It’s no secret that alcohol is often viewed as a necessary and normal part of life in American culture. And with the ever-growing “wine mom” culture, moms — and parents in general — are told that it’s not only acceptable to booze it up, but it’s expected.
If you’re a newly sober parent who is juggling the responsibilities of everyday life with kids, you’re probably familiar with the desire to get away from it all and just relax with a glass of wine. But even if you’re not physically having a drink, just thinking about wine as a way to escape is a dangerous mindset that can quickly derail your recovery and lead to relapse.
What is “Wine Mom” Culture?
The wine mom culture is everywhere these days. Coffee mugs adorn the shelves at Target with pretty script that says, “Mommy Needs Wine,” t-shirts say it, and even onesies for babies display phrases like, “When I WHINE, mommy WINES.” Regardless of how common it is, the wine culture sends a dangerous message.
Although some people may just think it’s cute or funny, the “wine mom” culture normalizes alcoholism for women and tells moms that they need wine to handle life with kids. In a sense, pouring a glass of wine is like saying, “Wow, this is hard” without having to admit that you’re struggling.
The Hidden Dangers of “Wine Mom” Culture
Casual boozing is a common practice and wine bars, wineries, or even just the living room of a friend’s house are typical places where people gather to drink, socialize, and hang out. In recent years, the “wine mom” culture and casual day-drinking have become an accepted norm for many parents. However, this behavior comes with several hidden dangers.
- It encourages an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. The main problem with the “wine mom” culture is that it encourages mothers to rationalize unhealthy drinking behaviors and use alcohol to deal with the stresses of motherhood rather than learning how to self-regulate and cope. One study found that between 2001 and 2013, high-risk drinking behaviors among women increased 58 percent and rates of problem drinking among women increased more than 84 percent.1
- It’s accepted. In America, we minimize the significance of problem drinking among mothers and parents because people are more accepting of wine. In general, it’s viewed as being safer than other alcoholic beverages or than drugs. In fact, it’s often touted and praised for its health benefits. The popular “wine mom” memes and references to “mommy juice” not only suggest that it is acceptable for women to abuse alcohol, but they also encourage it.
- It disguises the real problem. In reality, parenting is hard and many women don’t know how to cope. So instead, they joke about wine, drink it up, buy the mugs and t-shirts, and share the memes on Facebook. All the while, they are developing problematic drinking habits in an effort to cope with stress and other problems like depression, personal and professional pressures, and their role as a mother and a woman.
- It makes mothers feel ashamed to admit they’re struggling. Just like many mothers in the 50’s and 60’s who relied on Valium to survive the daily grind, it’s not uncommon for parents (especially moms) to buy into the lie that they need wine to cope and that it’s unacceptable to admit that they’re struggling or that they have developed a drinking problem.
Alcohol abuse among women is not uncommon and the “wine mom” culture greatly contributes to this growing problem. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 5.3 million women have alcohol use disorder.2
8 Tips to Stay Sober in a “Wine Mom” Culture
As a newly sober parent, staying sober in “wine mom” culture may not always be easy, but it is certainly possible, especially with the right support. Here are a few tips to help you maintain your sobriety in spite of a culture that tells you wine is the answer.
1. Keep social media in perspective.
Just because other moms constantly post pictures of themselves relaxing with a glass of wine or sipping on a wine-filled mug at their son’s baseball game, doesn’t mean everyone’s doing it. And it also doesn’t make it okay. You can make the decision to not share or comment on the memes and pictures, and most importantly, you can choose to acknowledge that some people may need wine to cope, but that doesn’t have to be your method.
2. Find new methods of self-care.
Buying into the “wine mom” culture not only tells your kids that you have to self-medicate to deal with them, but also that wine is a healthy method of self-care. Finding new methods of self-care is not only great for your recovery, but it’s also healthy for your kids to see you taking care of yourself. Alternate options like taking a bubble bath, hiring a babysitter to get some time alone, or making time to do ten minutes of yoga each morning may not be as satisfying as that glass of wine at first, but with time, you’ll adjust to your new life of sobriety and everything that comes with it.
3. Get creative with your stress management techniques.
If wine was your go-to before you got sober, you’ll need to get creative and think of new ways to manage your stress. Taking up kickboxing or a new form of exercise is always a great way to deal with stress. You could also try a new hobby, start going to therapy or indulge yourself with a treat next time you pick up groceries at the grocery store.
4. Regularly engage with supportive sober peers.
Even after you’ve completed your sober living program, it’s important to stay connected with a supportive sober circle of peers. Many of your sober peers may also be parents and can relate to the daily struggles and challenges of raising a family, as well as the additional feat of doing it sober. Doing life with your sober tribe and knowing that you’re not alone will go a long way and may also greatly reduce your risk of relapse.
5. Make time for your personal recovery.
As a parent, it may feel like there are simply not enough hours in the day, but it’s important to make time for your personal recovery. Examples of this may include attending weekly recovery support meetings, meeting with a sponsor regularly, or writing down your recovery goals and taking daily steps to achieve them. With the daily demands of life, making time for yourself is sometimes very difficult, but it’s a good practice, especially in addiction recovery.
6. Seek out treatment for co-occurring disorders.
If you suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental disorders, seeking professional treatment for these issues can help you develop more healthy coping techniques and strategies to deal with stress. Letting mental issues go untreated is not only a recipe for disaster, but it can make staying sober a lot more difficult in the long run.
7. Be clear with others about your sobriety.
Being honest and upfront about your sobriety with other moms and dads can make social events or gatherings easier. If your peers know that you’re sober, they may be less likely to try to pressure you into drinking. They may even ask you about your history with alcohol abuse, giving you the opportunity to share your recovery story and let them know that it’s okay to get help if they’re struggling too.
8. Remember that wine isn’t the solution.
Ultimately, keeping things in perspective is key. Going against the grain in wine mom culture isn’t easy, but remember that wine isn’t the solution to life’s problems. Although it may seem tempting to pour yourself a glass after a long hard day, life in recovery is much more rewarding and beneficial to both you and your family.
Staying sober isn’t easy when the wine mom culture tells you it’s impossible, but these tips can help you stay on track and keep your recovery goals top of mind.
If you or a loved one has recently relapsed and you need help getting back on track in your recovery, Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can help. We offer personalized recovery support services, IOP, and sober living homes in Texas and Colorado for men and women who are in recovery. Call today to speak with a member of our staff or to get more information.