About 6 months before my youngest entered kindergarten, people started asking me a question that rocked me to the core:
“What are you going to do when all your kids are in school all day?”
Suddenly, saying that I was going to stay at home sounded lazy. What was I going to do with all that extra time? And would there actually be a lot of extra time?
The more they asked, the more I let it get to me, and I began feeling like I wasn’t contributing to my family because I didn’t have a job. I felt guilty every time I did something for me, or went to lunch with friends during the day, or actually enjoyed the silence. Soon I was feeling guilty all the time.
It was a serious downward spiral folks!
One morning my husband and I sat down and had a good talk. You know… the kind where there’s lots of tears, and self-discovery…
Basically, I told him that since everyone was in school, I didn’t feel like my part in the family was important because I wasn’t contributing financially.
And the wise man that I married stopped me dead in my tracks.
He said, “Jodi, if you were to die tomorrow, do you know how much it would cost me to pay for everything that you do?”
I countered, “If I died tomorrow, you wouldn’t do everything that I do.”
“You’re right,” he said. “But if I wanted our family to live the lifestyle we’ve been living, I’d have to pay people to do everything that you do.”
He then issued me a challenge:
“Keep track of everything you do, down to the minute. Then find out how much it would cost to pay for all of that.” He was sure that the amount of money I save our family would be incredibly high!
Now, I’m a numbers girl… I always have been… so this challenge made my accountant mind tick…
I started with babysitting.
I have 5 kids and a crazy dog, so we pay a babysitter $10/hour. Since my kids are still young, someone needs to be here when they’re here. So if I was just a babysitter and “sitting” with my kids 8 waking hours a day, more on the weekends. That would be $10/hour x 8hrs x 7 days/week x 52 weeks/year, or $29,120 a year we save our family by me being home. So you could easily argue that my “salary” could be $29,120.
That number was SOOOO depressing. And let’s face it… I do waaaay more than just babysit.
It was time for a spreadsheet!
Most of my hourly rates came through Google, but I did some research by checking with private tutors, cleaners etc. and I tracked almost everything!
When I cut my hubby’s hair, I counted $50. (Because let’s face it, if someone else cut his hair he’d spend at least that, and then give them a hefty tip. $50 is being lenient!
Each time I wash and detailed my car I counted $45.
Here’s a small part of the spreadsheet I created:
|Mar 6||Mar 7||Mar 8||Mar 9||Mar 10||Mar 11|
|Laundry # loads||3||1||1||1||2|
|Home Repair Projects||2||4||4|
|Shop for needed items||0.75||0.5||2||1.5||2.5|
|Get gas for car||0.1|
|Car Repair Errands/Oil Change|
|Babysit for others||3|
|There at home for kids||8||8||8||8||8||17|
|Extra Kid Projects/Costumes||0.5|
|Drive Kids to Practice/school||0.5||0.25||0.25||0.25||1.25||1.75|
|Cut Hair $50||1|
And some of the costs:
|Day Care other children||$10.00|
|Load of Laundry||$5.00|
Sure, one could argue that you can find better or cheaper rates, but I’m not a cheap employee. I’m a hard worker! I’ve developed my craft and know how to get the job done! I have 11 years of on the job experience, and devote every waking minute to it! I rarely need vacation time, and would do this job for free because I value it that much.
As the month wore on it became incredibly fascinating to see where I spend my time.
For example, I don’t cook very much… in fact during the 30 day test period, I spent less than 9 hours cooking.
How sad is that?!
But if my husband paid a professional chef to cook, (my family would eat a lot better) and it would cost them roughly $40/hour. So by my cooking those 9 hours, I’ve saved my family $360.
I do our finances, and counted $35/hour for a personal accountant.
For every long counseling session that I spent with the kids I counted it at a therapist’s rate of $150/hour.
If I sent my kids to tutors instead of helping them myself I’d pay $85/hour.
A few numbers didn’t make it on here. My kids didn’t get sick, so I completely forgot about all the time I might’ve spent doctoring them up…
The grand total for the month was shocking.
$11,490.15 over 30 days. Since that was a fairly average month, we’ll multiply that number by 12.
And, if I were to get paid for every little thing I do, my annual salary would be:
Ha! That’s my number folks! That’s how much I save my family every year by not working outside of the home.
So what does it all mean?
Basically, this made me realize that a marriage is a beautiful partnership. My husband works hard to provide the financial income for us, and I work hard to keep the home lights burning. Together we’re trying to raise 5 individuals to become hard-working, independent, confident people, and that’s no small feat. But when I stay home, I have time to get all of the work done, and still take a little time for myself. I even have a little extra time to run my tiny little hobby business! And while saying, “I’m a stay-at-home mom” doesn’t look good on a resume, and is often scoffed over among high-powered executives, it’s actually quite valuable.
For any single parent out there, you’re number should be double my number. Just like a more experienced employee gets a higher salary, your double-duty experience is incredible, and it matters!
To the working mom’s who have a full-time job… bravo! You’ve found a way to balance family and business! I would never try to discount the hard work you put in for your family! I’m amazed and impressed by you!
I no longer feel less of a person because I stay home. And the next time someone asks why I don’t have a job, I’ll proudly say that my family couldn’t afford it! Because they couldn’t.