Putting A Value On Mom: The SAHM Trap


I want to chuck all car insurance companies and their assorted CEO ilk into a great big pit and let them fight it out.  Or worse – make them have a car accident and have to deal with their own company.  Now that’s justice for you!

I’m annoyed.  I’m more than annoyed right now.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be incensed later down the road.

Remember that car accident we had back in November?  Yup, that long ago.  I’m finally getting everything ready to send in – because they refused to pay anything beyond personal belonging until it was “finished.”  Bleh.  That’s a whole other post right there.

Anyway – when Mr. Genius was talking to our contact person at the other guy’s insurance company, she said … “And she (meaning me) isn’t working, right?”

Mr. Genius went cold – “no, she works.  Do you mean: is she bringing home a paycheck?  No, she doesn’t. “


He told me.  And I, being much less naive than I used to be, immediately thought: they’re going to lowball us because I’m “home anyway.”

So on top of the material I’m getting together (detailed doctors notes, specific line-item bills, detailed notes of how this accident affected us) I’m now compiling a stack of paper stating just how much it would cost to replace me.  Because I might not bring much money into the home, but I sure do prevent money from escaping it.

Take child care, for example.  According to a lovely report done by a local publication, child care in our area averages about $250 per child, per week.  For us, that’s $750 per week.  Add in the cost of hiring a housekeeper, a babysitter/nanny for times that Mr. Genius has to travel, and general household maintenance, and you’re looking at considerably more than $750 a week.

And that doesn’t even account for the whole special needs thing, where my kids would be asked to leave the daycare because meltdowns are not normal.

We should probably just hire a lawyer.


I’ve dealt with this attitude a lot before, but never in such a direct blow-to-my-wallet way.  Society in general looks down on SAHMs and especially homeschooling SAHMs.  Ask any feminist what they think of us and be prepared for some frank, blue language.  We sold out.  We gave up the fight.  We cannot possibly be feminists and stay home, raising and teaching our kids.

But we can because it’s our choice.  And we deserve support.  We deserve respect.  We deserve acknowledging that it’s a tough job that never ends, a job without a paycheck.

I’m not trying to start a mommy war here.  Plenty of moms work full-time and come home to the same challenges that I face.  Being a parent is hard, that’s just the way it is.  But it’s really really hard when you feel like you’re not respected or appreciated by anyone but your family.

Think about it – would you stay in a job where you were underpaid and automatically expected to work overtime?  Would you stay in a job that offered absolutely no career advancement, that actually sent you backwards in terms of employability?  What about never getting feedback, growth potential, and having practically no interaction with adults?  I wouldn’t.

And yet, here I am.  Doing just that.

So what am I really worth?  According to Salary.com and their handy online calculator, my annual salary is somewhere around $132, 000.  And of that, roughly $95,000 is overtime.  Is that accurate?

It’s probably a bit off, but you can customize the hours worked in each category.  They break it down into job titles, and they apply an hourly rate to each that they compile from local averages.   Note I said local.  That’s important, because the cost of living varies greatly.

So I decided that I work about 30 hours a week as a day care teacher (closest I could get to homeschooling a kindergartener and his younger siblings.)  That came out as $14.10 per hour, for a weekly total of $423.

I couldn’t figure out the difference between Housekeeper and Janitor in their list, so I ignored Janitor and focused on Housekeeper: $111.90 for 10 hours of work per week.

The list is pretty extensive, but a bit of a stretch at times.  I didn’t mark any hours for Psychologist, because their hourly rate is based on their training.  I may give hugs, offer therapy, and whatever happy, healthy kids need from their mom, but I am NOT a psychologist.


I get it.  Staying home dealing with laundry and cleaning up dog puke isn’t as glamorous as a career.  Heck, I hate parts of it.  But I make the choice to be there for my kids because I know they can’t handle day care.  I know that by staying with them, I help keep their anxieties at bay, help them feel safe and loved, and I understand them in a way that daycare employees can’t and won’t.  You think a daycare employee is equipped to handle a meltdown?  Nope, not unless they have special training.

So because I made that choice – we make that choice as a family – I get really irritated when some desk jockey says I’m not working.  I’m doing the job that working moms pay others to do.  How is that different at all?  It’s a job.  It’s work.  And it deserves respect, even if it doesn’t come with a paycheck.


(As a side note, this Salary.com form is great for figuring out how much life insurance you need.  Because, let’s face it – if something happened to you, your significant other would have to pay someone else to do your job.  A lot of people think that SAHMs don’t need life insurance.  They absolutely do!)







  1. I think many – even most – feminists would say that the *choice* to stay at home or to not stay at home is exactly what the fight is for. It’s not unlike what real school choice looks like, where homeschooling and public school and other options should all be viable choices.

    The opportunity to choose what is right for you without limitations based on gender is what feminism is about.


    • Good points! I’ve heard exactly that from a few feminist, but the leadership of the current movement doesn’t seem as open to choice if the choice isn’t the “right” one. Not like I can attend many feminist meetings or anything though 😉


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