Steven Nelms and his wife Gloriana, who goes by Glory, have a two-year-old son named Ezra. Their relationship would look familiar to most of us. Before the brith of Ezra, both Steven and Glory had their own careers. Yet the expenses of childcare made it impractical for Glory to go back to work, and so she is now a stay-at-home mom.
Steven, though, wanted to show his appreciation for her, and so tallied up just how much it would cost to have someone else do everything she does for the family. And the total is somewhat shocking.
The essay was originally posted on We Are Glory. Steven writes:
I’ve had this thought in my head for a while now. I’ve been thinking that I can’t afford for my wife to be a Stay-At-Home Mom. Now, I don’t at all mean to offend anyone with this post. I just have to say that for me personally, I can’t afford it. I’d like to explain exactly what I mean by that so that no one thinks I’m in any way devaluing Stay-At-Home Moms. On the contrary, I mean that I quite literally cannot afford my wife to be staying at home. Here’s why…
My wife stays home and takes care of our son every single day. She changes his diapers, feeds him, plays with him, puts him down for his nap, and comforts him when he’s upset. And that’s just the bare minimum. A child can typically get that attention at a day-care. But on top of that, he is her only focus. There’s no other children to tend to. He gets all of her. All of her love, all of her time, all of her energy. She is always there, always near, and always listening. Obviously, this is part of being a parent. You take care of your child and you raise your child.
But let’s face it. In our day and age, every service (and I mean EVERY service) is hirable. There is a company ready and willing to do just about anything. So while, yes, my wife is my son’s mother and it is a natural result of being a parent to love and care for your own child, there is also a very quantifiable dollar amount that can be attributed to the services rendered. I am in no way trying to simplify, objectify, or devalue the priceless love of a mother for her child. But let’s be real. Pay day feels good for a reason. Because you’re seeing your hard work appreciated in a tangible way that lets you “treat yo self”. And this is exactly why I can’t afford my wife being a Stay-At-Home Mom. The national average weekly salary for a full-time nanny is $705. That’s $36,660 a year.
We make ends meet comfortably and are by no means scraping the bottom of the barrel. But according to the 2014 tax brackets, we fall nicely in the second tier, right in the $12,951-$49,400 tax range. Even if we were making the maximum amount allowed for our tax bracket, the services rendered of caring for our child every single day of the year would absorb the majority of our income. Flat out, no question, game over, I cannot afford my wife to be a Stay-At-Home Mom. And that’s just the beginning of it.
A regular cleaning service costs anywhere between $50-$100 per visit, depending on how big your space is, how deep of a cleaning you want, and especially whether or not you have pets that shed like crazy. FYI, I’m convinced our dog is short haired because he sheds every inch of it every minute of every day. It never even has a chance to grow.
We also have a toddler, so those of you who are unfamiliar, that means a tissue box left unattended for approximately 18 seconds is completely emptied with its contents strewn across the apartment. Same with wipes. Toys rapidly find their way from his bedroom to the living room. Remotes go missing. The dog’s water bowl sometimes gets spilled. Books will occasionally fly off their shelves. So on and so forth. Picking up the apartment is part in parcel with keeping the place presentable. Not to mention the natural progression of dirty dishes, dusting, vacuuming, etc., etc. So assuming you want the place to stay relatively clean, especially whenever you have people over, you’re looking at $100 per week at the bare minimum to stay presentable. That adds up to a whopping $5,200 (again, excluding the extra deep cleaning, or quick pick up for hosting company).
Does your wife ever run errands for you? Buy the groceries? Get you a new pack of white undershirts? Personal shoppers on average run around $65 an hour. (That’s excluding the couple thousand dollar membership fee required to utilize their services.) Average the amount of time spent at the grocery stores or department stores per week at 4 hours and you’re looking at around $260, and that’s an extremely conservative average. That’s $13,520 a year.
Does your wife ever cook dinner? Prepare lunch? Prepare lunch beforehand for you to take with you to work? A personal chef, preparing 2 servings of 5 meals can run from $400 and up. So assuming your Stay-At-Home wife prepares even a few meals a week, you’re looking at around $240 at least per week. That’s $12,480 a year. And that’s excluding any hosting, any extra mouths to feed, or extra meals to cook or extra sides and entrees for pot lucks and holiday parties.
So far we’re looking at a grand total of $67,860! Remember, we’re working with extremely conservative averages here. That’s daily care for your child that the average full-time nanny would provide. That’s twice-a-week cleaning of your home by a maid service that gets the place presentable. That’s three meals prepared a week of only two servings. These numbers, for the most part, still fall embarrassingly short of all the things that are actually accomplished each and every week. And that’s only taking into account 3 services!
If your wife takes care of your budgeting, finances, and paying of bills, then add on $15 an hour for the average rate of a financial assistant. If you’re in the corporate world and your wife plays any kind of role in professional interactions at business dinners, then add on $75 an hour for the average rate of a PR assistant.
And if you don’t think your wife’s demeanor or social interactions affect your image and influence in the workplace, then you’re just flat out an ignoramus. If your wife does the majority of the laundry, then you’ll need to add at least a fee of $25 a week for the bare minimum washer/dryer personal service.
Let’s average 5 hours a week on financial services, 4 hours per business dinner (about 3 a year), and a weekly laundry service. Add that onto our very conservative estimates for childcare, house cleaning, and shopping, and that’s an annual salary of $73,960. Looking objectively at an almost insultingly conservative average of the services rendered, I cannot afford my wife. And let’s remember, there’s no sick leave with childcare, there’s no paid time off, there’s no 401(k). All of the incentives that someone who makes over 70K a year would normally enjoy are not part of this deal. All of the worker appreciations, merit bonuses, and recognition that comes with being a part of an office are out too.
My wife sometimes feels patronized when I ask her permission to buy something for myself. She feels like it’s my money and my name on the paycheck so I shouldn’t have to ask permission to get myself something every once in a while. The truth is, I’m ashamed of any time I’ve ever made her feel guilty or humored when she’s purchased something for herself. I’m ashamed that she has ever felt like she doesn’t have just as much right to our income as I do. The fact of the matter is that our income doesn’t even come close to covering what she does for our family. I would have to make over 100K to even begin to be able to cover my living expenses as well as employ my wife as a Stay-At-Home Mom!
In short, I can’t afford for my wife to stay at home. And I’ve tragically failed to show my wife the appreciation that she deserves. She loves me, loves our son, and loves our family, so obviously she isn’t doing any of those things for a paycheck or even for recognition. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to know that as a Stay-At-Home Mom her appraised salary is nearly double my actual income. So in a very weird way, this is my way of saying how much I value my wife as the mother of my child and the one who always has my back no matter what. You are more precious than rubies. And I can’t afford you.