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Yep, parenting is hard – but is our drinking culture making it worse?

Lyndsey Rodrigues

Lyndsey Rodrigues

Lyndsey Rodrigues has worked as a writer, producer, tv host and editor and is now serving as the Head of Content here at Kiindred. She has two sons - a human one named Kai and a fur one named Memphis...and she is thoroughly obsessed with them both. Before becoming a mum, Lyndsey spent over ten years living in New York City where her hobbies included live music, architecture,...
Created on Oct 30, 2023 · 10 mins read
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It’s 7pm on a Friday and my partner, Alex, and I have survived another week of juggling work with the fun, but occasionally stressful, task of raising our gorgeous little toddler.


I’ve been getting dinner prepped while Alex gets our son ready for bed. He creeps out of the nursery, holding up his crossed fingers and a look that says “let’s see how long this lasts” on his face.

“Can I pour you a drink, my love?” he asks. “Is that even a question?” I laugh – he’s already mid-pour.
“Cheers to another week, babe,” he toasts. We clink our glasses, take a sip and settle onto the couch to eat dinner and attempt to get through an episode of Black Mirror before our son wakes up and needs resettling.

Does any of this sound familiar? Chances are, you’re nodding your head “yes”.

While my partner and I are not heavy drinkers (at least, not anymore) the little Friday night scenario I just described does typically involve sharing said bottle of wine until it’s finished (roughly 2 and a half glasses each). That same scenario may play out on Saturday night as well and, depending on how stressful we deem the week, another night or two on top of that.

It’s something many parents can relate to, but author and podcast host Maz Compton is encouraging all of us to take a step back and reevaluate the place that alcohol has in our lives.

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Maz is not only the author of a new book called ‘Last Drinks’ but she also hosts a podcast of the same name. She can also be heard every weekday morning on her national breakfast show on Hit NSW and she just so happens to be a good friend of mine, too. Maz and I met as VJ’s (TV presenters) on MTV back in the day and experienced the whirlwind of red carpets, celebrity interviews, travel and endless partying together. In fact, during the course of our chat we reminisced about our post Friday show tradition of downing a couple of beers in the MTV parking lot because…classy. But for Maz, she always had an inkling that maybe her drinking habits weren’t all fun and games.

“In 2014, I decided to have my last drink,” says Maz. “And I have been sober for eight and a half years now. Alcohol, as we know, is such a currency. It’s how we connect with people. It’s how we break down barriers. And it’s how we have nights out and all of that stuff. And I’ve just managed to do eight and a half years of my life and do all of those things without alcohol. And so I know it is possible to connect with people and to socialise and to orientate ourselves around each other without booze. And that’s what I’m excited about people exploring for themselves.”

Indeed, Maz has not only explored this concept herself, but she is now helping others to do the same with her book which is part memoir and part self-help guide. Over the course of Last Drinks, Maz provides practical advice for anyone who might be questioning their relationship with alcohol and also shares some background into how she started on her sobriety journey.

“{In 2014} I wasn’t drinking every day and, like, hating life, I was drinking every day and having a good time. But I remember one particular weekend, it was a Friday. And I did think to myself, ‘Oh, God, I don’t want to go to Carly’s birthday, because I don’t want to drink.’ And then I thought, ‘That’s a weird thing to say, because why can’t I go to my friend’s birthday and not drink?’ And then I started kind of navigating around that question of, ‘Could I go to my friend’s birthday and not drink? What will people think? What will they say? What will I do instead?’ And so that was, I think, the start of my sober curiosity.”

After grappling with these feelings for another few months, Maz decided to, as she puts it “put her big girl pants on” and go alcohol free for 30 days. This in and of itself wasn’t exactly new for the radio host – she had completed Dry July almost every year without fail in the preceding years.

“The difference between Maz Compton stopping drinking on the first of January 2015 and Maz Compton, stopping drinking every July for the eight previous years, basically, was the intention that I set. In my history of drinking I’d I take a month off to prove to myself that I didn’t have a problem, because who wants to have a problem? And the difference with the first of January is I chose that to be the first day of my discovery of my sober self. So rather than deprivation and white knuckling and waiting to get the first of the next month so I could have a drink, I actually was like, ‘Let’s just park the booze and figure out who I am without it.’”

