As a busy mum, it may seem like you can hardly squeeze out a moment for yourself. Pouring a glass of wine can help you reclaim a tiny bit of personal time – and get you on the fast-track to relaxation. However, if it’s your primary way of coping with stress, you may be crossing the line into alcohol abuse.
The stresses of motherhood are undeniable, and women are under an immense amount of pressure to excel at parenting, hold things down at work, and manage a household. It’s a lot for any mum, and carving out a little time to be alone or do something to relax is often hard to do. When “wine mom” blogs emerged online, they championed the mum’s rights to let go and have a glass of wine as a way to recapture some of the personal time that gets lost to the demands of motherhood. While the need for mothers to have some time to themselves is incredibly important, when this time is defined solely in terms of wine, problems with alcohol abuse can arise.
The Birth of Wine Mom Culture
“Wine mom” culture started where so many trends do – online, on widely read mum blogs. Bloggers looking to both extol the genuine hard work of “supermums” (think cleaning the house, overseeing homework and taking work calls simultaneously) while also exposing the realness of everyday parenting (it’s cereal for dinner, kids!) incorporated bits about the need for a little “mom juice” to take the edge off. This idea, both humorous and relatable to many, took off and inspired countless memes, jokes, and even merchandise celebrating that hard-won glass (or bottle) of wine. Social media groups, such as the 780,000 follower-strong “Moms Who Need Wine” Facebook page, sprung up with their own anecdotes and witticisms, and Wine Mom culture was born.
The creation of a culture of acceptance and humour around drinking has helped to normalise an array of drinking behaviours for women, some of which are appropriate and harmless, but some that are problematic. This is especially true for binge drinking, which for women clocks in at around four glasses of wine in two hours. In Wine Mom culture, these behaviours are often portrayed as deserved as a way to relax. While relaxation is essential for any mum, it is important that the method of letting down and coping with life’s stresses isn’t harmful.
Parental Burnout and the Wine Mom
The environment in which Wine Mom culture has flourished is one characterised by high pressure, higher standards, and little room for error. Unyielding demands from kids and often work as well, combined with a blend of social and internalised ideas about what one “should” be doing as a mum, creates a storm of stress around everyday parenting. If you are giving it your all and feeling absolutely physically and emotionally exhausted as a result, or you feel defeated or depressed because you think you’re not doing enough, you are likely experiencing what is known as parental burnout.
Symptoms of Parental Burnout
Some signs that you may be experiencing burnout include:
- Exhaustion, either emotionally, physically, or both
- Feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Feeling emotionally disconnected from your child(ren)
- Feeling like you are on “auto-pilot”
- Feeling like you are losing control
- Experiencing persistent feelings of guilt, shame, anger, or depression
For mums who are feeling the effects of burnout, it is normal to attempt to cope with these feelings using a variety of mechanisms. However, not all ways to cope are healthy or sustainable, and professional treatment may ultimately be needed to help find positive ways to overcome burnout.
Wine and Self-Care
If you are burned out, talking with a mental health professional about what you’re experiencing is an important step in identifying good ways to cope with stress and improve your overall quality of life. Dealing with stress is generally best done by employing a variety of coping mechanisms, which can be used in different circumstances. A diverse palette of good coping techniques could include a fitness class, a gathering with friends, a quiet period with a book – and perhaps a glass or two of wine. For many people, alcohol can be a non-destructive way to kick back, but it has to be balanced out by a variety of other healthy activities or practices.
A key issue with Wine Mom culture is the emphasis on wine as the only way to properly take a break. This either comes at the exclusion of other, healthier coping mechanisms, or propels alcohol into a variety of other ways to relax. For example, if you are feeling like every mums’ get together has to have a few bottles of wine, or your afternoon walk out with the stroller needs to have your own sippy-cup packed too, this could be a signal that you are starting to prioritise alcohol as a way to relax. This is where drinking becomes a problem.
Women, Wine and Alcohol Abuse
When considering healthy levels of alcohol intake, gender plays a critical component. Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to suffer hangovers, black out during drinking, and experience liver inflammation from excessive alcohol consumption. These effects stem from biological differences between men and women particularly regarding body size and fat, which impacts alcohol absorption.
For women, excessive consumption means drinking more than seven alcoholic beverages per week (and more than three per day). One beverage roughly translates to:
- A 5 oz. (125 ml) glass of wine
- A 7.5 oz. (220 ml) glass of malt liquor
- A 12 oz. (355 ml) glass of beer
- A 1.5 oz. (44 ml) glass of spirits
Drinking more than these amounts puts you at greater risk for developing alcohol-related health problems such as digestive issues, hormonal complications, liver problems – and even cancer. Alcohol can also accelerate the aging process when consumed beyond recommended limits, and can have ill-effects to your skin and your blood pressure.
So, even though you may not be drinking to the point of feeling drunk, if you are consuming more than these guidelines suggest on a regular basis you may want to consider cutting back for your long-term health.
Redefining Being a Mum at The Dawn
If you realise that you might be burned out and leaning too heavily on alcohol as a way to escape, The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand can help you. We are a boutique residential centre devoted to helping our clients identify the root causes of their struggles, develop a variety of healthy coping mechanisms, and regain control and balance in their lives. Licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health and staffed by a compassionate team of professional specialists, The Dawn works with each client to develop a highly personalised treatment plan designed to fit your individual needs.
Every day doesn’t have to be a struggle. Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help you.