OP-ED: A typical day in the life of a college student and single parent


Photo courtesy of Kristen Bowman.

Kristen Bowman, Contributor

For many people, they have the ability to wake up 10 minutes before class and be one time. However, with a child that is simply not possible. For example, the first thing that I do in the morning is wake my son up and get him out of bed. However, he does not fully understand the concept of, “Hey, lets hurry in the mornings.” Instead, I often find Caden laying on the floor asleep instead of putting on his clothes for the day. As I get dressed, pack lunches, feed the dog and work on getting out the door, I still find Caden slowly putting on his clothes and shoes. With friendly reminders, he may speed up, but him getting dressed for the day takes a good 20 minutes, every single morning.

When we finally make it to the car and prepare for take off, we are hopefully early enough to get in the front of the drop off line at school because dropping him off at school can take anywhere from five minutes to 20 minutes. This time makes a huge difference in the morning.

The best part of my morning is when Caden tells me that he is going to miss me. This is a wonderful feeling as a parent because its reassurance that your child actually likes you.

Then throughout my day I go to class, work, do homework, study, make a little time for friends and so much more. My time without my son has to be wisely spent because there are many things that I cannot do with him around, such as study. Somehow, I also have to fit doctors appointments, eat healthy, work out and so much more. While this is a busy time for me, I thoroughly enjoy it because I am able to accomplish many things that cannot be done quite as well with Caden around.

If I am going to take my son somewhere with me, I plan on it taking way longer than it normally would. While someone who is not responsible for a child may be able to run in very quickly, open their mail box, take the mail out and go back to their car, this is not the case for parents. Parents must follow a procedure of first getting the child out of the car, then ensuring that the child is not running off in the parking lot, then the parent must walk slowly with the child and make sure the child is not wondering off and getting lost. Finally, a parent can open the mail box, take the mail out and then follow the procedure above again back to their car. While none of the procedure tasks are necessarily difficult, they can be extremely time consuming. So, I do my best to get the mail, and many other things, while Caden is in school.

After I pick my son up in the afternoon, he is my main focus. I am dedicated to making our dinner, spending time with him and letting him have time to play in his room. Plus, this provides me with a little extra time. The time that he is playing in his room is nice because I am able to do the things that I need to do in our home, such as cleaning and laundry. Then, when I put him to bed, it is finally me time. Caden’s bed time is rather early compared to most children, but this is beneficial for the both of us. Even though I know that he lays in his bed for a while before he falls asleep, I think that it is important that he has quiet time to himself. During this time, I am able to watch a little TV, craft, take a long shower or whatever it is that I feel that I need to do.

Yet, there is never going to be quite enough time for it all. The weekends are a wonderful time. My favorite part about Friday afternoon is when I tell myself, “This will be the weekend that I clean my apartment, do all my laundry, clean my car and meal prep.” This lovely lie that I tell myself never quite turns out. What the weeks are really for catching up on lost sleep, washing only the necessities for the following week and telling myself that I am doing the best that I can.

The above information does not include going to the grocery store, taking the dog to the vet and having a social life. Having a social life is a luxury that most college students do not realize they have. While I enjoy having conversations with Caden about his cars and trains, I miss having adult conversations. Yet, I do not regret any of it. Sure, I miss being about to do what I want, when I want. I love my son and I love the future that we have ahead of us. At the end of the day, the chaos is well worth it to be a college student and a mom.