There are times in every person’s life when they need help and support from others. One type of person that often struggles in silence with the weight and the demands of everyday life is a mom. Moms are under a lot of pressure to work hard, raise well-rounded kids and keep a clean house, all while maintaining relationships with friends and family.
Moms are often met with demands in the middle of the night or early in the morning, leaving them tired and too run down to accomplish everything during the day.
Many women are turning to alcohol to cope, escape, and bond with other women in motherhood.
Mommy Burnout is Real – And It’s Dangerous
Being a mom is incredibly hard. Katie Bingham-Smith wrote in a piece for Scary Mommy about her experience with mom burnout.
“Burnout feels like you are staggering through life, trying to make it through the day until you can hit the sheets. Only to wake up and have to do it all over again. Burnout steals your joy. Zaps your energy. Makes you moody.”
What is disconcerting, is how moms aren’t given a whole lot of other options to deal with feeling this way. From the media to spouses, to other moms – women are continually being sent the message that wine is the only solution. If you ask us, it’s not a solution in way shape or form.
Alcohol has long been a way to unwind and relax. A crutch that allows us to deal with the hardships, stress, and monotony of life – especially for moms. Memes that read “Mommy drinks because you cry” or the wine glasses with the words “Mommy Fuel” emblazoned across them have become commonplace.
The Rise of Alcohol Abuse in Mothers
Instead of finding healthy ways to manage stress and increase energy, many moms are now abusing prescription drugs to get through the day.
A surprising number of women, many of which are mothers, are now abusing alcohol and other drugs that make them feel better or function during the day.
According to NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), 60% of U.S. women have at least one drink a year. Among women who drink, 13% have more than seven drinks per week – way above the recommended limits.
Moms Deserve Better Than This
When we talked to Sarah Hepola for our Ladies Who Lush podcast episode, she touched on how we can all do better for moms who are struggling.
“Mother’s are dealing with some very intense pressures that I feel like people didn’t pay attention to for a long time. Motherhood is the greatest job; you should be having a great time, this is the time of your life! Well, what if it’s not? What if I’m suffering and nobody wants to listen to me.”
What it comes down to is we’re not dealing with the core issues. Women are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, alone. The most natural thing to do for many of these women to cope is to pop a cork and pour a glass of Merlot. It’s all backward. A recent article in the New York Times titled Being a Sober Parent in a Wine Mom Culture, notes that parents who don’t drink don’t have a simple solution to stress.
“There are a lot of different social programs that have been slow to develop,” Hepola shared. “The fear was that if we created [these programs], we would make worse mothers but by denying them, we’ve made mothers more stressed.”
When you see a mom struggling don’t just give her that knowing glance and top up her wine glass. Ask her about it. Work through the problem. Have a good cry together. Connect humanly.
What Moms Can Do to Cope – Healthily
“Moms making jokes about drinking wine is a huge cliché, right up there with yoga pants, coffee, and minivans, right? But see, the thing is, I actually require alcohol to deal with motherhood. I could live without spandex/lycra blends and possibly even coffee (shudder), but there is absolutely no way I could do this thing without wine.”
When we found this article (also on Scary Mommy), it was so disheartening. We knew that drinking had become a growing issue for women and mothers especially. But to read the words, I require alcohol to deal with motherhood, just cemented the fact that we need to do better.
Here are a few things you can do to stop from using alcohol as a crutch.
Create a Healthy Self-Care Routine
What is a mom supposed to do, when she is overtired, overworked and yet is expected to take the kids to soccer practice, help them with homework, and also provide them with a healthy diet, clean clothes, and a variety of experiences?
“We need to figure out ways to connect women with each other or with the help that they need,” Hepola said of offering women and mothers more options to deal with stress.
Mother of two, Amanda*, stopped drinking and recognized a pattern.
“I only really want to drink when I’m feeling down, stressed, or overwhelmed. Essentially, I drink whenever I feel bad. That was a scary thought and one that kept me from reaching for the bottle in those moments. Now, when I have a bad day, I still think you know, what I need right now is a big glass of wine, but then I stop myself and ask what else can I do to get myself out of this slump. So I do yoga, or meditate, or lock myself in the bathroom to take a few deep breaths alone.”
Stop Playing Comparisons
Parenting is a tough job, and moms and dads are good at bragging about the good things they’ve accomplished, yet have a hard time admitting failures or struggles.
Social media only helps to exemplify this fact. We asked Amy Morin, author of the book 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don’t Do, about the effects of social comparing.
“It’s so easy to look around and say, I should be doing something different. Everyone else has a better life than I do. How come everybody else is happier? It just becomes pervasive because we’re surrounded by it all the time.”
Social comparing doesn’t just bring you down. It can cause significant mental health problems.
“Research will show that when you envy people, especially on Facebook, that it’s linked to depression,” Morin continues. “It takes a big toll on your life, and it can impact your psychological health.”
In short, moms have to stop comparing themselves to others.
More important than a spotless house and yard are kids who are loved and nurtured. Kids don’t need to be in all the activities available if it stresses the family and causes moms to self-medicate with alcohol.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
When you’re feeling run down and unable to cope, don’t be afraid to cut back on activities, or ask friends or family to help until you can get things back together again.
You can’t be everything to everyone. You can’t do it all, and most importantly you can’t do it all alone. Any woman who says she can do it all is lying.
It’s time everyone slows down a little and stops pressuring themselves to be perfect. Put limits on extracurricular activities or hobbies that your kids are involved with. Try not be so concerned about what others think. You do you.
Recognize When You Need Help
Because drinking is so socially acceptable, it can be incredibly easy to miss the signs that things are just not right.
So how do you know you have a problem?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that if you answer “yes” to more than one of the following questions, you should reach out for help.
Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
Have you ever felt annoyed when someone brings up or criticizes your drinking?
Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking?
Have you ever had to drink in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
If you think you might have a drinking problem, call (818) 666-3083.