Looking at social media and the news in the past few months, you might have noticed more and more people talking about the challenges of motherhood; the physical, emotional and financial toll it can take on a person, and how the end result may be feelings of stress, anxiety and exhaustion. Many mums may end up feeling guilty about these challenges, feeling that they should be more like other mums and this in itself feeds into more negative feelings.
The good news is that this conversation is now being had openly, and we have an awareness that this is a really big issue. As wonderful as the experience of becoming a mother might be, in reality there are also challenges and the need for support.
Many movies and jokes on social media will involve mums drinking copious amounts of wine to cope, and bonding with each other over boozy evenings out where they get to shake off their responsibilities. It is a hard (perhaps the hardest) job and there does need to be a release!
At Hello Sunday Morning, we are well aware of this as a lot of our Daybreak members are mums who have had this exact situation. They all have busy lives, busy schedules, full time caregiver roles and not a huge amount of support or time to look after their own needs. Having a wine at the end of the day represents the closing of a chapter on the day, some ‘me’ time and the opportunity to switch off and recharge those emotional resources.
The only problem is that, after a while, alcohol tends to take more than it gives. One glass becomes two or a whole bottle, and those emotional resources don’t get topped up, but rather becomeso much as drained even more from hangovers and disrupted boozy sleep.
That need for some ‘me’ time and unwinding becomes something that steals some of your energy for the next day, that actings like a big foggy blanket over a daily routine.
On top of this, alcohol actually affects our sleep as well so even if we go to sleep more easily after having a couple of drinks, our sleep quality is much worse when we’ve been drinking, and we don’t get as much REM sleep, which is the really good quality, deep sleep.
Better ways to unwind
Many Daybreak mums come to the conclusion that alcohol is perhaps not the best way to unwind (at least, not every day) and that there are other ways of topping up those emotional resources.
Here are two lists – one for mums, and one for those who are supporting mums. We generally know that when we have ways to replenish our emotional resources, we are more likely to feel better at the end of the day, and less likely to feel exhausted, drained, frustrated or just sad.
Tips for Mums:
If you are finding that you are drinking more than you would like, visit our Daybreak app to chat with some other members about what has helped them. Often other mums will be experiencing similar pressures and rituals, and will be able to offer support and advice. Sometimes even just checking in with the community during the time you are most vulnerable, is enough to change that behaviour.
Tips for family and friends of mums
If you are a partner or a friend of a mum who is struggling with stress or pressures, here are some things that you can do to help:
– Offer to help out for a day so that she can have a break to go and top up those emotional resources – whether this is to go out to see friends, take some time to herself or head to the gym. Offering to do this might be invaluable for the mother.
– Give feedback. If you know a mum who is doing a great job, let them know! They might be feeling like they’re not doing well at all. Giving support doesn’t have to be all practical, sometimes it can be a text message or a passing comment about what they are doing right and it can be much appreciated.
– For partners of caregivers, perhaps encourage her to make time for herself, whether that is by organising someone to mind the kids, arranging to work from home or take a leave day. For primary caregivers, down time and time to themselves can be of huge importance, but might not actually happen. As someone who is not at home during the day, perhaps you are able to recognise the need for ‘me’ time more than them and make some suggestions on how to make that happen.
– Remember emotional resources are hugely important when you are a mum – they are what we need for empathy, energy and planning. When we are feeling tired or drained, our emotional resources are also low and so we may struggle to keep on top of things. Finding ways to support yourself and asking others for support, can be a really good step. In addition to this we know that wine often goes hand in hand with unwinding or socialising, but when we are using it to top up our emotional resources, it can quickly become a drain rather than a booster.
If you’re finding yourself stuck in this pattern, have a look at what others have to say on Daybreak, other members can be a great source of advice and support, and you can also access health coaching for some additional advice on how to manage stress and drinking.