It wasn’t that long ago that I was a career-oriented gal wondering what I’d do when I had my baby and if there was any significant value of a stay at home mom. Little did I know, I’d be blessed with this title just two weeks after my maternity leave was over.
When I told a coworker that I was leaving my position of six years so I could stay at home with my baby, she swore at me. And she wasn’t joking.
It seems that people are either clamoring to be home with kids, or they think they’d never in a million years wish to be in our shoes. Stay at home moms (SAHMs) are simultaneously glamorized or dragged through the mud, and in both cases, we’re disrespected.
The world doesn’t usually validate stay-at-home moms. Our work in the home is either seen as thankless, boring, unproductive drudgery or indulgent and problem-free. It’s definitely a case of two inaccurate extremes.
The overwhelming sense I get from the world is simply this: What you’re doing isn’t valuable.
What I hear from people I know and well-meaning strangers is just a bit different, thankfully. Their words about my lack-of-a-traditional-job might be “Oh, well, there’s nothing wrong with that.” And I interpret that to mean: What you’re doing isn’t normal, but I respect it.
These days, those friendly people are right. The decision to stay home isn’t the norm, but it is becoming a tad more common. That idea makes some people a bit afraid.
That’s why well-meaning people kindly give us permission to be home with our kids, and it’s why not-so-well meaning people verbally slap us in the face when we make the difficult decision to leave our jobs.
The Cultural Value of a Stay-At-Home-Mom
So, culturally stay at home moms are undervalued and often unseen. But the value of a stay-at-home-mom isn’t determined by the working world, the critics, or the uninformed. Our value isn’t even determined by our kids or by other moms.
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.Proverbs 31:25-28
Stay at Home Moms are worth as much as God says we are. We’re priceless, as is the work that we do. Working moms are just as priceless and immensely valuable, it’s just that our culture generally seems to know it.
But what about the SAHM monetary value? Is staying home worth the lack of a second income? Even the people who attempt answering this question trip over truly acknowledging and valuing us.
Each year around Mother’s Day, salary.com releases an estimate for the salary of the work every mom does. In 2018 it came to $162,581.
What’s interesting is that even though salary.com was gearing this article toward stay at home moms (the url ends in stay-at-home-moms), they avoided singling out SAHMs in that estimate, likely out of fear of backlash from moms who work outside the home.
Here’s what they said.
We would like to recognize both professional and stay-at-home Moms on their unwavering dedication to their families and other responsibilities.salary.com
That’s very nice.
But moms who work outside the home pay others to care for their kids in their absence, of course. It’s completely fair to say that SAHMs would hypothetically earn the money that a daycare worker or nanny would make in caring for their kids. Oddly enough, salary.com includes Daycare Teacher in the list of roles they use for calculations.
If care-during-the-day is part of the equation, why isn’t it also included in the answer to that equation? I’m just going to say it: A mom who does the work of a daycare teacher is a mom who is at home with her kids. Salary.com is trying to tell SAHMs what our hypothetical income is worth, but they’re shaking in their boots as they do it.
I’d like to argue that a SAHM’s hypothetical salary for her work in parenting and maintaining the home is a little different than a working mom’s hypothetical parenting salary.
The Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom Debate
How we spend our time matters. And the whole reason a SAHM wants to know how much she’s financially worth is because we don’t get paid for those 9-5 hours.
We want to know, is the financial sacrifice of staying home worth it? Can we feel good about the monetary value of the unpaid work we put in from 9-5?
The short answer, stay-at-home moms, is absolutely. You should feel wonderful about what you do and you should know that beyond the benefits you’ll see in your family, it’s a sound financial choice to be at home with your kids.
Families in Washington, DC spend 26 percent of their annual income [on childcare], Massachusetts spends 25, and Wisconsin spends 23.fatherly.com
When I was working outside the home before I had kids, I made a good salary. In fact, I was the main bread-winner in our home. Take a look at the statistics below and keep in mind that this is the cost per week of child care.
Child care costs rose for the fifth year in row, according to the fifth annual Care.com Cost of Care Survey, which showed that the average weekly cost for an infant child is $211 for a day-care center, $195 for a family care center, and $580 for a nanny.care.com
I used the numbers above and calculated the percentage of my salary that I would have lost if I’d hired a nanny for my son. It came to 51%.
Ladies, I would have lost more than HALF of the majority of the money coming into our household! And while I can’t say for sure that I would have hired a nanny, I know that the one-on-one care is comparable to what a SAHM does when it comes to figuring out the financials.
Staying home with Kai meant being able to afford our mortgage payment, car payment, and student loan debt. Yes, that sounds a little illogical, but it’s absolutely true. We saved money and made the right decision for our family when I quit my job.
I believe that a stay at home mom should truly consider the above amounts to be money in her pocket. If we don’t realize the monetary value of staying home with our kids, we’re soon imagining that our financial woes can be solved by working a traditional job outside the home…but that just isn’t true.
The Value of a Stay at Home Mom
I know that my fellow SAHMs are smarter than the message the world shouts at us. We know that we’re making a difference, that our time isn’t wasted, and that our kids are benefiting from the lifestyle we’ve chosen.
We know that we don’t have the glamorous life or the life of a slave. Staying home gives us freedom and responsibilities both, and lots of blessings in between. God sees the work that we do and you should feel appreciated and seen.
Moms, absolutely no one can replace you. The time you spend with your children cannot be valued enough. You aren’t just getting through another day, you’re raising children who are blessed and strong in the foundation of their mother’s love.
Children like that can change the world.