travel with me from SAHM to working mum….
Wine o’clock, parents reaching for the bottle as soon as their kids go to bed, has been in the news again recently following a report sponsored by 4children into parents and their relationship with alcohol.
The Times ran a ‘shock, horror – you’re all alcoholics’ questionnaire in its Weekend section. Questions ranged from: “You’re forgetful…You forget to pack vital items such as your phone or their football kit” (occupational hazard of being a busy mother – nothing to do with alcohol) to “You feel physically unwell…after drinking. Symptoms include nausea, headaches, dehydration, shaking or trembling hands and feet and sweating” (ie a hangover – happens to anyone who has too much).
I suspect that very few parents who are not teetotallers would have escaped without The Times’ “Parentoholic” title. Actually any.
If you are one of the 2 million parents who say they drink after their kids’ bedtime, take heart. Like your child’s terrible twos: it’s just a phase you’re going through.
My children are old enough that I can reflect back on the ‘baby days’ and shudder in horror. It was a desperate time. Transplanted into the countryside with two kids, later three, under the age of 5; husband commuting and working long hours to establish himself in his career; few friends and/or opportunities to see meet them except during daylight hours with babies in tow; living in a high-powered, competitive area where weakness was labelled ‘acopia’ and seen as failure.
When you live in this sort of environment, of course, as soon as you get that final child in bed you’re going to reach for something. Something that signals it’s the end of the ‘working’ day, something adult that says it’s ‘me-time’.
I often wondered if I had a drink problem: was the glass of wine I reached for an emotional crutch? Was I on the way to alcoholism?
No, I don’t think so. I went on a diet to lose the creeping weight that mums of young kids often gain – Rosemary Conley said no alcohol for two weeks, so I reached for something else to signal the start of ‘me-time’: a few nuts, some veg sticks and a dip. It didn’t matter and it served the same purpose as the wine. A buffer between a day enslaved to the kids and adult time.
Parents, especially mums, are made to feel guilty far too often. Looking after children all day, or juggling children and a job, is really difficult. If you live in an area such as mine there are few places to go for non-judgemental help, even just to talk through your worries People are reluctant to expose any weaknesses to the critical eye of the community. And so the facade of ‘cope’ perpetuates.
So, take heart if you adhere to ‘wine o’clock’: my children are no longer small; we don’t observe that bathtime/bedtime ritual anymore. ‘Me-time’ has shrunk to a TV programme at 9pm, after I’ve wrestled the remote control away from the kids, and often they’ll stay on and watch too. This can be annoying, but it does mean that the moment to reach for the treat that signals the start of the adult evening is no longer there.
Like I said, wine o’clock: you’ll grow out of it.