When people ask me what I do its easy for the automatic response to bubble up, “I’m just a mom.” I try not to say that though out of respect for all the stay-at-home-moms out there. When I was pregnant and trying to reconcile the title of Stay-At-Home-Mom I had a friend who gently corrected me whenever I said that I wasn’t going to work anymore. She reminded me that I wasn’t going to be working outside the home.
I’m sure some of you envision stay-at-home-moms sleeping in until noon and lounging in the backyard sun reading People magazine. I thought I might be doing a little of that too before I knew better.
The reality is that I do a hodge-podge of things, have a calendar that is no stranger to my fine-tip sharpie, juggle the budget and the bills, and try to remember to put on mascara before I head out the door (which didn’t happen two days this week).
I’ve always heard people say that you couldn’t afford to pay a stay-at-home-mom. To see if this is true and to give all you curious and slightly incredulous people out there a glimpse into my world, I kept track of my past week’s activities and found the average cost for said activity in San Diego.
With a 15month old, my main responsibility is childcare. That alone is enough to take up my entire day and wipe me out. This week I also spent an average of 3 hrs a day cleaning the kitchen alone. I didn’t dare count the actual number of dishes washed. I also prepared 20 meals for an assortment of 12 people, washed 12 loads of laundry, rinsed out many poopy (cloth) diapers, took my baby to a pediatrician appointment, baby-proofed the pantry so my Little Miss Independent couldn’t help herself to her Daddy’s honey-nut Cheerios anymore, diligently checked craigslist for the perfect porch bench, planned a garden party, trimmed a hedge, raked 7 bags of leaves, washed the car, met to discuss the new curriculum of our marrieds community group, met to discuss the needs of set-up team for a mom’s group at church, paid the bills, got the run-around from our cell-phone company about getting my phone fixed, went to Costco, went to Henry’s, went to Target, went to Wal-Mart.
The days get busy, but the best part of being a stay-at-home-mom is that I get to make time for my baby and I try to make time for my friends. This week I watched Super Why with my toddler in our jammies. I played blocks and had my favorite companion, my daughter, go on “adventures” with me to the stores, library, and plant nursery. I went to a writing/art workshop with a friend (thanks Hillary!), saw a movie with girlfriends, and taught my daughter how to go down the slide. We had a picnic with friends in Balboa Park and had other friends over for dinner. I read a book during Selah’s nap and unsuccessfully eradicated ants from our family room.
According to average San Diego rates this is what I would have been paid if stay-at-home-moms got a salary.
Childcare: (We’ll just count a 5 day work week) 5 days = $500
Housekeeping: (We’ll just count cleaning the kitchen) 21 hrs at $10/hr = $210
Landscaping: 5 hrs at $10/hr = $50
Cloth Diaper Service: $20/week = $20
Essentials Shopping: 5 hrs at :$30/hr for personal shoppers= $150
TOTAL = $900 for the hours we counted.
Being there to watch Sesame Street reruns with my daughters soft blonde curls against my chest and fuzzy footy pajamas on my lap….PRICELESS!