10 March 2021 (updated)

Mommy Wine Culture: Parenting While Buzzed

Does drinking large quantities of wine go hand in hand with parenting?

If you buy into the alcohol-laden memes and mommy blogs while sipping, you might believe mommy wine culture is the norm. You've got a baby in one hand and chardonnay in the other to get through the day.

Mommy Wine Culture Goes Mainstream

Turning to the wine bottle to deal with your kids has gone mainstream. In fact, the brand Tropicana just got into loads of hot water for advertising mommy mimosa culture.

News outlets report that Tropicana issues an apology for a celebrity ad campaign showing parents sneaking off to drink mimosas from secret fridges. Critics have accused the media of fueling wine mommy alcoholism.

Experts say, if you're already vulnerable to alcoholism, mommy wine culture is ripe for you to fall into bad habits. This is not about shaming women for the occasional glass of wine, but if you can't survive play dates, cooking dinner, or kid-focused soccer games without wine in your coffee mug, you may have a problem.

Who Is the Wine Mom?

What defines a wine mom? The term wine mom first came into the American lexicon around 2010 with the help of Facebook groups like the now-defunct and once wildly popular "Moms Who Need Wine" which touted over 600K followers.  In addition, other popular Instagram sites like @mommywinetime and @mom.wine.repeat celebrate mommy only time with wine and humor. Is the wine mom the parent who merely enjoys wine or something more?

In all of these social media platforms, there is a sense of parenting overwhelm coupled with lots of exhaustion and of course, the promise of salvation through cabernet. The common thread of mommy wine culture can be summed up by a quote from Marilé Borden, the founder of the Moms Who Need Wine Facebook group. "Moms are admitting it’s a tough job, and are looking for validation,” says Borden. “It’s about moms who need moms.”  The wine thread is a platform to find connection and escape from the stress, using wine as a way to treat yourself and occasionally post it, with a shrug or a laugh, for your fellow parents.

However, when do the fun and games of wine mom culture turn into a problem?

Drinking Problem in Mommy Wine Culture?

Rampant wine mom culture has been a popular staple in our social media feeds. It's not unusual to witness cabernet-soaked mommy book clubs whether it be virtual or outside on the patio during COVID-19. When do you know if you have a problem drinking? One red flag is if you binge drink regularly.

The Center for Disease Control defines binge drinking for a woman as imbibing 4 or more alcoholic drinks in a two hour period and 5 alcoholic drinks in a 2 hour period for a man.

Dr. Lauren Fisher, a Licensed Psychologist and Co-founder of Del Ray Psych and Wellness observes that some parents are having a hard time balancing working, motherhood, and keeping it all together, and so they are self-medicating with alcohol to cope.

"I'm hearing women rationalize their problem drinking with treating themselves with alcohol just to get through the day," says Dr. Fisher. "Moderate drinking isn't the issue, it's when people start using alcohol as a crutch to normalize binge drinking. You have to ask yourself, are you drinking to celebrate, or are you drinking because you're lonely, bored, or want to numb out?"

The Numbing Out of Alcohol-Related Issues

The stress of mothering can lead women to another glass. Hit movies like "Bad Moms" and the playdates depicted on the series "Big Little Lies" glamorize binge drinking.

In an ABC Nightline expose on budding wine mom culture, Cindy Feinberg, a recovery coach, and addiction specialist described how many of her cases involving mothers with alcohol problems were rooted in mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety.

“A lot of times, what I see is people are looking to self-medicate because they’re not really sure how to talk to somebody about what’s going on...people feel a lot of shame about what they’re struggling with,” she said. Wine culture won't turn women into alcoholics, however, if individuals are already susceptible to substance abuse, it serves as a cover to hide a deeper problem.

Alcohol Cons of Being Part of Mommy Wine Culture

If you don't have an addictive personality, an occasional glass of wine is no big deal. However, if you can't get through the day without binge drinking, it may be time to ask for help. In an interview for ABC News, Harmony Hobbs, a popular mommy blogger, stopped drinking when she realized that she no longer had fun, but instead, drank to mask the pressures of parenting.

"I think it's always good to question your behavior," says Hobbs.

The cons of being a wine mom are the possibility of being too reliant on alcohol to get you through the day. Wine mom culture and the recent Tropicana ad encourage parents to drink to take the edge off life. However, if this habit is also robbing you of being present with your children or affecting your health, it may be time to laugh at a funny meme, but think twice about drinking daily.

Signs You May Have an Alcohol Problem

Experts report that there are signs if you may have a problem drinking. Some include:

  • You drink more than planned.
  • You spend a lot of your day drinking.
  • Your tolerance for alcohol has increased.
  • You crave alcohol.
  • You give up other activities to drink.
  • You are dropping the ball on the responsibilities of your life.
  • Drinking is causing friction in your relationships.
  • Drinking is making you sick.

If you notice any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it's not a bad idea to check in with a professional to safeguard both your mental and physical health.

Sober Doesn't Have to Be Somber

Remember, parenting when not under the influence of alcohol doesn't have to be boring. Even better, you can celebrate the good times with your children hangover free. In fact, hiking, biking, and sitting around a fire with hot chocolate can be an effective stress buster. Remember, taking time for yourself outside of drinking can be even more calming to your nerves than reaching for the bottle. Perhaps the opposite of mommy wine culture is practicing self-compassion. You can give yourself permission to unwind healthfully without the pressure to be perfect.

Resources:

https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline 1-800-662- HELP (4357)

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