There's quite a bit of arguing on various mommy boards over the usefulness or lack thereof of the housewife. I have always held that the housewife earns her keep in the money saved by not paying extra for daycare and in providing home cooked meals and packed lunch boxes (Assuming said housewife does such things, I know there are the bonbon types, I've met them in my dog training adventures, but they are the minority.) but I was not able to put a dollar amount on it. Now I can.
My husband lost his job a few months ago, and we had a quick contest to see who could find a job and who would be the housewife/husband. Yes, I train dogs, but really at $25 a lesson (my boss gets way more than that) is not enough to even count as an income. Although I do, and tax time hurts because I'm considered an independent contractor and thus self-employed, but I digress. Anyway, I got a job first.
With my extensive housewifing experience I was able to land a job as a home health aid. What does a home health aid do? Basically, housekeeping. Most people who need a home health aid are recovering from something and only need someone temporarily to help with the housekeeping, kid chasing and meal prep and to drive them around running errands, assisting with basic self-care, like bathing and dressing and sometimes changing adult diapers. Some are elderly and pretty capable but have memory and mobility issues requiring supervision to make sure they eat right and don't hurt themselves and there are folks with head injuries with similar needs. Does this sound familiar? That's right, it's houswifing. Oh it's true that some folks need more help. Some are paralyzed and you have to use special equipment to move them and feed them and help them eliminate waste, but you need more training for that so I didn't get those cases. Nope, I just went around housewifing for other folks. So I know what a housewife is worth. It's worth about $10 an hour, if I have to help someone get in and out of bed and on and off the toilet, I might get a few $$ extra but your basic housewifing starts at $10.
After my husband got a job I left this position because we only have one car and we can't both be on call and I took a job (briefly) as a nanny, mostly because I could bring my little guy along. Again, cooking, cleaning, chasing kids- housewifing. $8 an hour. (This doesn't seem fair because as a home health aid I at least had the assistance of the clients while I was working and as a nanny I was on my own, but insurance pays for home health aids and nobody helps pay for a nanny so I get it.)
The nanny job didn't work out, as the home health aid job didn't work out. Until we have two cars I am simply going to have to do my housewifing volunteer style for my own family (although I am embarking on the adventure of making myself a legal daycare provider, we'll see how that goes), but I am secure in the knowledge that I am saving my family between $16,000 and $21,000 per year doing so (not even including yard work). Of course, the money doesn't really matter to us. I truly believe that I am doing the best for my family by being the primary care-giver for my children, cooking from scratch, growing our own food, etc. Money aside, I don't think there is any comparison for my children's physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health to having a full-time mom. As someone who grew up with a career woman for a mom, married to someone who grew up with a housewife for a mom, I firmly believe this and so does my husband.
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