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I'm going to say something that I think many will disagree with but it's something I feel pretty strongly about: I think stay-at-home moms should earn a government funded salary. Yes, you read that correctly. I think a percentage of tax dollars should be used to pay stay-at home moms (and heck, let's throw stay-at-home dads in there too).
Now, before you start getting all "hell naw!" on me, let me explain. You see, I grew up with a stay-at-home mom (SAHM) and she made motherhood look pretty darn wonderful. But most importantly, she is probably the single biggest reason I am who I am today. Her influence in my life is probably why I was able to attend and graduate college, move across the country by myself and start my own family. If it wasn't for her strong presence in my life throughout my childhood, I'm not sure I would have the life skills that I have. She was always very involved in my life, but not in an invasive way. She was there when I needed her but she didn't overstep her boundaries. She was my mother and my friend, offering advice, support and encouragement whenever I needed it. To this day, I still find myself calling her whenever I need advice or someone to vent to about marriage, kids or work. I know she'll answer the phone if I call her at 3 a.m., and she'll book the first flight out to my house if I need her to. My mom is an amazing woman who raised three amazing children (if I don't say so myself).
But, it wasn't until I became a mother that I realized everything else she did for me, my father, and my siblings — all the stuff most stay-at-home moms do that often goes unnoticed. And I know firsthand because I've been a (mostly) SAHM for the last five years. Ok, so technically, I'm a WAHM because I work part-time from home, but there isn't a huge difference between the two. Both roles as a SAHM and WAHM are incredibly hard to manage. That's my entire point. Being a 24/7 parent is HARD. REALLY HARD. So much harder than I think most people realize until they're living it.
To puts things in perspective, let's go over a few interesting facts. Some studies suggest that moms work the equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs. Think about that! Whether they are working outside the home or not, moms have a plethora of job titles and duties that go beyond most people's daily to do list. In fact, according to salary.com, a stay-at-home mom should be earning an annual salary of $143,102. This is based on moms working 40 regular hours, on top of 52 hours of overtime each week, which doesn't surprise me at all. Between meal planning and prep, laundry, running errands, paying bills, taking kids to and from school, helping with homework, potty training, housework and everything in between, it's no wonder many moms rely on Starbucks and Rosé to get through the week!
And yet, you know how much money the average SAHM actually makes? $0. Nilch. Nada. Unless a stay-at-home mom has a side gig or hobby that provides a supplemental income, the role comes with no paycheck. (And not much appreciation either.) But before you get your panties in a wad because you don't want your tax dollars paying hardworking parents, you should know that a similar program, known as Elterngeld, is already in place in Germany.
Elterngeld allows parents — both mothers and fathers — to earn a parental "allowance" until their child turns 3. Parents are not required to work during this time and their employment contract cannot be terminated by their employer. Each parent receives a monthly stipend (as long as they aren't working more than 30 hours a week), live in the same home as their child and are the primary caregivers for the child. So, why can't we do something like this in the United States?
There's no question that moms play an important role in the lives of their children. This is especially true during the formative years. When moms are present in their children's lives, the children are happier, healthier and better adjusted. This is not to say that working moms don't raise great children, because of course they do! But maybe that's partly because they can afford to provide more to their children since they earn a real paycheck. And working moms also get to take lunch breaks, interact with other adults and have more freedom to devote to self-care. I would also guess that working moms have a greater sense of accomplishment, since earning a paycheck is something that can boost your confidence and make you feel good; which brings me to my next point.
SAHMs are a really lonely bunch. Many experience depression and isolation because their days are spent caring for everyone else. Most people don't realize what a big sacrifice it is for women to stay home with their children. They give up their careers, their freedom, their time and their hobbies. From the time they wake up until the moment they go to bed, they are doing something for someone — and the time they have for themselves is incredibly limited. Imagine if we could lessen the burden of SAHMs by giving them a monthly token of appreciation in the form of money. Just a little something to say "thanks for everything you do!"
Raising children is expensive, and that's exactly why many women choose to stay home with their kids. By the time you add up the costs of childcare, a full-time salary often becomes more like a part-time salary. And if working full-time is going to bring home mere "crumbs," your time might be better spent at home, where you can greatly impact the lives of the little people you brought into the world. A small monthly paycheck could reduce the stress in a SAHM's life and provide better lives for children living in lower and middle class homes.
And so, I think it's time we put our money where our mouths are and support other women; particularly stay-at-home moms. Even if it's just for the first few years, let's show them we appreciate and value their hard work and commitment to family with a tax funded salary. After all, happy women raise happy children, who become happy adults; and that makes for a happy world.