News Flash: Taking Care of Kids is Real Work!

Fabulous facts released yesterday, just in time for Mother's Day: A full-time stay-at-home mother would earn $134,121 a year if paid for all her work, according to a study released Wednesday by Waltham, Mass.-based compensation experts Salary.com. The amount is similar to that earned by top U.S. ad executives, marketing directors or judges, according to a Reuters story on the study.

A mother who works outside the home would earn an extra $85,876 annually on top of her actual wages for the work she does at home, the study says. The calculations are based on the hourly wages of a mix of jobs, including housekeeper, day-care teacher, cook, computer whiz, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive and psychologist. As all of us very tired moms/psychologists/janitors know, our work is far more than a full-time job, and overtime is the killer: The average stay-at-home mom reports working almost 92 hours per week, earning $88,424 (or 66% of our hypothetical pay) from overtime. Employed mothers reported spending on average 44 hours per week at their outside job and then another 49.8 hours at their home job. Nice to know that we've earned our collective exhaustion.

To compile its study, Salary.com surveyed about 400 mothers online over the past two months. If you'd like to know more about the study and Salary.com's thinking behind putting numerical values on mom's work, you can ask Bill Coleman, the company's senior vice president of compensation, directly. He'll be on washingtonpost.com for a live chat to answer your questions at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Salary.com also offers a tool where you, too, can calculate what you should be paid, based on how many children you have, where you live and the tasks you perform throughout the week. The site will produce a printable document that looks like a paycheck. You can't take it to the bank, but at least you can post it on your refrigerator, or pin it to your shirt the next time you head out to face strangers who ask "So, do you work?"

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 4, 2006; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  Research
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This is the dumbest thing I have seen in a while. What a load of crap. I work full time. Supposedly that makes my home duties worth $85,876. A SAHM is supposedly worth $134,121. The difference is $48,245.
With two chldren, my daycare costs are high, but no where near $48K. Even if I had hired a cleaning service (which I don't, and somehow my house is as clean as most SAHMs), and considered the cost of my commute, it still would not approach $48K.
These reports totally make my blood boil. They are like all those 'calculators' I have seen that try and 'prove' that a second income isn't worth having. Yet they never consider time earned towards a pension, opportunity costs, or raises and promotions into the equation. They also don't capture the true cost of being at home (since most mothers I know that do not work do not spend all of their time at home. I know more than one woman who found their maternity leave to be very expensive. They had more time to spend money).
These types of articles are an insult to the intelligence of all women - whether they work or not.

Posted by: wls | May 4, 2006 7:17 AM

Why such gall from the previous commentator?! I think it is just such as it is stated.I like the article and I like the issues that you take up, Leslie. And going back to the article in question, maybe even more in real money terms. I have been a mother for a quarter of a century so far and know it is so. I have worked outside and inside home and house while the children where taken care by the au pairs. One thing is certain and it is that it is HARDER to work fulltime at home than at 'work' outside it. One must have the strength, both inner and physical to make it. Keep writing.

Posted by: RhW | May 4, 2006 7:35 AM

No one is disputing whether it is hard to be a parent. But this study is crap. They include over $30 in the final figure due to the mother's role as a CEO. Last I knew, CEO's were not in charge of only 4 people (typical sized family). Laundry machine operator? Why is the figure higher for SAHMs than working moms? Does the laundry magically go away somehow if you work? Seems to me that on weekday when I work, I wear two sets of clothes. I have less laundry on the weekend, when I can wear the same thing all day.

Posted by: wls | May 4, 2006 7:55 AM

Mothering is work, but no one will ever be monetarily paid for it, regardless of what a study says the job is worth.

Posted by: KS | May 4, 2006 8:14 AM

I agree that this study is offensive. Both because it will cause a fight on this board and because it's silly. I'm not saying that I am super mom, far from it. Who is anyway?

My husband is the cleaner in the house, but I work, cook, read stories, play, run errands, etc, etc. And I think that I work just as hard as any SAHM out there. Am I saying I work harder than they do, not at all, but society shouldn't imply that they work harder than I do either.

Posted by: Scarry | May 4, 2006 8:16 AM

Wow-- what for all intents and purposes looks like a serious article about what, as far as I can tell, seems to be a tongue-in-cheek report for mother's day conducted purely for publicity purposes. Here I was thinking that the Washington Post was a little more newsy than that. But maybe I'm just missing the humor.
In the interest of full disclosure, in addition to being a mother, I am also a psychologist, so the study managed to demean what I do both at home and work.
The work mothers do is obviously 'worth' an immense amount. If the only way we can understand that is on monetary terms, well, we are in a pretty sad state.
And if this report seems serious to you, umm, take a closer look. Laundry machine operator? Computer operator? CEO? Does that mean mothers with dogs are veterinarians too? How come that's not on there? And in the suburbs, how about landscape artist?-- oh wait, I forgot that we have to be sexist in this forum.
Last time I checked, you wouldn't get very far as a human being if you weren't able to carry out the kind of work they're talking about. And no one as far as I know is getting paid to be human, mothers or no. Salary.com produced a harmless, farcical study to applaud mothers on mothers day, a completely benign p.r. move, in my opinion. Leslie tried to makes it sound like serious sociology, as if it raised some controversial issue. Gotta love her.

Posted by: priceless mom | May 4, 2006 8:18 AM

I just used the Mom calculator for myself to get a judge of what I should be earning as a working dad. I did the best I could as there weren't categories for CFO, Landscaper, Carpenter, Plumber, Home Security, Mechanic and Sports coach. But apparently I would earn over $130k on top of my current work salary. However I would trade my salary, plus this theoretical bonus to be able to spend every day on my terms, with my son, enjoying my life versus devoting 40 hours a week doing work for a company that makes millions while I make just enough to pay my mortgage and bills, and then I get to divide my evenings and weekends between doing chores and spending time with my family. I don't like the notion that stay at home moms are worth a certain theoretical amount of money, they are fully compensated with their freedom.

Posted by: Matt | May 4, 2006 8:29 AM

Let's face it, no one gets paid to be born and no one gets paid to bear a child. So what's the good of this study? It's just PR and is trying to stir up the SAHM/WM and the mom/non-mom fueds. Doesn't this study just make moms feel even more taken advantage of becuase they see how much they are being jipped for all of the work they do? We don't need studies like this to keep dividing women. Let's just ignore this study when it comes out next year...

