The real cost of being a working mom

I have written several posts about the issues women are faced with when they decide to start a family. You can read my favorite posts about these issues here and here.

For me it came down to time and money. For me to work full-time in an office (outside of the home), it means I will have a 2-3 hour commute (leaving the house, dropping child #1 off at her school (walking her in, getting her to her classroom, etc…), then dropping hubs near work which is just 1 mile from child #1, then driving to drop child #2 at daycare (walking her and all her crap for the day inside and speaking with her daycare provider about her morning and any other information we need to relay), then finally driving myself to work). Yes, we are a one car family (since 2011), but the issue is really traffic. We contend with the average American, small city morning commute.  Pick-up time after work is essentially the same messy, time consuming game. Add 3 hours to the 7.5 hour work day and you have a 10.5 hour work day.

I spend 60 hours in the car each month (3hrs x 5 days = 15 hours per week)I spend 150 hours in the office each month. That’s 210 hours of my life, each month. This does not include the time spent unpacking everyones stuff after work and repacking it for the next morning, so we can do this crazy schedule all over again.

The Federal mileage reimbursement rate for 2018 is $0.54.5 cents per mile. My weekly commute costs me $120.70. For a full year (52 weeks), it will cost our family $6,276.40 to get us all where we need to be each day.

Commuting Cost Cost ($)
Daily commute (44.3 miles) $24.14 per day
Weekly commute $120.70
Annual commute (52 weeks) $6,276.40
Total Commute Cost per Year $6,276.40

Our school district does not offer universal pre-k so we send our daughter to a private school for pre-k which is cheaper than it would be to have her at a ‘daycare center’ preschool room. Tuition for pre-k (12-month, full year program that includes meals and summer camp) $14,077. This does not include the cost of uniforms.

And finally, infant care. Of the places in our city and surrounding area that offer care, you can pay as high as $320 per week or as low as $265 per week. Ours is in the middle. We pay $285 per week for infant care (ages 6 months – 15 months). That’s $14,895 per year for daycare. This costs almost a thousand dollars more than private school tuition!

And finally, the miscellaneous costs you need to pay for when you have a child in daycare. (Pre-packaged snacks are things like ‘puffs’ or teething crackers to have on hand when she needs something, otherwise I pack her fresh snacks and lunch every. single. day.)

Miscellaneous Day Care Costs Cost ($)
Diaper & wipes (per yr) $312
Pre-packaged snacks (per yr) $100
Bibs, sippy cups, spoons, plastic containers for day care: One time $40
Total Miscellaneous Costs per Year $452

Are you ready for it? Maybe you have been calculating these numbers in your head as I have listed them (hello fellow numbers nerd :0) ). If not, I prepare you. This may be shocking!

It costs me $35,700.40 to be an employee at my job. You can see the full break down in the chart below. These are REAL numbers. Granted, costs will be different depending on where you live within the United States, but so will your salary.

Annual Cost for Mrs. Mother Dirt to work Full-time (at my current job)

Source Cost Per Year($)
AAG $14,077
Day Care (285*52weeks) $14,895
Commute $6,276.40
Miscellaneous day care costs $452
Total Cost per Year $35,700.40

My state, New York, is ranked as one of the best states for pay/benefits provided to working mothers. But when I look at pay data on or, my position within my company – I make less annual salary that 76% of people with my job title. Not a surprise there! I haven’t had a raise since 2015.

My very mediocre salary, minus taxes and dental/vision deductions each pay period, brings my after-tax/take home salary down to $41,210.00 per year (this is based on my annual salary of 53K).

If it costs me $35,700.40 per year to have a job and I only bring home $41,210.00 after deductions, that means I am left with $5,510 per year which I need to use to pay my student loan.

Yes, get out your calculator. These numbers are staggering! They are my reality! They are the reality of other working women that I know. It’s insane.

When I worked from home, I didn’t pay day care or commuting costs, so you can see why it made sense for me to keep my flexible job, even if it wasn’t awesome pay. Netting $25-30K is a lot different that netting $5k.

Once I crunched these numbers and got over my nausea, I shared them with my husband.

Total Cost per Year $35,700.40

And that my friends, is the real cost of me working full-time and why my husband and I have decided it’s finally ‘time’ for me to stay home.

Thoughts? Reactions? What has been your experience? Leave me a comment.

With love signature



10 thoughts on “The real cost of being a working mom

  1. InkedNYCBeauty says:

    I never thought to write down the expenses associated with having my job. I do not have kids yet, (and I am from the same state) it is mind blowing to see these numbers laid out. Makes me think twice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrsmotherdirt says:

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Child care is the price of a filly loaded car! Or my entire undergrad state school bachelors degree! When I think of the time it takes my family to pre-plan lunches, dinners. Coordinate schedules, get us all up and ready in the morning to commute and sit in a cubicle for 8 hours just to see my kids for 2 hours in the evening between dinner, baths, and bedtime, it stinks! Many well educated women I know, have opted to stay home. I think it’s good to know what you may want to do in the future.


  2. theemothership says:

    THIS!! This post literally is everything I had to think about after having the twins and feelings of guilt for having to temporarily take my two year old out of school for a bit because of added expenses like driving back and forth (the school was closer to my job than home) among other things. Things have changed a bunch but still mastering this mommy thing so my focus remains at home for a few more months. Great insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    • mrsmotherdirt says:

      Absolutely! The insane cost of child care is another barrier women face when trying to have a career. Most companies are missing out on an entire educated work force because of these barriers ($, inflexibility in hours, etc…).

      Liked by 1 person

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