My wife and I settled into traditional gender roles in our marriage. I’m the breadwinner and my wife stays home with our 4 children (ages 1 – 5). Every once in a while, my wife will make a comment about wishing she could contribute more financially since she’s not really generating income.
I can see why my wife—and probably mothers everywhere—might feel that way sometimes. But I’m always dumbstruck because I feel like the role she plays in our lives is already priceless.
So I had to ask myself…is her role really priceless? Maybe I could quantify the value of her contribution as a wife and mother.
I started thinking about Elisabeth’s various roles and responsibilities and the replacement costs. It was definitely educational!
My wife cooks about 15 meals a week on average. Sizzling egg breakfasts; quesadilla lunches; and dinner featuring roasted asparagus, quinoa, and seasoned burgers are some of our favorites. Everything she makes is delicious and nutritious. She even invites others into our home several times a week to eat with us, helping to strengthen relationships with her outstanding cooking.
Replacement value = $50,000/year
For the number of meals, my research says this would conservatively cost $2000/week for a private chef to come in my home and prepare meals. Since she’s not technically a chef I’ll cut it in half and round it since I’m sure we’ll eat out once in a while.
I’ve been married almost 7 years, and I don’t think I have cleaned a shower once. At first I forgot soap scum existed. Then I realized my wife was like a ninja cleaner, doing little projects throughout the week.
I’m a fairly neat person, but my wife has very high standards which makes our home not only livable but relaxing. Bedsheets are changed regularly, messes are vacuumed swiftly, and she has emphasized to our kids to clean up after themselves. I enjoy being home thanks to her.
Replacement cost = $16,224/year
A house cleaner in our area is about $40/hr. A Salary.com survey showed the average mom cleaned 7.8 hours a week.
Since we had our twins 5 years ago, I bet I could count on two hands the number of days our washer hasn’t been used. Elisabeth likes to stay on top of the laundry, and although it would be nice say I’m a help in this area, the truth is she does ALL of it.
Now laundry is a pain for most people. Add 4 little kids, including seasons of cloth diapering, and you get some massive piles of laundry. She handles it all gracefully.
Replacement cost = $10,270/year
I don’t actually think my area even offers laundry service with pickup and/or delivery, but my rigorous analysis indicates:
Pickup/Delivery + Number of loads we do a week = Crap ton of money
Our identical twins are working through a diagnosed anxiety disorder called Selective Mutism. In short, they shut down when they feel uncomfortable and cannot physically talk. It’s different than being shy.
The only evidence-based treatment for this is to constantly barrage them with uncomfortable situations so they learn to rewire their brains. Very few therapists or psychologists are trained in how to deal with kids with SM. Elisabeth has taken it on herself to learn more than nearly anyone on the topic, and now she knows how to treat them.
Even though she’s an introvert herself, her love for her kids trumps that and she’s constantly introducing the kids to strangers for some uncomfortable learning lessons. For trained professionals to do this type of therapy (which often needs to take place away from a clinician’s office), it can get expensive quickly. On top of this, she researches and finds games and other ways to make therapy fun.
Replacement cost = $20,280/year
Our insurance doesn’t have specialists in our area, so this is really a HUGE out-of-pocket expense.
Did you know people hire other people to breastfeed their babies? The benefits of breastfeeding are well-documented. Elisabeth has been breastfeeding nearly nonstop for over 5 years. Wow! I had no idea what was entailed before getting married, and let me tell you it can be very, very challenging. But she’s done it lovingly because she will do anything for her children.
Replacement cost = $52,000/year
USA Today reported the price tag for a wet nurse starts at $1000/week. Maybe I’m in the wrong line of work. (Makes me think of Meet the Fockers. “I have nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?” 🤭)
My wife and I were each homeschooled for part of our education, so we firmly believe an engaged parent can impart so much more than a professional in charge of 18 children. Even though none of our kids have started Kindergarten yet, she’s taught some basic math (like counting by 2s, 5s, 10s), handwriting, around 10 Bible memory verses, and more.
Replacement cost = $6,240/year
A private tutor could handle this job. Of course, we’d have to pay for that 👎
Shopping & errands
My wife does the majority of the grocery shopping, and all of the clothing shopping for the kids. We split toy shopping, mostly because I want Nerf guns.
Shopping can consume a lot of time. If you’re lucky enough to live in the right area, you can use services like TaskRabbit to have someone shop for you.
Replacement cost = $6,240/year
In order for our children to receive therapy, they have to go to an office about 35 minutes away 3x a week. My wife serves as their chauffeur. I suppose I could send them with an Uber at $22 each way?
Replacement cost = $6,600.
There’s plenty of other driving she does, but I’ll just focus on this one task.
Elisabeth goes above and beyond to try to make each child feel special on his birthday. She takes on the treats, Pinterest-worthy decorations, and all the organization. I could hire a party planner…AND fortunately I’d only have to pay for 3 parties instead of 4 thanks to twins. WINNING!
Replacement cost = $2,250
Party planners can range in price, but at $75/hr it adds up quick.
Of course, if my wife didn’t stay home with our children, we would have to put them in full-time day care. This is a massive expense. In fact, nearly one in three families (32%) report spending 20% or more of their annual household income on child care. Hiring a full-time nanny would be the closest equivalent to what Elisabeth brings to the table.
Replacement cost = $33,800
Care.com’s data says a full-time nanny with a college degree (like Elisabeth) averages $33,800. I have a feeling we would pay more due to having 4 kids.
In addition to all of these other roles, Elisabeth is first and foremost a mom. That means she brings the love, care, discipline, cheerleading, and refereeing that only she can bring. There isn’t really a way to quantify this because no one else in the entire world could bring the unique blend of gifts that she has and the passion for her children.
Total Mom Replacement Cost: $203,904
That’s more that I make! The truth is that this exercise actually got started when I was looking into life insurance. I had term life insurance but Elisabeth didn’t. When I realized how much value Elisabeth was contributing in her time and gifts, I knew we needed to get her life insurance, too.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m glad more and more women have the freedom to choose to go back to work if they want. But the truth is my family couldn’t afford for her to go do something else!
A recent study showed the average American mom works 98 hours a week! I’m so thankful for the sacrifices of my mom, my wife, and mothers everywhere.
Thank you, Elisabeth. You are amazing and Happy Mother’s Day!