How to challenge the Wine-Mum culture

We will be celebrating Mothers Day on 8th May this year.

Being a parent is one of the most important, hardest, heart opening and challenging things I have done (am doing) and I am sure most Mums will say the same.

However, for years now alcohol has steadily steeped into the social fabric of motherhood. The wine-mum image has evolved from a meme to a full-blown, marketed lifestyle. Although it appears to promote solidarity among stressed-out parents, this image frames alcohol as a panacea for fraught mothers, and it may be masking some real issues . Without moderation it is actually a threat to motherhood.

I wanted to share an experience and how we can challenge the wine-mum culture.

As a life coach, dedicated to helping working Mums – one of the beautiful women I worked with made a life-changing decision to stop drinking alcohol, after her second child was 13 months.

The turning point for her was at an evening soiree when she spotted a friend’s luminous face amid a crowd of cocktail-guzzling party goers. “She stood out – she looked radiant” my client recalls.

She asked her what her secret was.

Turns out, the not so secret ‘thing’ for her friend, was what she wasn’t doing. No alcohol.

Simple - with many ripple effect benefits.

My client, who considered herself an occasional social drinker, wondered how much of an impact the constant messaging around wine-mum culture had unconsciously affected her. Even though she knows it’s a caricature, she would immediately think of pouring herself a drink as a release valve once the children are in bed – and then do it.

My client has friends who credit alcohol with helping them with the responsibility of motherhood.

“Raising children is one of the most important and difficult tasks given to human beings. Combine that responsibility with the sleep deprivation, anxiety, stress and eradication of virtually all adult life as you know it, then alcohol is a wonderful shortcut: a way to feel calm and warmer.”

Does it matter if mother’s ruin has become mother’s little helper? My personal opinion – Yes, but there is always more to it.

When there is no moderation, when it is used to escape, sedate and numb, and when it impacts your physical and mental health, and especially when it starts to affect your ability to parent and create a healthy connection with your child - we need to challenge the wine-mum culture.

We talked about the sober-curious movement. It touts the appeal of an alcohol-free lifestyle — separating sobriety from the stigma of addiction and presenting it instead as a pathway to a healthier existence for anyone who wants to drink less, or not at all.

She wanted to explore it.

For her – it was the allure of better sleep, better skin, a clearer head, a calmer vibe.

During her first 30-day dry challenge, she had a craving for alcohol, which took a while to disappear. Her association of wine with relaxation was deep-rooted. Her realisation of how much healthier she felt for not drinking – how much less painful it was to be woken early and often by squalling children if she didn’t have a head full of cotton wool, and how much more energy she had during the day for the wild journey of motherhood – she decided the itch was not for scratching.

The sober-curiosity movement can certainly challenge the wine-mum culture if it is done in a way that doesn’t shame, alienate or judge mothers. There will be Mums who pours herself a glass of cabernet to have the joy of drinking without going for that second one to numb out the anxiety, and Mums who politely declines the cocktail tray.

When my client goes to a party - she will bring a bottle of wine, and a bottle of Non-Alcoholic wine for herself - to still be bubbly without feeling buzzed.

The availability of so many Non-Alcoholic options now is helping those who put the breaks on alcohol for a bit before but felt lonely and alienated. The sober-curious movement is refreshing and challenging the wine-mum culture.

To hold a can of Non-Alcoholic beer at a BBQ or pour a glass of alcohol free wine with friends at dinner, and still be the parent you want to be is what we will be celebrating this Mothers Day.

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