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April 23, 2008

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I have a house-husband. We don't have kids, but it's still a HUGE help. I'm at work, he runs all the errands, he does the laundry, the dishes, the lawnwork, the vacuuming, the moping, basically all the housework. We make dinner together, but he packs my lunch for me and brings it to my work every day so we can have lunch together! I'm so lucky, and I try not to take it for granted. But they're right, it's a huge advantage if you don't have to be thinking and worrying over what you need to do at home, and it's usually men who have that advantage, not women.

FMF,

My wife and I both work full-time and we have two kids. My wife working has certainly slowed my career down, but I do not think it is a bad thing.

My wife working forces me to be home at a certain time each night to get the kids from day care/grandparents and help with the household chores, etc as my wife is not home all day to do them. This "restriction" on my available hours has kept me from getting promoted to a management level as the hours requirements are much greater at that level.

However, the good side is that I spend more time with my kids than if my wife was a stay-at-home mom. If she stayed home I would be working the extra hours to get the promotions (which lead to more hours, etc.) and I would not see nearly as much of my kids as I do now.

Most of my co-workers with SAH wives work 10 hour days and get home around 7 each night. My kids go to bed around 8, so if I got home at 7 I would get 1 hour a day with them. Right now I get home at 5 and get 3 hours a day with them. That is THREE TIMES as much time with my kids each day versus if my wife stayed home. I know people have different opinions on day care, etc., but this situation works GREAT for us and everyone is happy!

I'm sorry but I can't seem to get past the statement, "someone who adores his kids, is there all the time, and someone who is willing to have some sort of regular sex life." Since when is marriage about the individual? I understand where she's trying to go with this, by contrasting what could be if there were a nanny or house manager, but OMG, HE's getting someone who adores HIS kids?!? Aren't the kids THEIRS? Someone who is willing to have some sort of regular sex life??? Is that to say that the value of a SAHM/D should include the sex that the working partner can get? Give me a break!!!

These studies about how much a stay at home spouse are, in my mind, a joke. To me the biggest problem with these studies is that they assume that everything the stay at home spouse does during the workday is work. For instance they might count 1 hour in the evening for preparing dinner. Yet, if the stay at home spouse was working instead, they would still have to make dinner for themselves, and the amount of time it takes to prepare a meal for 4 vs preparing a meal for 1 is marginal at best.

Additionally, they count things like "adoring their kids" or "providing sex" as part of their calculations. I would hope that if the spouse chose to work instead of stay at home that they wouldn't be so petty as to love their kids any less or cease physical intimacy with their partner.

I understand that stay at home spouses don't want to be undervalued, which they often are. But people need to be realistic and pull their head out of the clouds when trying to justify their decisions in their contribution to their families.

The biggest factor for a SAHP is the personality of the parent that stays home. Some people have a personality that is perfect for that type of unstructured environment, whereas others would be miserable doing so. I can tell you that a miserable SAHP is not any good to children or their spouse.

My wife is not the type to stay home. She has tried really hard to embrace it, but ultimately she was much happier once she went back to work. This, in turn, made the entire family happier.

While my career may suffer from this situation, I am happier, and I would sacrifice a bit of my career for happiness any day of the week.

I wish I could afford a house manager/housekeeper (I wrote about Penelope's article last week). My finance and I each work 50+ hour weeks, plus volunteer activities, and our house suffers. We spend our weekends doing all of the cleaning and yard work that we can't do during the week - but neither of us wants to give up our job. We actually like our work and neither of us enjoys household chores (I hear there are people out there who like to clean - why couldn't I marry one of these!?), So our home suffers.

Once I've paid off my student loan debt, I am totally hiring "housewife/husband" stuff out. I bet I can find someone to come into my home two days a weeks and "manage" it for around $15,000 a year.

I meant 'fiance' not 'finance' in my post above. Hate typos. Stupid extra 'n'...

