Mommy Merlot and Daddy Doobie –  

Nov. 9, 2020 – In a May survey conducted by the Research Triangle Institute International, researchers polled 993 people from across the United States about their drinking habits before the pandemic hit and after. It found an average person’s drinks per day increased 27 percent; the frequency of a person’s drinking that “exceeds drinking guidelines” increased 21 percent; and binge drinking increased 26 percent. Researchers also found that being female or Black was associated with significant increases in at least one measure, and respondents with children in the household had greater-than-average increases in all three. Thema Bryant, a licensed psychologist and professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., says the challenges of trying to work from home, tending to your kids’ education, and having limited outlets for relief are all stressful for parents, but especially for women, who tend to shoulder more household and caregiving responsibilities than men. Beyond the physical strains of multitasking, parents are dealing with a lot emotionally. They’re concerned about the health of themselves, their children, and their elderly parents. They’re worried about losing their jobs. They’re uneasy about their child’s social development. “If you had a child who was already isolated or already dealing with social skill challenges, then it can be even more difficult to navigate distance learning and cultivate relationships for them,” Bryant says.

Nicky C. is a mother of three in Santa Clarita, Calif., who describes her kids’ virtual learning as pure chaos. Her children are 8, 5, and 1½ years old. “We’re very behind,” she tells me over the phone, laughing off the worry. Her middle child in kindergarten has attention-deficit disorder. She says it’s really hard for him to focus and he can only handle about 30 minutes of Zooms. “It’s a struggle to get him to learn anything, and I try to make it fun, we write letters in Play-Doh and the whiteboard, but it’s just a constant struggle. I have a strong feeling he’s going to have to repeat kindergarten.”

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