• Mon, Jan 27 - 1:00 pm ET

My Driving Sucks; My Housework is Suspect – I Think I May Be Worth 25 Bucks

sahminfo_2013Just when we thought all was quiet on the front lines of the “Mommy Wars,” salary.com came around for the thirteenth year in a row to remind us “what a stay-at-home mom is worth.”  On the surface, I am sure this is meant as a nice little reminder that every mom has merit, regardless of what occupation she lists on her taxes.  However, somewhere between equating motherhood to a CEO and capping her worth off at six figures, this went from fun, to “shots fired!”

Don’t believe me? Check out where the picture originated on Facebook. Immediately, a working mom called foul and demanded more imaginary money, since she has to do all of this on top of her job. This opened the floodgates for home-based to tell other women to subtract from their overall value for outsourcing their child care, and that their level of housework which couldn’t possibly measure up to the at-home mother’s.  Pro-tip: when you are in a heated discussion with a person you do not know, and are encouraging her to subtract imaginary value from her life, it is time to close the laptop and walk away.

But that’s not what bothered me so much about this graphic. What bothered me is that this graphic really doesn’t hone in on what I consider my major expertise. Even when I went to the website, where I can add jobs such as “nurse” (because my Band-Aid technique is just that damn good, apparently) I still felt like my life was not accurately reflected. So I set off to find my real imaginary worth, based on my obvious skill set.

Private Investigator:  Too many hours @ $21.99

Using a can of air to remove crumbs from my laptop does not really qualify me as a computer operator. My technical skills don’t go far beyond “ctrl + alt + delete.”  My real computer skills are more like that of a limited PI.  Do you need information on a high school acquaintance that you haven’t spoken to since 2001? I’m your girl. Do you want to know the timeline involved in Justine Bieber’s decline? Give me three minutes.  Do you want to make your digital footprint invisible to your mother-in-law without it being obvious?  Send me an e-mail. I assume my imaginary compensation would need to be adjusted for time spent on celebrity gossip sites and parenting blogs, divided by time I spend actually interacting with my children. So that leaves about seven dollars.

Rodeo Clown meets Birthday Party Clown:

$40 – $100 per gig, minus the cost of everything destroyed in the dog bowl and bathtub

Last time I looked, I only have three kids running around here at any one time, and two of those little people are gone for chunks of the day, so I hesitate to call myself a “daycare teacher.”  My time alone with my young son is spent trying to keep him from playing in the dog bowl and from throwing random objects into the bathtub. We try to avoid plugs, small objects and scaling the baby gate. My main conversation is geared around “Hey, look! Over here! Come over here! This toy is better than the water! This wooden cow is SO MUCH FUN!”

Bartender: 

Five hours @ $9.09 minus cost of Organic, 100% Apple Juice (So, maybe $2)

Psychologist? No, more like a bartender.  Pull up a chair; let me pour you a juice or stick a straw in your Capri Sun and you just tell me about what happened at school today. I will listen and get a faraway look in my eye as I nod at the appropriate time and give gentle advice, paired with tales of my own past.

Cafeteria Worker:

Seven hours @ $7.25

To call myself a cook would be an insult to cooks everywhere, and “Crock Pot Operator” is not a thing, apparently. So I will embrace my inner cafeteria worker, since I do fill literal tray with a variety of dishes recommended by my pediatrician, health guidelines, or a particularly easy pin on Pinterest.

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  • Alex

    You summed up my gripes on shit like this perfectly.

    Do you have the education and training and skills and experience to get a job RIGHT NOW as a cook? Nurse? Daycare teacher? CEO? Psychologist? If not, then you’re not qualified to use the average salaries for doing those tasks.

    Not to mention that fixing dinner for your family of four is not like running a kitchen during a busy dinner rush to serve hundreds of customers, and that putting antibacterial cream and a bandage on a cut elbow is not like interpreting lab tests or preparing a patient for surgery.

    I get and agree that we could all be more appreciative of all the little tasks we do each day to help keep our families going, but these posts are downright insulting to any of us who actually HAVE spent the time and resources to obtain the education and training and skills and experience to do that RIGHT NOW.

