Title

Lifestyle Imbalance and Perceived Stress for Single-Mother University Students

Start Time

22-10-2011 2:35 PM

End Time

22-10-2011 3:05 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

This study examined the lived-experiences of single-mother students in order to understand their ability to satisfactorily perform the daily occupations required within their multiple roles of mother, student, employee, friend, and/or daughter. Following IRB approval, single-mother volunteers were recruited from a large, urban, public university. Informed consent was secured and 8 women were individually interviewed for 1-3 hours utilizing open-ended questions. The mothers ranged in age from 21 to 38; 5 were undergraduates; 5 were African-American, and all had 1-2 dependents. The children’s mean age was 7.1 years. Observations were noted about verbal and non-verbal communication during the interviews. The analysts maintained reflective journals to discern their own biases and reactions. Member checking was attempted with minimal response from the participants. The researchers individually reviewed and coded the transcripts, and then met 4 times to discuss the underlying meanings of the participants’ responses before reaching a consensus. The analysis was framed within the theoretical dimensions of Matuska and Christiansen’s (2008, 2009) model of life balance. Emergent themes indicated single-mothers experienced high levels of stress on a daily basis as they attempted to fulfill their multiple roles. They expressed an over-arching theme of embracing temporary self-sacrifice in order to eventually achieve a better life for themselves and their children. The findings also indicate the singlemothers struggled in most dimensions of the life balance model. They discussed having (1) a decreased ability to meet basic needs such as nutrition, sleep or self-care, (2) a narrow range of rewarding and selfaffirming relationships since any free time was focused primarily upon being with their children, (3) minimal opportunities to create personal meaning within their lifestyle (unscheduled time was devoted to ‘napping’), and (4) being over-challenged in organizing their time and energy levels to the degree that nearly every moment was experienced as “crunch time.” However, the single-mother students did express satisfaction in the fifth area of the life balance model: They reported feeling engaged, challenged and competent within their role of student and desired acceptance by their academic community. As a study of how single-mother students struggle to satisfactorily perform their chosen daily occupations, this paper presents a clear picture of the negative implications of life imbalance and adds to the growing body of literature examining life balance.

Discussion questions:

  1. Even though they were voiced that they were experiencing extreme stress in their daily lives, the single-mother students persevered toward their goal of attaining a university degree. What types of occupations did they engage in that bolstered their health and wellness, even if for a only short time periods? Were they more concerned about their physical or emotional life balance?
  2. What occupations enhanced the mothers' relationships with their children? How important was it for the mothers' to find other outlets of companionship or friendships?
  3. How would you describe the concept of lifestyle balance? How do Matuska and Christiansen describe 'life balance'?

References

Hakansson, C, & Matuska, K. M. (2010). How life balance is perceived by Swedish women recovering from a stress-related disorder: A validation of the life balance model. Journal of Occupational Science, 17, 112-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2010.9686682

Matuska, K.M., & Christiansen, C. H. (2008). A proposed model of lifestyle balance. Journal of Occupational Science, 15, 9-19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2008.9686602

Matuska, K. & Christiansen, C. (2009). A theoretical model of life balance and imbalance. In K. Matuska and C. Christiansen (Eds) Life balance: Multidisciplinary theories and research (pp 149-164). Thorofare, NJ and Bethesda, MD: SLACK and AOTA Press

Matuska, K.M. & Erickson, B., (2008). Lifestyle Balance: How it is described and experienced by women with multiple sclerosis. Journal of Occupational Science, 15, 20-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2008.9686603

Ortqvist, D. & Wincent, J. (2006). Prominent consequences of role stress: A meta-analytic review. International Journal of Stress Management, 13, 399-422. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.13.4.399

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Oct 22nd, 2:35 PM Oct 22nd, 3:05 PM

Lifestyle Imbalance and Perceived Stress for Single-Mother University Students

This study examined the lived-experiences of single-mother students in order to understand their ability to satisfactorily perform the daily occupations required within their multiple roles of mother, student, employee, friend, and/or daughter. Following IRB approval, single-mother volunteers were recruited from a large, urban, public university. Informed consent was secured and 8 women were individually interviewed for 1-3 hours utilizing open-ended questions. The mothers ranged in age from 21 to 38; 5 were undergraduates; 5 were African-American, and all had 1-2 dependents. The children’s mean age was 7.1 years. Observations were noted about verbal and non-verbal communication during the interviews. The analysts maintained reflective journals to discern their own biases and reactions. Member checking was attempted with minimal response from the participants. The researchers individually reviewed and coded the transcripts, and then met 4 times to discuss the underlying meanings of the participants’ responses before reaching a consensus. The analysis was framed within the theoretical dimensions of Matuska and Christiansen’s (2008, 2009) model of life balance. Emergent themes indicated single-mothers experienced high levels of stress on a daily basis as they attempted to fulfill their multiple roles. They expressed an over-arching theme of embracing temporary self-sacrifice in order to eventually achieve a better life for themselves and their children. The findings also indicate the singlemothers struggled in most dimensions of the life balance model. They discussed having (1) a decreased ability to meet basic needs such as nutrition, sleep or self-care, (2) a narrow range of rewarding and selfaffirming relationships since any free time was focused primarily upon being with their children, (3) minimal opportunities to create personal meaning within their lifestyle (unscheduled time was devoted to ‘napping’), and (4) being over-challenged in organizing their time and energy levels to the degree that nearly every moment was experienced as “crunch time.” However, the single-mother students did express satisfaction in the fifth area of the life balance model: They reported feeling engaged, challenged and competent within their role of student and desired acceptance by their academic community. As a study of how single-mother students struggle to satisfactorily perform their chosen daily occupations, this paper presents a clear picture of the negative implications of life imbalance and adds to the growing body of literature examining life balance.

Discussion questions:

  1. Even though they were voiced that they were experiencing extreme stress in their daily lives, the single-mother students persevered toward their goal of attaining a university degree. What types of occupations did they engage in that bolstered their health and wellness, even if for a only short time periods? Were they more concerned about their physical or emotional life balance?
  2. What occupations enhanced the mothers' relationships with their children? How important was it for the mothers' to find other outlets of companionship or friendships?
  3. How would you describe the concept of lifestyle balance? How do Matuska and Christiansen describe 'life balance'?