Viral post about stay-at-home mom salary sheds light on deeper issue

Glory and Steven Nelms with their son Ezra. Steven Nelms

TORONTO – When Steven Nelms and his wife Glory, both 25, had their son Ezra two years ago, the couple faced a struggle many parents do: what to do about child care.

“We had to weigh out our options and with the salary I was able to make, it made the most financial sense for me to work and for her to stay home,” explained Nelms, an HR consultant in Dallas, Texas.

He added that it wasn’t an easy choice for Glory, who had worked since she was 14. As he put it, “getting paid for what she does has been a big part of her life.”

So, in an effort to let his wife know exactly how much her work at home is worth, he wrote a blog post titled, “Fathers, you can’t afford a Stay-At-Home Mom.”

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In it, he claimed she should make $73,960 for everything she does around the home. That’s still considerably less than the six figures thought stay-at-home moms were worth in 2014 (thanks, in part, to a lot of overtime hours).

WATCH: The real salary of stay-at-home parents

Child care takes up about half of Nelms’ $73,960 estimate. That’s because the average salary of a full-time nanny in the U.S., he found, is $36,600. There’s also the cleaning costs ($5,200/year based on a $100/week cleaning service fee). Plus, of course, the price of personal shopping (groceries don’t buy themselves) — that comes to $13,520, Nelms estimated. Oh, and can’t forget the cooking ($12,480). That’s just part of his breakdown.

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He wrote in the blog post:

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Remember, we’re working with extremely conservative averages here. That’s daily care for your child that the average full-time nanny would provide. That’s twice-a-week cleaning of your home by a maid service that gets the place presentable. That’s three meals prepared a week of only two servings. These numbers, for the most part, still fall embarrassingly short of all the things that are actually accomplished each and every week.

And if you don’t think your wife’s demeanor or social interactions affect your image and influence in the workplace, then you’re just flat out an ignoramus…

Nelms said that while his wife appreciated what he wrote and the majority of the reaction to it has been positive, there has been some criticism.

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“Others…have interpreted this post as a sort of prescription, like we were trying to push a certain family dynamic as the only right way of doing things, which is simply not true.”

READ MORE: What’s it cost to raise a child in Canada?

Regardless of how you feel about stay-at-home moms, the reality is that for many families it can be the only option due to the high cost of child care.

The Canadian government gives families with young children $160 per month, which barely covers a few days of daycare in most parts of the country, according to Mike Moffatt, a senior economist with the Mowat Centre and the Ivey School of Business.

WATCH: New study reveals just how much money Canadians are paying for daycare, depending on where they live. Jennifer Tryon reports.

Quebec’s universal $7.30-a-day child care program has been hailed a success by many who credit it with boosting not only labour force participation but the province’s economy itself.

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Our recent series on Canada’s persistent instability trap highlighted some of these issues. In response to it, one reader who wanted a second child said she’d need a second mortgage to cover child care — or be forced to stop working altogether.

Leo Kavanagh, Global News

READ MORE: How lack of affordable, accessible child care hurts the economy

In Toronto, the cost of child care has risen by 30 per cent in the six years since the city’s living wage estimate last calculated in 2008, according to a report released last week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report found that in a family with two kids under the age of 10, both parents need to be working 37.5 hours per week making $18.52 an hour just to make ends meet. This comes to an annual household income of just over $72,000, before tax and other deductions.

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Nelms figured he’d have to make “over 100K to even begin to be able to cover [his] living expenses as well as employ [his] wife as a Stay-At-Home Mom.”

With files from Anna Mehler Paperny and Tania Kohut, Global News

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