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The Pandemic, Parenting and Wine

Parenting is stressful.

Add a pandemic into the mix and parenting can feel downright impossible.

We can thank the pandemic for the following:

  • Lock down

  • Anxiety about health and the COVID virus

  • Online schooling

  • Bosses who expected us to work at full capacity while home schooling

  • Partners who expected us to parent at full capacity while working from home

  • Kids who were home and expected our full attention at all times

  • Playground closures

  • Cancelled sports and social activities

  • No physical access to friends or relatives outside our home

  • Too much work

  • Not enough work

  • Siblings fighting constantly (it can’t be just in my house, right?)

  • Social anxiety as we consider venturing out

  • Angst about when things will be “normal” again (whatever that means)

It’s enough to drive you to drink.

Guess what? People are drinking more. Especially women.

Data from a national survey of U.S. adults on their drinking habits showed that excessive drinking (such as binge drinking) increased by 21 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic (1).

According to a RAND Corporation, during the pandemic women increased their heavy drinking days by 41 percent compared to before the pandemic. Additional research has shown that the psychological stress related to COVID-19 was associated with greater drinking for women, but not men (2).

In research conducted by the nonprofit RTI International for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, women with children under age 5 in their homes increased alcohol consumption 323 percent between April and November 2020, the study found (3).


Even before the pandemic started, we were seeing a rise in meme-like phenomena such as “mom wine culture,” which feigns acceptance of (and sometimes celebrates) the idea of needing a daily drink or more to manage the stress of having kids.

Fast forward to March 2020: Lockdown.

Every family member is in the house. Together. All day, every day.

The kids are home, learning (?) online.

As the world turned upside down, we know that many moms increased their drinking. One glass of wine with dinner turned into two. Two glasses of wine before bed turned into a bottle. Drinks in water bottles at the playground, a pick-me-up added to coffee. The pressure to show up for everyone else was relentless.

In the face of a pandemic, this wasn’t just about parenting. Moms were drinking to cope with the stress of extreme parenting on top of the grief, loss, relationship issues and mental health challenges that came from living through a pandemic. For some mothers, drinking was the easiest and fastest way (hello, delivery apps and curbside pickup!) to find relief from being asked to do the impossible day after day.

The fact that drinking during the pandemic increased is understandable, even expected.

“Excessive alcohol use is a common response to coping with stress. Alcohol use increased following the September 11th terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina and Rita”, write Dawn Sugarman, PhD and Shelly Greenfield, MD, MPH, of Harvard Medical School. (4)

As the world opens up and families are redefining their new normal, some of the parents I work with are re-examining how much they are drinking and how it is impacting their well-being and their families. A focus in therapy has been on reducing alcohol use while introducing other coping skills that are better for the body and the mind.

Have you noticed an increase in your alcohol use since you became a parent? Are you interested in examining the relationship alcohol plays in your life, your parenting, your family and your health? Are you interested in support around cutting down and finding better ways to relax and de-stress?

Schedule a free 20-minute consultation to discuss how I can support you today.






Michelle Deely, MFT specializes in helping burned out moms find relief. Michelle offers in-person therapy in San Francisco and online therapy to clients throughout California, Nevada and Florida.


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