TODAY   |  January 13, 2014

Low-income women struggle to juggle work, caregiving

NBC’s Maria Shriver presents a special series called “Doing It All,” in which she spotlights the struggles women face trying to juggle multiple roles. In this release, women on the poverty line talk about balancing work and family life.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> turn now to our special doing it all series ahead of this year's release of the shriver report, we put out a call to women asked what doing it all means to you. the response, by the way, was overwhelming. maria , good morning.

>> thank you, matt. nice to see you. it was overwhelming. we were excited about that. and we listened. this week we're going to take a closer look at what women and their changing roles are doing to society. the struggles they may be facing and what we as women can do to change that feeling of being overwhelmed and often undervalued. we'll talk about women doing it all.

>> feeling the pressure to do everything.

>> getting ready for school, school conferences, breakfast, grocery shopping.

>> juggling household duties, finding time for my family and husband.

>> wondering if the bills will be paid.

>> the state of the american woman is influx. i would say women find themselves more than ever as breadwinners, care takers, they are the core of the american family .

>> trying to balance all of this with less stress and more happiness while trying to get a few minutes to take care of myself.

>> they are trying to keep it all together. and they feel undervalued and invisible.

>> when you work full-time as a mother, you don't get to give away your motherhood responsibilities to anyone else.

>> the american family has dramatically changed. only 1/5 of american families have a woman who stays at home and a male breadwinner.

>> i do go to bed at night and really worry i'm not doing it right. that i don't see a light at the end of the tunnel financially.

>> very few families can survive in this country today on one income. very often the man loses the job, the woman's job paid less and all of a sudden there's no savings, they're in poverty or the brink of it.

>> who would think it would happen to me? do i look like the face of poverty? food stamps ?

>> katherine clark is 1 of 42 million american living at or below the poverty line .

>> i'm trying to keep a nice attitude and thinking we have no food because we have no money. and i don't have any gas money to get to the grocery store to buy anything if i had the money.

>> she went from living in a $6,000 a month house to nearly homeless after her husband lost his job and became sick.

>> talk about a slippery slope where it just went because now there's no more money. and it's going faster than you can imagine.

>> one of my plans was my youngest one and i were going to live in my car because it was a van.

>> it's a situation more and more families are facing. and more and more women are having to take on new and different roles to keep their families afloat.

>> i wasn't working. i was taking care of our three kids. i didn't really know our financial situation. my husband took care of like all of that. so i took over, became the glue.

>> they filed for bankruptcy, started collecting food stamps , and katherine began to work as a designer. they are now stable but millions of women are still struggling.

>> i was afraid i'm going to fail. i don't know how i'm going to be a full-time school social worker and still be primary care giver for my daughter.

>> there's conflict perhaps inside of almost every woman i meet. conflict over whether she should work full-time, adjust her workday and be home to raise her children.

>> i've got kids that can be sick sometimes. it's hard when you have limited amount of sick time.

>> 2/3 of all minimum wage jobs in this country are held by women and 70% of them don't have one sick day.

>> i do worry about what kind of toll that's taking on me. but i think most mothers are more than willing to take those responsibilities on themselves for the betterment of their children. hopefully we come out the other end and everything's okay.

>> it's scary, but there's a lot of courage out there. so i think that it's an exciting time to be a woman. but it's also a reality check for women . i think we need to recognize it's not selfish to empower ourselves, but it's necessary in 2014 .

>> maria , you say you have to empower yourself. sounds easier said than done. what's the best way to do it?

>> stay in school as long as you possibly can because that'll keep you off the brink of poverty.

>> sets you up for the future.

>> yes.

>> i want to tell people on wednesday you're going to be answering your questions in an all-digital helpathon on twitter, facebook and e-mail. for more head to and maria 's got great information there. and