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Navigating Motherhood Without Alcohol: The Loneliness and Challenges of Being a Non-Drinking Mom

I live in a town filled with nice places to drink. Wine bars, cocktails clubs, gastro pubs, bars with club nights and DJ’s…any way you take your drink, you can find the environment to suit you. I have been in most, had coffee in some, had mocktails in some. The atmosphere obviously will never suit me, but I don’t mind being in some of these places. The place I like best is home. The main reason? I’m a mother. I have 2 young children who can’t be left alone at night and a husband who works away or late a few days a week. I also work late shifts. There isn’t a lot of time left for socializing after school and work, so when I do get a free evening, I’d rather stay in (less effort with clothes, hair, etc..!) and have people round instead. A lot of my mum friends are the same – too tired to keep up on a night out, lost touch with fashion so feel uncomfortable in our ‘jeans and sweatshirt’ combo, not very body confident after the inflating & deflating stomachs of pregnancy and usually, just too skint to afford the cabs & drinks.

Mom and Toddler

The one thing most mothers will do after the kids have gone to bed, is apparently, have a drink. There have been a few studies into this, young mothers have ended up in AA meetings or A&E after realizing the ‘wine o’clock’ thing was a daily occurrence that they couldn’t be without. The blogs popped up everywhere – motherhood and wine became synonymous, like bread and butter. It became an assumption that you were ready for the pub after the school run – at 9 am?! Motherhood is a lonely place, you lose friends and family, you’re always busy and tired, and you have conversations with people who can’t speak and struggle to listen. It’s a very lonely time.

There is also strange jealousy that comes with this – if you’re not reaching for a bottle every night, is it because you think you’re better than other mothers?

Social Media and Motherhood

Social media is a great link for us mothers, keeping us all linked with memes and gifs that we can all relate to. Although yet again, this can be another lonely place. Just when you think you have a common connection with the other mums in a playgroup or at the school gate, you hear the drink chat and the line that instantly follows ‘I’ll join you for a few!’. This is tough when you don’t drink. You’re instantly on the outside of the clique, you don’t know how it feels to have a hangover with kids about, you don’t pray for bedtime to open the wine…you don’t get it, so you’re not part of it. Another little section of society you don’t belong to. You might like to be invited to the ‘mums’ night out’ but you’re not thought of because you don’t drink. There is also strange jealousy that comes with this – if you’re not reaching for a bottle every night, is it because you think you’re better than other mothers?

Do You Think You’re Coping Better?

Do you think you’re coping better? A better parent? Maybe you don’t need a drink, because your kids are easy going, unlike all others? More assumptions will be made, more judgments passed. Back on social media, ‘Mummy’s gin fund’ has 36k members,’ hurrah for gin’ has 469k members, ‘wine-time mums’ has 1.1k members….is it really that bad raising kids? I know not drinking puts me in the minority, but I never knew this was part of motherhood. I feel so sorry for my poor husband every March when Mother’s Day comes round and the usual ‘prosecco lunch’ adverts begin appearing, and we have to repeat in restaurants that I don’t want the free drink, even though its ‘just’ prosecco, even though it’s bottomless’ and even though I must need it with 2 young kids!

Surviving Without It

Somehow, I’ll survive without it, like I have been doing for the last 20 years. I hope all the other mothers out there who are isolated from the mum crews take some comfort in knowing that there are lots of us out there, usually at coffee shops, managing without wine club.

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  1. Thank you so much for this article. Too often, the other mamas around me are so aghast that I don’t drink. Then comes the defensive statements because, somehow, someway, I must be judging their decision to indulge in a glass of wine (or two).


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