Three working mums shame-facedly reveal their drinking diaries

Lockdown drove us to drink! Prosecco to cope with home-schooling, family walks with gin in a coffee cup — and ‘wine o’clock’ starting at lunch. With alcohol consumption soaring, three working mums shame-facedly reveal their drinking diaries

Four months of juggling the horrors of home schooling with work and domestic drudgery — with no avenues of escape — has been enough to make many a woman turn to drink.

The internet is awash with mums swapping tales of double gins as they struggle through maths lessons and 2pm becoming the new 6pm. 

Commenting on the ‘wine o’clock’ culture recently, broadcaster Jenni Murray said it’s getting to the point where women are ‘treating white wine as a non-alcoholic beverage’.

While the recommended weekly drinking limit is 14 units spread over three or more days — equivalent to around six glasses of wine — many people are drinking more than this a night. 

A survey recently commissioned by Help4Addiction showed 71 per cent of people made redundant, and 54 per cent on furlough, were drinking more. 

Doctors warn that frequent, long-term binge-drinking, defined as six or more units in a single session for a woman, can increase your risk of developing cancer, and heart and liver problems.

However, for those worried after over-indulging these past few months, research has shown that taking a month off alcohol can heal the liver and lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as your cancer risk.

Here, three working mums — who rarely touched a drop until the spring — bravely reveal their alcohol diary from last week to show how their weekly drinking habits have significantly increased during lockdown . . .

Only one drink-free day – because I had a hangover

Rachel Helm, 36, is a college lecturer who lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire, with bank worker husband David, also 36, and children Isaac, nine, Phoebe, seven, from a previous relationship, and Jonah, one. 

Rachel Helm, 36, is a college lecturer who lives in Bingley, West Yorkshire, with bank worker husband David

She has been working from home full-time throughout lockdown. She says:

To date, I’ve had only one alcohol-free day during lockdown and that’s because I was horribly hungover!

The days pre-lockdown when I’d limit myself to a small glass of white wine once the children were in bed are a hazy memory.

These past months I’ve had up to four glasses of prosecco a day during the week, with gin and cocktails at weekends, and David’s gone from one beer a night to three or four, on average. 

Our recycling bin is overflowing and around £100 of our £350 fortnightly food bill goes on booze.

I’m quite shocked by my diary and the number of units I’m consuming. Most of my friends say it’s crept up on them, too: a daily tipple or several has been the only relief from the frustrations of playing teacher, cook and cleaner while also trying to work from home.

There have been days when home-schooling has driven me to pour a drink at lunchtime, although I try to hold out till I’m cooking the children’s dinner. I’ve put on half a stone purely through drinking.

Come September when I have to get up early to drive to school again, I’ll be glad to revert to my sensible habit

Rachel’s diary

 SUNDAY 

3 glasses prosecco (4.5 units)

8pm: First glass of rose prosecco, followed by two more

MONDAY 

3 glasses prosecco (4.5 units)

5pm: Glass of rose prosecco while cooking dinner, followed by two more after a difficult day with the children.

TUESDAY

3 glasses prosecco (4.5 units)

5pm: Doing maths with Isaac — who has cerebral palsy and autism. He tells me that eight plus five equals three. I pour an early glass of prosecco.

6pm: Another glass with dinner.

9pm: Tonight’s bedtime routine took an epic two hours. Have a third glass.

WEDNESDAY 

4 glasses red wine (9.2 units)

6pm: Two glasses of red wine while cooking dinner.

8pm–10pm: Two more glasses while watching TV.

THURSDAY 

1 Bucks fizz, 2 glasses prosecco, 1 G&T (5.3 units)

4pm: Isaac is officially diagnosed as autistic which is such a relief as now we can get him the support he needs. 

Small glass of bucks fizz to celebrate. 

6pm: Sit down for a work ‘webinar’ with a glass of prosecco.  

7pm: The older two children are at their dad’s for the night and Jonah is in bed early so I have another glass.

 9pm: A gin at virtual pub quiz night.

FRIDAY 

2 glasses wine, 2 gins (8.2 units)

2pm: Go to a friend’s house after a very trying morning. She offers me coffee or wine. I opt for wine!

2.30pm: Isaac shoots Phoebe in the eye with a nerf gun bullet. Pass me another wine!

9pm: David and I order a Chinese takeaway and I have two gins.

SATURDAY 

Pina coladas, mojitos and white Russians (12 units based on six cocktails)

3.30pm: It’s Isaac’s birthday party, and my neighbour makes cocktails. I lose count of how many I’ve had. 

TOTAL

11 proseccos, 6 red wines, 3 G&Ts, 1 Buck’s fizz, unknown number of cocktails

WEEKLY UNITS: 48

I had to knock back a gin after my son spoilt my zoom meeting

Laura Shaw, 39, owns a mortgage consultancy and lives in Norfolk. She’s a single mum to Sofia, eight, and Dominic, six.

Single mum Laura Shaw, 39, owns a mortgage consultancy and lives in Norfolk

She has been working from home throughout lockdown. She says: 

Anyone who saw me on a woodland walk with my children a short stroll from our home one evening recently will have assumed it was coffee I was drinking from my portable mug. In fact, it was full of gin.

I felt exceptionally naughty, but the children had driven me nuts that day and I knew a tipple while attempting to wear them out before bedtime would make me feel better.

Pre-lockdown, I’d have one G&T at home on a Friday night, and a couple of drinks on  occasional nights out. 

But within a week of lockdown I was drinking every day — sometimes as early as lunchtime after a hellish morning of home-schooling, or at teatime when the Prime Minister delivered more miserable news.

