Stay at Home Mom Salary Calculator

How much would a SAHM's salary be if she got paid for everything she does? It's more than you think, but when you break it down, it's also an 80 hour per week job. Here's how we calculate the wages and time.
Written by
Kim Le
Published on
April 17, 2024

"What do you do all day?"

This is one of the most common questions I received from colleagues when I made the decision to become a stay at home mom. And it was unnerving. The implication that I even had time to consider what I wanted to do felt like a deep misconception of the stay-at-home role.

Being a stay at home parent is a time consuming job especially if the family has any assets or liabilities. The more of either, the more work there is. My mother’s stay-at-home job included figuring out a plan to pay off our family’s six figure debt. My mother-in-law’s stay-at-home job included homeschooling the children and even running her own educational science programs.

Every family’s circumstances are different, but the responsibilities and burden placed on the parent at home is more than a full-time job. A sample set of responsibilities are:

  • Childcare - This is the main reason that parents stay home. Even for children in school or daycare, there are as many hours in a day without school or daycare as there are work hours in a day.
  • Cooking & Grocery Shopping - Eating out is not a viable economic choice when kids are in the picture. A typical kid’s meal costs $5 to $10 per meal. For the same meal at home, the grocery cost is $1 per meal. I estimate that I spend between 10 to 15 hours per week on shopping, meal prep, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Cleaning & Housekeeping - Children are like tornadoes constantly whipping through the house. As one mess gets cleaned up, another one has already been created. Cleaning and housekeeping in a home with children is like trying to contain chaos in the universe.
  • Household Chores & Maintenance - Unclogging the toilet, shoveling the snow, and getting repairs done. The stereotype may be that this is a man’s job, but whoever is at home, is the person dealing with the pressing chores and maintenance issues that come up.
  • Lawn Care & Gardening - Lawns need to be mowed every 1 to 2 weeks. Gardening and yard care helps keep the property healthy and maintains the property value.
  • Budgeting & Bills - This is where a mom’s work pays off financially in a measurable way by actively managing the family’s spend. A dollar not spent, is a dollar saved.
  • Teaching & Tutoring - Education is important. Taking the time to tutor children is a critical component of investing in the children’s future. Schools and teachers aren’t a replacement for parents.
  • Driving to/from activities - Extracurricular activities are essential enrichment for children. From learning to swim, to burning off calories running around, and more structured options like sports or clubs, these activities create environments to develop socially.
  • Social Calendar & Event Planner - From holidays and playdates to doctor’s appointments and parent teacher conferences, the family schedule some times feels like playing calendar tetris.
  • Investing, Tax & Estate Planning - The stay at home mom does not typically handle this area of responsibility. However, they should from a functional perspective. The person who oversees the spending and makes the purchases, are in the best position to integrate that into a savings and investment plan. This creates a centralized department for finances in a family, as is done in companies.

The above set is for a relatively normal family with healthy children. For families with kids who have special needs or long-term medical illnesses, a mother’s job includes endless doctors’ visits and caregiving responsibilities. As children get older, for kids who pursue early careers in athletics, performance arts or other, they require the assistance and guardianship from their parents until they reach the legal age to make decisions on their own.

My Shift Starts at 3PM

“Mommy!!!!!!” is the first thing I hear when I pick up my kid after school ends and also the last thing I hear when I tuck my child into their bed. When the schoolday ends is when the mom shift starts.

From 3PM to 11PM, there is continuous work. Here’s a sample schedule that most parents deal with:

  • 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM — After school activities and homework, including transit to and from
  • 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM — Dinner, prep, eat, and clean-up
  • 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM — Bedtime routine including clean-up, washing, brushing, and wind-down activities
  • 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM — There’s definitely two camps of parents here:
    • For parents who can get kids to sleep, congratulations you’ve earned your first water (or bathroom) break!
    • For parents who can’t get kids to sleep, continue with the bedtime routine…
  • 9:30 PM to 11:00 PM — Finish cleaning up…

This shift only covers: childcare, cooking and cleaning. The other responsibilities listed in our previous section are noticeably absent during these hours. Any remaining responsibilities are tackled in the meagerly available hours late in the night or during the subsequent day. Available hours are invisibly eaten up by banalities of more endless chores.

How Much Would a Mom Earn?

We created a calculator designed to help moms, like us, take stock of everything we do, so that we can:

  1. Quantify, in dollars, our role as a Stay-at-Home-Mom, or
  2. Consider hiring help for some of our work

By assigning a hourly wage for each of the areas we work on and the number of hours per week, we estimate how much an equivalent annual salary for our work at home would cost. In our case, roughly $110K after tax earnings is needed to hire the equivalent of what we do for our 80-hour-work weeks.

Mom "earning" $100,000 and working 8 hours per week
Source: LeHerring's Mom Salary Calculator

Assuming a combined 35% federal and state income tax, the pretax gross salary equivalent is $166,707.

Now think, does a job working 83 hours a week that pays $25 per hour after tax sound reasonable to you? Is it no wonder that moms often feel exhausted and overworked? Is there a way to outsource some of the jobs that moms do, so that she can have a more manageable workload? In our example above, if we were to outsource some tasks, that may mean a cost of $13,158 annually at $20/hour, but we would get back 13 hours per week which would be a blessing.

Source: LeHerring's Mom Salary Calculator

Be Kind to Yourself

Our calculator is our attempt to quantify the time we dedicate to our role and the money we’re saving our family. It's intended to help us appreciate just how much stay-at-home parents do and recognize how unrealistic it is for us to "do-it-all".

Even supermoms need a break. The next time a mom seems tired, deranged, angry, or upset, just remember how much she’s doing and how little she’s recognized for it.

Try our SAHM Salary Calculator

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