I must admit, I was looking for financial information related to my own job when I came across this “stay-at-home mom” salary calculator. And it got me thinking, why is it that we don’t reward those parents who decide to stay at home to raise their kids and forgo their professional aspirations in the process? If you think your job is hard, you should try being a stay-at-home parent for a day (that’s pretty easy, right?) or a week! I don’t think that people realize the true challenges that couples face when making this big decision of staying at home or putting their child/children in daycare or extended care and going to work.
I know that there are advantages to both sides: financial & professional for those electing to go back to work and developmental & emotional for those deciding to rear their children full-time. It is truly hard to generalize the advantages, I realize. And this is an age-old debate that has never been solved (nor will it ever, I don’t think). It is truly a personal choice. And, I would think, that most people are biased towards whichever decision they ended up making, with the justifications being numerous and subjective. The disadvantages are huge as well, and one needs to weigh them out before making this life-changing decision.
For my wife and I, it was a difficult decision, and remains so to this day. With our first daughter, we elected to put her in daycare so that we could both continue working (1 hour commutes to and from work). We were the first to drop off our 3 month old and the last ones to pick her up. It was heartbreaking every morning. Throughout the day, we wondered if she was getting the care that a child needs, the attention, the interaction, etc. We did know that she was definitely getting more than her share of the germs that pervade a daycare environment. (Can you see that we were biased already?) So after a few months of this, we made the difficult decision, and dropped the second salary and my wife’s professional career.
So, we are now at three kids (8 years old, 5.5 years and 3 years) and have been living on one salary now for about 7.5 years. Financially, we are way behind most of our peers. But, the result of my wife’s full-time care is obvious. Illnesses with the kids are lower (but not eliminated because all are in school, even for a couple of hours a few days a week). They seem happy and fairly well adjusted (but who is truly to judge that we are biased as are the grandparents). The teachers all seem to have good comments about each of them (but, again, are they pulling their punches a bit?). However, I personally know that my children are getting the attention they deserve, solid balanced meals, clean clothes, and a regular schedule of playdates with their friends as well as countless other things that a child would not get if they were in daycare all day. This leads me back to the subject of this post…
…why can’t stay-at-home parents receive more recognition for what they do and what they have sacrificed? They have been forced to put their professional and personal aspirations and goals on hold (even eliminating any possibility of getting back on their original career as my wife has). Once the kids are all in full-time schools, how do the parents get back into the workforce? They can’t start where they left off, it seems. So, it was nice to see on Salary.com a “Mom’s Wizard“. Since so many things in this country are measured purely financially (what salary do you make, what is your house worth, how many stock options do you have, what investments do you have, what is your credit score, etc.), this wizard gives those stay-at-home parents a way to measure their value.
The wizard itself is available for moms and dads and you can factor in whether they stay-at-home or actually work as well. You can personalize it by the amount of kids you have as well as your zip code. Further down in the wizard, you can also enter in your actual hours of work by work type by week to “personalize” your check. That’s right, at the end you get a “check” for your efforts. This is a great first start in terms of recognition of these efforts.
So, why can’t the Government reward these parents through tax-incentives or other programs? Does anyone know of how Moms can get back into the work force more painlessly? Where are the studies that show the advantages (and disadvantages) to staying at home to raise your children? (I know there are many…my wife probably has a huge list!)
Anyway, check out the Salary wizard. Here are a few screen shots of our own situation…it’s a bit sobering actually!
Step one – enter your child(ren) information
Step two – review national average
Step three – localization personalization
Step three(a) – hours per week personalization
Step four – what are you “worth”
That being said…anyone want to start paying my wife for her work? I guess the payment is in how wonderful our children are! That in invaluable and worth every penny!