Affording to be a SAHM | The Life of K: Affording to be a SAHM

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Affording to be a SAHM

I wrote this post but let it sit over the weekend. And now I'm letting it fly!

I read this article, Fathers, you can't afford a Stay-at-Home-Mom, and I take issue with it. The author breaks down all the things a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) does and assigns a dollar amount. He adds it all up and gives her a "salary" and argues that he can't afford to pay her. It's BS. While it's nice seeing someone appreciating everything a SAHM does, it's like a pat on the head, a "good job", a "thanks for coming out".

I began my stay-at-home journey three years ago when we decided I wouldn't go back to work after my year-long maternity leave after Little K's birth. We had two kids under 2 and reasoned that, with almost my entire salary going towards daycare costs, and my employer offering a one-time 5-year leave without pay, it made sense for me to stay home.

This wasn't something I always knew I wanted to do. This wasn't something I HAD to do. Staying home made sense for us, for our situation, at the time. Am I happy to stay home? Most of the time.

My issue with the article, which prices out all the "services" a SAHM performs, doesn't mention that all of those tasks happen regardless of the home/work situation. Groceries get bought, dinners get made, the house gets cleaned (or not, but whatever), clothes get bought. For two working parents, those things get done during the non-working hours. When one parent stays home, a lot of those things can get done during the day. Either way, they're getting done. Either you do the tasks or you outsource them (and pay someone else to do them).

When we decided that I would stay home, we were deciding that we didn't want to outsource our childcare. Instead of me going to work, making money, and giving that money to a daycare provider, I don't make money and we don't pay someone to watch the kids. Staying home is a luxury because no matter who pays for childcare, the family still needs a source of income. I couldn't stay home if my partner wasn't making enough money to support our family.

We worked at that. For years it was the two of us with similar paychecks. We lived differently than we do now because we didn't have kids, but the idea was the same. We both brought home a paycheck, we spent money, and we saved money. Now it's only J bringing in money, we spend money, and we don't save any. The lack of saving being the biggest difference in our money situation, though I would argue we don't spend as much. If something comes up, we have our savings, and I have a job waiting for me.

Being home also saves my family in other ways. I don't have to commute to work or pay for parking. I don't have to maintain a closet full of work appropriate clothing. In fact, I went through my closet ahead of a business training last week and only 1 pair of my pre-pregnancy dress pants fit. When I reenter the workforce I will need new clothing. It's inevitable, but a cost that's been put aside for now.

The other thing that differs in my house compared to a two-working parents house is that we don't have to flip a coin for who stays home from work when the kids are sick. No one has to take time off for appointments or PD days. The only time J has to take off is when I'm sick. Our evenings and weekends typically don't involve chores and errands because a lot of that gets taken care of during the day during the week while I'm home.

For me, a big thing is mental. I don't make the money so I have trouble spending it. I have no problem buying my family groceries or clothes for my kids, but when it comes to going out or spending money on myself, I have a mental block. It's mine alone. J sees the money he makes as OUR money knowing that we could be making more if I was working, but we'd be spending more. So yes, I don't feel like I contribute equally to our family, and posts that put a price on being a SAHM don't make me feel any better. They make me feel placated. It's nice to feel appreciated but it's also nice to get paid for what you do.

Staying home to raise the kids is not a paying job. I will be back in the workforce full time in a couple of years. For now I stay home with my kids and do most of the house stuff and I'm okay with that.


  1. I also read the article; I don't take issue with it, it's one persons take on it. Many years there are articles posted in the paper stating how much a SAHP would make if each of the "jobs" they did was a paying one.

    I do feel very similarly to you with spending money. I have a difficult time spending money on myself, and often wear clothing that is LONG past time it should have been chucked. Not because I have to - hubby is always telling me to get my hair done, go for a manicure, buy what I need - but I feel like the little money we have extra every month should go to savings, not me.
    I have ALWAYS wanted to be home, and my kids are in school full time and I am still home. I love it. Like you, if the kids are sick there is no staying home from work, I can volunteer in the school and don't have to take time off for appointments either

  2. First of all, I definitely think you should go out and buy yourself ONE pair of fancy pants, even if you're not working :) And second, I totally agree with all you have written, although you know I'm on the flip side (the one working!) I've come to think of my husband and I as a team - I stayed home and worked part-time when we needed to, and now he's staying home. Either way, I feel like it makes my life a lot easier in some ways (and harder in others). I don't have to worry about sick days, or getting my kids out the door in the morning....but I also miss them a lot, and worry that their absent mother will impeded their development, LOL.

  3. I read this article, and I agree, K. That post was a bit placating to SAHMs. I am also one a SAHM, and we never used some of the services the blogger listed in his post before we had our two younger children. It is great that that this blogger wanted to show how much work goes into being a SAHM, but maybe the role of a SAHP (the P is for "Parent") should be appreciated in a different fashion.

  4. Totally relate Kamerine, being a stay at home (or work from home) Mom was never something I imagined that I would do, but financially it was something that made sense and something that I am proud of. I used to cringe when I had to say what I did every day as I didn't feel it was anything to be home, but now I am proud xo