We’ve all seen the mom drinking meme’s “It’s Wine O’Clock!”, “Mommy’s Sippy Cup Is A Wine Glass”, or even “Coffee = Mom Fuel”. You know the ones. They all boil down to the same thing: this momming thing is really frigging hard and I require some form of medication to cope or keep up, or both.
And, on the surface mom drinking memes are funny. But just below the surface, they aren’t so funny anymore. Because nothing is funny about parenting burn out.
The Spec recently published a story on the “Mommy Needs Wine” phenomenon called Why Mommy Drinking Culture Has To Go and we had some thoughts about it.
Up front: we aren’t interested in shaming you.
If you are a parent, especially a female parent who does the bulk of the parenting duties by accident or design, we want you to know that we see your contributions to your family. We see them and we acknowledge how absolutely mind-boggling difficult parenting can be at various seasons of your children’s lives.
And we don’t have a problem with moms drinking wine and alcohol. We are concerned, however, when we see widespread references to requiring alcohol to function or deal with parenting.
We know that, especially in the early months of the first year, sleep is in short supply. After all, sleep is the foundation of all other mental and physical health. We’ve written before about the how damaging lack of sleep can be for parents.
In addition to the not sleeping issue is the lack of self-nourishment. Some people call it self care, but you aren’t just caring for yourself like a maintenance chore you have to complete regularly. What you are really doing is nourishing yourself so that you work well – like remembering to take the car in for oil changes, tune-ups and regular washes to keep your vehicle in optimal operating condition.
When we add a lack of proper sleep to a lack of self-nourishing you have a parent who is feeling fatigued and burnt out.
A glass of wine may sound like an antidote, but it’s not. It’s like looking for things to make for lunch, deciding they are all too time consuming and eating a handful of cookies instead. Sure, doing that once in a long while is fun and convenient, but making a habit of it can have unwanted consequences.
The Spec article speaks about a rising trend of alcohol abuse amongst female parents. This isn’t new, of course. In the 50s and 60s there was a widespread epidemic of full-time at home female parents who took a variety of pharmaceuticals to manage their days – speed for energy, downers for nerves and all providing by doctors who weren’t paying attention to these women’s issues.
Well, we’re paying attention.
We know that a far better strategy for fatigue and burn-out isn’t alcohol or even coffee, it’s support.
Need more sleep? Parents can use an overnight doula for a few nights, a few weeks or a few months. The doula can take over some or all of the night time parenting of the newborn or infant so that parents can get a long rest at night and wake refreshed and resilient for the demands of the next day.
Burnt out? A postpartum doula is a parent coach to help sort through the many challenges, provide hands-on assistance with a variety of things such as baby care, breastfeeding support, light household support and even a little sibling care. Through discussions the doula also helps parents process the emotional and mental experience of parenting.
Overwhelmed? The postpartum doula’s main job is to relieve overwhelm in new parents. They facilitate learning about baby or babies in a way that builds a new parent’s sense of parenting mastery and reveals what is and isn’t normal. The social connection between a doula and their client helps to banish the feeling of isolation a lot of new, at-home parents suffer from, especially as we head into winter.
If you find yourself reaching for a drink to soften the edges of a life suddenly full of challenges, consider reaching out to us. We are here to help address the root causes of fatigue, burn out and overwhelm. And we’ll never judge you for the coping strategies you’ve tried.