    • JLH1986

      This is perfect.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      Totally.

      And I just never quite understood what point stuff like this is trying to prove. How much value being a stay-at-home-parent brings to their family? If that’s the point, WHY does it have to be about some weird, completely not real cost-comparison thing that barely makes sense? Are we that capitalist a society that everything has to be all about the money, honey? I guess they’re trying to point out all the different things a stay-at-home-parent does throughout the day. But really, if someone still thinks that all SAHPs just sit at home eating bon-bons and watching their stories, is a cutesy graphic going to convince them otherwise? What’s the target audience here, exactly? The site says ‘how much is your mom worth’ so is the target…kids???

    • Jessica

      That was my original thought with this too. If someone out there thinks a SAHM is worthless, a graphic that compares them to CEOs is not in any way going to change someone’s mind.

    • shel

      While I don’t think my husband, who is the stay at home dad is worthless by any means.. since I love knowing that he’s home with our baby, and she takes work…. I do know that he gets a lot more sitting around eating bon-bon time than I do, he just has to share his bon-bons with the kid :P

    • Kheldarson

      I do believe that it’s mostly to highlight the worth of what stay at home parents do. America does not do a lot to support our parents as other countries do.

      I mean, check out Finland’s model: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/the-secret-to-finlands-success-with-schools-moms-kids-and-everything/277699/

      So if we declare that SAHP are, y’know, worth something in concrete value (since most Americans/most people have a hard time discussing value without numbers), then we can discuss how we can properly help/subsidize/develop around those numbers.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      I’m from Canada, so we’re a bit closer to that model than the US (I remember hearing that you guys don’t have real mat leave a few years ago….mind blown) – we get a year of paid leave with job protection. From what I understand, when this came about, it was promoted as being better for the economy – because women are more likely to return to their jobs if they’re given a year of paid leave, and job protection helps that, blahblah…
      My point is, I just really don’t think comparing a SAHP’s work to paid work isn’t the most convincing argument for having actual parental leave. Like others have commented, a lot of the stuff here is stuff that all adults have to do, regardless of their family situation.

    • Kheldarson

      I do agree that what’s listed is what a lot of people do, but the issue is American politics. We’re number crunchers as a whole. If we (read: our politicians) can’t put a number on it in some form or fashion (be it money, votes, whatever), then it tends to get a back burner. That’s what I see this type of graphic as doing: giving it a number so we can just start talking.

      And yeah, our mat leave really sucks. I lost my benefits from my store and six weeks worth of pay taking mine (I only took six weeks). But at least I got to come back to a job, I guess.

    • Lena

      Completely agree. Following this logic even I, a single girl with no kids, could claim is underpaid. I mean I cook, I clean, I do laundry….oh wait a minute that’s not a job that’s life as an adult!

      Also, the psychologist one really pissed me off. Psychologist are what you need to help you get over your SAHM!

    • Lilly

      to be fair though CEO doesn’t really seem to need much skill in the real world ;)

      The other thing that annoys me about a lot of these divisive SAHP versus working parent things is that they imply that since both me and my partner work we have a magic laundry fairy that comes and does this stuff.
      I get that I contracted out some of the teacher role stuff (which is probably for the better as I suck at conveying knowledge to others) but I didn’t contract out 100% of parenting and adulthood.

    • Aimee Beff

      This is 100% accurate and also reminded me that I have unfolded laundry in the dryer :(

    • Rowan

      If I actually got a job as one of those things tomorrow, I’d be sacked by lunch time. Fact.

    • Brittany Anne

      I think, maybe, that part of the point of infographics like this is that SAHMs cook, clean, etc, not just for themselves, but also for their children. So they’re not just being adults–they’re taking care of other people, so there should be extra “value” added? That’s the best excuse I can come up with for stuff like this.

    • Kelly

      Working parents also take care of their children.

    • Brittany Anne

      Oops, I probably should have been more clear.

      I think this infographic is dumb. I’m a SAHM, and I still think it’s dumb. I do less than working moms, because I’m not working eight hours a day on top of everything else I do, and I don’t have a problem admitting that. But I think a lot of SAHMs are afraid that people think they’re lazy, and they want validation for staying at home, beyond the obvious “It’s what is best for *my* family at this time.”