Posted by: not this again... | May 4, 2006 8:34 AM

>>And no one as far as I know is getting paid to be human, mothers or no.>>

Thanks, Priceless. These "studies" kind of annoy me too, at least to the extent anyone takes them seriously (or worse, if someone uses them to argue that it's not worth it for women to work outside the home...as if we would actually pay other people to do all of these things). Whether or not I had kids (or a husband), I would still clean the house, shop, do laundry, mow the lawn, etc. But was "night nurse" one of the things they included? Because that is unique to motherhood, and something I wish I could pay someone else to do!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 8:41 AM

A stay at home mom isn't even worth half of $134,121. This has to be the sillyest thing I have ever heard.

Posted by: Jay | May 4, 2006 8:47 AM

I liked wls' initial comments.

Honestly, I think the real problem is that these calculators focus on the supposed financial worth of the mom. The real individual calculation every mom makes is what is opportunity cost of staying home? How much in wages are they giving up, how much in retirement, is quality childcare too costly, etc. There are militant stay-at-home moms who believe that noone can take better care of her child than herself, so no outside wage nor cheapest quality daycare will be good enough for her. (And the worst of them selfishly impose their immutable views on everyone else.)

But for many moms, the equation is more complicated than that, it includes what the household expenses are, what kind of neighborhood the family ought to be raised in, and what kind of daycare is available at what price. The answer might be staying at home, or working part time, or working full time.

Posted by: Ruth | May 4, 2006 8:48 AM

You mean I could make that much money if I was a SAHM?? (That's twice what I make as a lowly non-mom!) Here's what I'd do if that were true. First, I'd quit my job and have a ton of kids. Then I'd pack em up, ship em off to school or day care and invite all of the neighbor ladies over for daily martini parties. We'd watch the daily talk shows, get manicures, work on our tans and find time to blog of course. Then when the kids got home, I would delegate. One starts on laundry and the other breaks out the swiffer.....I guess I'll make dinner though.

Posted by: "Father of 4" fan club member | May 4, 2006 8:55 AM

Mother's Day Again? Does that mean that I have to buy my wife another stupid gift and Hallmark card for her to feel appreciated? After all, I've already given her 4 of the best gifts she'll ever have in her life. According to the survey, that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in pure, unadalterated, selfless child-rearing satisfaction. The flowers make the cats barf, and besides, I've got my own Mother to worry about.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 4, 2006 9:04 AM

Aren't we always saying that society needs to respect motherhood more, to recognize all of the work and sacrifice it takes? I think the purpose of this "study" is to point out the contributions of mothers, something positive. Maybe for 5 minutes my husband stopped to think about all of my contributions to the household. Why is that such a bad thing? Of course I can't collect monetary pay for my work, but couldn't we all use more positive affirmation for all the work we do?

Posted by: LT | May 4, 2006 9:06 AM

Even if one wanted to accept the validity of the study (and that's certainly questionable; 400 mothers surveyed online--yeah, that's generalizable), what's the point? What are we supposed to do with this information? Should all SAHs "earn" this? And exactly where would that money come from? The study just seems kind of pointless.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 4, 2006 9:08 AM

If men had been doing housework all along (starting centuries ago, I mean) all these chores would have been remunerated. Let's face it, most of us have a problem with it because traditionally women have done it.

Let's not forget that jobs such as teaching, nursing, etc.. have always been paid low. Why? Because women were always the ones who did them.

Posted by: washington DC | May 4, 2006 9:21 AM

commentator Matt should look for a different type of work that would allow him greater freedom.

Posted by: em | May 4, 2006 9:30 AM

I do 90% of the meal planning, grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, and driving in my house in addition to holding down a full time job, going to school, and managing the multi-million dollar renovation of our apartment building. I also bathe and put our 13 month old to bed almost every night, how does all of that figure into your numbers?

Articles like these are insulting to men who do their fair share in the home. The underlying premise of these figures is that the man of the house does *nothing* other than go to work and sit on the couch.

This kind of lazy, quasi-intellectual sophistry is *exactly* why so many of women's legitimate complaints go unheeded; there's no way to seperate this type of nonsense from the real issues out there.

Posted by: Angry Dad | May 4, 2006 9:41 AM

What's everyone up in arms about? Of course the study doesn't represent economic reality - that's not the point. It's a fun way to highlight the value of something that's all too often taken for granted.

There's no sense in getting defensive because the exercise produced a number that's higher than my current salary - the authors of the study are not trying to say that stay-at-home moms are better or more valuable people than the rest of us (they just want to remind us that what SAHMs do is very valuable). That would be as dumb as my listening to the Mother's Day sermon at church and getting offended when the preacher says (as they invariably do) that "there's nothing in the world so precious as a mom" because I'm a dad (all I need to do is wait until Father's Day for him to say nice things about dads).

Posted by: Why the Fuss? | May 4, 2006 9:49 AM

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime. Most mothers become mothers voluntarily. Nobody holds a gun to their head and forces it on them, unless there are cases of marital rape but that's another legal issue.

Anyway -- 'studies' like these are a load of crap, shoved down our throats by women who realize they made the wrong choices in their lives.

Posted by: BB | May 4, 2006 10:13 AM

I'm with "Why the Fuss?". As I understood it, the figures Leslie cites were simply meant to show that if all the work that mothers do had to be purchased at market rates, the price would be very high. Their work is "worth something" in one of the most important ways that our society typically assigns worth. Of course, it's worth something in other ways too--emotional, psychological--but there's no doubt that mothers, and fathers too, contribute lots of "uncompensated" labor.

WOHMs shouldn't be offended because the value assigned to their "mothering" is less. It simply means that they're spending less time on some aspects of childcare and household management. They should, instead, be impressed w/ themselves because they are "earning" two-thirds of what a SAHM earns IN ADDITION TO their paid work.

Don't work so hard at being offended! Instead, enjoy the acknowledgment of all the "value" you are contributing. And, dads, don't feel left out. As "Why the Fuss?" says, Father's Day is coming.

