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What an At-Home Parent is REALLY Worth

Being a stay-at-home dad, I have man-danced a time or two with insecurities about (not) making that sweet coin. Stacking paper. Procuring pork products and delivering them to my domicile. Um, money. Blah, blah, blah about being a man and the cultural expectations about “wearing pants”. Personally, I hate wearing pants. And, even if I did wear pants in this hypothetical, fiscal haberdashery, they would inevitably be sweats.

It all comes down to feeling significant, I suppose, and whether we like it or not the Almighty Dollar gets its two cents in almost every time. I’m not saying that it should, but the fact that I feel the need to say so is a clear sign that it does. Becoming aware of our thoughts (whether conscious, sub- or un-) about exactly how we value our station in life is a great first step toward shoring up an identity that isn’t slave to the status quo. So first, become aware. Next, make up ingenious quantifying apparatus to replace the nagging dissatisfaction with aforementioned healthy perspective ;). Such as this, perhaps:

The At-Home-Parent Replacement Equivalency Chart:

Standard hourly childcare: $10/hr
General housekeeping: $25/hr
Private tutor: $40/hr
In-house chef: $60/hr
HAZMAT waste removal engineer: Priceless?
Exorcist: $xx
Child therapist: $150/hr
Home finance consultant: $100/hr
Private shopper: $30/hr
Pet care and grooming: $35/hr
Taxi service: in competition over rates with uber
Home nurse care: $45/hr
Nutritionist: $70/hr
Internet police: $xx
Spiritual advisor/Life coach: $100/hr
Hairdresser: I shouldn’t actually be paid for my “skills”
Amateur plumber: $50/hr
Conflict resolution expert: Seriously, the FBI should hire me.
Lifeguard (CPR and First Aid):
Social chairperson: volunteer basis
Birthday clown: tips
Fort construction specialist: unknown

Our living room fortress

Our living room fortress

Etc. etc. etc.

You get the idea. Given that a stay-at-home-parent often performs several of these duties and given that there aren’t any official weekends, I have (in a super scientific manner) estimated their average replacement value at $17,348.26 a week. Conservatively.

Mary Grace grows impatient with my inability to braid

Mary Grace grows impatient with my inability to braid- also, check out my fancy outfit!

The other day the Social Security Department did me a solid and delivered a second-class existential crisis on my doorstep in the form of a lifetime earnings summary. Seeing my fair market value reduced nearly down to zero was a punch in the gut. I reeled for a bit. Not to worry, though.

I just opened up my handy dandy equivalency chart and took solace in remembering that my kids don’t give a damn about any of it- neither the imaginary numbers the Machine withholds, nor the pretend valuations that I ascribe. They used the Social Security document as a coloring page.

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'What an At-Home Parent is REALLY Worth' have 19 comments

  1. October 14, 2014 @ 1:44 PM Melissa

    i LOVE you for this!!!! I definitely like your necessary specs and look of intensity while doing MG’s hair.


    • October 22, 2014 @ 1:36 PM Bret Spears

      Thanks so much, Melissa! I’ve got the ponytail down, but I’m still working on the braiding. Mary Grace is a sport about it.


  2. October 15, 2014 @ 9:10 PM Eric

    Haha, one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a long time.


    • October 22, 2014 @ 1:39 PM Bret Spears

      Thanks for the kind words, Eric. It’s good to hear from you.


  3. October 15, 2014 @ 9:50 PM Mariana

    I love your blog, your family and I think you are an amazing dad! God luck with the hairstylist thing… hehehe


    • October 22, 2014 @ 1:42 PM Bret Spears

      You’re too kind, Mariana. Sincere thanks for the love and support.


  4. October 16, 2014 @ 5:09 PM Monica

    Awesome awesome awesome.


    • October 22, 2014 @ 1:43 PM Bret Spears

      YOU are! 😉


    • September 8, 2016 @ 12:34 PM Carlee

      You’ve hit the ball out the park! Inliedrbce!


  5. October 18, 2014 @ 11:34 AM Eric

    Yep. I struggle with the same thing since (1) my wife makes significantly more than I do and (2) the flexibility of my job means I stay at home with the kiddo in the mornings. It’s awesome to be with my kid (mostly, other than when I’d much rather be doing something else)! But it’s horrendous on the ego.

    Good thing egos aren’t worth their weight in dollars.


    • October 22, 2014 @ 1:54 PM Bret Spears

      It’s funny how the exact same work can cause you to burgeon with pride and cower in shame. Ego is definitely in need of constant vigilance. Good words, brother.


  6. February 4, 2015 @ 1:09 PM Matthew

    Im also a stay at home dad, w/ one two and a half year old. Have beed doing so for over a year now. My wife sent me a link to this article. Love it! I feel the same way as you about the valuation of self. Keeping in mind i never had a huge salary that i had to give up. The lack of twenty thousand dollars last year was different. Definitely worth it; nothing compares!


    • February 5, 2015 @ 10:19 PM Bret Spears

      So glad you found some solidarity in the article, man. There are definitely some complex feelings in an endeavor like ours. And a lot of sweatpants. I don’t know if that’s true for you, but I wear sweatpants waaay too many days of the week.


  7. February 4, 2015 @ 3:58 PM Catherine Lloyd-Evans

    Why in the name of all that is cake have I never thought of this? I too find it difficult, the not earning a sausage thing; and THIS is the answer! I may start invoicing my, um, husband. Or my kids. Or just start making my own fake payslip and sticking it to the fridge.
    This rocks.
    Awe. Sum.


    • February 5, 2015 @ 10:25 PM Bret Spears

      Catherine, you had me at cake.

      We need to create fake w-2s and casually leave them around. “Oh that? Ya- I make a lot of money at this at-home parent gig but I really just do it for the hugs”.


  8. February 7, 2015 @ 12:46 PM Caroline

    Hi bret. I quit standard daily drudge last year. It took six months for my hubby and I to reconcile with the change in status, his jealousy over my not going to “work” and my feelings of inadequacy when it came to basic financial contributions. Now, a year on, I work from home as a childminder, my husband appreciates all I do at home and we are even happier. I love my role in life, we have more of a partnership now than when we were both out working. What I bring to the table is invaluable, just like your chart has described. I would never have matched my husbands earnings in the work I used to do, now I contribute in ways that are priceless, filled with love, joy and fulfilment.
    Peace and happiness to your family


    • February 9, 2015 @ 4:16 PM Bret Spears

      Wow- this is a fantastic story. I truly appreciate the candor with which you describe the mind-game you went through at the beginning. And, so happy to hear about the new-found camaraderie your family has found.


  9. February 7, 2015 @ 3:18 PM Ross Williams

    I was a stay at home dad for 2 yrs….loved every second and even though my marriage has since broken up I’d still do it now if I could. Never have I felt so wanted and worthwhile….I admire and respect everyone who chooses to do this….it’s harder than a day in the office


    • February 9, 2015 @ 4:21 PM Bret Spears

      I really like the way you put that, “wanted and worthwhile”. It inspires me to remember the deep richness of my post in the midst of all the mundane trifles. I wish all the best to you and yours. Cheers.


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