Mother with her sons watching tablet in bed
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By Kristen Bellstrom
June 6, 2016

How much would you pay for childcare? Okay, now how much would you pay if the person doing that care also happened to be the kid’s mom?

According to a new survey from Redbook, stay-at-home moms say, on average, that they deserve an annual salary of $50,000. And perhaps unsurprisingly, 72% of the 558 survey respondents, all of whom self-identify as stay-at-home moms, also say that the rest of society fails to understand how much they do.

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Interestingly, the women who took the survey may have pegged their market value on the low side. One recent index from insurance site Insure.com used Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers to calculate an annual salary of $65,283.81 for stay-at-home moms. A similar index from Salary.com, compares moms’ labor to the work of CEOs, psychiatrists, and other well-paid professionals, landing on a significantly higher figure: $143,102.

For many of the moms in the Redbook survey, the idea of adding to family nest egg isn’t just theoretical—62% say they do contribute financially. In fact, 34% report working regularly, with one in four respondents saying they run some type of home business.

Volunteering is another popular activity, with 23% of stay-at-home moms saying they devote a significant chunk of time to helping out with school and activities. Of those, nearly half told Redbook that their efforts help make working moms’ lives possible.

 

Mothers of kids under 2 (19% of respondents) were particularly likely to see their time at home as temporary, with 59% reporting that they plan to return to work.

But will they be able to put that plan into action? The responses to a question about why these moms stay home may provide a clue. While 36% of women said they stay home because they want to, a significant number said they left the workforce because their pre-kid career ended up being incompatible with family life (7%) or due to the price of childcare (15%).

In a country where childcare can cost more than rent, that’s not a shock. Staying home to take care of a family is a laudable choice, but it should be just that—a choice.

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