Posted by: THS | May 4, 2006 10:14 AM

"Let's not forget that jobs such as teaching, nursing, etc.. have always been paid low. Why? Because women were always the ones who did them."

This is untrue. Teaching, up until the mid-nineteenth century, was almost always a (poorly paid) man's job. Administrative work, up until World War II, was performed by men.

It is true that nursing has always been performed mainly by women; however, the comparatively low salary (as opposed to a physician's salary) has more to do with the fact that, stacked up against a doctor's work, nursing was historically much more about caretaking and much less about an acquired technical skill set. Western culture does not assign a high economic value to caretaking; the fact that nursing salaries have risen over the past few decades has more to do with the increased technical demands of the job and practically nothing to do with nursing being "valued" in a different way.

Veterinary care is a profession which is starting to experience an interesting caretaking/non-caretaking split. More women are becoming general veterinarians, and the income for general vets is no longer rising the way it was. Simultaneously, veterinary specialties (surgery, orthopedics, et al) are starting to emerge as highly-paid alternatives to general vet work. The skill set for these specialties is more difficult and takes longer to acquire than the skill set to be a general vet, and it's mostly men who are becoming specialized vets (obviously, because few women choose to specialize, not because they're not bright enough). The divergence in salaries has nothing to do with the fact that women are becoming general vets in disproportionate numbers and everything to do with the fact that, compared to specialized vet care, general vet care has become more caretaking-based.

Posted by: Lizzie | May 4, 2006 10:15 AM

Oh, and to Jay, who said, "A stay at home mom isn't even worth half of $134,121," just want to say that I'm real glad I'm not married to you.

Posted by: THS | May 4, 2006 10:15 AM

It's amazing that when the study showed women received only 77% of what guys make it was a great study and proves there is gross discrimination in the work place. Now a study that shows what a SAHM would make if they were given pay similar to other professionals in the work force is a silly study based on false premises. I personally think both are not worth their weight in terms of honest accounting. However, I think it's rather ironic so many are incensed at this study.

Posted by: Numbers Guy | May 4, 2006 10:20 AM

Why do stay-at-home moms need to try and justify remaining at home by calculating a "salary" from themselves?

How can you include a salary on the basis that mothers are a psychologist? Do they have any formal training, a higher education in such a field? That's got to dock some salary right there.

Secondly, mothers are mothers 24/7. How can you even attempt to put an hourly wage on that?

Posted by: ab | May 4, 2006 10:24 AM

Some things one does for love, some things one does for money. Trying to compare the two...it's apples & oranges.

Posted by: Registered Voter | May 4, 2006 10:41 AM

I think Matt should try spending a week full time with a 1 year old and see how "free" he feels. Having been a full time mom for 15 months and now being back at full time work, I'd say it's a toss-up as to which is either easier or more free. As a full time mom, there were great moments of hanging out in the park, things like that that did indeed feel very free. But there were also a lot of times of not being able to get anything I wanted/needed to get done because my child was sick, cranky, hungry, tired freaking out about something or whatever. Now, my days are spent basically doing somebody else's bidding, but I can eat, go to the bathroom, read my email, check the news and many other things when I feel like it, not just when I can escape from my son for minute. Both roles have their ups and downs. Incidentally, my husband, now at home full time, insists being home is much harder than being at work, but the grass is always greener... And I think that's the point of the "study," which I agree isn't particularly sound methodologically. What a parent does at home is a lot of work, and sometimes those of us who have outside jobs forget that.

Posted by: Megan | May 4, 2006 10:45 AM

If you really want to know the market value for raising a kid. Hmmm... Let's see. The last divorce case I know of that involved children awarded the ex $600 a month for child support. Now for my wife and 4 kids, if she wanted to go that route like other Mothers I know, would add up to over 2,400 a month; times 12, equals roughly $50, 000 a year. Of coarse, she would have to hire a good lawyer, and there's nothing wrong with hiring a good lawyer, if one exists. But my wife doesn't make enough money for that, so it looks like she's stuck, only because she's a female, in The laborious, severely underpaid unappreciated profession as a Mother.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 4, 2006 10:55 AM

What's the difference between a janitor and a housekeeper? Do housekeepers not do laundry? And in what way exactly is motherhood comparable to being a CEO, by far the highest-paid category in this "study"?

Lame.

Posted by: Washington | May 4, 2006 11:09 AM

I'm with you, Matt! SAHM's need to be respected for their choice (my wife included), but involved Dads should get their props, too. And, Megan, I'd rather spend a week with my 5-year-old than a day with alleged adults who act like five-year-olds. And you know why these colleagues act that way? Often, it's because they weren't taught well at home!

Trying to put a monetary value on parenting misses the point of parenting altogether. It isn't just a job; parenting is about training and teaching and nurturing a human being. No price can really be placed on that. If more parents focused on the person rather than the work, a lot less of us would be screwed-up for life.

Posted by: Briana's Dad | May 4, 2006 11:14 AM

"WOHMs shouldn't be offended because the value assigned to their "mothering" is less"

Yeah, it's always nice to know that people value your mothering less. Don't be offended "part time mothers" "full time workers"

SAHM's don't be offended either when people value your skills and work ethic less than working mothers either. Not to mention all the free time you get to do nothing, i mean mothering.

Group huge everyone!

Posted by: no offense | May 4, 2006 11:16 AM

Yes, $30k from being a CEO and that includes *overtime* on the $169/hour rate? I don't think so. In fact, $88k from overtime is a joke. Most of the high hourly rates listed would not receive overtime.

Why is it so hard to just value a job as mom? It's an important job whether you work outside the home or not. Why all these ridiculous "studies"?

Posted by: lr | May 4, 2006 11:21 AM

Oh please! People don't have kids because they HAVE to, they do it because they WANT to, because it makes them happy. I work because I have to. There is a big difference.

SAHMs are their own boss, they get to do things their own way, on their own schedule. They can't be fired or downsized. They have kids and stay at home with them because they CAN. Because their husbands make enough that they can afford it. (Most don't have that "luxury" - yes being a SAHM is a LUXURY!)

Personally, staying at home with a kid all day, cleaning and cooking and doing laundry sounds like a vacation to me.

