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- Wine mom culture has dominated memes, social media feeds, and even mugs and apparel.
- Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell recently opened up about Shepard’s sobriety and how it affects their parenting.
- While alcohol can help adults relax, it can make parenting harder the next day and in some cases lead to abuse.
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You’ve most likely seen a meme, tweet, or T-shirt about moms drinking wine to relax. It makes some sense: Taking care of children is an exhausting job. At the end of a long day, what’s the harm in unwinding with a glass (or two or three) of vino, aka “mommy juice?”
But two high-profile parents, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, are not imbibing. In a recent interview with Huffington Post, the celebrity couple opened up about Shepard’s sobriety and how it affects their parenting experience.
The couple has two daughters: Delta Bell, 4, and Lincoln, 6. Shepard said that raising two little ones sometimes makes him wish he could unwind with a drink.
“We vacation almost exclusively with three other families who all have kids, and certainly at night, I’m super jealous of them because I’m like, ‘F— yeah I would love to drink something that turned down the volume of everyone in this house,'” Shepard told Huffington Post. “So I’m a little bit jealous in the evenings.”
But that jealousy fades come morning, he said, when the other parents are “miserable” with a hangover and he feels great. The win for Shepard “is always the morning,” he said.
Bell said that for her, ending the day with alcohol just isn’t a part of her routine. Her “wine” is Netflix and cuddling Shepard, she said. “It’s OK if your kids are stressful and annoying. It’s OK to take time for yourself,'” Bell said. “But to me, that doesn’t necessarily ever mean alcohol.”
Alcohol can affect your sleep and next-day alertness, especially with oversized pours
Consuming alcohol at night may feel good in the moment, but it can indeed lead to a tougher morning for parents. Drinking alcohol disrupts your REM cycle, the phase of sleep in which your body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens your immune system.
Boozing at night can also, of course, cause other side effects like headaches, nausea, indigestion, and sensitivity to light and noise, according to the CDC.
How much alcohol affects your ability to parent the next day all depends on how much alcohol is consumed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a moderate amount of drinking includes one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
It’s important to note that these measurements are based off one standard drink, meaning 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of liquor or 5 ounces of wine. And in the era of “mommy juice,” most posts that are shared depict a much heavier pour.
- Georges Gobet/ AFP/ Getty Images
Drinking to cope with parental stress blurs the line between self-care and abuse
Bell’s point is an important one: Being a parent can be extremely stressful. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, parents of 11.3% of all children in the U.S. report feeling “usually” or “always” stressed out.
Many parents, it seems, choose to cope with that stress with alcohol, blurring the lines between what’s relaxing and what’s too much. In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that between 2009 and 2014, approximately 10 percent of American children lived in homes where at least one parent had an alcohol use disorder.
For Shepard, getting sober was necessary. The actor struggled with substance abuse early in his career, and said he liked to use alcohol, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, and other substances. But he stopped about 15 years ago and his life has turned around. On September 1, 2016, he tweeted, “12 years ago today I came out of my last toxic, life threatening stupor. I now have a wife & babies & some self esteem.”
— dax shepard (@daxshepard) September 1, 2016