    • AE Vorro

      Well said!

  • kay

    Does “computer operator” on there mean “checking facebook and wasting time on pinterest”? Because if so 1. they’re way underestimating the time and 2. I would like to be paid to do that as a professional please.

    • Jessica

      If I could be paid for Facebook, I would be giving Zuckerberg a literal run for his money.

  • CMJ

    The weird thing about this list is – I don’t have kids, but I do a lot of this stuff. Do I get to do one of these things?!

    • EX

      Right? I guess it would make sense if they subtracted everything that everyone has to do? Like everyone has to do laundry but if you have kids you have more. But it’s like 1 extra load of laundry per week per kid. That’s, what, 3 hours for 2 kids? IF you stand there and do nothing while the washer and drier run. And if that’s what your doing maybe you’re not really worth your CEO salary.

    • rrlo

      That’s the worst part! Why does it only count if you’re a SAHM… everyone does more or less of this – whether they are a parent or not. So stupid!! Why is no one creating how much the recently graduated, out of work twenty-two year old is worth…

  • smh

    Housekeeper AND janitor? AND laundry operator? What does that even mean? I feel like charts like these are devised by anti-SAHMs to make the idea of staying at home seem dumb.

    • EX

      Didn’t see your comment until after I posted mine. It totally makes no sense. And how do you spend 6.2 hours doing laundry? Are you watching the spin cycle the whole time? The time they have for those three jobs you mentioned combined is 28.4 hours. That’s FOUR hours a day on housework. Seriously? I am not a SAHM and my house could definitely be cleaner but I don’t think I spend much more than 4 hours a WEEK on housework. OK, I probably shouldn’t brag about that, but still.

    • val97

      Yep, about 4 hours, and that includes laundry. I volunteered to be laid off for 4 months last year. In anticipation of my last day, I imagined a future involving a clutter-free and sparkling clean home. In reality, I watched 3 hours of TV a day and took the dog on long hikes. The housework continued to take up the same 4 hours a week as it did when I worked.

    • EX

      That makes me feel better! Pretty sure I’d be just as bad a housekeeper if I was home all day as I am now!

  • Bethany Ramos

    Your bartender description made me laugh so hard, aaaand cafeteria worker only makes me think of Lunch Lady Land.

    • Jessica

      So, I just spent a lot of time listening to Lunch Lady Land… and then realized I forgot to put everything in the crock pot for dinner tonight. Which means I am no cook, and a very lame lunch lady.

  • aCongaLine

    Ah. love it.

    I’m not a huge fan of these graphics that compare my laundry skills and money skills and housekeeping skills to that of professionals. Those people do all the things I do, too. Everybody brushes their teeth, and puts their pants on. Everyone can cook dinner if they need to, and everyone can mop their floors. These are basic things that every adult is capable of doing.

    It’s like saying “I’m a functioning adult, but with small kids! I’m a Super Hero!” Leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m a SAHM of small kids. I did all those things before I had kids and quit my job, and I’m doing them all now too- the only difference is that I’m stepping on Legos instead of stepping on tidy, clutter free floors. I’m not a Super Hero. I’m a regular person. I run the dishwasher like everybody else.

    • Jessica

      I don’t have a dishwasher. #oppressed

    • aCongaLine

      it’s a new thing for us lol. and it’s a toddler trap that’s sometimes not even worth it. :)

    • G.E. Phillips

      Me neither. But I kinda like doing dishes by hand, it’s sort of soothing. Weird, I know. Also, Face likes to dry, so it’s actually a fun activity for us to do together

  • Kelly

    I seriously hate the salary breakdowns of SAHMs and I was one for six years. It’s so stupid. I was not a chauffeur, kindergarten teacher, janitor, psychologist or nurse no matter what I did at home. I did not hold those jobs.

    Besides, people without kids also have to feed themselves, drive themselves around and clean up their shit and nobody pays them for it either.