Even though I work all day, I still have to cook, clean and do laundry when I get home. It doesn't magically get done by some fairy while I am off doing real work. So I am sick of hearing SAHMs whining about how they are so special and so unappreciated and how it's the hardest job in the world! It's all total BS. They're doing things that would have to be done anyway, so shut up and stop whining. And if you don't like it, you shouldn't have made the choice to have the kids in the first place.

Posted by: BLN | May 4, 2006 11:27 AM

Technically shouldn't WOHMs be receiving overtime rates on any and all housework in this study? They're already putting in their 40+ hours in their "real job."

Posted by: Washington | May 4, 2006 11:28 AM

Amen, BLN. Took the words right outta my mouth.

Posted by: Tough Lover | May 4, 2006 11:29 AM

I agree a "study" to quantify the payroll for mothers is kind of silly, but I think the message is important and I am glad they put it out there. I work part time so I am on both sides in any given week. I'll be at lunch with coworkers who see moms with strollers and say "must be nice to go stolling at the park whenever you want." Telling them "hey - it's hard work" really doesn't do it. Society today values people by their net worth, right? So give mothers (and fathers) some net worth.

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 11:30 AM

"SAHMs are their own boss, they get to do things their own way, on their own schedule."

Ha ha!! Have you ever had a kid?? I've never had a boss as tough as my 3 year old. Does your boss call you crying every two hours at night? Does your boss have an "accident" while you're in the grocery store?? When is the last time your boss spilled a box of Cheerios all over the floor when you are on your way out the door to an appointment?

No offense, really. Thanks so much for the laugh :-)

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 11:36 AM

"Personally, staying at home with a kid all day, cleaning and cooking and doing laundry sounds like a vacation to me."

"Sounds like" being the key words there. If you haven't done it, you don't know what it's like. I don't think that stay at home moms (generally speaking, I know some who do) want to be special and appreciated more than anyone else, but comments like this make it clear that a lot of people like BLN here think there's nothing to it. Yes, it's a choice, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a tough and exhausting role for any person, male or female.

I thought Briana's Dad made an excellent point. It's something that's fundamentally different than regular jobs, and so trying to either dismiss it as vacation or hold it up as the hardest job of all time both miss the mark.

Posted by: Megan | May 4, 2006 11:44 AM

""Sounds like" being the key words there. If you haven't done it, you don't know what it's like."

Except she does. Every WOHM calls that "the weekend."

Posted by: Washington | May 4, 2006 11:47 AM

Way to go, Megan, with your point about Matt actually doing some infant care before criticizing moms...I am constantly amazed by men who say "women should stay home with kids" when they have never done so themselves, and have no idea what they are talking about.

Also bravo to the poster who pointed out that "night nurse" should be included in the salary mix. The hilarious book White House Nannies tells all about how much one of those night nurses or 24/7 nannies cost -- they get paid over $200,000 on an annual basis. Forget about CEO -- put one of those costly professional baby nurses in there and the numbers will skyrocket.

I'm surprised by so many negative reactions to this survey -- which was splashed all over national radio, tv and newspapers yesterday. This is a big story because women want to -- and deserve to --have our worth as mothers quantified in dollar terms. Like it or not, money is how we measure humans' value in this country. So thank you, Salary.com, for at least attempting to give moms our due in dollars.

And for all you number crunchers who question the survey's validity, why don't you come to the 1 pm online chat with Salary.com's Bill Coleman today, and ask him?

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 4, 2006 11:49 AM

Weekends, of course, being different because there are TWO parents home, not just one. Like I said before, I've done both, I'm currently a WOHM, and they're both hard in different ways. Being dismissive of either role, to my mind, belays ignorance as to what's involved.

Posted by: Megan | May 4, 2006 11:52 AM

For FS Mom: Who is the parent here? You let a 3-year-old push you around? Sounds like you've been lax in your parental duties right off the bat.

I'm reminded of the mother of a screaming, running loose toddler on a plane I was on recently. The stewardess told the mother to get him seated and strapped in because we were preparing to land. The mother merely said "I'm trying, but he won't let me." Sounds like the world is being run by infants and toddlers, not adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:04 PM

Cancel this blog. It's flame bait.

There is a real concern about bogus numbers like these which can be used in divorce cases to extort more money from men.

There is NOTHING funny about those cases. At least not from the man's perspective. So we should not be throwing obviously funny numbers like this around when they can be easily misused.

Posted by: stupidisas | May 4, 2006 12:08 PM

What a .... JOKE.

I think this woman is a nut job. Just look at her photo. It looks like she enjoys posting crazy crapola and watching us fight about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:09 PM

Good way to sell more of those books leslie. I don't have kids yet, and it may be the hardest job on earth when I do. My husband is wonderful and we are already go through life together, as a team, and that includes when the children come along. But this business about how being a SAHM is harder than being out in the workforce is crap. You're raising your OWN children, and it IS a privilage (unless you are being forced to) to stay at home and be with your kids. I work for for someone else. And I work hard, but I don't go home with them at night or get the satisfaction of treasuring the milestones, it's a job. I just don't understand the complaints. Unless you have a crappy husband that won't do his fair share!

Posted by: K | May 4, 2006 12:09 PM

I, too, am surprised by the ire expressed here. I saw the articles on this survey, and dismissed the whole thing as somewhat fluffy. It never even occurred to me to be annoyed or offended by any of it. All I'll admit to is a twinge of surprise at how much time the survey says SAHMs spend on housekeeping (20 some-odd hours a week). Honestly, it's a big deal if I put in seven. On the other hand, I spend a good five-six hours a day on concentrated, one-on-one playtime with the kidlet. That was the whole point in my staying home.

In all honesty, I have to admit that being a SAHM is easier for me (and I speak only for me) than working for income was. Sure, they are moments when I contemplate finding a roaming band of gypsies to whom I could sell the kid (these usually come at four in the morning, when she's been up every two hours at night for the past week). But overall, I'm less stressed, I have time to keep a nice house, cook healthy meals, and, best of all, to spend hours a day hanging out with my daughter. I simply don't feel the need to put a monetary value on that.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 4, 2006 12:13 PM

Anonymous, give FS Mom a break. What she described is normal toddler behavior, and not, as you seem to imply, a result of "bad parenting".

