This is a breakdown of exactly how expensive it is to live substituting money for the network of support common to healthy patriarchal societies. In this example, I show where 250k in gross household income per year would go in attempting to provide enough support with cash instead of neighbors and relatives to get a SAHM with several children through the under-5 years with closely spaced pregnancies and breastfeeding.
35k– modest PITI (Principal, Interest, property Taxes, homeowner’s Insurance) of 1.5-2x income after 20% down, not before
50k– household services (sitter or nanny, weekend/backup sitter, house cleaning 2-4x per month)
15k– food (local, often organic, directly purchased from farmers wherever possible, fair trade and single-source where not local).
50k– federal income and social insurance taxes (approximate, tax treatment varies wildly from state to state)
10k– gas, commute and auto maintenance expenses (not including car insurance)
5k– car insurance, life insurance, disability insurance
15k– reserve or expenses for home maintenance and improvements
10k– utilities (internet/cell, electric, water, sewer or septic maintenance, garbage, any other common utilities)
15k– HSA/health insurance/health care (annualized estimate)
20k– savings/float/reserve against unexpected/anything I missed
This totals to exactly 250k per year, and there things I missed. And even with this much money substituting for human relationships and assistance, women at this level of household income who SAHM still face plenty of sleep deprivation and exhaustion and none of these expenses make up for the lack of other women and their children in groups to hang out with while going through household routines.
This is my life*, and nobody wants it. And nobody wants to admit it takes this kind of money to even come close to setting up a private household with a SAHM in something resembling a traditional way. Despite the full time help wrangling my very active children and the friendly couple that clean weekly, I’m still exhausted and have trouble gaining/maintaining weight when I need it for pregnancies and breastfeeding. And I always feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of household work to do that isn’t the canonical cooking and cleaning and childcare because I don’t do a lot of that day to day and *there’s still a lot of other housework to do*.
But I am not envied by other SAHMs because they think any childcare that isn’t mom 24/7/365 is “leaving your children to be raised by wolves, er, I mean other women”. And having a house cleaner deep clean is just showing how I fail housewiving 4eva by not being organized enough to clean perfectly around squalling toddlers flinging rice in every direction because mommy’s ignoring them (sorry, lovingly caring for them in a way utterly superior in all possible ways to any relative or paid provider’s child minding) to scour the sink just right.
I am not envied by working mothers because holding any wage job outside the home (no matter how low-paying) and putting the kids into daycare at 6 weeks old (or more commonly, paying some SAHM whose household income is closer to 25k/yr 20-40 bucks a day under the table for childcare) means they are financial contributors to their household and I am not, so I am to be pitied and despised for being such a drain on my husband with my very existence.
And that’s the right-wing, conservative Christian side of the aisle.
*The exact household income and expense list in this example isn’t our literal personal one as our household is more agrarian in orientation, but there are some broad similarities.