The Dollar Value Of A SAHM — And How To Explain It To Kids


May 9, 2019

This Mother’s Day, appreciate all the stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) by moving the gratitude conversation so it is beyond a simple handwritten card and breakfast in bed. Talk about not just the personal value of a mother, but the financial—regardless of if she works outside the home or not.

Little kids grow up hearing the same message over and over again: the parent(s) that go off to work are the ones who bring in money. So it’s easy for them to make the leap of logic that stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) don’t add calculable value to the family’s financial status. But this isn’t true—one estimate places the worth of a parent’s work at home over $110,000 per year.

Understanding this value—the story behind it as well as the number—is key to righting an imbalance in how kids view gender roles, since stay-at-home parents are often mothers. How can we show kids that the role a stay-at-home parent fills is valuable, on a dollars and cents level?

This Mother’s Day, take the time to talk through what it is exactly a stay-at-home parent does, and the jobs they fill in the family. Explain how these jobs are paid, and therefore by “employing” the parent at home, the family saves money that would be spent on filling these roles. Try brainstorming with your kids, then turn to this list to fill in any gaps. If they have trouble understanding any specific job, then draw the connection to their own life—people that work at their school or who they see mommy and daddy interacting with on a day-to-day basis.

Tip: Little kids might have trouble grasping big numbers like annual salaries, but there are workarounds. Instead of breaking down these roles by salary, focus on the big picture—that these are jobs that many people are paid to do, all part of the stay-at-home parent’s role.

Sample Jobs

CEO / Boss

Does one of you as parents work for a company with a boss? If so, has your kid ever met the boss?

Chauffeur / Driver

They might know this job as a school bus or taxi driver!


There’s probably a janitor at their school.


Like at their favorite restaurant!


If they’ve stayed at a hotel, you can draw a parallel with people hired to clean the hotel rooms between guests.

Computer Operator

Who do they know who regularly uses a computer for their job? Somebody at school? And maybe the parent who works in an office?

Laundry Operator

Who washes the sheets at a hotel?


Is there a guidance counselor at school? Is there a therapist on a TV show they watch?


Do you, or any of their friends’ parents, hire tutors? Explain how they get paid for that job.


Who’s the nurse at their doctor’s office?


If you’ve talked about taxes with your kids, explain that we can hire people to help us complete them.

Facilities Manager / Repairman

When things around the house break, this is who mommy or daddy call for help fixing it—but probably not before a parent takes a stab at it first.


Maybe they’ve accompanied you to the mechanic when the car breaks down.

Relating what a stay-at-home parent does to real-life jobs makes it more relatable kids so they can better understand their function. So, what jobs does a stay-at-home parent fill in your home?

Article by Katie Simon

Katie Simon Katie Simon is a writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. She earned a BA in creative writing and marketing at New York University and an MA in nonfiction writing at University of East Anglia in England. She is from Boston, MA.

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