  • EX

    Hold up. There are a lot of things I could say about this graphic but y’all have covered most of that. I just need someone to tell me what the difference is between a janitor and a housekeeper (in this context)? They both clean up after other people, right?

    • Jessica

      According to the graphic- a bucket.

    • Jessica

      Google says it’s the difference between general cleaning and maintenance and security. I really don’t know.

    • EX

      Ah, now it’s all clear to me – so in addition to 20+ hours spent cleaning and doing laundry a SAHM spends 7.8 hours changing lightbulbs, fixing the toilet (wait doesn’t that make her a plumber?), and…. making sure the doors are locked at night.

    • Jessica

      I do sometimes hook my keys onto my pants.

    • EX

      I would do that, but it would involve wearing real pants without an elastic waist band and that is just not happening. Do you have one of those big round metal key rings? You should get one.

  • Whatever

    It just strikes me as really insecure. If you choose to be a stay at home mom, then own it! Who cares what other people think. If you know what you are doing has value, then you shouldn’t feel like you have to prove that to others. Same goes for working moms.

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      THANK YOU. I’m a work-outside-the-home parent and I have zero guilt about that. I hate that I sometimes feel like I’m *supposed* to feel guilt about that.

  • brebay

    This shit just pisses me off. People who worked their asses of through 7 or 8 years of college and grad school don’t make this much. I’ve been a SAHM and had a career and SAHM was easier and less stressful for me. For many, it is the opposite. The two just aren’t comparable, they are completely different ways of occupying your day; both valuable, both exhausting. But, managing your family’s budget does not equate to managing a mutual fund. Being able to tell your kid’s temperature by kissing his forehead is NOT a medical residency of 16-hour days in which strangers with severe head injuries, gunshot wounds, and coronaries are arriving every day with their very lives in your hands. Not to mention the current job market where taking a sick day or missing a deadline can mean your head is on the chopping block, and you could be without a paycheck at someone’s whim in most right-to-work states, which is extremely stressful. If you feed your baby peas, and he spits them out and rages, he’s not going to be interviewing for your replacement the next day. I do think SAHMs are underappreciated, but this nonsense is NOT the way to fix that. Announcing that you deserve an income that would put you in the single-digit percentage of American workers just makes people appreciate you less.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    If I quit my day job and stayed home and did all of these things I’d still do a shit job.

  • TngldBlue

    If you’re spending almost 30 hours per week cleaning, you’re doing it wrong.

    • Paul White

      if you count cleaning snake cages I’m close to that, but just the house? probably 15 hours. And that’s with dogs and cats and a kid.

    • Aimee Beff

      I’m still on maternity leave while the mister is back at work and he still contributes to housework; and I’m pretty sure even COMBINED we don’t come anywhere close to 30 hours. What the hell takes 30 hours?

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      I’m sharing all the cleaning with my husband and I’m on mat leave too. I’m no good at this domestic stuff. The baby takes all my energy and when he naps I recuperate or sleep, not clean. 30 hours? Shit, It’s good if we do 3. (Our house is messy.)

  • Vicki Lewis

    ‘Crock pot operator’ made me lol. I might start calling myself that.

  • Paul White

    Because kissing a boo-boo and using a thermometer = medical residency. gaaah, I hate those charts

  • Aimee Beff

    Dust 1x a week = 30 minutes
    Laundry daily (7×30 minutes of actual hands-on time) = 3.5 hours
    Vacuum 2x week (2 x 15) = 30 minutes
    Washing up from meals (7 x 15) = 1.75 hours
    General tidying (7 x 15) = 1.75 hours
    Clean bathrooms 1x a week = 45 minutes
    Snowblowing/lawnmowing = 2 hours or so

    I like to think my house doesn’t look completely like shit but this only gets me up to a little over 10 hours a week divided between me and my partner. Am I doing this wrong?!

