Why mummy wine memes are no laughing matter

Photo: someecards
Photo: someecards 

They are more prevalent on Facebook than cute cat videos - light-hearted memes telling stressed mums that all their problems will be solved with a glass, or three, of wine. 

Well meaning Facebook friends add to that mindset, exclaiming "Get to the bottle shop, stat!" or "A bad day needs wine" when a fellow mum posts about the difficulties of her day. 

The memes and "pour yourself a wine" comments might seem like an innocent way of connecting with others who are also dealing with the monotony of dinner, bath and bedtime routines. But are they really harmless?

Photo: imgflip
Photo: imgflip 

Where is the line between healthy banter and where online interactions impact habits? If you knew that sharing a wine meme was influencing a friend to drink to dangerous levels, would you still post it?

When we participate in the normalisation of drinking we are also partially responsible for alcohol abuse. Alcoholism is affecting more women than we could imagine, and social media is part of the problem.

One mum who says she's been "to hell and back" thanks to alcohol is adamant the acceptance of "mummy wine time" on social media contributed to her slide into addiction. 

"Mums are so vulnerable," says mum-of-three and recovering alcoholic Jade. 

"We often lack support and feel incredibly isolated. The 'mummy needs wine' and 'you deserve it' drinking culture on social media provides a false sense of community and connection, whilst encouraging women to poison themselves and disconnect from their families.

"I've used alcohol to numb myself throughout most of my parenting life. For me it was a way of going away without actually going anywhere and it made all those mind-numbing parts of the evening rituals bearable."

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Chris Raine, CEO and founder of Hello Sunday Morning, an online community which promotes the benefits of taking a break from alcohol, says Jade is far from alone. 

 "The average (HSM participant) is 39-years-old, with 70 per cent aged 29 to 50 years," he said. 

These are peak child bearing and child raising years and almost half of the participants are there because they are concerned about their drinking habits.

Photo: someecards
Photo: someecards 

"We are reaching a hard to reach group, especially as our members have families and jobs and they wouldn't seek help in person," Chris said. 

HSM reports that 56 per cent of its participants have children and of those, 7.4 per cent have six drinks daily or almost daily.

With 66 per cent of HSM women drinking four or more times a week, and mostly between 4 and 9pm, it's clear that many women are in the high risk category and far exceeding health guidelines.

The statistics aren't surprising, such is our avid online participation in drinking culture.

Jade says her "need to disconnect" made her irritable with the kids, rushing through the tedious routines so she could get back to her wine. 

"At night, I'd sleep terribly and the mornings were a fog of more grumpiness and exhaustion - I'd make promises to myself that I wouldn't drink that night. But come 4pm I'd be convincing myself that it was fine, everyone drinks, it's normal and I deserved it.

"Alcohol for me in my teens and twenties was a way to feel cool and edgy, a feeling that quickly disappeared with motherhood. After the kids went to bed I could put music on and sit and 'Facebook under the influence' with other mums and feel a part of a community."

Jade is now in recovery, studying, and says she recognises that online peer behaviour played a part in her addiction.

"The memes and other encouragements to drink made me feel like I wasn't a boring mum, I was one of the 'cool' mums. But eventually my 'coolness' extended to day drinking and then all week drinking as I spiralled out of control and my need to disconnect became overwhelming."

Alcoholism is as old as the liquid itself. But social media has redefined our already unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

One only needs a single Google search of "mum wine memes" to uncover a plethora of Facebook-ready options with slogans such as "I can't wait for the day when I can drink with my kids instead of because of them," and "The most expensive part of having kids is all the wine you have to drink".

I didn't even have to search for long to find an article stating that if you dislike mum wine memes, then you're just boring and humourless. I'd much rather someone judge me as boring than contribute to a fellow mum's alcohol problem.

There's every chance you know several women hiding their true relationship with alcohol, so perhaps pause before you share that mum wine meme, or suggest someone runs to the bottle shop after a bad day with the kids.

It's just a thought, and it might have a massive effect on someone else.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with alcohol and/or drugs, Lifeline has an Australia-wide support service finder ands Hello Sunday Morning has both local and international resources.