3 Expenses I Rack Up as a Working Mom

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on June 5, 2021

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A laughing mom trying to do work on her laptop with her young daughter climbing on her back.

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Being a working mom means I take on certain costs other moms may not have.

When I was pregnant with my first child, people would ask me all the time whether I'd be going back to work after having the baby or leaving the labor force to focus on raising him. And my answer was always -- unequivocally -- that I would be going back to work.

From a financial standpoint, holding down a job is a good thing for my family. The money I earn helps cover our household bills and also enables us to add to our savings. Plus, it helps us work toward other goals like building a retirement nest egg and a college fund for our kids.

From a well-being perspective, having a job also works for me. Though I certainly don't judge parents who opt out of the workforce, I know I wouldn't be happy not working at all. And now that my children are school age, I feel I'd be bored if I didn't have a job to occupy my time during the week.

But on the flipside, being a working mom means I incur certain expenses that other parents may not have. Here are a few that definitely eat into my household budget.

1. Childcare

During the year, school serves as a form of childcare, which allows me to work during the day. But over the summer, I need a way to keep my kids occupied, and that's where camp comes in. Sending my kids to camp gets them out of the house, and when they're out of the house, they're not in my face all day, constantly asking for snacks and attention -- things I'd be happy to give them if I didn't have deadlines (well, maybe not too many snacks).

Unfortunately, camp is extremely expensive, and it sometimes feels like I'm working in July and August just to cover those camp fees. Thankfully, my kids also love camp, so at least they get something out of it. And I get the option to focus on work during the day and then give my kids my full attention on evenings and weekends.

2. Takeout meals

Being a working mom means that some days, I just don't have enough time to get all of my assignments done and make dinner. As such, during busy periods, my family has been known to fall back on takeout meals. The downside is that it's far more expensive than buying groceries.

However, as a general rule, we don't eat out a whole lot. So if I have a crazy week here and there and have to spend $60 on a few takeout meals, it isn't all that terrible. Plus, that way, at least my family gets some variety.

3. A cleaning lady

I used to feel embarrassed about having a cleaning lady until I realized it's something that actually makes a lot of financial sense for me. If I were to take six hours out of every week to thoroughly clean my house, I'd lose out on six hours of income -- that, or six hours of sleep. And trust me when I say that I can't afford to sleep any less than I do.

I realize that some working moms may be able to manage household upkeep better than I can -- and that's great. But without a cleaning lady, my weeks would be super hectic and stressful, so the expense is worth it to me. Of course, if I didn't have a job, we wouldn't have to spend that money because then I'd have time to clean. So for us, this is very much a working-mom expense.

I've learned, through the years, that being a working parent isn't always easy, and that sometimes, it means spending money on things other families can save on. But in spite of that, it makes a lot of sense for me to work -- even if some weeks are a struggle and a nonstop juggling act.

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