The intrinsic and economic value of a stay-at-home parent’s work has always been difficult to quantify but has been brought into the spotlight recently due to the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout modern history, the value of a stay-at-home parent has been largely taken for granted. It’s only recently that we've started closely examining and acknowledging what stay-at-home parents contribute to both their family and to society at large.
According to a study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, 71% of all women who had children under the age of 18 were participating in the labor force and 62% of married families with children had both parents employed. While the numbers of both parents working outside the home continues to rise, there are still a significant number of parents who choose to stay home with their children.
Stay-at-home parenting is not for the faint of heart. Salary.com estimates that the average work week of a stay-at-home parent is over 100 hours. Staying at home often means being the primary childcare provider as well as managing most or all of the normal household responsibilities and chores. Since the pandemic began, stay-at-home parents are also now responsible for their child’s education—whether choosing to switch to homeschooling or supervising online/remote learning either full-time or on virtual or remote learning days.
So, what is a stay-at-home parent’s financial impact on a family? We’ve outlined several points below.
In Pennsylvania, the average monthly cost of childcare services for one child is $983. That totals nearly $12,000 per year, per child. Stay-at-home parents are now shouldering the responsibility of providing the care and learning that their child would otherwise receive at a private center.
As mentioned before, since the onset of the pandemic, most parents have become more involved in their child’s education in one way or another. Even if they haven’t opted to do homeschooling, a parent is still responsible for ensuring their child stays on task and focused during virtual learning sessions, as well as helping them through their work and keeping them on schedule, like a teacher would in a brick-and-mortar classroom setting. This takes time and energy away from being able to focus on other things in the home.
If a family has opted to move to homeschooling, there are even more responsibilities involved. In comparison, the average salary for a teacher in Pennsylvania is $69,505 a year.
On top of providing childcare and schooling for children, stay-at-home parents also often take on the tasks of planning, prepping, and cooking meals, usually for the entire family. Private Chefs typically charge around $33/hour for their services. If you allot 1 hour for weekly meal planning and 3 hours of cooking per day, the total value of food preparation services would equate to around $38,000 annually.
Things like grocery shopping, cleaning, organizing, minor repairs, any DIY home renovations or updates, caring for pets, laundry, and a myriad of other tasks often fall to the parent who stays home. Evaluating the financial value of performing these tasks is a complex formula and difficult to determine. However, if we consider the cost of just one of these items, like cleaning, we can calculate that at an average cost of $169/cleaning, it would cost you nearly $8,788 a year for weekly cleanings.
If you’ve got a family, your schedule is probably crazy. Between work, school, extracurriculars, part-time jobs (if you have teenagers), doctor’s appointments, and fun (who has time for that?!), keeping track of where everyone needs to be and when, and ensuring that they all get there, is a full-time job in and of itself. A good comparison would be the responsibilities of an administrative assistant. The median salary of an Administrative Assistant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is $40,000.
Salary.com estimates the national average for a fair market salary equivalent for stay-at-home parenting to be $184,820. This illustrates, in hard numbers, the incredible economic impact and extraordinary value of a stay-at-home parent.
Whether your family includes a stay-at-home parenting approach, or all parents work outside the home, PSECU can help ensure that you’re financially prepared for any kind of situation. We have checking, savings, and investment options to meet your family’s unique financial needs and help you live better and achieve more.