The Value of Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

Okay, I admit it; I wasn’t excited about becoming a stay-at-home mom. I was working as a part-time dental hygienist and had the right combination of work and home time.  My husband and I had just barely decided that I would follow a dream to go onto dental school versus having a third child (which was something I felt in my heart—but NOT our budget!) when the pregnancy test came up positive! Surprise, surprise!

The fact that we were going to have three children, two of which would need daycare and our oldest just about to start kindergarten in Catholic school, meant that it wasn’t financially worthwhile for me to continue working my current schedule. In addition, it was overwhelming and nearly impossible to figure out how we would cover school holidays, vacation, snow days, and half days. We decided I would work a very limited schedule but basically become a stay-at-home mom.

I think the hardest thing about becoming a stay-at-home mom was having a feeling that I was not contributing financially to our home. Yes, I was working and bringing in a paycheck, but the $20,000 drop in my income stung. I also went from chatting with eight to ten people per day who had shared so much of my adult life (I had practiced nearly full-time for almost 10 years at that point), to being home with a 3-year-old and a newborn.

I stressed about finances, until I discovered a great online community, and they turned me on to an equally great book, “The Complete Tightwad Gazette” by Amy Dcyzyan. Both of these finds totally changed my attitude about how I contributed to the overall finances of our home!

Amy D. (as she’s affectionately referred to by many of my forum members) showed me how to calculate my wage for every job I did at home. When I realized how much money I was saving by doing my “job” at home, I began to see the “wage” I was making! This concept increased my job satisfaction, tremendously! (Yes, I consider being a mom a job!) I know it’s easy to say that we’re paid in hugs and kisses, but unfortunately, those don’t help the bottom line of our budget. By putting a value on the things I did at home, I finally felt as thought I was helping that bottom line! As a quick example, I can make homemade chocolate chip granola bars for about $1 at home, and a batch has twice as many granola bars as the store-brand bars you can buy on sale for $2.50! So, by spending 15 minutes making those bars, I save $5! That’s an hourly wage of $20! Not to mention, my boys usually help me, so it doubles as quality time as well! (Did I mention you can bring your kids to work with you ALL of the time as a stay-at-home parent?)

I know as a SAHP that I say that I get paid in hugs and kisses. Now that the boys are in school more and I’m alone more, I begin to wonder about the bottom line again, and then I start to think about the “value” of being home. How much more would it cost me to work OUTSIDE the home? It’s nice to be able to place that dollar value on all those things we do as a SAHP and make a more informed decision. Personally, I’ve figured out that it’s worth it for me to be home more, so I’d better get busy making another batch of granola bars!

Tammy Paquin is a work from home mom of 3 boys.  She is the publisher of <a href=”http://www.frugal-families.com/”>Frugal-Families</a>, a site devoted to frugality, budgeting, simple and thrifty living, homesteading and helping everyone stretch their hard-earned dollars.  Make sure to keep up with more money saving tips at our blog, <a href=”http://www.frugal-families.com/blog”>http://www.frugal-families.com

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About Tammy Paquin

Tammy Paquin is a work from home mom of 3 boys and wife to a great guy and the owner and publisher of Frugal-Families, a website devoted to frugality, budgeting, simple living, homesteading and helping everyone, families and singles alike, stretch their hard-earned dollars. She and her family live in New England and love hiking, camping, kayaking and gardening.

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