How my three year old daughter got me to quit smoking

How My Three Year Old Daughter Got Me To Quit Smoking

It is the strangest thing still to think of myself as a non-smoker even though I have not smoked a cigarette for nearly 2 years. I smoked from the age of 14 years old until 36 years old – a total of 22 years of smoking. Scary isn’t it?

Now anyone that is not a smoker, an ex-smoker or an addict of some sort won’t understand the hold that cigarettes has over a person. You can look at me and think I am stupid or have no strength or will power… but until you’ve been there you just won’t get it.

I’m now going to answer a question that I am very ashamed of and yes I know I am opening myself up for big time judgement but I know my truth and I feel quite sure that I did the best I could with what I had.

Yes I smoked while pregnant with both my children. I didn’t want to and I tried not to but I just could not stop. I am not proud of it but I am being open about it because I know that there are many moms out there just like me.

How my three year old daughter got me to quit smoking pin

I did not plan my children and having the surprise of pregnancy thrust upon me came with a number of challenges. Firstly I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, plus I have bipolar disorder. When I found out I was pregnant I had to go off all my medication and fast. It was a roller coaster of note. I tried to stop smoking and I think I made a grand total of 2 days before everyone around me advised that I actually smoke.

The reason was that I was on a rocky path without my medication and the risk of relapsing on drugs or alcohol was higher than normal. Better to be having the odd cigarette than shoving cocaine up my nose right?

So there you have it. I chose to keep smoking. I wish I could have been stronger and quit, but I just wasn’t.

I always knew I would have to quit smoking one day or it will be the death of me. The problem is that I believe that because I am an addict in recovery perhaps the hold cigarettes had over me was stronger than other people in the way that it was the only thing I had left, my only vice. I couldn’t bear the thought of not smoking. The fear was so great.

So what changed and how did I manage to quit?


Well my daughter happened. When she was born we stopped smoking in the house and we stopped smoking in our cars. Even in the freezing cold evenings my husband and I would huddle outside in the cold like the die hard smokers we were.

When my daughter was three years old (nearly four) there were two specific incidents that made me decide to stop. The one day my daughter walked up to me and said “When I’m big I am going to wear your clothes, then I am going to be a mommy and I’m going to smoke” (Complete with the actions of puffing on a cigarette). She had a huge smile on her face waiting for me to show my happiness at my daughter wanting to follow in my footsteps.

All I felt was disgust at myself and disappointment at the role model I was for being her. That is not the sort of mother I wanted to be. I want my daughter to aspire to be the best she can be. I don’t want my children to be smokers.

This was the moment that I made my firm decision to quit. I had not set the date but I spoke to my husband and I told him that I was going to quit smoking, and soon.

A few weeks later my little girl came bounding over to me and asked me to build a puzzle with her. I told her sure, in a few minutes I will. She looked at me and said “Oh are you going to have a quick smoke?”. There was no accusation at all, she was just innocently asking me if I was going to smoke first.

The funny thing is that I never really understood at that moment how much damage my smoking was causing. When I was smoking I believed I wasn’t damaging anyone else. I was smoking outside and it didn’t have any effect on anyone else right?

Actually not so. I put my cigarettes above everything else, so much so that my daughter completely accepted that if she wanted to spend any time with me I would always have “a quick smoke” first. Once again this is not the type of mother I want to be. I want my children to know and understand that they come first, above everything else.

My beautiful children

It was this moment that I set the date for me to quit. I decided to quit cold turkey on 01 October 2015, giving myself a few weeks to prepare myself.

I know that everyone says that you need to quit for yourself and that you need to be completely ready for that, I do agree. My daughter helped me to reach that point and it was great motivation for me.

Quitting smoking was not easy at all, in fact I was quite shocked to fully understand how strong and dark nicotine addiction is. That said I actually did it. I quit on the date I set and I managed to get through it.

My daughter is now 5 years old and a few weeks ago I said something about smoking and she looked all confused. I asked her then if she remembers me smoking and she can’t remember me smoking at all. For me this is a huge accomplishment and it makes me so happy.

I am so proud of the fact I managed to quit smoking and that my love for my children was what gave me the strength to do it.

I blogged about my experiences quitting smoking on my addiction website if you would like to check that out, here are the links to all those posts:

Time To Quit

5 Days After Quitting Smoking

2 Weeks After Quitting Smoking

30 Days After Quitting Smoking

Steps How To Quit Smoking


Also published on Medium.

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11 comments

  1. @lynne – just a question, did your hubby quit too?
    I am a smoker, also a mother that smoked through pregnancy. Like you said, I also tried my utmost to give up when I discovered I was pregnant. I managed i think, 3 days and my Baby Daddy went and bought me smokes and said please, just smoke.
    Dealing with the judgement and strangers staring at you in social situations, got to me like crazy. I honestly did feel guilty enough 🙁
    I constantly find myself saying to my baby when she asks for something, “let Mommy just finish her smoke”. It honestly kills me. I’ve dabbled with the idea on NUMEROUS occasions, but as you say @lynne the fear is almost crippling. What will I do, will I eat, will I put on weight. I’m off to read your posts on your other site. Just one question, you say you quit cold turkey, but what is your opinion on the electronic smokes?

