Determining the value of stay-at-home moms

"How much do you make?" In our society, that question is taboo, much like asking a woman how much she weighs. Occasionally, salaries are made public, such as those for athletes, school superintendents, state representatives, and so on.
Matt_Roche
Jul 24, 2010

"How much do you make?" In our society, that question is taboo, much like asking a woman how much she weighs.

Occasionally, salaries are made public, such as those for athletes, school superintendents, state representatives, and so on.

For one profession, the wage might seem obvious: stay-at-home mom $0. Those who truly appreciate Mom would say her contributions are priceless.

However, the question that should be asked of stay-at-home parents is not how much they make, but rather how much they save the family as a result of not working outside the home.

An informal study conducted by the Web sitewww.salary.com tried to determine the estimated fair wage for the daily tasks performed by a typical stay-at-home mom with two children, based on a 100-hour work week.

Salary.com used a combination of salaries based on what you would have to pay other people to do the same work. For example, the national average salaries for:

Day-care teacher $26,891

Van driver $30,762

Housekeeper $18,750

Cook $31,099

CEO $612,623

Maintenance worker $29,656

The base pay for 40 hours totals $45,697. Factor in $88,424 for the 60 hours of overtime, and the salary jumps to $134,121.

That being said, Salary.com stated the figure still doesn't do justice to the compensation value because moms are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they do not get any benefits such as pension plans. In addition, moms perform other chores and responsibilities that were not listed above, such as counselor, educator, tutor, entertainer, laundress, nurse and accountant.

"The importance of this calculation or this estimate is just calling attention to the fact that being a stay-at-home mom is not a cop out, it's not the woman's way out of the work force and it's not a job of no value," Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation at Salary.com, told the Reuters news agency. "There is a lot of value there, and some would say it's even priceless."

From coupon-clipping to garage-sale shopping to other forms of bargain hunting, these thrifty moms can save significant amounts of money, showing the truthfulness of the old adage "a penny saved is a penny earned."

Some also supplement the family's income by doing Internet-based work or being home product party consultants (Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc.).

In most cases, these women are intelligent and talented. Some possess college degrees, certifications or training, while others would, had they chosen to pursue higher education.

But instead of seeking money or personal glory, stay-at-home parents make sacrifices for the good of the family, many times not receiving recognition from the people they benefit the most their spouses and children.

When determining whether both parents need to work outside the home, couples would do well to count the costs of daycare, gas, lunches and other expenses associated with employment and weigh them against the added income.

Sometimes a mom finds she is working only to pay the baby-sitter.

Even if the extra net income is significant, the biggest cost one with no monetary value might be time.

After dropping off the children at the sitter, working all day, retrieving them, making dinner and then eating, only an hour or two remains before bedtime. Lost are all the daytime hours when a parent could be nurturing, training and enjoying their offspring.

Once a child turns 5, the bulk of his or her daytime hours are spent at school for the next 13 years. After that, the child becomes an adult.

By simplifying their lifestyle and cutting a few costs, some families have been able to live reasonably well on a single income, thus letting mom or dad stay home with the children. These parents may not wear the latest fashions, watch a flat screen TV or drive an SUV, but they know those material possessions are worth far less than the time they can spend with their children.