Print Friendly and PDF

According to the Mom Salary Survey, a stay-at-home mom in 2016 was worth $143,102. That’s because the moms surveyed took 33 discrete roles (janitor, nutritionist, groundskeeper, etc.) in their 92-hour workweeks. Working moms performed fewer household tasks but still put in 19 hours of overtime on household roles.

The survey (which is in its 16th year) is meant to show the value of the unpaid and often invisible work that many mothers do. Yet mothers who hire out some of that work may feel embarrassed or judged for spending on services that feel like luxuries.


What if we viewed paying for household services not as spending but as contract negotiation? This breakdown of six household chores  –ranked on a scale of ♦ (bad) to ♦♦♦ (good) – can help you determine which tasks you will benefit spending your time and energy on and which are worth leaving to experts.

Home cleaning


Time Spent = 3.5 Hours

According to the American Time Use Survey, women spend an average of 29 minutes doing “interior housework.” That figure excludes laundry and food preparation, which are counted separately.

Weekly Cost = $2.50

The expense of home cleaning is mostly tied up in cleaning supplies. Statistic Brain puts the cost of household cleaners at $42 per month, but that figure includes all household cleaning supplies (dish and laundry soap, for example), not just those associated with bi-weekly house cleaning. Assuming that even 25 percent of the cleaning supplies are used in bi-weekly cleaning, that’s about $10 per month and $2.50 per week.


Weekly Cost = $50-$75

Angie’s List users put the cost of professional bi-weekly cleaning between $100 and $150. If your house is large or if you are scheduling cleaning for the first time, you can expect that price to be higher.

Time Saved = 3.5 hours

If you pay for biweekly cleaning, you can eliminate all your typical vacuuming, dusting, and surface cleaning.

The time saved by hiring household cleaners is entirely dependent on how comfortable you are having things cleaned differently than how you clean them. If you’re the type of person who will re-vacuum the carpet to get the lines just so, a cleaning service won’t save you that much time.

Household Helper Rating ♦♦

Paying people to clean your home will cost you between $13.50 and $20.50 per hour of free time, making house cleaning one of the cheaper household chores to hire out.

Could you put in a little elbow grease and get the work done yourself? Sure. But when you employ people to clean your house, you haven’t just bought dust-free surfaces and a floor that lets you go sock-less. You’ve bought time. You can use that time to tackle much bigger and more rewarding home projects, like organizing an overflowing pantry or designing your dream closet.

〉〉〉〉〉〉º º



Time Spent = 2 hours

Women spend an average of 17 minutes per day doing laundry, for a total of approximately two hours per week. That figure includes all women, regardless of family size, so a large family will need to adjust this figure to include time spent emptying pockets of crayons and rocks and re-washing loads forgotten in the washer.

Weekly Cost = $10

To know how much it costs you to do laundry, you need to know a lot of things. If you’re washing at home, you need the number of gallons used in a washing cycle, the cost of water per gallon, the electricity used by your washer and dryer, and the cost of detergent, dryer sheets, and fabric softener. This handy calculator can help you make a reasonable estimate of your yearly laundry spending.

Assuming that you use a front-loading washer, that you wash half of your clothes on cold, that you pay $.15 per kWh, that your water cost is $5.50 per 1,000 gallons, and that you spend $.20 per load on detergent and dryer sheets, your average weekly cost of 10 loads of laundry is $9.75. That’s not including depreciation on your washer and dryer.


Weekly Cost = $58 – $192

Angie’s List puts the average rate for laundry services at $0.90 to $3 per pound. Assuming you do an average of eight loads per week, and that each load is about eight pounds, you’d pay somewhere between $58 and $192 per week.

Time Saved = 1 hour per week

Having laundry service saves you about an hour in folding as well as the time spent moving loads from washer to dryer. But you still have to gather the laundry. You still have to check the pockets. You still have to pretreat stains. You still have to remember to have it ready for laundry day or else you’ll be washing it yourself. You still have to get kids to put theirs away. Considering all of these factors, you may save even less than one hour per week.

