“I stopped drinking and became a Mum again” – Sober Bliss
Yes, I did and no thanks to the blatant marketing and advertising aimed at women and even aimed at Mums in particular. More and more women are drinking, over a ten year period high risk drinking among women has risen by over 60%.
I am sure you are aware that there is a huge amount of merchandise out there especially for women, handbags, bras and bracelets with secret compartments that serve as a flask to pour your pink gin or wine and secretly drink it, you can even drink secretly in the shower too.
All the wine memes printed on glasses, mugs, socks and whatever else you can think of all serve to make light of what is a big problem yet somehow bring in a sense of normality to the fact that mums and alcohol are perfectly paired like the pink gins and flowers.
This is promoting mixed messages. On the one hand the big brands want us to buy their product, drinking amongst mums is promoted, made light of seen as funny and even encouraged. Yet on the other hand, they supply us with special secret accessories which allow us to hide our drinking because they know that we are worried and ashamed of our drinking.
Even the packaging makes it easy for the ashamed mum to hide miniature bottles or cans of ready mixed G&T in their bags. Have you seen or read ‘Girl on the Train?’ The most liberating thing you can do is the break free from all the secrecy and the marketing tricks. [Click here to check out the book review]
Mums are being targeted in more insidious ways and although these adverts and campaigns are meant to be funny, they are not and they are promoting the wrong message. Take the comedy sketch when the mum comes in from shopping with her kids, unpacks juices for them and then unpacks a big box of wine for herself and dives into it with a straw just like her kids and their juices.
What kind of message is that portraying to us as mums and to our kids? Do you want your children growing up believing that the only way to cope with life is to drink alcohol? Do you want them to grow up believing that you, their mum, needs wine to cope with them?
They tell you that you needed a glass of wine to relax after looking after the kids all day and you buy into it. Then the more you use wine to help you relax or cope, or enjoy your kids the more that you become to rely on it.
the more you use wine to help you relax or cope, or enjoy your kids the more that you become to rely on it.
Marketers created the need and supplied the product, they set the trap and you fell right in. So did I and so do so many other Mums including the 710,000 plus women follow “Moms Who Wine” on Facebook and that’s the problem. We believe we need, we believe it helps us to be better mums, we think it’s just a bit of fun because that’s what we’ve been told and that’s what we’ve been doing for so long.
The supermarkets too spend a lot of time thinking about mums and alcohol when doing their promotions. Have you noticed that for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day the big stores move all their pink gins, posh wines and Prosecco to the front of their stores, to make it even harder to resist.
Even during the Coronavirus lockdown this Mother’s Day in the UK there were special ‘Care boxes for Mums’ containing all you need to keep your Mum happy, including (of course) the all essential bottle of wine!
The thing is, and I know this now from my experience, that you don’t need alcohol to relax you and you certainly don’t need it to cope with your kids or enjoy them. I know parenting is tough but honestly being free from the clutches of alcohol, which just spoils everything, does make life so much easier to navigate, especially for us mums.
When we drink, we numb everything and blur the edges of our lives and experiences. Most of all we blur the time we spend with our children. The most heartbreaking aspect of my drinking is the missed moments. Sure I was usually physically there for my children but there have been many times when I wasn’t really ‘there.’
My heart breaks when I think of the amount of times that I had to break a promise to my children because I was too drunk or too hungover to take them swimming or to sport. The times when we planned a family evening with a film and popcorn but I got wasted and fell asleep instead. The times when I was in the mood for a party and kept the music blasting until 3am when they were trying to sleep – of course I was useless the next day too.
My children should have been my priority and they were until the alcohol kicked in. I know I was short tempered with them or I was lazy or didn’t help them with their homework properly or put them to bed early because I wanted me time (aka leave me alone with my wine.) The thing that worries me about mums and alcohol is not just the effect that drinking has on us, but our children.
“everything is much calmer and Daddy doesn’t shout anymore.”
Children hate it when we’re drunk. Children need security, consistency and when we drink around them we change, and this is confusing. They hate it and get embarrassed when we fall over or do cringe worthy things. They get upset about the loud arguments that happen between drunk parents (I am ashamed to admit that my boys saw far too many incidents like this). In fact shortly after we stopped drinking we asked our youngest son if he had noticed and he said, “yes, everything is much calmer and Daddy doesn’t shout anymore.”
You might think that you are pretty good at hiding your drinking and work hard to be ‘normal’ around them, but kids pick up on everything. They do see, they do notice and they are affected.
Children feel confused, hurt and neglected because their usual loving mum turns into someone they don’t trust, recognize or know, when they have too much alcohol.
Your children suffer because of the financial cost too, missed trips or holidays, new clothes or treats. I used to tell my kids we couldn’t afford an ice cream or the cake at the shop, yet I wouldn’t think twice about spending over ten Euros a day on beer. I wasn’t being mean or cruel, I just put my drinking before my children.
But, when you do stop drinking, things get so much better!
As soon as you put away the booze, your kids will notice the positive change in you. As I mentioned earlier, the atmosphere will become a whole lot calmer, this will happen almost immediately. You will have the energy and clarity to do stuff with the children, there will be no more broken promises thanks to being drunk or hungover.
The demands of parenting are real, and all mums should be encouraged to have healthy, positive means of self-care that go beyond the bottom of a glass or a can. Mums and alcohol, despite what the messages tell you are really not a good combination.
When you are free from the fog of alcohol, you will discover some fantastic skills and tools for dealing with the normal stresses and strains of parenting. You already have everything you need inside of you to be the mum you want to be, to be the mum you know you can be.
You will begin by teaching your children there is a better, more positive, healthy way to release or have fun. My youngest son has gotten into meditation with me. He saw me doing it and he wanted to try and I was more than happy to share with him. Imagine he had asked if he could join me in my beer drinking because he saw me drinking that?
We tell our kids that drinking is dangerous, it’s not for them yet why do we do it ourselves when we know it’s dangerous and it’s a poison? Our children learn from us, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. When you remove alcohol from your life, you will be teaching your kids that living alcohol free is the best thing that they can do for themselves, simply because they will see you doing it and they will notice the positive change in you.
You will begin to appreciate the little things, like life is so beautiful when you wake up fresh and without a hangover. Your life will become so much more enriched as soon as you stop drinking. You will be able to look at your children free from shame, regret and guilt and trust me, that is a beautiful feeling.
Forgive yourself, forgive your past and let go of your mom guilt surrounding the shame of your past drinking. You cannot change what went before but you can take strength from the fact that you are doing something to change your future, your life and the lives of your family. Your children will notice and they will appreciate it. You will emerge as the best version of yourself, the Mum you want to be, the Mum you know you are, a sober mum.
Mums and Alcohol
Here’s a little exercise that might help you to see just how much your drinking is affecting the life of your children right now.
Write down 5 activities that you enjoy doing with your children. Do you do these things currently, fully present? How wonderful will it be to be able to enjoy those activities with them, when you are not in the fog of alcohol. Write down some ideas of new things you want to do with your children or how your time with them will be so much better without alcohol.
For me it is the simple things like a story at bedtime or a walk in the woods without rushing back to my beer. It is no more broken promises, or pretending that I am too ‘ill’ to go out or play. It is being able to pick them up from school trips or sports activities without resenting them spoiling my ‘drinking time’ It is waking up before them and just watching them sleeping, knowing that in being sober, I am doing my absolute best for them and myself.
Parenting is hard, but parenting with alcohol is worse. If you want to get out of the mums and alcohol partnership, then let me help you become the mum you want to be, the mum you know you can be. Check out how working with me will transform your relationship with alcohol and transform your life.