Digital Mums Too Stressed For Study

Too Stressed For Study

Our new research has shown that outdated skills and knowledge are really holding mothers back in their careers and keeping them out of the workforce. This is something they are struggling with and worry about. The solution to this challenge is to engage in adult learning but they aren’t.

1 in 2 of the mothers we surveyed had not engaged in formal learning within the last 3 years and 1 in 3 mothers over the age of 41 had not engaged in formal learning for 10 years or more. Given mothers are concerned about their skills and knowledge dating and how this could impact their career, why is this?

Too stressed for study

The barrier to learning that comes up in our conversations with mothers again and again is a lack of time and critically a lack of headspace to take advantage of learning opportunities.

Mothers are time poor and if they can find a few hours for study they are juggling a number of spinning plates and learning something new requires the mental focus that many feel they simply don’t have.

This anecdotal evidence is backed up by our study.

  • Around 1 in 3 mothers across all age ranges feel that lack of time is a major barrier to learning.
  • Around 1 in 4 mothers between 18 and 50 feel that lack of headspace is a significant barrier to learning.

Life as a mum can be one giant routine. I would start my day very, very early at 5am after being up a lot of the night with my son. My daughter would be up sprightly and ready to play and take on the day. My morning would be full of chores. We’d maybe go to the park and then it was planning for dinner time and mountains of washing. It’s hard.

Tori Denyer, Digital Mums graduate

Headspace is really hard to find. You can’t organise headspace like you can organise time. There are ways to find extra time, for example, postponing things or reprioritising. There are loads of books and tools to help you. When my head is overflowing I can’t concentrate on anything.

Kelly Jacobson-Collins, Digital Mums graduate

In the UK, women do almost twice as many hours of unpaid work a day as men. This means that UK men have a whopping five hours more leisure time than women per week. That’s a lot of time that could be spent learning new skills.

And with the ageing population, it’s women that are carrying the additional care load so not only are they caring for their children they are also caring for their parents (and often their husband’s parents). Women makeup 70% of all unpaid dementia carers in the UK and are 2.5 times more likely than men to be on-call around the clock as a carer.

Almost 9 in 10 women said they felt solely responsible for organising schedules of the family. 7 in 10 said they were solely responsible for “invisible labour” such as family routines, who needs to be where and when, what needs to be packed, anticipating and planning for the future, which necessitates mental and emotional effort. 2 in 3 felt it was mainly their responsibility for managing their children’s health and emotional well-being.

So it’s really no surprise that women are telling us they simply don’t have the time or headspace to learn something new.

There is no denying that learning something new is going to be a challenge for busy women and particularly for busy mothers. This becomes even more of a challenge when training courses are face to face and set at inconvenient times for mothers.


Our study showed that mental health and anxiety were of most concern for younger mothers with 22% of 18-30-year-olds citing this as a barrier to learning. This drops to just 7% of mothers over 51.

A recent study found that millennials report more stress and anxiety than any other generation. And data shows that working mothers are more stressed than other people – 18% more for mothers with one child, and 40% more for mothers with two children.


It’s likely that the financial pressures (discussed here), additional mental and emotional burdens, loss of confidence and self-esteem and increased stress and anxiety, when combined negatively impact on their overall mindset.

Learning and mindset are closely linked. A successful learner has a growth mindset, a belief that they can succeed and search out opportunities to stretch themselves. They see challenge as an opportunity for growth and aren’t put off by failure. Our data shows that mothers are stressed and squeezed with money, time and headspace - not qualities that contribute to the mental resilience required for a growth mindset.

This blog is an extract from our new report “Locked out of Learning” exploring why mothers aren’t learning and how this is impacting their careers.

100 years ago this month the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee published its Final Report on Adult Education. This report argued for the importance of adult education for the nation’s welfare and security and laid the foundations for adult education in the UK for decades to come. 100 years on we have commissioned research to examine the impact motherhood has on female careers and employment levels, with a focus on the potential of adult learning as a solution to support mothers into rewarding work.

All this week, we will be sharing further snippets from our research, together with infographics and stories from women that bring life to our key findings, as well as our recommendations for Government, employers and other learning providers. Check out the full report here or the executive summary here.

Digital Mums Free resources to help you nail your social media marketing in 2020

Free resources to help you nail your social media marketing in 2020

We are committed to helping small businesses to make 2020 the year they nail social media. If you are at the stage where you’re managing your own social media then you’ve come to the right place. There are loads of ways to learn, from joining a free Masterclass, downloading our free white paper to listening to an audio lesson or enrolling on a free short course. Read on to find out more.

Social Media
Digital Mums Success on social media in 2020 | Build a social media marketing funnel

Success on social media in 2020 | Build a social media marketing funnel

Welcome to our new blog series "Success on Social Media in 2020" supporting small businesses to nail their social media this year. In this series, we have learned about the social media algorithms, how understanding your customers and building a sociable brand is the key to making them work for you, how important it is to have an influencer and content strategy and how data is the key to knowing what is working and what isn't. This is the final blog in the series, the final piece of the puzzle - building a social media marketing funnel.

Social Media
Digital Mums Success on social media in 2020 | Make data-driven decisions

Success on social media in 2020 | Make data-driven decisions

Welcome to our new blog series "Success on Social Media in 2020" supporting small businesses to nail their social media this year. We have been sharing eight brilliant blogs over the past two weeks. This is the penultimate blog in our series and perhaps the most important of all. While it's crucial to understand your customers, to have a sociable brand and to craft a content strategy if you aren't using data effectively you can't learn over time what works and what doesn't.

Social Media
Back to Blog

Unlock your flexible
freelance career

Ready to gain in-demand social media skills and kickstart your new flexible freelance career? Click here to get more info on our accredited training.

Kate on white background

Get Started

Enter your details below to take your first step towards transforming your career prospects. We’ll send you our Info Pack and a few emails explaining what we do.

Do you have a background in any of the following: Marketing, Advertising, PR, Comms, Journalism, Broadcast/TV?
What training would you like to hear more about?
How did you hear about us?
Course updates

We’d love to send you ongoing updates about our training, successful Digital Mums and new happenings in the flexible working space. You can unsubscribe any time.

Privacy policy

For more info on how we handle your data, read our privacy policy.