“Who has more bills, you or daddy?”
My son asked me, while we were chatting in the kitchen.
“Neither of us do,” I answered. “Dad may pay a certain amount to use the gym, and I may pay a certain amount on my dance class, but we share a budget, and all of us contribute, even you and your brother.”
I went on to explain while his father is the one who brings in the most financially, and that it is important to recognize that, it is just as important to recognize the non-monetary contributions all of us make.
I spoke about how my writing, though not a big moneymaker, enables me to be home when needed, take care of household chores (however poorly I manage them), take his brother to speech services, and other tasks that would be difficult to complete if I was working full-time.
I reminded my son his role (and his brother’s) is just as important as his parents. I explained how helping with the laundry, cleaning up his toys and being a good brother, all contribute to happy and well-functioning household.
We are all in this together, and we all play a part.
Our society still places a higher value on paid work, and unpaid or underpaid labor, is seen as less important to the overall financial success of a family. We tend to look at the primary earner of the household as the most important contributor to a household’s success.
Granted, you need actual money to pay the bills, buy groceries and take care of other expenses. I won’t dismiss the importance being financially healthy. I know my family can’t survive on me blogging and raising kids alone.
However, it’s the unpaid contributions by other members of the household, which make it possible for the primary earner to succeed.
When I made the choice to stop working full-time, my decision was influenced by the cost of childcare. I crunched the numbers, and realized I would save our family more by being home, than I would be continuing to work and having a professional care for my child.
Though I’m not paid to care for my kids, my work has value, which is important for all children to learn, but especially our boys.
While as males, they are more likely to become the primary earners in their families, I want them to recognize the importance of taking care of home, raising a family and other tasks often deemed “women’s work.”
I want them to understand those unpaid tasks are important for maintaining a functioning home, and if those duties should fall on them, they should feel proud to be able to contribute to their families in such a big way.
I want them to understand changing diapers, scrubbing toilets, cooking dinner, and helping with homework matter as much as bringing home a paycheck.
I need to remind myself, to not undervalue my own contributions.
We are all in this together, we all play a part.