As it turns out, who she was without it was someone who she really liked and so one month turned into another and then many more after that. However, it was only after years of sobriety that Maz realised that she would never drink again. It’s a factor that she says probably set her up for success, even if she didn’t realise it at the time.

“I thought, ‘If I say I’m not going to drink again, am I setting myself up for a fail?’ and I just didn’t want to go through another fail. So I think, for me, just setting that intention of sobriety as a progressive revelation of self and sobriety as an ongoing adventure was easier for me to wrap my head around then doing the ‘never nevers.’’

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Now that eight and a half years have passed and Maz is thriving in both her home and professional life, she can say with some authority that there actually is never a “good” time to stop drinking in our overly busy lives.

“You just have to rip the Band-Aid off and decide that you’re going to go on this adventure within the confines of whatever your calendar produces for that week, and just trying to get it done sober,” she says.

Of course, parents are chronically busy, stressed and overscheduled which has led to a booming trend of social media memes poking fun at the need for alcohol to cope with it all.

“I firstly want to make a disclaimer: Sobriety doesn’t make your kids any less insane than what they are,” she laughs. “So just understand this, if you get sober, your children are not going to become perfect. They will not stop throwing tantrums – your kids are your kids. But what we as parents need to do is find the capacity to hold space for them, because they are on their L-plates.”

“It actually does my head in Lynds,” Maz says of what she calls the “mummy wine culture.”

“Those memes make me really angry and really upset because there are better ways that we can show up for ourselves and our kids. But the tendency to lean into alcohol has become such a LOL and ‘so hilarious’, and so ingrained in parenting, that we laugh it off. But I think when you look at the damage that alcohol does, it’s not funny, and I do think we need to try and change that narrative.”

One way that we can do that, is to start with how we address alcohol with our kids – and perhaps even re-evaluate the message we send to them when they see us have a drink.

“I guess my best thing that I’m thinking to do is to start the conversation early, and to be really open about it,” she says of how she plans to approach the topic with her son when the time comes (he’s currently 4).

“The best thing we can do with our kids is to be transparent,” Maz continues. “Now, as someone who’s sober, my conversation is going to be really different with my kid than somebody who’s currently struggling with their relationship with alcohol. And that’s where I think it’s going to be trickier for some parents to say, ‘Hey, I really don’t want you to do this thing that I’m doing all the time’. So that’s where I think the best parenting strategy is to figure out your relationship with alcohol. First, get it in a place where it’s in check and working for you. And then you’re able to have a really honest and transparent conversation with your kid about it when it’s time.”

As busy, working mums who are not only familiar with the pressures of parenting but each other, our conversation takes a natural move in the direction of the link between alcohol consumption and low feelings of self-worth – something that any parent knows a thing or two about. We go to bed most nights wondering if we did enough, if we did it right and if we’ll have the energy to do it better the next day. And, if we happen to do a little revenge bedtime procrastination and scroll social media, we’ll almost certainly find a post or two that confirms our worst fears about ourselves. It’s no wonder we sometimes want a G+T! But, Maz assures me, there is a better way forward.

“It’s okay if our kids aren’t happy all the time,” she muses. “Because we are allowed to experience sadness. And it is more about helping your kids sit in sadness, and process it. Sadness is a part of our lives. And it’s from sadness, that happiness can come. I think the better choice can be showing up and teaching our kids vulnerability and resilience through our own vulnerability and resilience. And if we’re drinking, to suppress our feelings of inferiority or imposter syndrome, or failing as a mum, we are not showing up as our vulnerable best selves. And so how can we teach our children to sit in those emotions if we are avoiding them by drinking?”

She makes a good point!

“I know how hard it is because I’m in the parenting trenches. But I also know that it’s possible to do this without alcohol. And I just really believe that your best self isn’t a drunk one.”

You can follow Maz at @mazcompton and @lastdrinkspod. You can buy your copy of ‘Last Drinks’, here. You can also watch the full version of our interview above.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


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