Cocktail Play Dates: Do Wine And Kids Mix?

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A big story on Tuesday's ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) highlighted a growing trend: moms who drink wine at play dates. These events are known as cocktail playdates.

The first time I heard about this topic was a few years ago, when the book, Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay made a big splash when it hit the market. The author, Stephanie Wilder Taylor, a Los Angeles mom of three very young kids, made a humorous case for drinking while dealing with the stress of play dates and parenting babies. She also wrote the book, Naptime Is The New Happy Hour. Moms loved her because she made it acceptable to be imperfect. More about her later.

In the GMA segment, a group of about ten Florida moms are happily drinking wine during a play date as their kids drink bottles and play. These moms meet once a month to enjoy time together with wine and kids. They say they don’t drive after the play date.

(You can watch it below.)

A roundtable of six moms interviewed by GMA said cocktail play dates are not only routine, but are something they look forward to. Only one mom on the panel said her two boys are too active for her to drink and supervise them safely. Another panelist, Holly Mitchell, a first-time mom, cites exhaustion and nervousness as her reason for cocktail play dates.

Being a first-time mom is one of the most wonderful, amazing, stressful, exhausting experiences I’ve ever had. Just when it was getting easier, I had a second child. There’s just no way around it. It’s a difficult phase and the sleepless nights wear you out. I had countless moments when I thought I would lose it if I didn’t get some sleep. I try not to judge other moms when it comes to parenting styles. What’s right for me may not work for another mom. Every kid is different and so is every mom.

The pressures on moms to be perfect and to raise perfect kids is like a headache that won’t go away. It nags at many of us constantly. Fashion and celebrity magazines profile celebrity moms like Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum and Gwyneth Paltrow, who seem like they have it all. It’s never mentioned that they have live in help, a cook, a driver and a full beauty staff at their disposal. But, it’s not just celebrity moms who put pressure on regular moms. We look each other up and down, we criticize each other, constantly comparing our kids and each other. Working moms debate stay-at-home moms and the discussion often turns hostile. Private school moms get into heated discussions with public school moms and these conversations are usually unpleasant. Mom blogs make it easier to attack each other online, often anonymously.

So, what about cocktail play dates? I’ve never been to one, so I can’t tell you whether they’re fun. I have been to more bad non-cocktail play dates than I care to remember. Screaming fits, meltdowns, fighting, kids refusing to play together, a 3 year-old who washed her hair in my sink and whose mom flipped out at me because her daughter used hand soap and not shampoo. Most moms have dealt with this kind of stress. Would I have liked a cocktail during some of these play dates-gone-bad? Now that I think about it, of course! But, the idea never occurred to me. I was just glad when these unhappy play dates ended.

The trend I’ve seen in L.A. is marijuana play dates. Similar to cocktail play dates, moms are getting high to cope with play dates, kids sports games, homework and every other parenting task. I know one mom who opens her car door and the smell of pot gives anyone within a few yards a contact high. When valet parking attendants open her door, they burst out laughing.

There is a cautionary note now being sounded by Ms. Taylor-Wilder. After championing cocktail play dates as a way to stay sane while raising young kids, two years ago, right before the release of her book, Sippy Cups Are Not For Chardonnay, she abruptly announced she is an alcoholic. She quit drinking. Moms who had taken her advice were confused and angry. Now, she says drinking to cope with the stress of having young kids can be a red flag.

I know that if I’m not doing well emotionally, my kids won’t thrive. If I’m anxious an upset all the time, my kids will pick up on it. Every mom needs support to get through the early years of infant and toddlerhood, the terrible-twos and 104 degree fevers, teething, sleep deprivation and, of course, play dates. Because I’m a mom blogger who keeps up with parenting trends, I’m always eager to learn about new ways to make parenting easier. The GMA Facebook page has more than 500 comments on this topic, with some calling cocktail play dates unacceptable, while others take a more tolerant approach to the idea.

Cocktail play dates are one trend I can do without.

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