Over the past couple of decades, casual drinking has become synonomous with modern motherhood. We’ve witnessed the rise of ‘mommy’s wine time’ and have normalised a drinking culture that rewards mothers with alcohol for a job well done. Champagne and mimosas “for the mommies” have become commonplace at playdates and kiddies’ birthday parties, and no-one bats an eye anymore when a mother pours herself a glass of wine after witching hour.
In many ways, the normalisation of the ‘wine mom culture’ has offered mothers some respite, freeing them from the unrealistic expectation that they need to be on their best behaviour all of the time. Making it okay for moms to drink has given them permission to let their hair down once in a while and have some carefree fun.
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But there’s a new trend on the rise and it involves shelving your chardonnay and ditching the daiquiris for healthier, alcohol-free alternatives. It could simply be a hard come-down from decades of casual drinking, but there’s a growing shift among mothers globally, with many trying sobriety on for size.
The Sober Curious Movement
This societal shift seems to have originated from certain moms going public about their dangerous dependence on alcohol, while others simply prefer to opt out of Happy Hour and are sick of feeling judged for not joining in the festivities.
In 2017, former UK advertising executive turned stay-at-home mom Clare Pooley penned The Sober Diaries, a brave account of how she beat cancer, depression and her dependence on booze. The mom of three is now an advocate for sober moms everywhere, even offering inspiration, resources and support through her blog and Facebook group, Sober Mummy.
One year later, British author Ruby Warrington published Sober Curious, a research-dense piece of writing that draws on expert interviews and personal narrative to explore the many benefits of a life without alcohol. Besides zero hangovers, some of these benefits include reduced inflammation, better skin and better sleep. Taking these into account, it’s easy to see why more moms are opting for a sober lifestyle.
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Sober celebs setting the trend
Some celebrity moms who prefer not to binge include Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian-West and Blake Lively. Others, like Jada Pinkett-Smith, Eva Mendez, Drew Barrymore and Nicole Ritchie, have admitted to struggling with alcohol addiction and now abstain from drinking altogether.
In 2017, celeb mom-of-two Chrissy Teigen admitted to Cosmopolitan that she was “point blank, drinking too much” and said that, if it continued to become a problem, she would go completely dry. “I used to think it was kind of nutty to have to go totally sober, but now I get it,” she told the mag
Late night talk show host Busy Philipps, of Dawson’s Creek fame, also shared with Parent mag in 2018 that she refrains from drinking when she’s with her two girls, Birdie (11) and Cricket (6). The famous mom admitted to loving “a good margarita” but said she doesn’t believe that parenting and alcohol need to be tied together. “I’m the best mom when I’m sober,” she said.
Similarly, Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, who is currently pregnant with baby number 2, famously pledged to stop drinking until her kids were out of the house. She noted that alcohol made her less available to her son, recognising that, while drinking can be “fun and awesome” it didn’t feel all that fun and awesome the next day while doing school drop off.
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Know your limit
Most supporters of the sober curious movement, and even those who are more sober serious (as a result of alcohol abuse and addiction), are adamant that, while drinking might not be for them, they’re not judgmental of people who do.
“I’m a firm believer that everyone is different and each person has their limits,” says sober Cape Town mom Claire Choudhry. After reaching rock bottom in 2012, Claire decided to join Alcoholics Anonymous and sought help from her mother, who had also undergone treatment for alcoholism.
Seven years down the line, Claire is now mom to Jack (5) and Harry (4) and keeps on top of her addiction by making sure she instils some self-care into her daily routine. “If I don’t make time for myself every day, it affects me badly. The first two years of parenting were hard. At the time I was a full-time stay-at-home mom living in the UK and not close to family. But now that I’m back South Africa and my kids are a bit older, it’s getting easier. Sleep helps a lot!” she says.
Despite her history, Claire is not offended by moms who choose to drink, but she worries about the ‘Wine Mom’ stereotype and how it may be a trigger for those sensitive to abuse and addiction. “Drinking daily can be dangerous because it can escalate into something you depend on. As moms, we all need to be careful and very aware of the risks.”
Claire admits that alcohol was a crutch and a coping mechanism for her, which was also true for her mother’s addiction. “Being a mom is incredibly difficult, but I don’t think alcohol should be the coping mechanism you use to deal with the pressures of parenting. It’ll just take you nowhere fast – there are no real benefits. It shouldn’t even be one of your options,” she says.
For more on Claire’s sobriety journey, tune in to her podcast, Gathered by Claire.
Are you sober conscious? Do you think going dry or cutting back on alcohol will change the way you parent? Share your thoughts with the Parent24 team by emailing email@example.com and we could publish your letter. Let us know if you’d like to stay anonymous.