I agree with Lolita. You are assuming a stay at home spouse works all the time. How many of them are out getting into MORE debt shopping at the mall, or working on their "Avon business". How much money has your stay at home spouse spent on tupperware parties?
My point is, I know they are a big help sometimes..... but you can not devaluate the working spouse's contribution either. How fun is it to put up with all of the BS in the corporate world to afford your wife's lifestyle, only to come home and find her dirty clothes laying all over the floor that she just had to pay top dollar for at Macy's?
One of my dear friends - a low six figure exec - had his wife spend $10,000 on Arbon makeup she didn't sell. At the same time they were taking out student loans to pay for their 2 kids in college. If she would have had to put up with the corporate BS and earn that money herself.... she never would have done that.

My husband was at home for the last eight months or so (after a layoff), and the difference in the quality of our lives for that period was quite remarkable. Our evenings and weekends were actually free, with him able to take care of the chores and shopping and whatever during the day. Someone could actually deal with deliveries and tradesmen and gas meter guys instead of chasing them on off hours. We discovered a whole new "during the day" side to our neighbourhood. Knowing he was at home waiting made me get out of the office earlier. And so on. So I can't put a dollar amount to the role, but I'm a believer that it's high.

He doesn't have the personality to stay at home full-time, and is now back to working office hours, but we really enjoyed it for a short while. I'm now considering taking a few months off to swap up the roles. I think this is the ideal situation, it doesn't keep one spouse out of the workforce for significant periods, which carries huge risks.

(Of course if North American vacation periods, understaffing and working hours were less ridiculous, we probably wouldn't have noticed so much of a difference).

My wife is a stay-at-home mom. I can not put a dollar amount on what she does. We have three boys and our kids have been blessed that mom can be there 24/7. Although, I miss out on a lot such as; games, plays, parties, birthdays, and many other events, my wife will record as much as possible on video. When I return home we will watch the videos as the kids do the voice over narration. It was a difficult decision to lose her salary but after ten years of doing so, we feel we made the right choice for our kids future.

Great article and will pass it on to many...

I am a SAHM and did help my husband be more successful He went from a rather stressful $65K/yr job to a $125K job. The new job involves travel 3 days per month and being on call 1 weekend per month. Since I had previously worked a 60 hour, very stressful second shift+weekends $55K job to avoid daycare costs, it would have been impossible for him to accept this position. We make MORE and spend LESS. We have more time for social activities, intimacy and just plain resting.

As far as the monetary value, I freely admit that I don't "work" 24 hours per day as I've heard some SAHP's claim. That's ridiculous.

I do cook (10 hours per week..maybe 12 if I include meal planning, shopping and clean-up? Breakfast, pack lunches, dinner .. but I can put in for "comp time" 5-7 times per month and go out to eat. Add another 20 hours in the summer for canning, etc., but offset that by my not doing any yard work during winter.

I do laundry (and I DO iron!) but i don't count the time the machine is actually washing and drying the clothes, so maybe 3 hours per week to gather and sort, load, fold, iron and put away.

I do the yardwork, probably 5 hours per week for 2 acres, including mowing, trim work, weeding veg and flower beds and general putzing around

I clean the house, 1 hour per day including vacuuming carpets every day (dogs + kids), making beds, bathrooms. This is probably a generous estimate since some of the time is spent cleaning the kitchen (time including in cooking) or preparing to do laundry.

I run a taxi service. School and extracurricular activities. I try to schedule shopping around pick-ups and drop-offs, so I'll say 1 hour a week that is purely mom-taxi time.

Did I miss anything? Allowing for incidentals I've forgotten, I "work" maybe 30 hours per week. If I wasn't around, cooking would still go on, but not with quite the same amount of care. Cleaning - he'd probably hire a service once or twice a month so as not to live in complete squalor. Kids would cut down on activites or he'd join the groups of parents bumming rides for their kids...although 1 will be driving soon and the others will follow shortly.