I am a working mother myself, but I am just AMAZED at the level of hostility towards SAHMs in this blog today. Why are people so quick to say that their contributions don't matter? What possible benefit could anyone get out of making someone else feel bad? How pathetic. Yes, it was their own decision not to work, yes, it takes a certain level of financial security to be able to afford it, but SO WHAT??

Posted by: vj | May 4, 2006 12:14 PM

Megan and Leslie, please don't dismiss my post as one of ignorance on having an infant. I have a 4 year old (had him since he as an infant) and I've very much spent time raising him. My post was a reflection of how much more I enjoy taking time off and spending it at home "at his bidding" then going to work. When I take a week off and spend the time coloring, going to the park, working on our manners, reading books, taking baths, etc (which incidentally I do every night and weekend like all fathers that i know) it is extremely hard to get back into my car and commute to work again. All the responsiblity of being a parent is mine, to take on as I see fit and it is mine to find enjoyment in. A job is not mine and no matter what I do there I am at the mercy of an employer. I was laid off a month ago and if my wife wasn't already working part time I would have stayed home in a heartbeat. Instead I had to suck it up and find another job and go back to work. Working is a responsibility, parenting is an enjoyment, if you think otherwise you are doing something wrong as a parent.

Posted by: Matt | May 4, 2006 12:15 PM

Actually, my 3 year old is pretty well behaved. But EVERY infant wakes up during the night (at first). MANY toddlers have accidents (often in the most inconvenient places). And I don't think there is a single parent of small children out there who hasn't had their child spill something. The assumption you make, anonymous poster, is exactly the kind of thought process that demeans the challenging work of parenting. Nice try, though.

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 12:17 PM

Is this mean, using an economic analysis, if your salary is less than $134,121, you should not work and stay home? I would like to which organization did this study. because they do not have a good analytical understanding of cost and benefit analysis. This supposely an "empirical" founding may be encouraging message to stay-home moms but I don't think it reflects the real data.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:20 PM

"Like it or not, money is how we measure humans' value in this country." --LMS

Well, maybe in your world. I personally probably would have decided against children if I measured the value of humans by how much money they earned, but maybe that's just me. And I certainly didn't choose my husband based on that, and I don't define myself based on that, but again, maybe that's just me.

And an on-line survey is not sociology, in any way. I don't need a discussion with the 'researcher' who did it to know that. Surveys simply can't be conducted in any scientific way on-line.

The 'study' *is* harmless, a happy little message for mother's on mother's day, and an attempt to say how much they matter to us-- a clumsy metaphor, in my opinion, but it's at least as good as a hallmark card, absolutely. Defining the value of people based on how much they make is, well, not so harmless. It's the kind of thinking that got us into this whole debate about the importance of mothers in the first place, if you think about it. Valuing mothers who don't work less simply because they don't get a salary is insane-- but saying how much their work is 'worth' in terms of money does nothing to solve the underlying problem. If the survey was just in fun, fine, though some of the posters here are pointing out that perpetuating that thinking, even if just in fun, may not be helpful. Apparently, that is pretty much right over Leslie's head, though. The fact that you really do take what is so obviously a pr stunt as serious research, as confirmed by your latest post, is kind of beyond me.

Posted by: Priceless Mom | May 4, 2006 12:20 PM

VJ --

Speaking for myself only, the study seems to be undervaluing the mothering of WOHMs by saying their household contributions are worth less than a SAHM's, simply because they don't have all day to do them.

Not that any of it matters. At the end of the day, these imaginary figures are just Monopoly money.

Posted by: Anon | May 4, 2006 12:21 PM

To ANGRY DAD! That's just great that you do all of that but you know what? You are in the very small minority of men who truly help out at home. The Today Show once had a world renowed Pediatrician on their show and HE said that woman as a rule do most of the work as far as raising children. You are in probably 1% of fathers. Believe me!

Posted by: Nancy from Alexandria | May 4, 2006 12:26 PM

I am a woman, and my husband does a great deal. As a stepmom actually, I often find that I am more in the supporting role to him. In my generation, the roles are blending, and thats a great thing.

Dads out there- you are appreciated for all that you do! I see plenty of SAHDs dropping their kid off at school, dad's on field trips, dads as president of ptas, dads making lunches, dads going to the doctors....

Sorry women, I'm one of us, but its not ALL ABOUT MOMS.

And the salary study? I would argue that the worth of a SAHD / SAHM is immeasurable, but so what if you SHOULD be making X amount of dollars. You're not. Move on with your life and feel good that you made the right choice for your individual situation. Shouldn't that be enough?

Posted by: Dads exist too! (from a woman) | May 4, 2006 12:26 PM

As a proud and happy SAHM, I always cringe when a SAHM claims that her job titles include "accountant, psychologist, chauffeur, etc." because it's insulting to actual accountants, psychologists, chauffeurs, etc., with years of training and experience. Stuff like this doesn't make me feel appreciated; rather, it smacks of pandering and condescension. When I worked full-time, I never said I also held these other jobs just because I balanced my checkbook, tried to understand and support my friends and family, and drove a car. As other posters have said, it's only some SAHMs who seem to want to get special credit for the same mechanics of daily living that we all deal with. Taking care of kids and a household full-time IS a very demanding and valuable and, ideally, rewarding and wonderful job, especially if you do a really good job of it, but it is, above all, an utterly unique job. It can't be assessed by breaking it up into and valuing consituent parts of it. SAHMs deserve to have their essential and hard work recognized and appreciated, but I think when that does come, it will have to be on its own terms, not just by piggybacking onto the respect other jobs deserve.

Posted by: SAHM, no more, no less | May 4, 2006 12:28 PM

"...You are in probably 1% of fathers. Believe me!"

Maybe you need to expand your circle of friends...I know a significant amount of fathers that participate as Angry Dad describes.

Kudos- Angry Dad- we see you out there!

Posted by: To Nancy from Alexandria | May 4, 2006 12:30 PM

Anon, You're right, it does. But frankly, like you said, it's just monopoly money, so why get upset?

I think this whole mommy war idea is just silly, since most parents decide to stay home or not depending on their unique circumstances. If someone wants to adopt a
'holier than thou' attitude about their choice, I read it as meaning they are uncertain if they made the correct choice. It doesn't affect me or my choice at all.

