What’s a Stay-at-Home Mom Worth These Days?

Retro HousewifeEvery year Salary.com releases a study detailing what a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) would earn if her duties were outsourced.

In 2011, a SAHM was worth about $115K a year.

To many a working woman, that figure is abso-fricking-lutely ridiculous.

Before I get into why a SAHM is paid exactly what she’s worth, allow me to say this: I love moms. My mom is a mom.

According to Salary.com, the top three job roles performed by a SAHM are housekeeper, cook and daycare center teacher.

So a large portion of a SAHM’s time is allocated to cleaning, cooking, and stopping her children from jabbing forks in electrical outlets.

If you were raised by a working mother, tell me, did she make sure your childhood home was inhospitable to vermin? Were you and your siblings properly educated and well fed?

Of course you were…I hope.

Working mothers are tasked with the same responsibilities as SAHMs.

My dad was old school. He never took me on a doctor’s appointment, and he slept soundly when I was sick. For seven years, I had piano lessons twice a week. My mom sat through every single one, and my dad sat through not a single one. He was a disaster in the kitchen and certainly couldn’t be bothered to plate his own food. *Sigh* He was awesome.

Not to pick on men, but dads, typically, aren’t anywhere near as involved in their children’s lives as moms.

And when it comes to taking care of most domestic chores, it’s the mother, working or not, who shoulders the burden.

In 2011, the median family income in the United States was about $50K a year.

It’s laughable to suggest that a SAHM should get paid over twice as much as half of American households.

The decision to exit the workforce and narrowly focus your energy on the full-time care of your husband and kids was made with the understanding you wouldn’t receive a paycheck for your services.

Actually, I think assigning a monetary value to the role of SAHM cheapens it.

Even animals take care of their offspring without expecting compensation.

Your reward is the satisfaction you receive from knowing your child is safe from the jaws of a ravenous predator.

Although the benefits of being a SAHM are widely viewed as intangible, the assertion they’re not paid for what they do is just false.

They are paid, and they’re paid with currency other than mud pies and finger paintings.

A SAHM’s value shouldn’t be based on salary estimates, because she’s not an employee. She’s a partner.

The money her husband or partner earns is used to cover food, housing, transportation, health care, clothing, makeup, entertainment and other items she might directly pay for if she worked a regular job.

With the exception of a few examples that are beyond the scope of this blog post, SAHMs should have full access to partnership profits.

So, if her partner brings in $30K a year, she gets a share of that. If he rakes in $750K a year, by all means, she should help yourself.

Her “pay” is, appropriately, dependent upon her partner’s ability to produce income.

I don’t want to sound like I’m attacking SAHMs.

Some of the more well known SAHMs make others in the profession look bad.

Real Housewives of Atlanta star, Kim Zolciak, immediately comes to mind. If you have a teenager, a tween, a baby, AND a personal assistant, you’re not gonna receive any awards for Stay-At-Home Mother of the Year when you whine about how badly you need a nanny.

Between wig changes and eating pizza, surely, Ms. Zolciak can squeeze in a few hours to care for her children. I mean, what else is she doing all day?

I hold women who’ve chosen a full-time career as a mother to the same standards as I would a marketing director or a software developer or a physical therapist. They should be great at what they do.

When hubby gets home, the house should be cleaned, dinner should be cooked, and (I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this but) wifey should be hot. And I don’t mean sweaty.

I’d expect no less from a stay-at-home dad (SAHD). He doesn’t exist solely for his kids. What about his wife?

I wouldn’t wanna come home and have to ask why there’s mustard on the ceiling or why little Jimmy is running around the house with a bald Barbie’s head on a stick.

There are SAHMs who take their jobs very seriously. They’re excellent at what they do. And, honestly, I have a great deal of respect for them.

I just don’t think their job function warrants a salary of $115k a year.

What can I say? *shrugs*

What do you think?

If a stay-at-home mom was paid a fair salary, do you think it’d amount to $115K per year. 

About the Author

Shawanda Greene is a free thinking, frugal gal whose only vices are boxed wine, lip balm and money grubbing. You can find more of Shawanda's musings at You Have More Than You Think – a productivity focused guide to maximizing the money you have to obtain more of what you want.