Aug. 2, 2011 — -- It's a lovely Friday afternoon in Boca Raton, Fla., and as the kids enjoy time in the backyards, their moms gather – to raise a glass.
"Getting together with the girls and the kids running wild … It's just mommy's Happy Hour Friday night get-together," Jill Thompson, who has two children, told "Good Morning America."
The mothers meet once a month, and just as babies enjoy their bottles, the mothers enjoy theirs.
"You have a glass of wine. You take off your shoes. The kids are having a great time … What's better than that?" Kelly Donoghue, the mother of two children, said.
These Florida mothers are not alone. "GMA" assembled a panel of six mothers, and several said cocktail play dates are not only the new norm, but something they've grown to look forward to.
"You know, it's kind of is a nice opportunity to … sort of, know, loosen up and take our mom hat off for a minute," one mother told "GMA" contributor Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
"Especially a first-time mom," Holly Mitchell said. "You're all so exhausted, you're so nervous, you're so scared you're messing up … And to have a little sense of ourselves, that glass of wine does it ... it sort of-- makes you feel like an adult. Because you're completely surrounded by nothing that is adult, right?
Joelle Siek, a mother of three, put the get-togethers into perspective.
"No one's getting, you know, bombed or anything like that," she said. "Just sitting back, relaxing, having a drink or two with your girlfriends and their kids. "
The panelists all agreed that cocktail play dates should only be done when no one is driving. But only one mother -- Nicole Profis Dalven -- said she's uncomfortable mixing a glass of wine with child care.
"My boys are so active, I have to watch them constantly. And I would never, obviously, do anything to put them, you know, in harm's way …," she said.
Asked how they would feel if they were deprived of playtime with their glasses of wine with the other mothers, one panelist replied:
Another said: " Miserable."
"Nuts," one mom chimed in.
Another panelist said she'd feel "bummed out."
The Internet is full of sites devoted to women who believe motherhood and alcohol aren't mutually exclusive.
But some women are horrified by the idea of a play date involving wine. A post on "GMA's" Facebook page set of a firestorm of comments – with some people calling the pay dates "risky" or a "recipe for disaster."
Laura Deutsch is the founder of Baby Bites, a mom support network that hosts cocktail gatherings. She says society applies a double-standard to mothers when it comes to alcohol.
"You hear dads taking their kids to the baseball games … and enjoying a beer with their friends. And nothing has ever been said. Nothing, you know? And all of a sudden, the moms who do the exact same thing, it's this whole big phenomenon," Deutsch said.
Studies suggest there's a basis for the concern. A survey conducted by Working Mother magazine last fall found that 40 percent of mothers say they drink to cope with stress.
So how far is too far when it comes to moms and alcohol?
How about babies in bars? Believe it or not, that, too, is a growing trend.
In New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and other areas, "a lot of people are going to local pubs where they can just sit with their friends, bring young babies," said Rory Halperin, editor in chief of Time Out New York Kids.
One of the panelists, Jill Hoefs, says she's been taking her son, Aidan, to bars since he was just two weeks old.
"He would just curl up in the booth with us. We'd be having dinner, having a beer and he's just sound asleep in the booth," she said.
Hoefs insists there's nothing wrong with bringing babies to pubs.
" I don't think because a woman has a drink in her hand she's using poor judgment and not taking care of her child at a bar … I know I've made my share of mistakes stone sober," she said.
But to moms like Hoefs comes a cautionary tale: Stefanie Wilder-Taylor used to enjoy drinks on play dates.
But two years ago, the California mom – and author of the bestseller "Sippy Cups are Not for Chardonnay" -- came out as an alcoholic.
Her message to moms? Imbibing some alcohol to be social is OK, but drinking to cope with the stresses of motherhood can be a red flag.
"It's mind-numbingly hard how many demands you have to raise these little human beings … I think that if you find yourself drinking too much and you find yourself doing it repeatedly to take the edge off … I would say to monitor your behavior and try to quit," Wilder-Taylor added.
The Florida moms insist their children always come first.
But they also say that moms are entitled to some fun, too.
"It's absolutely ok for the moms to have fun," Donoghue said. "There's nothing wrong with a glass of wine here and there ... It's not impairing your watchfulness over your children – one glass of wine."