College mothers balance class, family

Like any college student, history senior Simone Jn Marie-Cannon has her fair share of reading assignments, research papers, and exams each semester.

But her daily routine is a bit different from that of a typical college student.

Her day starts at 4:30 a.m. when she begins her daily grind of juggling a full-time college course load, a part-time job and raising three kids (one of whom is under the age of two), all the while maintaining her house and her sanity.

The hardest thing, she said, is time management.

“I think the hardest part of that is trying to figure out what point in time I get to read 100 pages this teacher wants me to read by the end of the week, along with the other teacher who wants me to read so many pages,” Jn Marie-Cannon said.

“Just trying to find time to study, because when you’re out of school, the kids are out of school — and that’s very demanding. And basically you don’t do anything when the kids are home from school. It’s their schoolwork, their food, their cleaning, their everything.”

Jn Marie-Cannon is one of the many “parenting students” enrolled at UH.

According to a 2009 report by the UH Child Care Task Force, roughly 8 percent of students have children under the age of five. The report does not take into account students with school-age children.

While college life is more difficult for a mother, support from the UH Women’s Resource Center is available to parenting students.

Lactation rooms are available throughout the campus, WRC Director Beverly McPhail said.

McPhail added that the center also provided a support group for parenting students, but attendance has been lacking.

“It was sort of a catch-22 that parenting students need the support but they’re too busy to come in for an extra meeting or stay longer on campus,” she said.

One of the biggest issues for a parent is childcare, McPhail said. Women come in asking for child care recommendations.

UH offers child care at the University of Houston Child Care Center, an option that McPhail says does not suit many students.

“It’s a little bit expensive and their part-time is three days a week and a lot of students just need drop-in care,” McPhail said.

The child care center option did not suit Jn Marie-Cannon. She said a drop-in care option would be best for when she needs a place on campus to take her children when they don’t have school.

Jn Marie-Cannon says because her kids come first, she is forced to schedule her courses and study time around her kid’s schedule.

“Soccer season just started, and (the kids) are two different age levels, so that’s two different practices and two different games, and spending five hours at the soccer field with an infant knowing you’ve got a paper to write at home is really hard,” she said.

“So scheduling around their schedules is very difficult.”

Jn. Marie-Cannon said education was one of the sacrifices she made when she gave birth to her first daughter.

“Unfortunately we made that decision when we decided to have kids to put ourselves on hold.”

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