I'm fully aware of just how nice our lifestyle is. Kids are fully supervised and now as teenagers are less likely to experiment with things detrimental to their well-being. I'm happy because I can do things at my own pace and watch sopas and eat bon-bons or read financial blogs (go to the mall, buy Tupperware, etc.) when I feel the desire and he's happy because his off-time is filled with fun instead of chores.

I am a SAHM and did help my husband be more successful He went from a rather stressful $65K/yr job to a $125K job. The new job involves travel 3 days per month and being on call 1 weekend per month. Since I had previously worked a 60 hour, very stressful second shift+weekends $55K job to avoid daycare costs, it would have been impossible for him to accept this position. We make MORE and spend LESS. We have more time for social activities, intimacy and just plain resting.

As far as the monetary value, I freely admit that I don't "work" 24 hours per day as I've heard some SAHP's claim. That's ridiculous.

I do cook (10 hours per week..maybe 12 if I include meal planning, shopping and clean-up? Breakfast, pack lunches, dinner .. but I can put in for "comp time" 5-7 times per month and go out to eat. Add another 20 hours in the summer for canning, etc., but offset that by my not doing any yard work during winter.

I do laundry (and I DO iron!) but i don't count the time the machine is actually washing and drying the clothes, so maybe 3 hours per week to gather and sort, load, fold, iron and put away.

I do the yardwork, probably 5 hours per week for 2 acres, including mowing, trim work, weeding veg and flower beds and general putzing around

I clean the house, 1 hour per day including vacuuming carpets every day (dogs + kids), making beds, bathrooms. This is probably a generous estimate since some of the time is spent cleaning the kitchen (time including in cooking) or preparing to do laundry.

I run a taxi service. School and extracurricular activities. I try to schedule shopping around pick-ups and drop-offs, so I'll say 1 hour a week that is purely mom-taxi time.

Did I miss anything? Allowing for incidentals I've forgotten, I "work" maybe 30 hours per week. If I wasn't around, cooking would still go on, but not with quite the same amount of care. Cleaning - he'd probably hire a service once or twice a month so as not to live in complete squalor. Kids would cut down on activites or he'd join the groups of parents bumming rides for their kids...although 1 will be driving soon and the others will follow shortly.

I'm fully aware of just how nice our lifestyle is. Kids are fully supervised and now as teenagers are less likely to experiment with things detrimental to their well-being. I'm happy because I can do things at my own pace and watch sopas and eat bon-bons or read financial blogs (go to the mall, buy Tupperware, etc.) when I feel the desire and he's happy because his off-time is filled with fun instead of chores.

See, I see where Trunk is going with this, too, because a lot of work people do at home is undervalued. But her logic still makes me laugh. Don't working spouses adore their kids and have regular sex lives, too? Or is that only possible if your spouse is a stay at home spouse?

Do not get me started on the full-time nanny, cleaning service and house manager. Heavens, she could run a hotel there with that staff.

This is such a hot button topic but the financial aspects of it are rarely clearly explored, and its actually quite interesting. I don't think the Trunk household is typical and so her examples are skewed.

Proverbs 31:10

$131,471

Salary.com Report on How Much Stay-at-Home Moms Would Earn—$131,471

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2005_May_6/ai_n13674989

It all depends on what you want our of life. Many years ago, we chose to buy just the size house we needed (upstairs bedrooms for the kids, full basement, garage, nice-size yard) in a suburb closer in to the city. My husband had a 5-minute commute, and I was near a train station for my 2- or 3-days a week into the city job (not a part-time job, but rather a free-lance one where I could do half of my work at home). We both shared household stuff, and it basically evolved into the typical male-female thing: he always took care of the yardwork, repairs, cars, and I pretty much did the cooking and laundry. As the kids got older, they divided up the cleaning if they wanted allowances. It all seemed to work out pretty well. We avoided that "jumping on a bigger treadmill" that a lot of our friends did in their 40's. (Why is it that just as you can start to breathe a little easier, people do that - either putting on the huge addition, or buying the bigger house, etc.?) We just saved and invested more. Cleaning does not have to be done perfectly, and kids do not have to participate in every acitvity this side of Mars. I remember seeing photos from a woman in my office that showed her nanny having a nice time at her kids' birthday party on her deck. My husband and I BOTH chose to not put 100% into our jobs, but rather to be happy together - and spend time together - and eventually take early retirement together. We were able to do this. We would not go back and change anything.

