CivicScience data recently brought to light a few different insights about parents’ eating and sleeping habits. Among these parents –specifically those with school-age children– noticeable changes were found shortly after the start of this year, roughly a year into the pandemic. This appears to be correlated with changes in other habits, like social media and TV streaming, as well as emotional wellbeing. The findings are highlighted below. 

More (Late Night) Snacking, Less Dinner

Among parents with children under age 18, those who snack or otherwise eat food between meals more than once a day jumped 14 percentage points from Q2 to Q3 of this year.

It just so happens that another survey found that late-night snacking in particular has increased among parents. Along with increasing levels of multi-snackers observed among parents, there is a simultaneous decline in the percentage of parents who prepare dinner. This leads us to ask the question: with less structure in many of our lives than pre-pandemic –working from home, venturing into public less, and changes in childcare– is there a general feeling of aimlessness that is leading parents to lead less structured lives across the board?

Less Rest, More Content

The percentage of parents who report getting 4 hours of sleep or less has increased by 50% since Q4 2020 (6% vs. 4%).

Reasons why? We see a rise in the number of hours spent streaming TV and video content, as well as social media usage among parents, during the same period.

Remote (and Disconnected?)

Remote work is definitely a factor, as 21% of parents with school-age children who were employed before the pandemic are currently working from home. This is compared to 18% of the general population working remotely.


At the start of this year, was there another feeling of overwhelming dread, especially among parents, given the pandemic and beginning another year under its wake? 

It appears that, though the phenomenon is not at all unique to just parents, wellbeing has fluctuated greatly. And parents could be shouldering much more than their non-parent counterparts.

To start, parents who have children who are minors are 40% more likely to be managing or acting as a caretaker for someone who is managing a mental health condition.

Among all of the emotions CivicScience tracks, the data observed the biggest changes in worry and stress among the subset of parents. Both data points are approaching early pandemic levels.

This theory of aimlessness continues to track when applying it to the upcoming holiday season. Data show that parents who usually travel for the holidays are much less likely to do so this year compared to the general population (20% vs 12%). 

Do the above insights represent a sea change among parents? While correlation is not causation, this is something to continue to watch, for certain. The post-pandemic new normal is here, and given the insight that parents both work from home at a higher rate and could be more heavily burdened by mental health concerns than the general population, CivicScience will continue to monitor how this impacts their habits for the longterm.