Posted by: vj | May 4, 2006 12:35 PM

Matt, that was a really thoughtful post. It is very true what you say about how hard it is to go to work and miss the time with our children. I feel the same way each Monday. The night before I went back to work for the first time was a very sad moment for me. Parenting is an enjoyment, and as you say, it is also a responsibility, and a big one.

As much as I value and miss being able to hang out with my son, I also remember feeling a longing for adult conversation, exhausted, and pushed to my limits at times. I don't think that's because I'm doing something wrong as a parent; pretty much every parent I've known feels that way at times. Talking about being a stay-at-home parent as a "vacation" (as some have here) ignores the fact that it's still challenging, even if its also rewarding and enjoyable.

Posted by: Megan | May 4, 2006 12:36 PM

I have done not both but all three...

I have been a married working non mom with a slob of a first husband whose gift to humanity was that he breathed. I had lots of OT and still came home to cook, clean, etc. Hey - I was 21 and it was 1968 and who knew??? Still, I was able to carve out some time for myself here and there.

Several years later, I was a SAHM. I started at 0630 and finished around 2030. Same husband, same lack of assistance on any front. I was able to grab an hour in the evening, during which I folded laundry. Not exactly "me" time.

Four years later, I was a divorced, working mom. There were times I worked my full time and another part-time position. And raised my daughter and kept the house clean. Frankly, with no one home during the day, the house stayed clean. Laundrey consumed a good amount of time as we lived in an apartment and had to drive five miles to a laundromat.

YEars and years later, my daughter in NY juggles her daughter (3 yrs.), her part-time job as a school psychologist (she and her husband need that $ to get by), dropping my granddaughter at child care, picking her up, running ordinary errands, taking the child to gymnastics, swimming, library, dance lessons, the zoo, the acquarium, the animal game farm, and you name it.... She barely has time to get laundry done and the house straightened up.
Her husband clears the table after dinner, loads the dishwasher, etc.

I have lived the "three lives" and watch my daughter. There is no need to measure who does more or less. We all are busting our chops. Life since my mother's generation should have it easier and none of us do.

I hope "father of 4" was writing tongue in cheek when he said, "After all, I've already given her 4 of the best gifts she'll ever have in her life," because he didn't "give" her anything.

And be a sport - give a card to the woman who co-created your progeny. You had the easy part in that endeavor...

Posted by: Maine woman | May 4, 2006 12:37 PM

"I hope "father of 4" was writing tongue in cheek when he said, "After all, I've already given her 4 of the best gifts she'll ever have in her life," because he didn't "give" her anything. "

Well, at least 4 DNA samples ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 12:47 PM

No offense, really. Thanks so much for the laugh :-)

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 11:36 AM

I didn't know I said anything funny. Why is it that whe working mothers are made to feel like they are less than a mother compared to stay at home moms that's okay?

But, my goodness don't you dare say anything about those lovely, engaging, angelic, raise the kids of the future stay at home moms!

I guess the bumper sticker "all moms are working moms", is fine, but maybe working moms should make one that ay all "moms are moms!"

Posted by: no offense | May 4, 2006 12:47 PM

Nancy from Alexandria, it would be interesting to know whether you consider lawn/yardcare, automobile maintenance, household repair, financial management and other traditionally "male" household tasks to qualify as "truly help(ing) out at home" ...

My wife and I both took this survey. When I take the hours per week I dedicate to tasks like the above and put them into "Facilities Maintenance" I actually end up "deserving" more $$$ than my wife does!

Posted by: Dad from Herndon | May 4, 2006 12:48 PM

Wow, this flame war's probably going to hit 150+ posts by the time it's done... and yet, all I can wonder about is what kind of flowers Father of 4 is getting to make his cats barf? Have you perhaps considered a lovely Mother's Day cactus instead? (Easy to take care of and should have the effect of scaring the cats away from consuming the greenery) :D

Posted by: CentrevilleMom | May 4, 2006 12:53 PM

"Articles like these are insulting to men who do their fair share in the home. The underlying premise of these figures is that the man of the house does *nothing* other than go to work and sit on the couch."

I agree. Should the SAHM's salary be reduced by the cost that it takes to hire a husband? If we put a cost on phychologist, repairman, yardman, sexman, driver, pest control, escort, massage therapist, role model, etc. The $134K would be reduced by a lot (not to mention taxes)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 1:00 PM

I think that you're finally asking the $64 million question that you've been longing to ask.

Yet trying to figure out how to "couch" it so that it didn't seem so "needy".

You work very hard to maintain your lifestyle and you don't see the direct "feedback" that you want...clearly that is what is driving this series of articles, this column...

I hope that you find some resolution between your effort and your portion of the family income. And, your status in the family hierarchy, and that of your friends and professional and academic peers.

I am reminded of the words of some famous philosopher, I cannot remember who, exactly...but they are something like, "do not talk, do". Live your life and enjoy it. Do not try to attach a value to it, you are just asking for trouble.

Certainly it is good to see *how* to enjoy your life, to discuss ways to do it better...but when you try to attach numbers you are asking for real trouble.

But that's just my $.02

Posted by: cc | May 4, 2006 1:19 PM

Just a simple question: If we are investing these dollars real or otherwise to raise children what is the ROI going to be?

Folks take a look around you are your children the best we have to offer the world?

Like I am not so sure, like it is hard to imagine, like OH MY GOD... NOT

Sorry that was two questions.

Posted by: marko | May 4, 2006 1:21 PM

CC, are you thinking of "Do, or do not. There is no try"? Yes, spoken by a very famous philosopher...

Posted by: Jedi Master Yoda | May 4, 2006 1:31 PM

Leslie says and I quote, "money is how we measure humans' value in this country."

Maybe that's how YOU measure a person's value. Thank you for finally exposing what a vain, shallow, greedy & self centered person you really are...as if it wasn't already apparent.

Gee, I guess if your husband(poor fellow) loses his job, he loses his value to you, eh?

What about the kids, they're nothing but an economic drain, right? Oh, that's right, they're sort of a cost of doing business - necessary trophies - to perpetuate the illusion that you CAN have it all, in your never ending quest to not merely "keep up with the Jonses", but to flaunt how much superior you are - in your own mind - to them.

