“Mommy wine culture” is the idea that “motherhood is hard so I deserve a drink.”
Today, I want to share my experience with alcohol along with some alternative ways you might consider thinking about drinking as a mom.
Before we get started, here are a few helpful resources I’ve created on this topic you might find helpful, too…
- Mommy Wine Culture (podcast)
- My Year Without Drinking (podcast)
- How To Drink Less Alcohol (blog post)
- I Quit Drinking Alcohol (podcast)
I want to say, too, that my goal here is not to convince you that alcohol is bad or that you should even limit or stop drinking at all. It’s simply to bring more awareness to what mommy wine culture is so that you can decide for yourself what’s best for you instead of defaulting to whatever’s out there and just drinking on default without considering all of the effects of it.
And with that, let’s dive into it…
Why Anyone Drinks Alcohol
Think about why you drink. Do you know the reason?
At this point, it’s likely a habit—something you’ve always done since you started. And maybe you started because your friends were drinking.
I like to compare drinking to things like eating sugar, scrolling social media, smoking cigarettes, and even doing drugs.
It’s not that you need to stop doing these things, but it’s that you might want to pause and consider your reasons.
Most people drink because other people are drinking. They’ve always done it, so they haven’t questioned it.
When I questioned it a few years ago, I decided I didn’t really have a good reason to keep drinking. So I stopped. Just because I wanted to stop. I didn’t want to be a mom who drank. That’s not to say “moms shouldn’t drink.” I have no idea what you should do! In fact, I eat sugar and scroll social media, even though they’re probably not the best for me. I just do those things in moderation while choosing to abstain from things like alcohol and smoking.
So I say figure out WHY you want to keep drinking now. Knowing your reason will increase your awareness as to the role you want alcohol to play in your life.
I like to say “do anything you want, just like your reason.”
- Thoughts Vs. Facts (podcast)
- Podcast Directory (free download)
- 3 Steps To Reduce Anxiety For Moms (free class)
The Problem With Mommy Wine Culture
The problem with mommy wine culture is that it prescribes alcohol for dealing with daily challenges.
It says “being a mom is hard, and to get through it, you need a drink.”
Being a mom IS HARD, but you don’t need to drink to get through it. Just like you don’t need to do drugs or have a smoke to get through it. All these forms of medicating, including alcohol, numb your feelings.
Self medicating with booze makes life easier in the short term because you get a dopamine hit to your brain that increases your pleasure.
Drinking feels amazing. So does doing drugs. This is why people drink and do drugs. They feel good. But there are long term consequences (as we all know!).
The problem with this medicating (besides the obvious side effects like causing cancer, brain damage, and increasing irritability and other problems in your life) is that it masks the real problem—the feelings you’re experiencing.
If you stop using wine to self medicate, you’re left with your life. You’re left with how you feel about the day. This will be terribly uncomfortable at first. But it will lead to enormous growth because you’ll be forced to feel those negative emotions and see what they’re telling you.
I don’t think I’d be where I am today with my family if I kept drinking. Quitting drinking propelled me into growth that led to creating my family. Alcohol was masking this for me. It was hiding my desires for my family. And with alcohol gone, I could see that so clearly. I was able to step into being the woman, wife, and mom I dreamed of being.
When we reduce, limit, or eliminate our “escapes” we find the truth of our lives. We get access to our deepest desires.
If you allow yourself space for this, you’ll figure out what’s really going on, what’s on your heart, and what you want most for your future.
Consider what your life would be like without alcohol. Who would you be? How would you relate to other people? How could you increase your connections with your spouse and friends without booze? How could you have fun?
Alternative Ways To Think About It
The default thinking about alcohol and motherhood is “parenting is hard and drinking helps get you through out.”
Yet, there are hundreds—thousands—of other ways to think about it.
Here’s how I think about it…
- Alcohol doesn’t add value to my life.
- Feeling my feelings instead of drinking makes me stronger.
- Yes, sometimes it’s hard, but I was made for this.
- I can have fun and be social without the booze.
- I don’t drink now but I can always redecide.
- My life is better without alcohol.
These are my current thoughts. I decided them on purpose. This isn’t what mommy wine culture told me to think. It’s what I choose to direct my mind to. They may change one day. I’m open to it. But for now, they serve me. I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t have a problem with booze. This is just a life choice I made.
Did you know you can decide to have fun without alcohol? You can. And you can decide to drink mocktails, cheers, and participate and connect with your friends and family without alcohol. It’s 100% possible.
Make sure to listen to the Mommy Wine Culture podcast episode next, where I give several different ways to think about this.
5 Tips To Get Started With
If you’re considering moderating your drinking or abstaining altogether, here are five tips to get started with…
Number one, always make decisions about alcohol in the morning.
