Expert / 14 June, 2023 / My Baba
Picture this: It’s 2020, and we’re all stuck in lockdown, juggling work, home-schooling and keeping our sanity intact. I’m scrolling through Instagram and see a Tropicana orange juice advert disguised as a post from Molly Sims. The post shows the model hiding in her bathroom, sipping on a mimosa. She’s having a #memoment, hiding from her kids, drinking champagne mixed with orange juice to get through the lockdown.
It was the first time I saw and recognised mummy wine culture messaging for what it was, a lie. After that, I couldn’t stop seeing it across social media, on gifts, baby onesies, baby bottles, greeting cards, and pretty much any advert aimed at mothers. In 2021, Good Housekeeping wrote that 67,000 “wine mom” products were available for sale on Etsy.
10 things you need to know about “mummy wine culture”
Recognise the messaging
Whenever you see an ad or message implying that being a mum requires alcohol, get curious. It could come from big alcohol companies, greeting cards, social media memes, TV shows, or movies. This messaging looks a little like “I Wine Because My Kids Whine” or “Surviving Motherhood, One Glass at a Time.” The messaging always implies that alcohol would make mothering better. But is this REALLY true?
Why recognizing mummy wine culture matters
A 2020 study by RAND revealed that women increased their heavy drinking days by a staggering 41% during the pandemic. This shows that many mums turned to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the unprecedented stress and challenges of parenting. However, this trend has led to a significant rise in alcohol-related liver disease among young women. But alcohol doesn’t just affect our liver. For example, did you know drinking three glasses of wine a week increases our risk of breast cancer by 15%? I don’t write about this to scare other mums like me; I didn’t know this stuff. I want you to be able to make the most empowered, fully informed choice.
Who benefits from mummy wine culture?
The purpose of this is not to shame mums for drinking. It’s to shed light on the advertising techniques used by Big Alcohol, billion-dollar corporations that use false messaging to keep us hooked on an addictive substance. These companies profit off tired mums to the tune of millions of pounds and dollars. They know that wine is highly addictive, and when we become lifelong customers, they reap the financial rewards.
What is mummy wine culture teaching our children
When we rely on alcohol to cope with our kids, we inadvertently teach them that wine is necessary to handle or deal with them. We are telling them that they are hard work and that we need an addictive substance to cope with them. “But my children are little, Christy, they don’t know!” I hear you say. I thought so too, but I’ve learned on my freedom from alcohol journey that they pick up on many more things than we give them credit for.
You’re missing out on memories
Mummy Wine Culture means we miss out on some of the best memories with our children. Wine steals our memories by hijacking the part of our brain that creates them. When I stopped drinking, I realized “The days are long, but the years are short” is a saying that holds true. I, personally, would rather be fully present with my children than miss another second while believing that wine makes me a better mum.
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Mummy wine culture tells us that alcohol makes parenting more enjoyable and less stressful and is the ultimate “reward.” Here are three reasons why this message is untrue.
The mummy wine culture lie: part 1
Wine doesn’t help us with parenting because the euphoria is fleeting. You know that relief you get from drinking to make your children more bearable? It lasts about 20 minutes. When we drink, the brain releases dopamine, the pleasure and learning molecule, giving us a temporary feeling of euphoria. But the brain quickly registers this dopamine as artificial and counters it with dynorphin, a downer hormone. So, we reach for another glass, chasing that fleeting high.
The mummy wine culture lie: part 2
Wine doesn’t help with our mum stress; it increases and compounds it for days after a drink. Alcohol spikes our adrenaline and cortisol levels 7-10 days after consumption. So, while it may provide temporary relief after a tough day with the kids, it ultimately adds to our stress as mums.
The mummy wine culture lie: part 3
Wine doesn’t make parenting easier because we’re ruining our sleep. Alcohol interferes with our sleep, leaving us feeling more tired and groggy. Sure, we may pass out after a few glasses, but our brains and bodies don’t get the quality sleep they need to recover from the day. Instead of the necessary 6-7 hours of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, we only get 1 or 2.
What can we do instead?
Seek alternative recharge and reward
Instead of turning to alcohol, we can explore healthier ways to support ourselves. Make time for self-care, whether it’s an early bedtime or a walk at lunchtime. When we find better ways to support our health and well-being, it becomes apparent that wine is actually self-sabotage, not self-care. It’s beneficial to do this work with a coach.
Challenging the messaging
It’s not just the alcohol industry perpetuating mummy wine culture; we reinforce it through our social media interactions. Let’s stop sharing and liking memes that promote the idea that alcohol is a necessary tool for being a mother. Instead, we can challenge the narrative and find better ways to support each other as mothers.
By questioning the idea that we need wine to be good mums, we can find healthier ways to navigate motherhood. It’s time to embrace a life without the need for “mummy juice.”
If you want to begin to question the message that wine is helping you as a mum, I offer bespoke, confidential, 1:1 coaching, as well as small groups and free resources at lovelifesober.co.uk and offer daily free support on Instagram @lovelifesoberwithchristy.
Article by Christy Osborne @lovelifesoberwithchristy, founder of Love Life Sober.
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