Household Helper Rating 

If you’re paying top freight for laundry delivery services, an hour of free time is going to be very expensive: between $48 and $182. And that price won’t eliminate your laundry workload, either. You still need to run a load when someone says, “I need to wear that shirt tomorrow” or you change a blowout diaper on your duvet.

Before hiring out your laundry, consider the potential cost to your kids, who need to learn the character-building mistake of a red sock in a load of whites.

Shirt laundry


Time Spent = 1 hour

The time it takes to wash and press a shirt changes dramatically with your skill level. Some can iron a shirt perfectly in three minutes. Then there are the rest of us, who pull crumpled piles of laundry from the dryer and spritz them into submission. Assuming that a shirt will take you closer to 10 minutes to iron and that you wash five shirts per week, you’re looking at 50 minutes of ironing. But shirts often require special care, like pre-wash treatment around the neck as well as occasional sewing, so you can expect about an hour per week per family member.

Weekly Cost = $1.00

Assuming you wash your shirts separately and that you’re using the washing machine conditions described above, the cost will be about $1.00.


Weekly Cost = $12 – $15

Angie’s list puts the cost per men’s shirt between $2.40 and $3.09. Your average cost will be between $12 and $15 per person.

Time Saved = 1 hour

If you use a laundry delivery service, all you have to do is put your delivery bag on your doorstep.

Household Helper Rating 

At $11-$14 dollars per hour, hiring out shirt laundry is one of the cheapest ways to buy yourself some free time. You’ll also buy less stress. There’s no low-level panic about whether or not a kid or pet will tip over the ironing board. There’s less opportunity for panic that a specific shirt isn’t ironed in time for a special occasion. And there’s less of a chance you’ll damage your favorite garments.

Hiring out shirt laundry may also buy you more workplace success because you’ll have bought a crisper, more professional-looking wardrobe.

Lawn Care


Time Spent = 2 hours

Lawn sizes, driveway lengths, and homeowner association agreements all impact how much time you’ll spend doing yard work.

Weekly Cost = $1.11 – $1.84

Unlike the other home care services included in this list, this weekly cost includes power and equipment, because unlike household tools such as a vacuum or mop, if you are hiring out lawn care you do not have to own lawn care equipment.

If the average lawnmower has a lifespan of eight to 10 years, and you purchase a relatively inexpensive one for $200 and use that lawnmower 22 weeks per year, the cost of the lawnmower is about .90 per use, excluding power. The Simple Dollar puts the average power cost per acre at $1.04 for electricity and $4.70 for gas. Assuming your lawn is the national average size of one-fifth of an acre, that’s $.21 to $.94 in power per week.   


Weekly Cost = $30-$80

Home Advisor puts the cost of weekly lawn service between $30 and $80.

Time Saved = 2 hours

Like shirt laundry, lawn care is one of those services that doesn’t require any additional work on your part.

Household Helper Rating 

Paying for lawn service will cost you between $15 and $40 per hour of free time. If your lawn is bigger, you can expect to be on the higher end of that scale.

You’ll get less exercise and less Vitamin D if you don’t mow the lawn yourself but you can put that time toward a new outdoor hobby, like building a patio, planting an herb garden, or starting a bee colony.

Meal Planning


Time Spent = 4.5 hours

According to the American Time Use Survey, women spend an average of 37 minutes per day on food and drink preparation.

Weekly Cost = $146 to $289

Your grocery bill is hugely impacted by where you live and where you shop. The USDA puts weekly grocery spending for a family of four between $146 and $289 per week.


Weekly Cost = $259 – $374

The prices of meal kit delivery services are much closer to restaurant pricing than to home cooking. Blue Apron and Hello Fresh both charge $8.74 per serving for their family packages, for a total of $139.84 for four 4-serving meals. That price tag leaves you just shy of the USDA’s lowest average food budget, but with seven breakfasts, seven lunches, three dinners, and all snacks and desserts unpaid for. If your family spends closer to the USDA’s lowest budget, you will need to spend another $119. If your spending is closer to the top, you’ll spend another $234.

