If I Were Paid For My Homemaking Abilities, I'd Be BrokeJoslyn Gray
Investopedia is reporting that it would cost nearly $100,000 annually to pay for all the services a homemaker provides. The economists say they calculated only those tasks that have monetary value (because my love and nagging are priceless, obviously) and used the lowest value for each calculation.
Private Chef, House Cleaner, Child Care, Personal Driver, Laundry Service, and Lawn Maintenance were included in the tally, bringing the grand total to $96,261 per year. It was noted that Lawn Maintenance was a “less common, but possible duty of a homemaker.”
As Strollerderby reported last May, Salary.com offers a calculator that lets you determine the worth of a homemaker, based on the number of children and your region of the United States. Using that calculator, my annual worth as a Philadelphia-area stay-at-home mom of four kids is a whopping $122,011.
On the one hand, this is important information because it’s important to value the contributions of stay-at-home moms, and because stay-at-home moms need life insurance, too. If I get run over by a bus tomorrow, my husband is certainly going to have to pay for child care, both before and after school.
On the other hand, this information is totally bogus. First of all, it apparently assumes that the working spouse does none of the housework or childcare during his or her off-hours, which seems a little 1957 called and they said even Ward Cleaver washed the dishes. Also, some of these things? I don’t even do. Or I don’t do them very well. And Investopedia totally missed some of the most important parts of my job.
I don’t mean to downplay my value as a stay-at-home mom. It’s both the most challenging, and the most rewarding job I’ve ever had, and I feel incredibly fortunate that we’re able to make it work. (I also work part-time from home.) But I don’t ascribe to the myth that as a stay-at-home mom, I’m supposed to be doing a perfect job of keeping our home House Beautiful-perfect, either.
Starting with Investopedia’s original total of $96,261, I figure my marketable homemaking skills are actually worth $57,761 plus a few popsicles. Here are 10 ways my job performance differs from Investopedia’s summary:
1. I am not a “Private Chef.” 1 of 10I hate cooking, and I suck at it. There is no way my burnt fish sticks are the equivalent of a "private chef." Also, I'm willing to bet that if a kid says "I don't like this" to a Private Chef, the chef doesn't snarl, "too bad, it's what's for dinner." Most importantly, my husband does about half the cooking, so I'm pretty sure if I keel over, he'll be able to continue ensuring that our kids eat. His famous "hot dogs on buns" are not exactly Top Chef, but whatever. Deduct: $52,260
(Photo Credit: africa. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
2. What the hell is the hypotenuse, again? 2 of 10I'll be the first one to admit that I am not smarter than a fifth grader. Especially when that fifth grader is in the advanced math class. Regardless, a large portion of my late afternoon is spent helping my four kids with their homework. Again, we probably can't calculate my value in this as the price you'd pay for a real tutor (about $45 an hour in my area) because I suck at this. What would we pay the sixth-grader next door? A popsicle? Yes, I'm worth a popsicle in this department. Next summer I'm going to get one of those "summer bridge" workbooks so I can get a jump on Middle School. Maybe then my rate will go up to two popsicles. Add: one generic popsicle per day.
(Photo Credit: nuchylee. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
3. Housecleaner: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 3 of 10If we were paying someone to make the house look like this, we'd really need to fire that person's ass. My house is a constant wreck that is only cleaned up for company and birthday parties. Deduct: $6,136
(Photo Credit: scottchan. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
4. Magical Finder of Lost Crap 4 of 10As I noted a couple weeks ago, my family suffers from a tragic genetic disorder rendering them unable to find things that are plainly in front of their faces. Papers that are in their bookbags, milk that is in the fridge, socks that are OH MY GOD THEY'RE ON YOUR FEET. HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THEM? Unfortunately, while this skill is essential to my family, you really can't put a price tag on it. Add: $0, but note that my kid has her homework to turn in, milk to drink, and socks. On her feet.
(Photo Credit: photostock. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
5. Personal Driver: Are your legs broken? 5 of 10Yes, I drive my kids to appointments, and often to school. But for the most part? Their legs are not broken and HAVE YOU SEEN THE PRICE OF GAS? We live in a town that has sidewalks, crossing guards, and tons of friends within walking distance. My ten-year-olds are plenty responsible enough to walk to school, or to a friend's house. They don't even (gasp!) have a cell phone to help them navigate the six blocks to school. The horror…the horror. The funny thing is that my kids love to walk; amazingly, children naturally enjoy both exercise and independence. Go figure. Investopedia's survey includes "unlimited, round-trip service, 365 days a year." Uhh, no. Deduct: $4,168.
(Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
6. Laundry: Its “Clean-ish” 6 of 10My son is totally wearing yesterday's socks to school today. I know, it's terrible. Other than that, all four kids are wearing clean underpants, clean shirts, and clean pants to school, but only because I ran a load of wash at 4:30 this morning. I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry and somehow can never get on top of it. To anyone who can't figure out how a stay-at-home mom can't get the laundry done, I have four words: I don't know either. I suspect it has something to do with having a family of six, the fact that sometimes people wet their beds, and also the fact that my children have this weird tendency to squirrel away their dirty clothes in the corners of their room instead of in the hampers. I can't wash it if I can't find it, people. Regardless, I can't imagine anyone paying me for the totally half-assed job I do with our laundry. Deduct: $936
(Photo Credit: ningmilo. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
7. Special Education Advocate / Insurance Wrangler 7 of 10The main area this survey misses for our family is my role as Special Education Advocate and Insurance Wrangler. There are weeks in which I spend hours on the phone, in meetings, and sending emails about my kids' educational and medical needs. These are very specialized, important jobs that require tact, extensive legal knowledge, and the willingness to be up people's asses on a constant basis. Hourly rate of an Education Advocate in my area: $100-$400. Hourly rate for a lawyer to navigate either the special education system or the seething, nightmarish morass of medical insurance red tape: $250-$500. This is one area where, ten years into the game, I bet I have very marketable skills. Add: $20,000.
(Photo Credit: Ambro. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
8. Lawn Maintenance: Sort of. 8 of 10My husband and I share the yard work responsibilities pretty evenly, so you can probably knock off $750 right there. Also, we are exactly the kind of cruel, heartless parents that expect all four of our kids to participate in things like raking the leaves. So you can take off another $100 in child labor costs. Deduct: $850
(Photo Credit: nuttakit. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
9. Child Care: Good luck with that. 9 of 10Our youngest child has autism, so finding appropriate child care for him would be a major challenge. For one thing, despite the fact that he's in Kindergarten and approaching age six, he's not fully potty-trained. Most daycare facilities won't touch that situation with a ten-foot pole. Meanwhile, another one of our kids has pretty significant ADHD, and by the time 4:00 rolls around, her medication has worn the hell off. So, yeah, we'd need a nanny. A good one. Not a random high school kid from down the street. Investopedia quotes an average annual salary of $31,200 for a nanny. Add: at least another $5,000 to find someone willing and trained to work with special needs kids.
(Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
10. Don’t forget depreciation. 10 of 10Is there some way we can calculate the damage motherhood has caused to my body? Probably not, as it's not like I had some career as a lingerie model before I had my kids. How about the damage to my sanity? The brain cells I seem to have lost with each pregnancy have not come back, y'all. Deduct: perky boobs, brain cells, ability to remember why I went upstairs.</b?
(Photo Credit: Michal Marcol. Additional Nonsense: Joslyn Gray)
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