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Mama Truth: “I Started Drinking Daily During the COVID-19 Lockdown”

By Nicole Fuge, MD® Managing Editor

It’s no secret that Rona lockdown flipped life upside down for all of us, and Melb mamas have had an especially tough time going through this sh*t twice. You all deserve a medal! Casey Bennett from Langwarrin, Victoria is one of those incredible humans. As a mum of three and an owner of a Pilates studio (which had to shut when lockdown was announced in Victoria on 16 March), she’s juggled home schooling, having her bebes home full time, and adjusting to this new normal.

“We all knew lockdown was coming, but it was still a shock when it was made official. There was no way I could keep my Pilates studio open, so I packed up and headed home to look after my three boys full time,” she says, explaining her partner Craig, a carpenter, was able to keep working.

“Craig was out during the day in the week, so it was just me and the three boys. Keeping them entertained all day, plus home schooling my eldest, was hard work. We had good days, but also some really hard days. Some days it felt like a marathon just to make it to bedtime. On more than one occasion, I felt so disheartened and exhausted, I almost wished to be sick just so I could get a rest.”

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Before the lockdown, Casey would enjoy a drink on weekends or on special occasions, but mounting stress of home schooling, general anxiety about coronavirus and being home so much more than usual started to get to Casey and she and Craig started having wine during the week once the kids were tucked up in bed – “This wasn’t normal for us”.

“We justified the wine as a “reward” for getting through home-schooling, or making it through another day of lockdown with three children under eight years old. Before we knew it, we were “rewarding” ourselves with alcohol every evening. The longer lockdown went on, the less of a charade we made about the drinking. We stopped making up excuses, or even asking each other if we wanted a drink. Once the house was quiet, I’d instinctively pour us both a glass. It just became a part of our everyday wind-down routine.”

While having a glass of tipple hasn’t become a problem for some, for others they’ve put their hand up for help, which is why The Alcohol and Drug Foundation launched the Break the Habit campaign. Did you know that it takes about 66 days to form a habit – about the same amount of time many peeps spent in lockdown.

“One Wednesday evening, I went to pour our evening drink and realised we had drunk the house out dry. This had never happened before. Craig and I had a conversation about how drinking had crept into our week. It was only then that we discovered our alcohol consumption had doubled. I was shocked. Drinking every day was a habit that crept up on us. If we hadn’t of run out of wine that day, I don’t know how or when I would have come to this realisation.”

After an indulgent lockdown, Casey and Craig participated in Dry July. But because they are in metro Victoria, this also coincided with the second round of lockdown. “It was so disappointing to enter lockdown for a second time. The novelty has certainly worn off, and I haven’t magically learnt how to teach a seven-year-old since the last time. Craig and I were tempted, but we’re also very competitive. We set ourselves the challenge and were determined to see it through. Whenever we’ve wanted a drink, we’ve tried to be creative in finding other ways to satisfy the urge. I really wanted a drink the other night, so I poured some kombucha into a wine glass. The craving soon passed. I’ve done the same for Craig with sparkling water and cordial in a beer glass on the weekend, when he’s wanted to unwind after a busy week at work.

“We both feel a lot better for having cut down on the alcohol. I definitely don’t want to go back to my old lockdown drinking ways. Craig is sleeping better, and I have more energy to tackle home schooling that was stressing me out in the first place! My plan is to go back to what was working for me before – enjoying a glass of wine or two at the weekend. Lockdown is an intense, stressful and unusual period of time, but I don’t want to use alcohol as a crutch to get through it.”

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