"and someone who is willing to have some sort of regular sex life".

Isn't that basically equating your spouse to a prostitute/gigolo?

Ben

My sentiments exactly Ben! I just didn't want to say it. LOL

Me too, i hope to have a slave at home but i prefer a beloved one...
WTF, you consider a wife is money earning and nothing else....
By the way, i prefer my wife accomplish her working life better than she depreciate at home
Don't forget, they are human too...

There's a reason single professional women joke about needing a wife. I can't even imagine how much nicer my life would be if I had someone to cook and clean and shop--and I don't have any kids and my apartment is the size of a thumbnail. Right now, because I'm cheap, I don't hire in help; my apartment is thus a catastrophe. But if cleaning was thrown in free with romance, heck yes, it would improve my existence!

Women's work in the home has historically been staggeringly undervalued.

We had a live in maid after my wife and I got our first child. My wife and I both worked and then we had our second girl.

A near tragic accident with the second girl when she was about a month old made us re-evaluate our priorities. We decided that my wife will stay at home whilst I'l continue working.

THis has worked very well for us.

I'll not put a value to my wife agreeing to stay at home. Most probably I would not be able to afford it!

Sarah: You could always find a guy who thinks cleaning is important - I did ;)

In all seriousness, my husband and I have different, complimentary philosophies towards cleaning. I feel a room is clean if the surfaces are free of dirt: vacuumed, dusted, wiped down, etc. I mostly ignore clutter, or move it out of sight for important company. My husband is the opposite - he will de-clutter our living room before going to bed, but doesn't notice the dust & dirt until it gets really bad. BUT I've found that if he is consistently de-cluttering, it makes my type of "clean" much easier to maintain.

@ Kira: I think you are using a small sampling of people to make broad generalizations about SAHPs.

I am a SAHM who is very appreciative of my husband's provision for us. I do not spend all "his" money at the mall or on an avon business nor do any of the several SAHMs that I know.

I take care of the kids and in so doing save us $90/day in childcare expenses, not to mention saving in gas by not having a daily commute. I cook/clean/do yardwork/manage our finances/pay bills/etc. It is a slower pace, but I am by no means lazy.

Last year, I had the full-time job (one that paid better than my husband's current job even) but neither of us were happy because we never saw each other and other people were raising our kids. I still work one night a week as a nurse at the local hospital and make a very good hourly wage by being flexible to float to all areas. With this job, I contribute quite a bit to our monthly income, yet it is not my main priority.

Finances are a consideration, but money isn't everything to us. Our kids are flourishing, my husband is happier than I've ever seen him, and we have such peace with our current situation.

It is my sincere hope that everyone can seek after an arrangement that suits them as well, whether that be both parents working or one staying home.

I also am a SAHM. I gave up a career I loved as a research scientist. The transition was very difficult for me, but as I look back on the last 10 years (and 4 kids), I have no regrets.

The Mommy wars are vicious, and I have no desire to criticize women who choose to work full time. They are fulfilled in ways that I am not. I am fulfilled in ways that they are not. We each have to make a choice, and as most women know, we actually CANT have it all.

I do appreciate articles like this one that attach a salary to what I do. In a society that values income and sucess, it is a challenge to find self worth within myself. I work harder than I ever did as a working woman, but as my kids get older, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction as I can finally "eat the fruit of my labor."

As women, I believe the best gift we can give our children is a happy mom. We need to be at peace with our choices, and teach them to make their own choices for their lives. We need to find happiness, and teach them to find that for themselves.

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