    • Gangle

      I spend an extra 5 hours a week than that cleaning, but only because my husband is a bit of a slob, I have to vacuum everyday because of my indoors dog and I generally stop to eat snacks in the middle of a task because eating is fun. I really think if cleaning house is a ‘full time job’ then you have some problems…

  • SarahJesness

    I get that they’re trying to say that stay-at-home moms have value, which is true. But why try to assign a monetary value to it? Okay, I get WHY, but it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It feels a little… whiny. It almost seems like they’re complaining that they’re doing things for free that other people get paid to do. But cooking? Cleaning? Taking care of your kids? Those are things you should be doing anyway, unless you’re stupidly rich and you can pay someone to do all of those things.

    “Nurse” and “CEO” and “psychologist”? Er, stuff like that requires things like school and training. Listening to your kid talk about her school problems doesn’t make you a psychologist. Putting a band-aid on a scraped knee doesn’t make you a nurse. By these kinds of logic, I’m a zookeeper because I feed my cats and dog and make sure they don’t run outside of their designated enclosures. I’m also a vet because I put flea medicine on the cats. I’m an archaeologist because I can find lots of long-lost stuff under my bed! Seriously, this list is kind of insulting to people who have studied and worked for years to get those positions.

  • Jessica Johnson

    Really, as a SAHM, I’m less CEO and more QBU (Queen Bitch of the Universe). My boys are middle school
    aged, so if you need a royal decree of no, I’m your gal, but my decisions aren’t very corporate. “Mom can we
    ride our bikes up this ramp we just built and see if we can jump your
    car?” “No.” “Mom! it’s 12 degrees outside, can we try to get the ice out of the pond, since you said it was too cold at 10 degrees?” “No.” “Mom, can I watch cartoons for the next 12 hours?” “No”. If you have an office job where you are comfortable asking your employer these questions, preferably with one hand scratching your butt and the other picking your nose, I need to get hired there. (Where maybe they’ll give me a nickle for every “no” I have to utter. finally.)

  • Muggle

    $16 an hour to fuck around on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and various blogs all day whining about how I should be earning 113k a year doing things everyone else does already? Shit, I could use that money.

  • rrlo

    This graphic really irritated me when I saw it.

    First of all, it is not plausible that the average mother (SAHM or Working) is on the job 95 to 98 hrs a week (95 for SAHM and 98 for Working). It is just not possible… that’s 13 hours a day! And does not include eating, showering, teeth brushing, chit-chatting and everything else that goes into being a human.

    Secondly, the calculations for the working mother bit (not pictured in above article) does not make any sense at all. They put in all the hours but use the working mother’s actual salary – which is completely ridiculous. It only counts if you actually don’t work?!?!?!

    And finally, if it just highlighted the “worth” of the SAHM, I would be okay with it…whatever. But the two infographics actually try to illustrate the point that the working mothers are somehow making less money…. quoting from Parentdish below.

    “What’s interesting is the fact that the survey also polled working
    mothers and found that their average salary was only $67,436, or
    two-thirds the income of a stay-at-home mom’s hypothetical salary.”

    WTF! Who compares real money to “hypothetical” money? What does this all mean anyway?

    It’s all hog-wash. What bugs me is that this stupid info-graphic is now plastered all over everyone’s Facebook page and news websites.

  • Kelly

    You know, I just realized that this reminds me of one of my biggest pet peeves. When people pad their list of how “crazy busy” they are with mundane shit. Like, “OMG, I am SO BUSY! Today I had to GET OUT OF BED, and BRUSH MY TEETH, and USE THE TOILET, and WASH MY HAIR, then I had to EAT BREAKFAST!

    I so hate that. The whole, “I’m a doctor, and a CEO, and a chef, and a janitor because I”m a MOMMY!” bullshit is pretty much the same crap.

  • DaisyJupes

    If a SAHM/D must be valued by dollars, I would value them at how much childcare if they had to pay for it because they were working (so, 45 hours a week or so of that cost, which would be $10-$25/hr). Or how long the working parent is at work. Whichever calculation makes more sense, because realistically if your husband works 60-70 hours a week, your working life would probably have you home 20-30 hours more than him which makes you a parent.

  • Ann

    There are people who care for children while parents are at work, cook meals, clean and run errands. They are called nannies and housekeepers. They don’t make six figures. Frequently they are among the lowest paid workers in America. Trained and highly skilled nannies don’t make six figures.

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