All those Facebook memes about motherhood and parenting are very funny, mostly because they are completely true. But we’ve noticed a bit of a regular pattern when it comes to the familiar ‘mothers and wine’ memes; they are getting more and more common. Are all these memes just harmless fun, or should we be a bit more concerned about this increase in mums who drink?
Mums of babies tend to spend a lot of time on social media. It is a great way to connect with the outside world when you are essentially housebound, and a way to entertain yourself when you are awake at all hours.
And social media is littered with memes about mothers and wine, making it seem common and hilarious for mums to need wine o’clock to cope with the stress of their kids. But are we joking about how much people drink or are we normalising drinking to the extent that it may be difficult to tell if you are drinking too much or not?
The Mummy Drinking Culture
Does any of this sound familiar?
Opening a bottle of wine as you start to cook dinner while your bub is happy in front of Peppa Pig? Taking the glass into the bathroom to sip while you are supervising bath time, or setting it on your child’s side-table while reading them their bedtime story?
Pouring a glass after they’ve finally dropped off to sleep to stave away the loneliness from yet another day without grown-up interaction or to wait through the long stretch until your partner gets home?
Being a mum of multiples is extraordinarily hard; we don’t need to tell you that.
You never really switch off, you are physically and mentally alert 24 hours a day. You have feeding and sleeping schedules to worry about, developmental milestones, concerns about any little baby coughs or niggles or signs of illness, and so much more on your mind.
If you finally get both babies down for the night (hopefully!), then it is completely normal to reach for a glass of wine. And in your case, it is probably well deserved.
Not every mum who enjoys a drink at the end of the day needs to be concerned about her drinking. For the majority of people, it isn’t a sign of a problem. But for some mums who drink, it is a sign of something more concerning that they and their partners and families need to pay attention to.
Alcohol is a lovely way to wind down at the end of the day and quieten that constantly worried mind. It is also a treat for hard-working mums. But drinking regularly, and if you have more than a couple at a time, could be a sign that you are self-medicating instead.
Mums who drink: What are the numbers?
While the percentage of the population who have substance addiction may not sound too bad, the numbers of people engaging in high-risk drinking are increasing in scary amounts. The figures vary from country to country, but since the early 2000s, the numbers of middle-aged women drinking at risky levels have increased by as much as 84%.
Some studies say up to 20% of middle-aged women reported drinking at risky levels (which is more than two drinks a day).
What is self-medicating?
This means that you might be drinking not so much to wind down but to numb stress, anxiety, sadness or other emotions that you aren’t able to deal with. Numbing these feelings can make functioning seem much easier but hiding them without actually dealing with them can make you very unwell in the long term.
Self-medicating is very often the first sign of substance abuse. If it is not dealt with, it can turn into an addiction. Having a wind-down wine of an evening is fine, but if there are feelings or issues you aren’t dealing with these will escalate rather than go away.
Then you might need more wine to keep ‘facing’ them, and increasing your drinking brings extra problems, like money concerns, hangovers, and being intoxicated when in the care of your little ones.
Mums can be very talented at just getting on with it. Experts believe that there are a lot more mums that are high-functioning while living with substance abuse, mental illness or both than we realise.
When might your drinking be a sign of something more serious?
There are a few warning signs that you can look out for, to see if your drinking or a friend’s drinking might be a sign of something more serious:
- When an uncomfortable feeling arises, like stress, anxiety, sadness, you drink to numb that feeling rather than addressing it
- Your initial problems are still there the next day when you wake up
- Your amount of drinking might be creating its own extra problems. For example money worries, hangovers, relationship problems or being unable to drive or take care of your babies
- You feel worse after drinking rather than better
- You worry if you can’t get a drink or if you run out
- Your partner, family or friends have expressed concerns about your drinking
Where can you get more information?
High-risk drinking is considered to be, on average, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day. You may not drink every day or may not really feel hungover. You may never miss work or appointments for your children or you may be able to go days without a drink.
But if any of the above signs sound familiar to you. Or when you count up the bottles at the end of the week it is more than 2-3 bottles consumed on your own. It might be time to talk to someone about your drinking.
Daybreak has a wonderful initiative called Hello Sunday Morning which seeks to help people reduce the amount they are drinking and deal with concerns behind the habit. Some of their resources include a handy app to get started, a supportive community and online health coaches and counsellors.
You can find out more information about Daybreak HERE.
For a list of other support services you can call for advice and information, click HERE.
Remember, having one baby is hard work! Having 2, 3 or 4 babies at once, means you are outnumbered from the start!! Regardless of what is happening for you at this point in your life, I’m sure you are doing a great job!!
You’ve got this!!!
Passionate about all things multiple, Naomi is the founder of Twinfo.
Naomi is a Parenting Blogger and a Brand Ambassador, but most important of all she is a twin mother who understands.
Twinfo provides a connection to resources, information, products and service providers who specialise in supporting multiple births at every stage of their life.