Money is simply a stand-in for what we value. We earn money in exchange for value we provide. It’s a simple equation. But what about the value we provide that we don’t get paid for?
One of the most common, and trickiest, places this question shows up is with stay-at-home parents. I get inquiries from stay-at-home moms all the time about how to factor their value within the family and in society to the value equation as it relates to money. (I’ve not yet had this question from a stay-at-home dad but I would imagine my answer below applies regardless of your gender.)
These women feel guilty for not bringing in income, not valued for the incredible care and service they provide in the home, resentful of not feeling valued or some combination of all of the above. I actually started my business at the age of 18 so that I could create financial freedom to be able to be a stay-at-home mom, so I love handling this particular sticky question.
First, we have to start here: No one will value you more than you value yourself. Often, when stay-at-home parents are feeling devalued by society, by their partners or just in general, those feelings are rooted in them not valuing themselves. How do we remedy that?
When it comes to matters of the heart (like feeling undervalued), I actually recommend starting with getting clear on the numbers. They instantly clarify our emotional landscape that often gets muddied by not knowing the facts.
Here are three simple steps to immediately change the way you see your worth as a stay-at-home parent:
- Make a list of all the tasks you do/services you provide to keep the home and family running smoothly. (Child care, house cleaning, laundry, organizing the family’s calendar, chauffeur, etc.)
- Do some research on Google (and also ask around) to determine what it would cost to hire someone to do each of the tasks that you do. Write down the yearly cost of hiring the best person in the business to do each of the things you do. The love and care you provide for your own family is priceless so you need to make sure you’re noting what it would cost to pay top dollar for what you provide.
- Total it all up.
You’ll most likely find it quite eye-opening to realize what it would cost to hire someone else to do everything you do at home. Do you see how much value you provide? Unbelievable.
If you feel any resentment or guilt around your partner working outside the home and earning money while you stay at home, share this exercise with him/her. The dialogue it will open up between you will be invaluable. Plus, neither of you will ever see the value that you provide at home in the same way again.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Are you a stay at home parent? If so, have you ever felt devalued working in the home? What have you found to be helpful in overcoming this feeling? Leave a comment below. I’d love to keep this conversation going.
Kate Northrup is a member of the DailyWorth Experts program. Read more about the program here.