After a day racing from one career task to another, throwing food at children while driving in the van from one activity to the next, I sat down to my crock-pot dinner on a Wednesday and cracked open a bottle of wine. I could feel my shoulders relax as the glass touched my lips. At the same time, my eye caught this subtitle on a screen open on my computer: Recent numbers show alcohol abuse among women is on the rise.”

I stared into the distance thinking, I can see why.

I think back to when my mother had children the same age as mine are now and recall if she seemed as frantic and “busy” as I do. Unfortunately my mom passed away when I was thirty-five so I can’t ask her this question: Did you feel busy and tired all the time when we were children?

When I picture her at the end of the day, she was either sitting down on the sofa with some crocheting in her hands or at an activity like curling or choir with her beloved girlfriends.

One of my challenges continues to be how to not feel exhausted or exasperated since becoming a mother. When I ask friends about this, I hear mostly the unanimous chorus that women these days are attempting to do more and feeling not good enough, likely due to comparisons through social media.

It sounds like many of us are pushing ourselves too far every day and then settling in for a drink (or more) at night, using that as a source of relaxation, escape, and relief. So how can we address this issue around alcohol and its image as an accepted tool for coping with parenthood?


Create Guidelines for Use of Alcohol Online

Social media is influencing us in a way that regulators have not been able to keep up with. There aren’t any alcohol use guidelines yet curbing how alcohol can be shown online.

There are rules for selling and marketing alcohol but not for people using it through Instagram or Facebook, for example. When we examine why people show pictures of themselves drinking online, it often comes from a place of seeking connection, looking for attention or laughs, and even to promote themselves in a way that generates money.

We know that people become more easily influenced when they are compromised so not having guidelines in place could actually be a green light and permission for exhausted women to say: “Well, they are drinking wine because their son’s math homework is hard so I’m going to assume that means it’s okay for me to do that, too.”

I’m referring to videos similar to a few by the beloved The Holderness Family where they are joking about using alcohol as a stress-relieving tool to get through homework time. We can’t assume that everyone watching that video is thinking: oh, that’s just for fun, they don’t mean any harm by that. I’m quite sure they don’t mean any harm, but that doesn’t mean harm is not happening due to lack of awareness.

Examining the Code for Broadcasting Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages, some points on this list could be broken in the Homework Wine Pairings video. The Holderness Family isn’t selling alcohol, but they are financially benefitting from depicting alcohol consumption by making us laugh about it (through selling t-shirts and YouTube views).

The reality is that women are drinking more and as a result, actually acquiring very serious diseases more frequently these days. Mothers are actually dying because they drink too much. This is serious.

According to Canada’s chief public health officer, “We have lost sight of the fact that continued high rates of problematic alcohol consumption are leading to a wide range of harms.”


Model Moderate Drinking

How much is too much?

I turned to my family doctor husband to answer this question. In his book Healthier You, he references Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines as an excellent framework to use. Drinking alcohol isn’t going to leave our culture anytime soon, and it can be enjoyable – so having some guidelines keeping all of that in mind is incredibly useful. The recommendations for women are as follows:

  • 10 standard drinks a week, being clear on what “standard” means (5 oz of wine, 12 oz bottle of 5% beer, 1.5 oz spirits)
  • No more than two drinks a day
  • Plan on having non-drinking days (to avoid developing a habit)
  • Drink slowly – no more than two drinks in three hours
  • Eat before and while you drink
  • Have one non-alcoholic beverage for each alcoholic one

*Please note these recommendations are not for everyone – some people should not drink at all: particularly those with a history of alcoholism, those who are or may be pregnant, those who will be driving/operating machinery, those who are underage, and those who are on medication that could be affected by alcohol.

Given all of that, I would suggest that influencers like The Holderness Family include hashtags and caveats on their programming to acknowledge these concerns:

#NoDrinkDay #DrinkResponsibly #KnowYourLimits


Understand and Reduce Your Stress

Let’s consider what drinking more does for us. It slows our thinking, relaxes muscles, and can give us a light-hearted feeling. It can put a pause on big feelings by numbing those for a while. Generally, alcohol use is synonymous with a “break.”

So if we know that we women are drinking to the point of it actually seriously affecting us, let’s consider how to get that break without the use of alcohol. This is an important process that requires self-reflection and perhaps some coaching.

I wish I could give you a list of quick tips with fixes to making our lives better right now or wave a wand and have a paid-for nanny show up at your door, but sustained healthy living honestly takes time.

The one thing I can offer you in addition to this great list of tools to look through is this question I ask myself every day:

What is ONE THING I can do to help myself today? Ultimately the greatest gift I can give my family is taking good care of me.


Here are some resources to help get you started:

Calm app

Action for Happiness website

Getting Things Done book

-Time Management from the Inside Out book

-Becoming Minimalist website

-Anything by Brene Brown



-With thanks to Vineet Nair, MD, CCFP for assistance in writing this post.