The mommy wine meme has been around since the mid 2010s and is still going strong! We see it on social media posts, as well as on all kinds of swag—magnets and T-shirts declaring “mama needs wine,” or mugs and goblets labeled ”mommy’s sippy cup.”
This continued popularity exists because there is an ongoing stream of overwhelmed new moms joining the ranks of motherhood, and needing to commiserate over the rigors and exhaustion of parenting.
What better way than partaking in a glass or two of “mommy juice,” and a little innocent wine humor, right? Well, maybe yes and maybe no. Let’s take a deeper dive into “mommy wine culture” and explore the question: Has it gone too far?
Defining Mommy Wine Culture
Wine moms are a group of moms who seek to take the edge off of parenting by drinking wine, and joking about it. These moms are often feeling exhausted with the demands of motherhood, housework, and possibly working outside the home. And some are feeling frustrated that the majority of parenting falls to them.
It appears that wine moms are looking for an escape—at least temporarily. However on a larger scale, the mom wine culture represents a dangerous trend in modern parenting.
What Attracts Moms to Wine Mom Culture?
Stay-at-home-moms, in particular, often feel isolated. They seek an outlet for adult conversation and interaction. Wine moms enjoy bonding with other moms to share frustrations, where they can be someone other than “mommy,” over a nice glass (or two, or three…) of wine.
Moms of young kids can feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 obligations of motherhood, so they crave down-time with other moms, or even some time alone. They believe that wine helps them to chill out and feel more relaxed in these situations.
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Increased Stress During the Pandemic
The reality is, amidst all the wonderful rewards of parenting lie some constant stressors—and never more so than during the pandemic.
From the beginning of COVID-19, many moms found themselves working from home, caring for young ones, and supervising remote learning. Not to mention cooking, cleaning, laundry and more. Others were distressed over the loss of employment and income. Reaching for “mommy juice” became a refuge at the end of an exhausting day, rather than just a social activity.
A 2020 RAND Corporation study revealed that women increased their heavy drinking days by 41 percent during the pandemic. Additional research suggests that this increase was related to the psychological stress associated with COVID-19.
The Effects of Wine Mom Culture on Children
Kids are very perceptive, and may get several different impressions from witnessing “mommy wine culture.”
On the one hand, “wine mom” memes may send the message to kids that parenting them is intolerable because they are so “demanding, annoying, boring” etc.—and mommy needs to escape. Even young children are watching closely, and their self-esteem can take a hit.
Mom’s behavior can also send a message that drinking is an acceptable way to deal with stress, and may set the stage for her child’s future relationship with alcohol.
More Downsides of Mommy Wine Culture
- Alcohol addiction: As we know, there are different degrees of alcohol consumption—ranging from the occasional drink, to alcohol dependency and addiction. Alcohol use disorder can develop gradually, and some people are more susceptible than others.
- Self medication: This refers to wine moms using alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the stress of parenting, instead of developing healthy ways to address emotions. In these cases drinking is a “band-aid” solution that can become habitual.
- Safety issues: Drinking can lead to serious accidents on the road, and in the home. After a wine-fueled play date, some moms may think they are “fine” to drive, or properly supervise their children.
- Alcoholic liver disease: Liver disease has risen sharply among women during the pandemic, and often carries few symptoms until it becomes advanced. Not only is liver disease dangerous on its own, it causes greater susceptibility to COVID-19.
- Other health issues: Excessive drinking can result in heart disease, thinning bones, infertility, pregnancy risk, fetal alcohol syndrome, cancer, and other serious health conditions.
- Normalizing drinking for stress management: Wine mom gatherings, and playdates where mommy juice is flowing, put a pretty bow on a serious underlying issue. They imply “this is just how the cool moms chill,” glorifying the reality that some moms rely on alcohol to cope.
Alternative Coping Strategies for Moms
If drinking has so many downsides, what are some other ways of practicing self-care if you’re feeling overworked or worn-out? Let’s take a look at some other ways to cope with the stress and isolation that often accompany parenting.
Keep those playdates, but serve some non-alcoholic drinks instead of wine. Meet up at a playground, park, or zoo. Be sure to have some “moms only” events as well: game nights, dinner dates, book clubs. etc.
Ask for help
Swap free time with other moms by taking turns babysitting for a couple hours. Have a serious chat with your spouse about distribution of household responsibilities.
For a sense of calm, learn to focus on the here and now. Deep breathing and visualizing a relaxing setting can be helpful as well.
Choose nutritious meals and snacks, get plenty of sleep, and exercise several times a week.
Nature is rejuvenating! Whether you can steal some alone time for a walk, or gather the troops for an energy-burning outdoor adventure, you are bound to feel better.
Enjoy your children
They are only small for a while. Read, sing, dance, play! Focus on the joy they bring to your life, and not the stressors.
Mommy Wine Culture: Final Thoughts
While it can be fine to meet up with a group of moms and sip a glass of wine, the problem lies when it starts to feel like “a need” or a habit required to make it through another day of parenting. It’s important not to let the “wine mom” meme mask what may be turning into a real problem.
That said, if you are concerned about your relationship with alcohol, flexible help is available. Ria Health offers regular coaching sessions and anti-craving prescriptions from the convenience of a mobile app. No office visits are required, there’s no need to put your life on hold, and you don’t have to identify as an alcoholic.