I only drink gin and tonic and have never had more than three in a day, conscious of being on my own with the children.

I remember crying one day as I tried to explain to them that just as they miss their friends, I miss mine. 

I didn’t qualify for any financial help from the Government, so I’ve felt huge pressure being a single mum and having to continue to work as well as home-school.

We do it intensively every morning so I can work in the afternoons. But teaching my children to sing in Spanish or recite poetry has almost pushed me to pour a drink mid-morning — I always hold out till at least lunchtime, but the thought’s been there on stressful days.

One afternoon when I was on a Zoom work meeting, my son yelled: ‘Mummy, I need you to come and wipe my bottom!’ for the duration of the 40-minute call. 

At the end of it I had to knock back a mouthful of gin before I went to the bathroom to oblige.

I’m cock-a-hoop that home-schooling ends this week, but it’s hard enough keeping the children entertained for six weeks usually, let alone off the back of four months at home. 

So I can’t see me reverting to my one Friday tipple until they’re back in school

Laura’s diary 

 SUNDAY 

Large G&T (1.8 units)

5pm: I’ve refrained all day but the very thought of having to home school tomorrow means I need a gin.

MONDAY

2 large G&Ts (3.6 units)

1pm: My daughter has been hiding under a sofa cushion for 20 minutes refusing to finish her schoolwork. First gin of the day.

4pm: I’ve already had one, so I may as well have another while I cook

TUESDAY 

1 large G&T (1.8 units)

8pm: Was determined not to drink today . . . but I didn’t sleep well last night, and maybe a drink will help.

WEDNESDAY 

2 large G&Ts (3.6 units)

3pm: Conference call interrupted by my children needing help with school work, and my work phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Gin o’clock.

4pm: My friend comes over for an hour in the garden. Second gin of the day. 

THURSDAY 

2 G&Ts (3.6 units)

2pm: Children sulking, work calls frustrating. I’m not coping well today — early gin

5pm: Cooking dinner while playing games with the children. I feel overwhelmed by playing teacher, worker, cleaner, cook, good cop, bad cop — another gin needed.

FRIDAY 

3 G&Ts (5.4 units)

3pm: End of the week — hurray! Large celebratory gin.

7pm: Zoom quiz with friends and two more gins.

SATURDAY 

2 G&Ts (3.6 units)

8pm: Have been at the beach all day with the children. They’ve had fun and I’m exhausted. Chill out with a couple of gins.

TOTAL 

13 G&Ts 

WEEKLY UNITS 23.4  

 

It’s been so easy to slip into a new boozy habit

Sarah Ryman, 45, is a marketing consultant and lives in Brighton with husband Rob, also 45, a mechanic, and their daughters Daisy, 14, and Hunny, ten. 

Sarah Ryman, 45, is a marketing consultant and lives in Brighton with husband Rob

She has been working from home throughout lockdown. She says:

On warm evenings during lockdown I’ve often escaped to meet my girlfriends at the allotments next door under the guise of growing our own veg.

But very little digging has been done as we’ve been too busy drinking red wine and pink gin to take the edge off lockdown.

I’ve probably drunk more in lockdown than in my whole adult years put together. I used to partake at social gatherings, but I’d rarely drink at home.

As soon as the schools closed for lockdown, I started sharing a bottle of wine a night with my husband on Thursdays to Sundays, which quickly became every night.

I’m certainly not having it on my cornflakes but we’ve been spending £75 a week on alcohol. It’s concerned me how easy it’s been to slip into these new boozy habits.

Trying to work while ensuring neither the girls nor I go mad hasn’t been fun.

My older daughter, Daisy, has sailed through home-schooling and her teachers say she’s an exemplary student. But it’s been a challenge with Hunny. 

I’ve had to compete with YouTube videos for her attention — and failed.

I’ll return to my old sensible ways in the autumn when the girls are back at school 

Sarah’s diary 

SUNDAY 

3 gins, 1 bottle red (13.4 units)

12pm: We’re camping this weekend and were first through the door at the pub. Couple of small G&Ts for me.

1.45pm: Returned to the campsite and had another gin.

3.30pm: Glass of Chianti while we prepare for a BBQ.

5.30pm: Dinner and more Chianti.

6.30pm: Share another bottle with husband.

MONDAY 

1 G&T, ½ bottle red (6.7 units)

11:55am: G&T while packing to go home. Vow not to drink until Thursday.

6pm: Home and unpacked. Polish off half a bottle of red wine at the thought of home schooling tomorrow.

TUESDAY 

Alcohol free

Get stuck into maths with Hunny. Regular battles commence.

How many days till Thursday?

WEDNESDAY 

2 gins, ½ bottle win(8.5 units) 

 4.30pm: I decanted the last thimbleful of gin when I took out the bottles and put it in the fridge. Concerned the children might accidentally drink it, I down it. Get a lovely message from Daisy’s teacher. Have a celebratory G&T.

6pm: Share a bottle of wine with husband.

THURSDAY 

1½ bottles wine, 3 G&Ts (20.1 units)

6pm: We’re having socially distanced drinks in the park, so I’ve bought two bottles of prosecco, four of red, a case of craft ale, a box of pre-mixed G&Ts and a litre of pink gin. Not sure how much we drank, or how I got home . . .

FRIDAY 

Alcohol free

Sore head, so no drink today.

SATURDAY 

4 G&Ts (7.2 units)

12pm: We’re at a birthday party in the park. By 5pm I’ve had four gins.

TOTAL 

13 G&Ts, 3½ bottles wine

WEEKLY UNITS 55.9 

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