    • @tamara737 That is why I have shared this post. I am fully aware that many might judge me for being an awful parent, for smoking while pregnant… but there are so many women who also smoked while pregnant and there is such stigma attached to it. I am not saying it is right, but we are not alone. If other moms can be helped by me sharing about it then I am happy to do it.

      Yes my hubby “quit” with me but he tried something else, he tried the patches, then the gum and then he went onto the e-cigarette. He is now as hooked on the e-cigarette as he was on cigarettes so he has just swopped on for the other.

      I believe that I am very fortunate in some aspects. Being an addict and alcoholic means I have given up vices before and I followed my 12 step program to give up smoking just like I did with alcohol and cigarettes. The biggest obstacle you have is the fear. I mean you are not going to die if you don’t smoke, but the fear that grips you when you think about quitting smoking is incredible isn’t it? I remember the few times I thought about quitting and whenever I would consider it I just started smoking more, crazy right?

      So yes I believe any form of nicotine replacement therapy sucks and will just prolong the pain and the agony of quitting smoking. It can be done cold turkey and I believe it is the best. Oh and yes I am the biggest I have ever been in my life, I started eating a LOT and I have not lost that weight yet. But I am not smoking 30 cigarettes a day, so you need to decide what is really important to you.

      I am about to make a major weight loss mission and I will share about that with you as I go along 🙂 I was doing quite well a little while back but then I got lazy…. time to get back to it.

  2. @lynne You see – I think that’s my biggest fear 🙁 I already battle so much with my weight – the thought of having no control over that scares me like you wont believe. Well, lets say even less control lol

    Funny thing is and to be honest, I used to be one of those people, so quick to judge a pregnant woman puffing on a smoke – “I will never do that, as soon as I find out I’m pregnant, I’m done” How naive I was.

    Little did I actually know – just how difficult that could be! I have friends who fell pregnant around about the same time I did, they all gave up and as hard as i tried, I just couldn’t.

    This is something I think about quite often, i mean the amount of money I spend on cigarettes alone is ridiculous, but I honestly am not sure if I would ever be able to see it through. The potency of the addiction is indeed crazy and like you said on Living with Addiction, I strongly agree with your comment on the gateway drugs.

    • Yes I know a lot of people have fallen pregnant and managed to just put the cigarettes down, but like you I just could not do it. I wanted to be the type of person that planned to get pregnant and quit smoking as part of the preparation before I even fell pregnant.

      Life however often has different plans. I do think it is important not to dwell too much on the past and feel guilty. What is done is done, we can only look forward and try to be the best person we can be in the moment.

      Try Allan Carr’s Easy Way To Quit Smoking, it is a really good book.

  3. I’ll do that @lynne, thank you 🙂

  4. I am personal proud of you @lynne i can image how hard it must have been for you but the most important thing you win over it .

  5. I can relate, I am also one of those parents that smoked while pregnant, and I am still smoking and my eldest is now 17 years and my youngest twins is almost 11 moths old, so for years I have been smoking too. There was a time where I wanted to stop but I know my heart wasn’t into it 100%. I didn’t want to stop, but reading your story @lynne makes me wonder. I wouldn’t want my kids to think that I would rather have a quick smoke before spending time with them, just thinking about it makes me wonder, is smoking worth it. Now the weight gain, I already have gained so much weight over eating too much, let alone stop smoking too, I can just imagine, so please @lynne when you do the weight loss thing, I would much like to see how you go, to maybe do what you do. Thank you for all the inspiring messages, it does make one think.

    • I will most definitely share about my weight loss journey when I get there @lynettesmith since I think that there are so many women struggling with the same thing. It is not easy and I have actually made a few attempts in the past to lose weight and get myself back into shape but I lost steam. The next mission I make I am going to make sure that I do it right and I promise to be an inspiration 🙂

      I am determined to be in a bikini by December!

  6. Wow!! Thank you for sharing your story Lynne. I too am a smoker. And this article touched me so deep. There are many times i find myself in a position of taking a quick smoke and seeing to my son afterwards, which saddens me when I think about it now.

    I quit smoking right after i found out i was pregnant with my beautiful son. I had no issues quitting as I was so excited that I was going to be a mom!

    After I gave birth to him, I quit my job and became a stay at home mom for a year. When that year passed, i felt that he was old enough to start creche and I can finaly start work again. Hmmm little did I know…

    I ended up searching and searching for work. Unfortunately, evey single job application was unsuccessful. And thats when I started smoking again.

    I finally found a job (Thank God) but I’m still smoking… Lately the thought of quitting smoking crossed my mind. This article gave me new perspective, new hope and I look forward (not to the withdrawal symptoms) to quitting once and for all!

    • Well done on being able to quit smoking when you fell pregnant, you managed to do what I just couldn’t. It is so nice to hear that you managed to find work, that must have been so distressing. I have heard that getting back into the working world after becoming a mom is tough. Firstly if you have not been in the corporate world for a little while it is hard to find a job, but also leaving your child must be awful.

      I am so fortunate that I have been working for myself for many years which of course comes with its own set of challenges. Working with a baby is no easy task!

      I really hope that my article helps you to find the strength and motivation to quit again. It really feels great being a non-smoker, but of course you know how it feels and you have experienced all the benefits that come with quitting.

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