One mom shares how the pandemic increased her drinking. Learn why her decision to give up alcohol altogether helped her become a better parent.
Becoming A Parent
Before I became a parent, I was a social drinker. I’d have a beer or a glass or two of wine with some friends on a Saturday night. That was about it. My friends occasionally called me a lightweight and I didn’t mind. Life was good and fun. When I felt stressed, I was able to manage it with various tools that didn’t include alcohol.
A few years into motherhood, however, I realized how pervasive the mommy wine culture in our society actually is, and how hard it was to resist it. It felt like everywhere I looked, moms were having wine play dates. They were hosting shopping parties with wine. Gifting each other tumblers and T-shirts with phrases like “mama needs a drink” on them. I quickly learned, firsthand, how much our culture encourages—and even celebrates—moms turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism for the challenges of parenting.
I’ll admit, I fell into the trap for a few years, and I attended plenty of those mommy wine parties. I honestly didn’t think it was an issue whatsoever. Many of the moms I knew in my suburban community were doing it alongside me. No big deal, right?
A Pandemic-induced Shift in Alcohol
While I was at home, overwhelmed and lonely, I saw plenty of Facebook posts and memes about stocking up on toilet paper, paper towels, and alcohol. Moms online were joking (or were they serious?) about drinking wine all day to deal with virtual schooling their kids. Between the stresses of parenting, being home all the time, and the possibility of getting the virus, no wonder our consumption had increased.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the COVID-19 crisis fueled increases in retail alcohol sales. One study conducted by RTI International found women with kids under 5 increased their drinking by 323 percent.
“From the stress of unemployment to feelings of isolation during physical distancing, there are many reasons the COVID-19 emergency may be influencing alcohol consumption,” George F. Koob, Ph.D., the NIAAA director, wrote in a post.
I found that I was drinking alcohol specifically to escape the feeling of overwhelm that encompassed the year 2020. I was exhausted all the time. Impatient with my kids and myself. I was only “relaxed” when I was alone with my wine and Netflix late at night. It soon became impossible for me to ignore that drinking alcohol just wasn’t serving me. I came to a place where I wanted to change my approach to parenting stress that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
So, what did I do? I made a commitment to myself to remove alcohol from my life. I started reading books about sobriety, such as Annie Grace’s This Naked Mind and Quit Like a Woman by Holly Whitaker, which was recently featured on HBO’s Sex and the City reboot And Just Like That…
Becoming a better parent can start with reading This Naked Mind. Read the first chapter for free now!
I listened to several podcast episodes on sobriety, including Sober Powered, and I found some sober accounts to follow on Instagram. Through my own personal journey and exploration of sobriety, I’ve found that I fall into the category of moms who just want to be seen and heard during this pandemic. My need for a break from being a full-time caregiver is a feeling shared by moms across the country, and we need more than a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to help keep us afloat.
Today, I am enjoying the confidence and mental clarity that comes along with my choice to stop drinking alcohol. I know that I’m choosing a healthier lifestyle for myself—and one that will impact my kids and my family in a very positive way. I’m starting to feel free of some of the anxiety that came with drinking over the years, like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I’m sleeping better and have more patience with life’s challenges in general during a pandemic.
Become A Better Parent
For parents who are struggling with addition though, it’s of course not as simple to stop drinking. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is great resource for those struggling to get clean, as well as a place for loved ones to get advice or help.
But whether it’s a membership-based virtual support group (there are many!), a free trial to test the waters, like the Alcohol Experiment from This Naked Mind, or professional help, there are different options out there for moms who want to give up alcohol and level up to a different and more enjoyable version of parenting.
Read the full article on How Sobriety Has Helped Me Become a Better Parent