Life can be stressful, chaotic and challenging even when you only have yourself to consider. Add in parental responsibilities? That is turning up the heat!
There are a lot of expectations placed on parents. To raise well behaved children, to know what to do in high stakes situations, and to juggle 12,367 things a day. And these pressures can come from all kinds of places; in-laws, peers, the teachers at school – throw social media into the mix for good measure!
It is understandable that the mounting pressure to be the best parent at all times can start to add up. Always having to think about someone else, putting someone else’s needs before your own. And after all, we are only human. We are allowed things to help us out, right? When you finally get the kids down for bed. What’s wrong with a little drink to cope?
A long day
You have been up since the crack of dawn to make sure you are awake in time to get the kids up and ready for school – not to mention getting started on working through your never ending ‘to do’ list of errands that will somehow have to be squeezed into the day's proceedings.
Then you had a full day at work – not aided by a superior informing you that the new targets for the project you are working on have been raised (you know, do more, but with less time – and don’t spend any extra budget doing it).
Before rushing home to make sure you are able to be available for childcare, whilst simultaneously preparing a dinner, helping with homework, putting on the dishwasher, a load of laundry (and am I meant to have time to fit in a work out in here too?)
We won’t pretend that this isn’t a normal day for lots of parents – in fact, this might sound like child’s play to some – so many responsibilities, things to remember and jobs to be done. The idea of switching off with a drink seems so easy.
Mummy’s wine time
Plus, social media is telling you that is the answer. There are countless memes about how parents (not just mums!) deserve to numb out the day with a glass of wine, a G&T, or whatever else helps you to forget the demanding day you just had. It feels like almost everyone is posting their after work drinks on their profiles, or uploading photos of their funny new purchases like cushions embroidered with the slogan ‘fuelled by coffee, sustained by wine’ or comically large glasses that can contain an entire bottle.
It isn’t just your peers creating alcohol related content for your social media consumption either. The Chief Executive for the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education explains that their research revealed that during a single hour time span on a Friday night during the COVID pandemic lockdown (when parents had enough to deal with as it was!!) there was an alcohol ad every 35 seconds. And 16% of them were promoting drinking as a way to cope, survive, or feel better.
Is there a problem with having a drink after a long day? Not necessarily. However, can drinking to cope with the pressure and stress of being a parent, or having a list of responsibilities as long as your arm start to become a problem? More likely.
Starting on the back foot
The unfortunate problem is that alcohol is a temporary ‘solution’ to a problem that will still exist, and be exacerbated by the drinks from the night before. Imagine that busy day that we outlined before. Except this time, add in the dry mouth that seems impossible to quench, a banging headache that makes you feel dizzy when you stand up, and even if you manage to avoid any major hangover symptoms, simply feeling tired and off your game because you tossed and turned last night.
Parents do deserve to be able to relax and unwind after a long day – but alcohol isn’t a logical or long term answer. If you know you have to swim across the English channel in the morning, you wouldn’t wear a weighted swim suit. Yet with busy days looming, we chuck on the added weight of lethargy, anxiety and shortened fuse. This day is then undoubtedly harder than it would have been if you were feeling on your A-game – do you reach for a drink when you get home again? It is easy to see where negative patterns and habits can start. Especially when this behaviour is reinforced from every angle.
Relax, restore and re-energise
When lives are as busy as they are for a modern day parent – or anyone with a lot of responsibilities on their plate for that matter – the focus during rest periods should be about exactly that. Rest!
Reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, and making way for more restorative activities such as taking a bath, listening to an audio book or getting in touch with nature can make all the difference in the energy levels, mental clarity and general outlook you take with you into the coming day.
And let’s not forget about sleep. Reducing how much you drink can have a positive impact on the quality of sleep you get each night, which you know you will appreciate when the kids are coming in jumping on your bed at the crack of dawn.
If you would like some help getting started in reducing your alcohol intake, why not sign up to our free mindset hack video series – expert advice, straight to your inbox. Let us help you take some of the pressure off.
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.