Research Says Single Moms Do Fewer Chores and Sleep More Than Married Moms

The life of single mothers can be challenging, but the stereotype that they never have enough time should be long forgotten. Sociologists Joanna Pepin, Liana Sayer, and Lynne Casper performed some research based on a data collected from more than 23,000 married and single American moms with children under the age of 13. The study shows how different the lives of these mothers can be depending on their marital status — it can affect things like leisure, sleep, and the amount of housework they have to do.

Bright Sight wants to share the most interesting conclusions of this research with you.

Single moms get more sleep and spend more time relaxing.

Married women actually spent the least amount of time relaxing and sleeping compared to divorced, cohabiting, and never-married moms, according to the study. Researchers say this may be because partnered mothers often feel pressure to prioritize housework over their own rest.

Never-married moms spent about 4 hours doing leisurely activities, while married women clocked in at 3 hours and 24 minutes.

Married moms increase housework to meet social expectations.

Married women feel that they need to do more housework, in part, to meet expectations about the “appropriate” behavior for a wife and mother who’s willing to take care of home-cooked meals and wash clothes.

According to a study, never-married and divorced participants spent about a half-hour less per day, than married moms, doing housework.

For moms, it’s better when someone else, other than their husband, helps with household chores.

Mothers who have never been married, as well as divorced ones, were more likely to live with a parent, relative, or other adult. This may be the reason why single moms spent less time on chores around the house. On the other hand, living with a male partner was associated with women spending a greater time on housework.

Sociologists concluded: it’s not just another pair of hands that matters, but “to whom those hands belong.” It seems that when it’s not a husband who helps with cleaning, moms are willing to divide labor more effectively. In this case, they don’t feel like they were expected to take care of all of the family’s domestic life.

Single moms spend their free time less actively and watch more TV.

Though single women often had more time for leisure than their married counterparts, they spent more of it on sedentary activities. And it’s television that was preferred over other entertainment, as never-married moms watched TV alone for more time than married ones. By the way, the free time of married mothers turned out to be the most active, compared with other participants.

Researchers also want to remind us that single moms often work tiring jobs and have less flexibility in terms of their schedules. This fact could affect the connection between marital status and sedentary leisure — for activities like watching TV, you don’t have to coordinate your schedule with other people. It’s no wonder it seems more convenient for busy moms.

Single and married moms spend equal time on childcare.

This point actually unites married and single women, rather than showing how different their lives are. All mothers, whether married, divorced, or never-married, were willing to protect time for childcare “from the encroachment of other time demands,” sociologists said.

Most of the women reported an average of one hour and 24 minutes of childcare on the diary day (researchers examined moms’ 24-hour time-use diaries).

What do you think is the most crucial difference between the lives of single and married moms? Is it possible to be a good mother and still have enough time for your own leisure and rest? Share your opinion in the comment section.

Please note: This article was updated in August 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
Preview photo credit padmalakshmi / instagram


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