Contributor: Staff at Sierra Tucson
Mommy needs some wine.
At least, that’s what T-shirts, tumblers and baby onesies across the country are declaring. It’s a cultural trend that has made mimosas a requirement at many playdates, and the messaging doesn’t stop with the merchandise. Moms are sharing memes on social media that call wine “mommy juice” or read “I’m the reason mommy drinks” [1,2].
It all seems like harmless fun, but the underlying message isn’t the healthiest: moms need alcohol to cope with the stress of motherhood.
It’s Wine O’clock Somewhere
Motherhood can be an absolute joy, but it can also be overwhelming. For many moms, pouring a glass of wine has become a form of self-care that can ease the stress of parenthood. But why are many moms turning to wine rather than other self-care options?
A look at how moms are talking about their drinking habits on social media gave researchers a glimpse inside mom wine culture. After reviewing more than two years of Instagram posts that used the hashtags #winemom, #sendwine, #mommyjuice and #youcansipwithus, the researchers discovered that the driving theme behind wine mom culture is that drinking wine helps some moms practice self-care without feeling guilty .
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Many moms feel intense pressure to give all their time and energy to their children. Between child care, household tasks and work, that leaves them with very little time for just themselves. The researchers found that, for many moms, participating in wine mom culture helps alleviate feelings of shame or guilt for taking time to practice self-care.
And those cutesy slogans like “mommy’s sippy cup” or “wine o’clock”? There’s actually a reason behind them. These messages create visual links to child care tasks, mealtimes or school pickup times, making them feel more socially acceptable.
But just because something is socially acceptable doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s positive.
“We need to think about the message the ‘mommy needs wine’ culture sends to women,” Channing Marinari, a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and drug counselor, told Self. “That moms need wine to handle the chaos of raising kids and life? That moms can only socialize over wine? That wine solves the problem of motherhood? None of those things are true, and the ramifications can be serious.”
And for some women, those ramifications can be alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
Abusing Alcohol to Cope with Stress
Having a glass of wine every now and again isn’t the same as alcohol abuse — but it can head in that direction if someone is reaching for that glass of wine because they’re using alcohol to numb intense feelings or cope with stress.
The problem with mom wine culture is that it can sometimes mask real feelings behind the jokes. Many moms are overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed, and they’re sharing a glass of wine instead of their feelings.
“Most of us are not given permission to admit we’re struggling with our lives, our feelings and our thoughts, and almost none of us are taught any kind of self-regulation skills, such as deep breathing [or] meditation,” Jean Campbell, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with women who have alcohol use disorder for more than 20 years, told Self .
“If mothers were given permission to admit they’re overwhelmed and struggling, my sense is there would be far less need for wine in the first place,” Campbell said.
But many moms don’t feel like they can tell anyone that they’re struggling, and it’s taking a toll on their mental health.
More women than ever are turning to alcohol to cope with stress, and this puts them at a higher risk for alcohol abuse or alcoholism. In fact, women who have struggled with multiple stressful life events in the past year are four times more likely to develop alcohol use disorder. And over the past ten years, alcoholism among women has been on the rise, with the rate of alcohol use disorder among women increasing by 84%, compared with 35% among men .
Alternatives to Mommy Juice
Sharing mimosas at playdates can be a bonding experience between moms, but it doesn’t have to be a requirement to participate. There are many other ways to manage the stress and anxiety that come with parenthood. These are just a few options:
- Talk to someone – It might feel like there is a lot of pressure to be the perfect mom, but chances are, someone you know also feels stressed, anxious or overwhelmed about parenthood. Try talking to a trusted friend, coworker or family member about how you’re feeling.
- Write it down – Sometimes, just getting those feelings out can make them lose their power. Whenever you have intense feelings, jot them down in a notebook or use the notes feature on your phone.
- Go for a walk – Walking can help you focus on your body instead of your mind, easing some of those intense feelings. If you don’t have a caregiver to watch the kids while you walk, take them with you. A short walk can be good for the kids too.
If you’re still feeling the urge to drink after trying some of these techniques, you may want to reach out for professional support. Getting help at the first signs of alcohol abuse or alcoholism can help you build a strong foundation for early recovery.
For some, mom wine culture has truly empowered them to care for themselves and build a network of support with other moms. What’s important is to make sure that the wine aspect of mom wine culture remains healthy and positive.
 Gillespie, C. (2018, November 20). Becoming sober made me realize how problematic “wine mom” culture really is. Self. Retrieved from https://www.self.com/story/why-wine-mom-culture-is-problematic.
 Johnson, A. (2019, November 26). It’s not all punny t-shirts and fancy brunches: Mommy wine culture has crossed a line. USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/11/26/punny-shirts-fancy-brunches-mommy-wine-culture-crossed-line-column/2579218001/.
 Harding, K.D., Whittingham, L., & McGannon, KR. (2021). #sendwine: An Analysis of Motherhood, Alcohol Use and #winemom Culture on Instagram. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. 15, DOI: 10.1177/11782218211015195.
 Peltier, M. R., Verplaetse, T. L., Mineur, Y. S., Petrakis, I. L., Cosgrove, K. P., Picciotto, M. R., & McKee, S. A. (2019). Sex differences in stress-related alcohol use. Neurobiology of Stress, 10, 100149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ynstr.2019.100149.
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The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
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Published on December 1, 2021
Reviewed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 1, 2021
Published on AddictionHope.com