Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Real Worth of a Stay-at-Home Parent

One night while scrolling through my facebook feed as Elise nursed, a headline of a story someone posted jumped out at me.  It read "Husband Says He Can't Afford His Wife As A Stay-at-Home Mom And His Reasoning Adds Up.  Big Time."  I was curious and clicked on the link to read more.  As I read along I started to get frustrated.  While the man obviously meant well and his intention was to make his wife feel valued, as a stay-at-home mom I just couldn't agree with what he was saying.  Typically I keep these thoughts to myself or just voice them to Ty, but this time I felt like writing about it.  So here we go.

The article started out with this quote, “With childcare costs it would’ve been a wash with her income at best. So we decided that she would stay home as long as it made sense.”  I completely agreed with this comment.  Having 2 kids in childcare would have cost us nearly my entire income, so we were in the same situation.  But then he went on to describe all the services his wife provides as a stay-at-home mom and how much those services would cost if you hired someone.  He lists a cleaning service, a personal shopper, a chef, a financial assistant, and a laundry service.  That's when I got irritated.  It wasn't the first time I've heard someone make the argument that stay-at-home moms/parents wear all of those hats.  But let's get real.  I may make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is by no means an elaborate, delicious meal people would happily pay big bucks for in a restaurant.  I make tasty, easy, healthy meals.  I'm sure the meals I make are similar to those made by most stay-at-home parents, excluding those who were previously chefs (although I'm sure even then they wouldn't cook the kind of food for their families that they did as a chef).  Comparing the meals I make to something a chef would make is simply insulting to the chef.  I think the average person reading such an article would agree and therefore the whole credibility of the article is immediately lost.  The same point can be made for all of those supposed jobs a stay-at-home parent does.

Then I started thinking about my time as a working mom.  As a working mom I still did all of those things he listed as jobs of a stay-at-home mom.  I just did them all after working all day and then putting Carter to bed.  Should we calculate working moms' salaries in a similar way taking their pay check and then adding all the dollar amounts for those other jobs listed?  Really the same could be done for any person, working, nonworking, single or married.  So why are we only pointing out that stay-at-home moms do these jobs and putting fictitious dollar amounts on what those chores are worth?

With all of those thoughts running through my head I started to get annoyed.  Why is it that we feel the need to legitimize the role of a stay-at-home parent by putting a dollar amount on everything he/she does?  Why is it that in order for someone's day to day to have meaning or value, they need to be making money?  To me by putting together all of these numbers and pretending a stay-at-home parent makes that money, we are implying what you do during the day is only worthwhile if it results in a paycheck.  Giving a stay-at-home parent a pretend salary in a way says he/she only has value if making money.  Being a stay-at-home parent has value that can never be measured in dollars and cents.  To me it should be measured in minutes, in hours, moments, and memories.  It has value in what it provides the children and also what it is for the parent.  The real salary or payment received for a stay-at-home parent is watching their child light up when they see or learn something new.  It's the random hugs and kisses throughout the day.  It's the outings to the zoo, the playground, the aquarium, the children's museum.  It's being the one to rock your child back and forth when they fall and scrape their knee.  To me there is no reason to put a dollar amount on the role of a stay-at-home parent.  Their day to day life can only be measured in smiles, in triumphs, in learning, and most of all in love.  I don't need a pretend salary because I know what I do is worth more than money.  I see it in my son's eyes.  I feel it when nursing my newborn daughter.  I just wish other people could see it that way.

Some things I love about staying at home:
The hair twirls at all times of day.
Watching and facilitating the interaction between my babies.
Reading books.
Playing together!


  1. So true. Though when you were growing up, your stay at home mom provided meals a chef would make. hahaha

    1. lol, that's why I conceded that some stay-at-home moms might... hehe!

  2. I've seen that article too! But then I read anther one a while ago about the worth of a SAHM from a husband's perspective. He talked about how his wife staying at home made his life easier. No coordination day care trips. When the kids were sick, there was no taking turns calling in to work or worrying about taking them to daycare with a fever or worrying about getting a call from the daycare, no leaving work for doctor appointments, dinner was usually ready when he got home, his kids were happy when he got home and his wife was happy. And all of those things made his life so much EASIER! I loved that he put it that way! (I'm catching up on commenting!)

    1. I love that! So true! It does make life easier. Plus I'm happier and the kids are happier!