Did you know that stay-at-home moms work an average of 94.7 hours per week? If you are not a stay-at-home mother, this figure may seem hard to believe, but if you are a homemaker, it probably sounds about right.
What goes into these 90 plus hours of work? Most stay-at-home moms do the work of many people. If these mothers opted to hire replacements for themselves, they would have to find a nanny, a driver, a cook, a housecleaner, a personal aide, a health care aide, a financial planner, a tutor, a party planner, an interior designer and more. Add all these salaries up, and even with occasional part-time hours for some of these positions, a stay-at-home mom would have to pay nearly $113,000 to hire a replacement.
The largest portion of this cost is often day care. In fact, rising day care rates is one of the main reasons why women choose to stay-at-home with their children. In the most expensive state, Massachusetts, day care takes more than $19,000 out of women's paychecks. For women making only $35,000 or $40,000 annually, this cost may be more than they are willing to pay. Once you factor in things like the cost of gas and a professional wardrobe, sometimes it simply does not make sense for a woman to remain at home.
While these women feel they cannot afford the cost of day care in comparison to their salary, others simply cannot afford to stay home with their children. It all comes to down to math and the desired standard of living. Staying at home does require financial sacrifices, which are not feasible for some families and no problem for others. Some families take out life insurance policies for the stay-at-home mother to offset any of the financial expenses they would incur in the case of a death.
Replacing a stay-at-home mom takes more than money. A mother's love and the close bond that develops between her and her children lasts a lifetime. It simply cannot be replaced by day care. Seeing a child grow, taking his first steps, teaching him how to tie his shoes or use the potty -- these experiences are irreplaceable. Sending a child to day care can cost more than the bill indicates, especially if parents are missing out on valuable time and experiences with their children. Despite these tremendous rewards for stay-at-home mothers, some women cannot afford to give up their paying jobs.
The mommy wars, as the debate between stay-at-home and working mothers has been termed, may not be over, but given our financial recession, the battle terms may need to re-negotiated. What may be seen by some as a luxury they cannot afford may be the only way another family can afford to raise their children.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, looking at the other side may be worth a second glance. Women at home with their children shouldn't judge those women who are working. Sometimes it's simply a matter of economics. Those women who work may wish to consider the amount of hours stay at home mothers are putting into their work. Finally, it is important to remember that the experience of raising children can never be measured with a dollar amount.
About the author: Lucas Taylor is a personal finance wiz that takes pride in informing people around the web on all things insurance related. He writes from the perspective of an informed customer, bringing a unique outlook on the world of personal finance and insurance.