Getting to be a stay-at-home mom is a luxury. Not, like, sheet-mask-and-Diet-Coke luxury, but to able to spend so much time with my daughter and not miss a thing is amazing. I know that it's not an option for many moms, which is why I hate to complain. Buuuuuuut... being a SAHM is hard work. There are no sick days, no paid vacations — there is no time off at all. I'm always on my feet and I always have work that needs to be done. Some days are overwhelming. Being a SAHM is not a career, there are no promotions, pay, or accolades. I don't get a lunch break or get to talk to or complain to my coworkers. But in some ways it’s like having a job, or several jobs. It got me thinking, what if being a stay-at-home mom was a job?
How much would my husband owe me after a week's worth of work? What is a SAHM really worth? Wonder no more, because for an entire week I billed my husband hourly for my work as a SAHM, and it wasn't cheap.
Childcare Costs: *Announced With Extreme Mom Voice*
As a SAHM, my daughter is in my care all the time, so I calculated 70 hours of childcare a week. In New York, the average nanny makes about $15 an hour. With overtime penalty rates (since I work more than 40 hours a week), my grand total for childcare was a whopping $1,725.
Cooking Costs: Bon Appetit!
Taking care of my daughter isn't the only thing I do as a SAHM. I do a lot of house work. I cook on average two to three times a day. Conservatively, I tabulated about 10 hours of cooking a week. The average cook makes about $13 an hour — not much but hey, I'm far from a chef, so I'll take it. That's $130 for the week.
Cleaning Costs: Vrooooom
Second to taking care of my daughter, I seem to spend most of my day cleaning. There's always something to clean. Meal times are messy and so I find myself mopping, sweeping, and vacuuming constantly. And don't get me started on the endless dishes that seem to grow by the minute! The average housekeeper makes about $13-$17. So I thought I'd charge $15 to be fair. I spend about 16 hours a week cleaning. That's be $240 for the week. With all of the cleaning I do, I really expected that to be higher.
Laundry Service: High Heat
Moving on to our sentient laundry pile, I found that I spend five hours a week washing, sorting and folding laundry. At $13 an hour, that's another $65.
Administrative Work: *Typing Noises*
Another role I play is family secretary. I manage appointments, handle scheduling, and answer phone calls and e-mails. I spent about three hours playing the role of our family secretary this week, not including all the emails I read and responded to in bed. That'll be a measly $39.
Waitressing: Be Our Guest
Last but not least, I spent 11 hours as a waitress, serving meals and clearing the table. Waitresses make about $7.50 an hour and the rest is supposed to be made up in tips. So, that’ll be $82.50 plus change.
The Grand Total
It seems my husband has racked up a pretty hefty bill. I had no idea how many hours I spent taking care of our daughter and home. I definitely work way more hours than I ever had before. And so, dear husband, my grand total is $2,281.50. And that's just for one week.
In the role of a caregiver, cook, housekeeper, laundromat worker, and secretary, and waitress, just to name a few, I think I earned every cent. This shouldn't surprise any of you. According to an Salary.com cited by Forbes, a SAHM is worth about $115,000 a year. My tally worked out to an annual income of $118,638. Don't I wish I earned that.
I handed my husband the tab and...
He balked at first, but when I explained how it was all broken out, it really put in perspective for him the sheer amount of work I do, and the way the week's hours clog up with tasks. In the time since, he's tried to do a little more around the house — a vroom there, a load of laundry there — and seems to appreciate everything I do a little more. Or he's cruising for a discount.
The thing is, this was a slow week. Some days, I'm a personal assistant, a clown, a party planner, or a therapist. Other days I'm a nurse or a personal shopper. I wear many hats like most moms, but being a SAHM means I'm always on duty. If $2,281.50 a week seems a little steep, consider this, I calculated that I only get two to three hours a week to myself. Doing anything for myself like showering or even using the bathroom requires a well-orchestrated leave plan.
Although I love being a SAHM, it is challenging and requires a great deal of sacrifice. Some days I barely make it out alive. The one thing I didn't tabulate in all this is the sheer emotional investment I make day in, day out. Getting to stay home with my kid is a total blessing, and I do it because I love her to pieces. Some things, you learn as a parent, you'll happily do for free.