Pathetic.

Posted by: Registered Voter | May 4, 2006 1:41 PM

Registered Voter,

you seem to know a lot about a person you never even met. Calm down already.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 1:43 PM

I hope I'm not the only guy on this planet that feels really cheap buying my wife flowers, Hallmark card, and stupid gift on Mother's Day. How about I just reafirm my dedication to the vowel I made on the alter, over 15 years ago: Love, Cherish, Honor till death Do Us Part, and get down on my hands and knees, in the dirt, plant the flowers, weed the garden, rally the kids to make the breakfast and clean up the dishes as a token of my appreciation for all the grunt work she does. Even with all the toil and effort, I still need that stupid gift, or she might cry and I'll get cut off till Father's Day. Maybe the cactus idea will change things. or better yet, a new mop bucket and scrub brush, and such I'm such a nice guy, I'll throw in a waffle iron to boot!

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 4, 2006 1:47 PM

Chill out, Registered Voter. What is this study doing but assigning an economic value, debatable though it is, to motherhood? That's not Leslie's invention and your anger is misdirected.

Posted by: Chill pill | May 4, 2006 1:48 PM

...perhaps this is not the appropriate forum for this comment, but women do seem to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to "inflate" the value of their lives (and opinons) by talking.

at least that's what it seems like.

Good grief, you want to know the "fair market value" for your effort as a Mother, hire yourself out on the open market.

Find some unmarried father or set of kids without parents, and work as the mother to these children and do whatever it is that you two will negotiate to do, for whatever wage. You'll find out real quick.

Of course that might not give you the answer that you like.

...On the other hand you could just try to make the best of things in your current marriage with your current husband, and consider yourself unimaginably wealthy...


Posted by: cc | May 4, 2006 1:50 PM

I second, the calm down message.

LMS seemed to be refering to how transactional our lives can be. I am a working mom, my salary is X (paid to me for agreed upon work), my child care is y (paid to my child care provider for providing a service), my morgage is z etc etc.

I took it as this and nothing else.
In my view the survey was meant as a light way to put a stay at home parents contribution into a similar transactional format.

Posted by: UP | May 4, 2006 1:53 PM

...I hear Teri Hatcher wants to get into this discussion.

I'll bet her time is really valuable!

No wonder she is just now considering motherhood...apparently :)

But I don't think that it will be hard for her to find a domestic partner, just one that is worth her time and effort.

...this is beginning to remind me of a Bank of Scotland commercial ;)

Posted by: cc | May 4, 2006 2:16 PM

I read about this "study" several days ago and got hyper very quickly, not because mothers -- stay-at-home or others -- are treated equitably by modern American society, because they are not. However, by managing to calculate such a high value for the work they do, that study trivializes the issue by making both the concept and the study itself appear foolish. The fact that it was picked up so quickly by the Drudge Report confirmed in my mind that at least some were using it for that purpose.

Other developed societies have taken reasonable steps to support families by providing small state subsidies to mothers who leave the work force to have a child and by providing legal rights to those women so they can return to the job they had when they decided to stay at home to raise that child.

Such steps would go much further to demonstrate the value of mothers than did this "study," which proposes a market value for mothers work over twice that of an average worker in this country.

Posted by: father of 3_spouse of 1 | May 4, 2006 2:18 PM

"I hear Teri Hatcher wants to get into this discussion."

She already has a daughter!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 2:19 PM

I'll have to side with Registered Voter -- I work with a lot of people who make tons of money and they are the most dismal examples of human beings. Think Donald Trump with PMS, if that's possible. Look at the miserable refuse heap on Capitol Hill, all full of themselves and hot air.

And Father of 4, if I knew who you were, I'd treat you like a king every day, not just on Father's Day. My Dad was a jewel and my mother treated him like dirt under her feet.

Posted by: BB | May 4, 2006 2:20 PM

Amazing that so much anger is intertwined with how we feel about other people's approaches to motherhood. I saw from my book and myself and all the moms I know that if you are happy with your life, you become far less angry at others and judgmental of their decisions. Do we really care how other people parent? (As long as there is no abuse or neglect.) Or are we just insecure about our own parenting skills -- because practically no one in America is in the business of telling us we are doing a good enough job?

Posted by: Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 4, 2006 2:24 PM

In response to FS Mom, who said:

--"I've never had a boss as tough as my 3 year old. Does your boss call you crying every two hours at night? Does your boss have an "accident" while you're in the grocery store??"...
"And I don't think there is a single parent of small children out there who hasn't had their child spill something. The assumption you make, anonymous poster, is exactly the kind of thought process that demeans the challenging work of parenting."--

Cleaning up spilled Cheerios is "challenging?" Your 3-year-old kid is the toughest boss you've ever had?!?! Big difference, honey: you tell your "boss" NO and punish him if he misbehaves. You are HIS boss (at least that is what a parent should be to a kid). If my boss misbehaves, I have no choice but to take it or quit.

Stop your whining. You CHOSE to procreate, to make you happy, so don't complain. I don't choose to work, I HAVE to work. Big difference. You should consider yourself lucky that you have a husband that makes enough and loves you enough to support your family and allow you to stay home.


In response to vj, who wrote:

"I am a working mother myself, but I am just AMAZED at the level of hostility towards SAHMs in this blog today."

You're surprised that there is hostility that SAHMs are griping and complaining about lack of respect for their Very Hard Challenging Jobs... when that "job" is a luxury and privilege afforded only to the well-off? These people come off as really spoiled when they cry and complain, and of course it creates hostility in people who have to work for a living at REAL jobs, who have a REAL boss. I'd just LOVE to be able to quit my job and stay at home and take care of house and kids, and be supported financially by a man (although I would hate the lack of intellectual stimulation my career offers me).


And another major point that I haven't seen here is that in essence, these SAHMs ARE being compensated (very handsomely too!) Their husbands make money and the wives spend it. They have food to eat, a house to live in, a car to drive, clothes on their backs, etc... that is their compensation! And they think they deserve over $100,000 more on top of that? That is simply preposterious.

