, then yes, it could make women more attentive, mindful of their surroundings and, hence, great moms.”
Jenn emphasizes that education is key for her family. “We have honest and open conversations around cannabis, which both destigmatizes and demystifies this medicine in the minds of our kids.”
Whatever your opinion may be about moms consuming cannabis, I think we can all agree that being a healthier mom can help make you a better mom. Getting enough rest, eating well, exercising and engaging in regular self-care provides you with more resources—and stamina—for the rigors of motherhood and parenting. If cannabis is part of a mom’s wellness routine, it could be one of the many valuable options in her mom toolkit to help her thrive.
Photo credit: Bruno Nascimento