Can’t get through a tough day without a glass of vino to round it out? Tell yourself you deserve to unwind with a wine? Australia has a strong ‘mummy wine culture’ – the normalisation of drinking alcohol to cope with motherhood.

Now while I don’t believe in abstinence for all, many women have replaced true self-care with this approach. And that can have serious repercussions for your health. So let’s have a look at why this mummy wine culture is toxic, and how you can substitute it for truly taking care of your needs.

What is mummy wine culture?

To put it simply, mummy wine culture is what you see everywhere with the memes around motherhood and alcohol. It’s society (and let’s be honest, marketing) that tells you that life as a parent is more enjoyable and less stressful if you reach for a drink every evening.

For some, this becomes even more frequent. Weekend brunches, kids birthday parties, social events all become an opportunity to ‘take the edge off’ with your alcohol beverage of choice.

Now yes – this can happen for dads, and even for people without kids. But it’s particularly problematic for mums because they are told that this approach is a form of self-care. And for a mum who is already overwhelmed and time-poor, there isn’t much time for self-care. So if she’s using wine to ‘put herself first’… true self-care gets the boot.

Think you haven’t experienced this?

Here are just some examples of what this looks like:

  • Referring to your wine as ‘mummy juice’ around your kids
  • Going to social events that give you the excuse to drink alcohol, or even organising your own events with that aim
  • Buying yourself or being gifted merchandise that has jokes such as ‘this is probably wine’ or ‘mumma needs wine’ – even wine with a ‘prescription label’ on it (it’s a real thing, look it up!)
  • Sharing posts and memes with your social media or friends about using drinking to cope with your kids
  • Having a large glass or two to celebrate the kids going to bed after a bad day

And although this is often said to be in upper-middle class mums? It can affect any mum – of any age or socio-economic status. If you’re a mum who feels stressed (aka all of us), you could be vulnerable to this.

Why is mummy wine culture so appealing?

There is real appeal for women in this belief. Some of the reasons include:

  • It helps them to be more social, fun and feel connected to others
  • They no longer feel alone in their struggles because others are hitting the same problems and using the same ‘solution’
  • It allows them to say ‘it’s tough being a mum’ without actually directly saying so
  • They feel they have an opportunity to escape responsibility and ‘put themselves first’ for a while

So there are legitimate reasons why women fall into this trap. But it’s not as harmless as it might seem. There are serious health issues that come with drinking regularly and/or in large amounts.

The problems with this approach to parenthood

Let’s take a serious look at why this can problems for many women:

You may be avoiding an underlying problem

It seems obvious, but I have to point it out. If you’re genuinely needing to use alcohol to cope with your family and life, there’s a decent chance your mental health is not ok!

You may be avoiding or suppressing serious mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression. Or it could be another health issue that contributes to mental health at play such as PMDD.

But this is a band-aid – and a band-aid that makes the problem worse long-term, not better.

Drinking wine is not actually self-care

I know that this is the opposite of what mummy wine culture teaches us. But it’s self-comfort, NOT self-care. This is something I cover in more detail here.

The reason we use substances like wine is because they trigger dopamine. This brain chemical makes you feel good in the moment. It encourages you to repeat the same behaviours over and over again to get another ‘hit’.

The pattern of seeking comfort becomes wired in your brain, and it learns to depend on dopamine to cope with stress. Of course, de-stressing is a must for your health. But relying too much on anything external to cope like alcohol is not. You lose your ability to self-soothe and de-stress yourself.

You’re putting yourself (and your kids) at risk

While it’s enjoyable to drink, alcohol can have direct effects on you. You become less coordinated, more clumsy, and have problems judging things like timing and distance or making decisions. And yes, even one or two glasses can have effects!

This might not seem like a big deal. But it does actually increase the risk of yourself or your kids getting hurt. You might fall over and hurt yourself, or you might not notice your child’s injuries. And of course, if you’re driving by yourself or with the kids, you could end up in an accident.

Alcohol can exacerbate other health problems

If the above wasn’t enough, it’s time to put on my naturopath hat and mention that booze can be a big issue for your health. You name it, there’s a good chance alcohol makes it worse (or even contributes to it!)

This includes:

  • Weight gain
  • Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • PMS & perimenopause
  • Other hormonal conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS
  • Allergies and intolerances

Alcohol can dehydrate you, interfere with your sleep, leave you prone to food cravings, and leave you foggy & exhausted. So it also sabotages all of your pillars of wellbeing. If you’re doing it regularly enough, you can see how it’s a problem health-wise!

And this is before we even consider the potential of developing alcohol intolerance. Alcohol intolerance tends to pop up around perimenopause, leading to some nasty symptoms!

Drinking is not the only solution to relaxation!

Are you ready to feel calm, in control, less stressed and able to put yourself first – without resorting to a wine every night? I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but these things are within your reach with the right support.

Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.