This will ensure that you make them from your prefrontal cortex, which is your adult highest self-brain, and you won’t make them from your primitive in the moment toddler brain. So, again, you want to decide Friday morning how much you’re going to drink at night for that day or for the next day.
I’ll tell you, I’ve really considered starting drinking again, but I tell myself okay well I have to make that decision in the morning. There’s never been one morning where I’ve wanted to make the decision to drink again. It’s always that primitive brain at night where I’m tired or it’s an event like New Year’s Eve, something like that, where that desire really becomes apparent again, and I say I don’t make this decision at night. I can remake it in the morning. There’s just never been a morning where I’ve just really wanted to say, “Yes, I want to drink again.” There might be in the future, but there hasn’t been so far. So I just continue not to drink.
Number two, visualize having fun and not drinking.
What time do you stay out until? What do you say to your friends? How do you act? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been around friends who decide not to drink and they’ll decide that in the moment, and they end up not having fun because that’s their mindset. I can’t have fun unless I’m drinking.
So they kind of withdraw from conversation. They end up saying I’m going to go home early. They really just make their experience not as fun. Remember, fun is a feeling that you create. I love to ask the question did you make it fun instead of saying was that fun as if the thing that you’re doing is fun or the circumstance is fun. It puts it back on you to create the fun. Did you make that fun?
Number three, decide how you want to feel.
Remember feelings are typically one word. So when you are out and you’re not drinking, how do you want to feel about that? Do you want to feel fun? Do you want to feel energized? Do you want to feel engaged? Again on default if you’re used to associating booze with fun and you take away the booze, your default brain is going to go to some feeling that’s not very helpful. Maybe self-pity or apathy or something else like disappointed or just down. So instead you can decide ahead of time how you want to feel, and you can create that feeling on purpose from how you think.
Number four is to know your drink order ahead of time.
I like to order sparkling water in a wine glass with a lime. If there are mocktails, I will always ask about the mocktails. If not, I default to sparkling water. I make sure it’s in a wine glass so that I have a drink in my hand, and I can participate with other people who are drinking, particularly if I’m out at a restaurant with friends.
This is true not just for if you’re out at restaurants but also if you are going over to one of your girlfriend’s house or you’re getting together with other moms. Even if they’re all drinking wine, you can have sparkling water in a nice fancy glass. You can bring over fun mocktail type of drinks. You can integrate that without feeling like you’re the odd man out. People are going to look to you for how to interpret your experience of not drinking. If you’re having fun and if you are connected and you make not drinking the most amazing thing ever, that is magnetic, and that is something that people will be drawn too.
So you don’t have to think that you’re going to be disconnected or not a part of the group or it has to be this awkward interaction where you don’t stay out as late or you don’t get invited or anything like that. You absolutely can be a part of the group and feel connected. You just have to have the mindset that this is your decision and it’s the best decision ever.
Number five is to have a plan for what to say when people ask you if you want a drink.
So this is where, I think, some moms fall into drinking again without even having planned on it. I was just listening to another podcast for someone who hadn’t drank for a couple years just decided to have a drink when she was out with some new mom friends. She wanted to be accepted by them and be a part of the group. So she just said, “Yeah, I’ll have a drink.”
What I don’t want you to do is make that decision in the moment. You want to decide ahead of time if you’re drinking, how much you’re drinking so that you can kind of put some limits and some constraints around that. So if you know what you’re going to tell people, you can decide to feel that certain way ahead of time.
- 75 Journal Prompts For Moms (free download)
- Three Default Mindsets (podcast)
- Thursday Inspo (free weekly email)
Mistakes To Avoid
Finally, here are the biggest mistakes I see with doing this work on changing drinking habits.
Mistake one: black and white thinking.
This means that you think you have to do it perfectly or not at all. Instead, be curious and open. When you go off plan or mess up, approach yourself with love and kindness.
Mistake two: thinking that you’re “right.”
What if there is no “right way” to drink? What if it’s all just made up?
Then what’s true is that you get to decide what’s right for you. And that can change over time.
This enables you to be open and connected to others who have different drinking habits than you instead of feel righteous like your way is the best and only right way.
Mistake three: thinking you can’t have fun without booze.
This is the biggest mistake I see my clients inside Grow You make. It’s thinking that you can’t have fun unless you drink. Fun is how you feel. It’s an emotion you create based on your thinking. If you want to have fun without alcohol, you can do it by changing how you relate to your experiences. Start looking for the fun. Start creating a fun experience. Start getting curious about what it means to have fun without alcohol. This is how you create a life that’s fun without booze.
A Final Note
Mommy wine culture is the default way of thinking about motherhood and alcohol. And yet, when you question this default thinking and choose better thoughts (more intentionally), you’ll likely change your life forever. This is work that’s worth it, my friend. Promise.