So, you’re a stay-at-home mum or dad.
You wake up at 6am and before you’ve guzzled down that first life-saving cup of coffee, you’ve made breakfast, changed clothes, washed faces and a dozen other things that you can’t recall because, well… you were still half asleep when you did them. You do all of this, every day, and don’t get paid a cent. There is no sick leave, no holiday pay, no lunch break. Most days you will just go through the motions and never stop to think about what your role as a stay-at-home parent is worth.
For most parents, looking after their kids isn’t a ‘job’ — it’s life. It is the mess, the mayhem and the magic of caring for your family. It is also exhausting and takes up almost every hour of the day. In fact, it’s widely known that on average a stay-at-home parent works longer hours than the weekly average for a full-time employee.
Imagine if, like any other job, you itemised all of the essential tasks that you perform throughout the day. What would that ‘to do’ list look like? How would it compare to the days when you worked a ‘real job’? It might look a little something like this:
Two hours: Gourmet food preparation for two exceptionally vocal food critics (with an arm on them that major athletes would envy).
One hour: Cleaning the aforementioned food off walls, tables and (how??) ceilings.
One hour: Precautionary removal of sharp pointy toys, remote control cars, blocks and other assorted injury traps from your escape route to the front door.
One and a half hours: Chauffeur driving multiple reluctant passengers to pool/park/play date/supermarket.
One hour: Herding of small creatures with the navigational skills of a blind mole through the shopping centre to the supermarket where you need exactly five things — it should take 10 minutes. An hour later you leave with 30 things.
One hour: Diplomatic discussions around ‘nap time’ and the likelihood thereof — you eventually admit defeat.
Two hours: Enough loads of laundry to make you say many, many silent prayers of thanks for the invention of the modern automatic washing machine.
One hour: Hostility mediation between two or more tired, irrational and, at times supernaturally strong, adversaries.
Forty-five minutes: Bathing of several wild animals with endless limbs, spectacular evasive manoeuvres and inspirational water splashing abilities.
Thirty minutes: Dressing of aforementioned endless limbed wild animals who are now over tired and even less inclined to cooperate and have suddenly become a strange liquid creature that is impossible to hold, carry or clothe.
One and a half hours: Seemingly endless reading of stories, fetching glasses of water and singing bedtime songs until finally, for a little while, there is silence.
You have now reached the end of a more than 12-hour workday with no break, no pay and no boss to acknowledge your efforts. You sit back, reward yourself with your feet up, a glass of wine and make your partner massage your feet because they only worked a regular full-time work day. Well that’s what you would do if you hadn’t fallen asleep in front of the TV already.
As a stay at home parent who isn’t employed you shouldn’t assume that because you don’t have an income you don’t need to protect yourself. Don’t underestimate what you do at home - replacing the everyday tasks you provide can be more costly than you think, especially when it comes to cleaning, day care and managing your family’s day-to-day life. Life insurance can cover ongoing living expenses that your family would have to incur in the event you’re unable to due to injury, illness or, in the worst case scenario, death. Read more about the importance of financial protection for stay at home parent from TAL.