Barbara Wylan Sefton is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mother. She lives in Novi, Michigan with her husband, Sam, and son, Graham (6).

Although a stay-at-home mother receives neither a weekly paycheck nor a W-2 at the end of the year, she still contributes toward her family's financial well-being. In fact, the stay-at-home mother is a valuable financial asset to her family, providing services that can be measured in terms of market value.

The stay-at-home mother is on duty an average of 12 hours a day, seven days a week. She provides perhaps the highest quality of child care available. Although maternal care is generally considered priceless, many of the functions that the stay-at-home mother performs do have a real dollar value, based on what the family would otherwise have to pay for

Most dual-income families today pay for child care, and the emergence of various services catering to the needs of such families further demonstrates the stay-at-home mother's financial worth. From children's transportation companies to errand
runners, businesses are springing up nationwide to solve the working parent's greatest challenge: lack of time.

This calculation of the stay-at-home mother's worth is based on what a dual-income family might spend to cover all services that she provides. It is important to acknowledge, however, that the luxury of paying for the highend services listed here is not an economic reality for most families, and parents who manage to accomplish everything without any outside assistance
deserve a great deal of praise and credit.

Child Care. The largest contribution of the stay-at-home mother is child care. The closest substitute is a full-time, in-home nanny. Although daycare centers provide full-time child care, they are not comparable in terms of adult/child ratio (often 1
to 10), setting (frequently outside of the home), caregiver continuity, and quality of service. According to The Complete Nanny Guide, by Cora Hilton Thomas, the average wage for a professional nanny varies from $5.00 to $10.00 an hour in most states. Salaries usually begin at $5.00 an hour for one child and increase with each additional child and the nanny's level of expertise. On a weekly basis, that amounts to between $250 and $500 a week depending on the amount of hours worked.

The Nanny Corporation of Ann Arbor, Michigan, reports that compensation for full-time nannies ranges from $7.00 to $12.00 an hour, or $350 to $600 per week. In addition, the employer is responsible for Social Security and medicare taxes, unemployment insurance, and worker's compensation insurance.

Therefore, the stay-at-home mother who provides child care a minimum of ten hours a day, five days a week provides a service with a market value of at least $20,800 annually.

Children's transportation and Errands. The stay-at-home mother transports her children to preschool, sporting activities, and lessons; she shops for children's clothing and school supplies, picks up prescriptions at the pharmacy, and buys birthday
gifts. Many dual-income families with a limited amount of free time and conflicting schedules enlist the services of children's cabs and errand-running businesses. Robert J. Hainsworth, of the National Child Transport Association (NCTA) of Naples, Florida, reports that there are more than 350 children's cab companies nationwide, in 46 states, and that the average rate for a one-way ride is $5.00 to $7.00 in most states. The average income of the families using this service is $60,000 and above.

KidsKab, a children's cab service located in Cupertino, California, charges $8.00 for a one-way ride (five or more times a week) and $10.00 for a one-way ride (if less than five times a week). 2 Places At 1 Time, a personal and corporate errand-running service based in Atlanta, Georgia, with offices in 22 cities in the US and Canada, charges $25.00 an hour to run a variety of errands.

Therefore, the stay-at-home mother who furnishes a minimum of three round-trip rides per week and a minimum of two hours of errands a week provides a service with a market value of approximately $5,096 annually.

Domestic Cleaning. Many dual-income families pay a service to keep the house clean. Merry Maids, of Memphis, Tennessee, charges an average of $50.00 to $70.00 per household for weekly housecleaning, depending on geographic region and the size of the home. So, the stay-at-home mother who cleans house at least once a week provides a service valued at $3,120 annually.

Miscellaneous. In addition, the stay-at-home mother routinely does laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning/ preparation/cleanup, bill paying, and a variety of other services. In the accompanying chart, these tasks have been modestly calculated at minimum wage ($5.15 an hour), simply to acknowledge that the services do have value. In families with stay-at-home mothers, these services are frequently provided by the mother, while in dual-income families, they are often shared by both parents out of necessity.

Now it's your turn! If you are a stay-at-home mother, take a look at the accompanying chart to assess your own market value. The chart is merely a guide and will vary considerably according to individual circumstances. You may even have services of your own to add to the list. All estimates are based on two children per family and a five-day workweek. Keep in mind that most services (with the possible exception of child care) must be purchased using after-tax dollars, meaning that a family needs to have a pretax income of approximately 30 to 40 percent more than the amount of the services to be purchased.


Child Care
The Nanny Corporation 50 hours/week $8.00/hour $20,800
Ann Arbor, MI

Kidz Transport Co 5 round-trips/week $6.00/one-way ride $3,120
Richmond, VA

2 Places At 1 Time 2 hours/week $25.00/hour $2,600
Atlanta, GA
Domestic Cleaning

Merry Maids 1 cleaning/week $60.00/cleaning $3,120
Memphis, TN

Laundry 4 hours/week $4.25/hour* $884
Meal Planning/ 10 hours/week $4.25/hour $2,210

Grocery Shopping 3 hours/week $4.25/hour* $663
Financial/Paying Bills 1 hour/week $4.25/hour* $221

Miscellaneous 10 hours/week $4.25/hour* $2,210
TOTAL: $35,828

All estimates are based on two children per family/five-day week
*Minimum wage

Author's Bio: 

This article was written by Dr. Thomas S. Lee. Detailed Information can be found at