THEY are all over social media — jokey memes telling stressed mums that all their problems will be solved with a glass of wine, or four.
Friends add to the fun: “Get to the offie!” or “A bad day needs wine” when a fellow mum posts about the difficulties of her day.
The “pour the mummy Merlot” comments might be a way of connecting with others also dealing with the monotony of bedtime routines, but are they just a harmless giggle?
Online interactions impact habits; therefore, if you knew that sharing a wine meme was influencing a friend to drink to dangerous levels — would you still post it?
Truth is, normalising drinking means we are partially responsible for alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is affecting more and more women — and social media is part of the problem. Whether you are juggling work and kids, or staying home with them, it’s easy to justify the glass of wine at the end of an exhausting day. You’ve earned it, right? Sure, it’s only a glass of whatever was on offer; keep the good stuff for the weekend…
You function just fine the next day and no-one except the glass recycling bin knows. Work gets done, the kids are cared for and your other half might even bring home a Wednesday bottle.
Suddenly, it’s a bottle a night, you’re spending €40 to €50 a week and feeling groggy in the morning. You’re staying up later and Himself is going to bed alone while you scroll your feeds and sip in peace.
Safety in numbers... I know of one mummy group who send each other excited notifications when they find a wine on offer, mixed in with latest nappy deals.
Also, I was once invited to a group playdate and assumed we’d have coffee; but everyone else was drinking wine at noon and posting how deliciously naughty it was.
One mum is adamant the acceptance of “mummy wine time” on social media contributed to her slide into addiction.
“Mums are vulnerable,” says mother-of-three and recovering alcoholic June. “We often feel incredibly isolated. The ‘mummy needs wine’ drinking culture on social media provides a false sense of community. It offers a connection, whilst encouraging women to poison themselves and consequently, disconnect from their families.
“I’ve used alcohol to numb myself almost all of my parenting life. For me it was a way of going away without actually going anywhere and it made evening rituals bearable.”
The need to disconnect June’s “need to disconnect” made her irritable with the kids, rushing through the routines so she could get back to her wine.
“Mornings were a fog of grumpiness and exhaustion — I’d promise myself that I wouldn’t drink that night. But come 4pm I’d convince myself that it was fine, everyone drinks and I deserved it.
“Drinking alcohol was a way to fit in, a feeling that quickly disappeared with motherhood. After the kids went to bed I could sit and ‘Facebook under the influence’ with other mums and feel a part of a community,” she said.
Thankfully, June is now in recovery and says she recognises that online peer behaviour played a part in her addiction.
“Memes and encouragements to drink made me feel like I wasn’t a boring mum, so I was one of the ‘cool’ mums, but eventually my ‘coolness’ extended to day drinking as I spiralled out of control.”
WHEN SHARING ISN’T CARING
Alcoholism is as old as the liquid itself, but social media has redefined our already unhealthy relationship with alcohol. A Google search finds slogans like: “I can’t wait for the day when I can drink with my kids instead of because of them,” and “The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink”.
You probably know several women hiding their true relationship with alcohol. So, perhaps pause before you share that meme, or you suggest that a friend opens a bottle after a bad day with the kids.
Tabor Group Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. They provide support and care to hundreds of clients suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and food. For more information call (021) 488 7110.