Making it Easier for Women in Recovery

Brady Goode loves Wednesdays. That’s the day she gets to stay home with her 18-month-old twin girls and just have fun. “We don’t go anywhere on Wednesdays,” she says, as the babies babble and toddle around the living room. “This is our day to just be together.”

Working mothers like Goode know how precious their parenting time is. With so much on their plates, it can be hard to find time to just play. For working mothers in recovery there is even more responsibility. Getting to regular 12-step meetings is a major commitment that can mean more time away from their kids. But it’s a sacrifice moms like Goode must make.

“It definitely enhances the quality of my sobriety,” Goode says. “And for mothers who are newly sober, when temptation is greatest, it’s absolutely critical to get to as many meetings as they can.”

With the high cost of childcare and the difficulty in finding qualified providers, many parents, particularly single parents, struggle to make those crucial meetings. That need inspired Liz Audette, communications and development director of the Ann Arbor Women’s Group, to start the free childcare program for AA and Alanon meetings on Friday nights at the West Side Methodist Church. Meetings are open, and parents can drop their children off for up to two hours, worry free. The childcare providers are background-checked, CPR-trained professionals studying to become early childhood educators and child psychologists.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” says Audette. “You’re a better parent when you go to meetings, but you can’t get to meetings because you’re a parent.” It’s the situation Audette found herself in when she moved to Ann Arbor seven years ago and first got connected with the Ann Arbor Women’s Group. She proposed the free childcare service to the board, who immediately understood the importance of making it easier for women in recovery to attend meetings. “At first the service was only for mothers,” she says. “But it quickly became clear that both fathers and mothers in recovery struggle to afford care for their children while they’re in meetings.”

Parents in supportive relationships can often rely on their partners to take the kids while they get to a meeting, but for single parents, that support isn’t there. Another problem parents in recovery face: If a partner is in active addiction, the other partners cannot leave children in the care of a parent who is using, so they’ll end up skipping meetings or bringing children with them.

“Certain meetings are child-friendly, but it’s very distracting, both for me and for the other participants,” admits Goode. “I want to focus on the meeting, but my attention is divided. And kids aren’t quiet!”

The Ann Arbor Women’s Group offers free childcare for one meeting a week, but strong demand is leading the group to seek funding to add one provider for Friday nights and expand the service to two evenings per week. Other services provided by the Ann Arbor Women’s Group include fellowship opportunities for women in recovery like ice cream and movie night, and workshops on a range of important topics, such as anxiety.

AA and Alanon meetings with free childcare sponsored by The Ann Arbor Women’s Group are on Friday evenings from 7pm-9pm at the West Side Methodist Church, 900 S. 7th St. Ann Arbor | 734-666-9932