On more than one occasion I’ve self righteously proclaimed, ‘I don’t drink during the week and really only drink at events’.
But this begs an important question and perhaps one many women should ask: is event drinking really binge drinking, just by another name?
Considering my husband and I are quite social I have to wonder if, when I say the word ‘events’ I really mean ‘on weekends’ and if that’s the case, am I having four or more standard drinks in one evening or at one event?
If I am, I’m engaging in what the media term ‘binge drinking’ for teens and young adults.
The answer to this question is quite often ‘yes’. My ‘event drinking’ can involve anywhere from two to six champagnes or wines over the course of a long lunch, dinner, BBQ or party, and it’s probably more if I’m honest when considering a ‘standard drink’.
I’m secretly cringing as I type this, but it’s the truth and it’s the case for many women.
Mothers with young kids, mothers with older kids, single women, divorced women, older women. Whatever our age or situation, we have one thing in common; we are no longer in our early 20s or late teens and therefore don’t believe we fall into the category of being a ‘binge’ drinker.
For many of us, our alcohol consumption may not be just limited to events or on weekends. It could be that wine or two we have each night (medicinal of course) to get us through witching hour or a necessary part of our daily ‘wind down’.
Often the words ‘can’t wait for wine o’clock’ are muttered at the school gates by exhausted mums, and no doubt those same words are heard in the corridors of buildings across the city as women navigate the daily rituals of work life.
Pure and simple, let’s call it what it is: it’s escapism and we all need it at times. Yet I doubt any of us would put our hand up and admit to being a binge drinker.
Binge drinking, if you asked me, was something that my friends and I engaged in as young adults - foot loose and fancy free, our responsibilities minimal, financial pressures not what they are today, and our time selfishly, all our own.
As I hit 40 my responsibilities include three children (four if you include my husband) and all the pressures that come with caring for a family.
My time, like most women’s, is hardly ever my own and if I can have a shower without someone calling for me, I’m winning for the day.
And I’m not alone in all of the above. Most women juggle this and often a lot more and many of those women, me included, need that wine now more than ever.
So when it comes to the evenings, the weekends or when we have an ‘event’ there are more reasons to have a drink. It’s a chance for us to let our hair down. We are out of the house, the kids are with the babysitter or grandparents, and for the first time in weeks we can engage in an adult conversation.
We can chat freely with our husband or friends without being interrupted every 10 seconds by kids asking for the same thing over and over again.
Although ‘event’ drinking and ‘binge’ drinking both include consuming more standard drinks than traditionally recommended, I would, at first glance, suggest that they differ vastly and I would assume that many other women feel the same.
We are not holding a friend’s hair back as they throw up (we may hold their hand as they get teary about their emotional, relationship or financial problems or the fact that Johnny doesn’t have any mates in prep or doesn’t know his sight words) yet there is no vomiting, no slurring, no stumbling (it’s minimalised).
No casks of wine are present, rather just nice bottles of wine, and sometimes at the really fancy events, French champagne. And when thinking of a binge drinker you don’t normally envisage someone sipping on Moet all afternoon!
Yet are we kidding ourselves? The situations and circumstances surrounding our drinking may have changed dramatically since our early 20s, yet our consumption of alcohol may not have differed as much as we had first thought.
Our one or two wines each night soon add up and those ‘events’ which we talk about occur more often than we first thought.
I was recently talking to a friend about her alcohol consumption. She’s a working mum and like so many women, juggles a myriad of things.
When I asked her if she would tick the ‘five or less glasses of alcohol per week’ box on a health form she immediately said yes.
Yet when I pressed her a bit more, asking: ‘what about on a Friday night after a hard week?’ Her answer was: ‘Well then all bets are off’…
Clare Sultmann is a wife, mother of 3 and the founder of Dear Molly.
As a survivor of a catastrophic accident, former barrister at