Moms with young kids increased their alcohol consumption by over 300% during the pandemic. We talk to the moms who are questioning the mommy drinking culture and exploring the new Sober Curious movement instead
It’s the end of a long day of parenting and the ‘mommy needs wine’ memes are flying hard and fast all over social media. Many moms who are overwhelmed with multi-tasking kids, work, and life can hard relate. The mental load of motherhood has us at breaking point. Add in the stresses of Covid-19 and it’s enough to send many over the edge! Cue the ‘wine mom’ jokes. It’s all in good humour, though right? But some moms are questioning the constant ‘mama needs wine’ narrative that perpetuates the mommy drinking culture. Having a glass of wine every now and then is quite different to using a daily glass of wine or two as a way to get through your day as a parent. A study by RTI suggests that moms with young kids increased their alcohol consumption by 323% during the pandemic which is a little terrifying given the widely publicised negative impact that excessive alcohol has on our physical and mental health.
“I am drinking too much, yes. We all were in the pandemic, and… I guess I just kept going,” when I heard these words spoken by Miranda to Carrie Bradshaw in ‘And Just Like That…‘ it was like hearing someone echo my exact thoughts.” Celine, 38 has two kids aged 3 and 6 and works as an account manager. “During the pandemic my friends and I would send over cocktail packages to each other with notes like ‘Here’s your Parenting Survival Kit!’ During the week I was having a few glasses of wine every night to unwind (I no longer had a commute from work to decompress so that glass of wine served as my way of ending my WFH day ). I felt groggy and hassled much of the time. Having a glass of wine was my way of coping with the stresses of managing the kids, work, and dealing with Covid news. It wasn’t like I was binge drinking – having a nightly drink didn’t seem like a big deal. It was only when life started to get back to normal that I realized I was a little too reliant on my daily ‘just one glass of wine’. I didn’t like the thought that I ‘needed’ alcohol when I felt stressed. So I decided on a different ritual to mark the end of the day. I do a 15-minute online yoga session (with the kids if they are keen) or go on a walk with a podcast. I might open my computer after the kids go to bed later but for me, this simple act of mindfully closing the workday has meant that I don’t rely on alcohol for that anymore. I still enjoy a drink at dinner on the weekend but I’m happier knowing I am in charge of it and not the other way around!”
Rise of the Sober Curious
Mom of two, Sarah, 42 is part of a growing Sober Curious movement. Unlike sobriety, which is often a lifestyle chosen as a result of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder, sober curiosity is loosely defined as having the option to mindfully choose if and when one might want to drink (or not). Sarah says “I haven’t had wine or champagne for years as it gives me indigestion (I am clearly old ha!) but I do still drink the occasional spirit or cocktail. I would say I am Sober Curious. I consciously think about whether I need or want alcohol rather than defaulting to having a glass wine after a stressful day of parenting or when out and about. I also get such bad hangovers that I’m not fussed about drinking a lot of the time. There is still peer pressure socially to drink and ‘join in with the fun’ but I would rather wake up with a clear head so I am focused for the kids and can make the most of my day.”
Megan, 37, has three kids “I used to have big drinking days when I was younger. I feel like the idea of daily drinking is part of the ‘Work Hard Play Hard’ culture and that’s not sustainable. All the mommy drinking memes seem to normalize and even champion daily alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol shouldn’t be a coping mechanism for being stressed – whether that’s stress from work or from parenting. There are days when the kids are driving me up the wall and I see all the ‘mama needs wine’ memes and I think, yes it would be easy to just reach for a glass of something strong to numb any feelings or stresses. Part of me even thinks, I’m a mum but I’m still fun, see I’m having a few drinks. As a Brit, having a drink and getting on with life no matter what it’s throwing at you feeds into the Keep Calm and Carry On narrative but I think it’s healthier to manage daily stress with exercise or through communicating. When I do tend to have a few too many drinks it really affects my sleep which has a knock-on effect on how I feel (and how I parent) the next day!”
Emma, 45 and mom to a 15-year-old and 12-year-old took a 90-day sobriety challenge at the beginning of Covid. “With all the bars and restaurants closed and with no opportunities to socialise, it was as good an opportunity as ever to try to not drink. I’m not a day-to-day drinker but I do love a social drink occasionally. During my no drinking challenge I felt good without alcohol in my system yet I still craved that end of day experience of having a few drinks. Nothing on the alcohol-free market quite hit the spot so I went on a global hunt with Rebecca, a fellow entrepreneur here in Singapore with Australian roots, to find more palatable alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits. That’s how our alcohol-free bottle shop Free Spirit was born. We’ve really seen a huge jump in sales with people looking for alcohol-free alternatives.”
Read more:Alcohol-Free Cocktail Recipes
New mom Sara says “When I was pregnant but hadn’t reached the 3-month mark, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to turn down a drink without explaining why. I was invited to a BBQ so I took a bottle of Noughty Rosé and no one had any idea I was drinking wine with no alcohol. It was so easy and enjoyable to be able to socialise and keep my secret. Once I gave birth I decided to stick with alcohol-free options whilst breastfeeding.”
Lisa, 34 says “I have young children and find that having the odd non-alcoholic drink at home makes it easier to deal with the kids. You never know when you’ll be woken up during the night with a sick child so, when you do the school run the next day, you aren’t hungover and cranky. It’s a great way to cut down whilst not cutting out alcohol altogether.”
Another mom we spoke to raises a good point. Is society shaming women and mothers for having a few drinks while men are being left off the hook? Why is it assumed that the middle of the night wake-ups and parenting stresses will be dealt with by mom who needs to be clear-headed?
We reckon it’s not about abstaining but as with so much in life, it’s about balance. In these days of intensive parenting coupled with the pandemic stresses, with more women using drinking as a coping technique, it is more important than ever to be mindful about personal limits. Carolina Barbosa, a health economist at nonprofit research institute RTI says “Women are more likely to use alcohol to cope with stress, depression, and anxiety, and all these are a natural response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Alcohol consumption among women has been on the uptick for past two decades, and our study suggests the pandemic may only exacerbate that trend.”