Every year around this time—when commencement season and Mother’s Day collide—moms across the country are praised for their grit and resolve. It’s a tough job for just about anyone. But for 2.1 million single mothers, according to the latest federal data, the normal difficulties are compounded by the stresses of going to college.
For these moms, there may not be enough hours in the day to do all the tasks they have to do at home while still going to college. A new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank and advocacy group for advancing women’s status, breaks down the data on the amount of time single mothers in college are spending on their obligations outside of the classroom compared with women students without children. The analysis, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, is instructive—and eye-opening.
Single moms who are enrolled in college full-time spend about two hours a day on active child care, six on supervisory care (meaning time spent looking after their children while doing another another activity such as cooking or cleaning), and about two hours on housework; all told, these women are spending upward of nine hours a day on care and housework. Students without children devote about two hours to all of those activities combined. And on top of all of that, the report found, single-mother college students are getting less sleep, exercise, and social time than other students. In a separate IWPR study, nearly half of women who attend community college and live with children said they thought they were likely to drop out.