Time Saved = None

Unless you pile up more meal kit delivery services, you’ll still have to grocery shop to fill your fridge. So it’s unlikely that you’ll save very much time on shopping.

Many of the popular meal kit services advertise prep time of 30-45 minutes per meal, which is not significantly different from the time it would take you to cook without a service. In fact, if your usual entrees are kid-friendly staples like pasta, a meal kit delivery service is likely to cost you time each week.

Household Helper Rating 

A meal kit delivery service is less of a timesaver and more of a hobby. Think of it like a four-night at-home cooking school for you and your family. But like all hobbies, it will cost you and likely take up more of your time. If you’re trying to buy yourself some free time, meal kits may not be the best choice.

If you’re a family of four, a delivery of four meals per week means you’ll have to go to the store. What you might really want to outsource is grocery shopping.

   〈〈〈〈〈      °°〈〈〈

Grocery Shopping


Time Spent = 2 hours

The American Time Use Survey found that women spend an average of 45 minutes grocery shopping each week. That figure only includes time spent in the store. Add in loading and unloading groceries, travel to and from the store, and 15 minutes of getting the kids to get dressed, that’s two hours.

Weekly Cost = $146 – $289

Those are the averages the USDA provides for a family of four.


Weekly Cost = $161 – $304

Services like Instacart,  Peapod, Green Bean, and Door to Door Organics let you shop virtually in an app or online and receive your groceries at home on your scheduled delivery day. Augmented with Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, you may be able to outsource most of your weekly errands.

Assuming that the groceries themselves cost the same amount, you’ll be paying for processing, delivery, and in some cases, a tip. With a $5 delivery charge and a tip, you might be looking at an extra $10-$15 per order.

Time Saved = 1.5 hours

Setting up a grocery delivery is basically making a shopping list. You can do it 24 hours a day, making it easier to squeeze in menu planning into your spare moments. Grocery delivery will save you about an hour and a half. You’ll still have to put away groceries. Both the D-I-Y and the Hire-it-out plans assume you’ll also have to run out for an ingredient you forgot.

Household Helper Rating ♦♦♦

Hiring out your grocery shopping will only cost you about $10 per hour, making it the cheapest chore to hire out.  If you have small children, that’s an excellent value. You’ll avoid fighting with kids to put shoes on, saying no to constant snack requests, and making impulse buys as you near the checkout.

〉〉〉〉〉〉º º

How to decide when to hire it out

1 | Can you share the chores more equitably? If you are doing all of the chores, perhaps the first solution is to farm out some of that work to other family members, then determine what is the best value outside of the home.

2 | Can time away from chores help you at your paid work? For parents who work part-time and can pick up additional work, this is a no-brainer: time spared from chores can mean more time for paid work. And for all parents, hiring out a hated chore can mean more time for something more fulfilling.

3 | How willing are you to let go? Will you be bothered if the house isn’t cleaned to your exact standards? If the kids miss a crayon while collecting the laundry? If the produce in your grocery order is bruised? If your shirts aren’t starched to your liking?

4 | How do your chores work as a group? For example, if you grocery shop in person and your dry cleaner is inside the grocery store, home dry cleaning delivery doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if you get both the groceries and dry cleaning delivered, perhaps you can shave off a few hours per week.

What’s important here isn’t the specific cost of a free hour; your costs may vary greatly depending on where and how you live. What is important is this way of thinking, which can help you value your time and make household-management choices based on the value they add to your life.

The very best of Motherly — delivered when you need it most.
Subscribe for inspiration, empowering articles and expert tips to rock your best #momlife.

When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.

While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.


Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).


Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.


Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!


Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.


Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!


Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.


Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!


Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.


Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.


Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.


Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.


Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!


Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.


This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

Our Partners

There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:


Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.



Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.


Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.


Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.


Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.


Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.


Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.


Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.


As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
Learn + Play

Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.


This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.


Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).

Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.


But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.