Posted by: BLN | May 4, 2006 2:34 PM

The point is not that women SHOULD be paid for taking care of their families; the point is that the work performed by women at home does have economic value. If your wife doesn't do it, and you don't do it, you have to pay someone else to do it. If you had to hire a housecleaner, a laundress, a cook, a driver, and a nanny, plus a household manager to organize everyone, you would sure think of those jobs as having economic value. I think the point of the article is that "women's work" is still work, even though it's often invisible and overlooked. Sometimes a consumerist society equates money with value, so this is just a way of making people remember that household work has value, not only in monetary, but also in social and emotional measurements.

Take a moment to appreciate the work that the mothers and wives in your life do, and appreciate that they do it for free, out of love.

And, geez, lose the anger and the outrage, and maybe get a sense of humor. I thought it was kind of funny that they included CEO and psychologist in the list of jobs whose duties match those of a mother. I bet my mom just gets a big kick out of her "paycheck." Heck, I bet my dad does, too.

Posted by: daughter | May 4, 2006 2:36 PM

Re: Matt's last post

"I was laid off a month ago and if my wife wasn't already working part time I would have stayed home in a heartbeat. Instead I had to suck it up and find another job and go back to work."

To change the course of the discussion a bit - Matt's comment demonstrates why women should quit complaining. They have won the real war. Women get to choose. Stay home, work, part-time, full-time. What about the husbands and dads who don't get the choice? We hear from a few SAHDs but they are definitely in the minority. Any SAHM who won't switch places tomorrow with her husband so he can stay at home with the kids is a hypocrite. Moms are not the only ones who can take care of and raise kids. Dads can too and should have the same choice as moms to stay home and do it if they choose. But, unfortunately, they don't have husbands who will slave away at high paying jobs just to allow them to exercise their choice. The next time your SAHW complains, offer to change places. There are many dads who would want to (and some who wouldn't) but will never get the chance.

By the way, I am a working mom who thinks I've got it pretty good thanks to a wonderful husband, great kids, and a generation of women who fought for my right to choose how to live my life rather than settle for what society thinks I should do.

Posted by: lc | May 4, 2006 2:42 PM

Good for you, BLN! I'm always amazed at the SAHM who are supported by a working husband who pays the bills for the McMansions, the SUVs, the Beamers, the orthodontists, the private school tuition. And yet they complain. Well, boo hoo! We should all have it so good.

As for abuse, I believe it's the abuse from my mother that colored my attitude about mothers in general. She made me what I am today. I'm trying to find a Mother's Day card that says "My therapist thanks you." It should be mass-produced for all the dysfunctional kids being raised by dysfunctional parents, male AND female.

Ever see that cartoon of a meeting of the adult children of normal parents -- only two people showed up.

Posted by: BB | May 4, 2006 2:43 PM

BLN, your anger is misdirected. It is not another SAHM's fault that you cannot afford to stay home with your kids. Every family's circumstances are different. Besides, you said yourself that you'd miss the intelectual stimulation of not working. So what's the problem?

Posted by: vj | May 4, 2006 2:50 PM

Even people who are happy with their choices can sometimes feel down trodden by the other side.

I would never try to be "angry" about someone else's choice, but I've had many, many people look down on mine. This article, as silly as it is, still reflects that some part of society, whether they want to support SAHMs are not, still thinks they are superior to working moms.

As a working mom, I find it offensive for anyone to think that a woman who stays at home does all the things listed in the article and deserve more pay or even recognition because of it. SAHM don't do more than working moms, they just do it differently

Posted by: Scarry | May 4, 2006 2:50 PM

"This article, as silly as it is, still reflects that some part of society, whether they want to support SAHMs are not, still thinks they are superior to working moms."

More accurately, I think what it reflects is that the 400 moms who replied to the online survey value their household contributions differently. The survey (which is statistically insignficant) did not poll society at large.

Also, SAHM respondents claimed to work 92 hours a week on household chores that took WOHMs only 49 hours a week, which makes me wonder if there's some rounding up going on. Unless all SAHMs have cleaner laundry and neater houses than all WOHMs?

Posted by: Anon | May 4, 2006 3:07 PM

BLN,

Just so you know, it's not just upper middle class women who are supported by their husbands. My brother in law works three job to support his wife and three kids. All the kids are five and over and all in school, and the wife still won't get a job.

Posted by: Scarry | May 4, 2006 3:11 PM

How come the SAHM is the only thing ever discussed in this fashion. I work a pretty demanding job making 47K. I also have custody of our 4 year old girl. So in addition to my full time job I am the cook,maid, plumber, carpenter, janitorial service, psychologist, Orkin man, laundry service, accountant, fashion consultant, lawn care, veterinarian, playmate, daycare, nightcare.

Why is it we only hear about the mother?

The most important job anyone can have is that of a parent, and to do useless studies about how much "that means" in dollars is ignorant. The ROI on such time with a child is immeasurable. I am just tired of hearing about how it is only mother's that "have it rough". I respect a single working parent more than anyone, because THEY, like me, have it just as hard as any SAHM.


Last time I checked "everybody" cooks, cleans, does laundry, mows the lawn etc etc. Just because some people make their living doing those things doesn't translate into an hour by hour dollar relationship to a SAHM's life. Everyone's non-"work" life can be equally compared to a dollar amount based on the day to day duties WE ALL have to do.

Aside from the absurdity of such a pointless study, the sheer gender bias alone is irritating. It would be nice if the media started treating single and/or stay at home dads with the same media spotlight as mother's.

Posted by: Pete from dadsdivorce | May 4, 2006 3:14 PM

that's a good point anon.

I must say though that with my neat freak husband I can't picture anyone's laundry being cleaner than mine. It's kinda of annoying sometimes!

Posted by: Scarry | May 4, 2006 3:15 PM

The apparant level of vitriol between stay at home moms and work outside-the-home moms is fascinating.

Some men never marry; some do marry and have kids but clearly put career above family life; some men place family commitments ahead of their careers and put in a great deal of time doing things with their kids, coaching, working with the PTA, etc.; and some men are stay-at-home dads. But I'm not aware of any divide among men who've made these different life choices comparable to the one between stay-at-home and work-outside-the-home-moms.

Why is that?

I will say that I've heard many older men say that they wish they'd spent more time with their kids. I've never heard one say that he spent too much time with his family, and should have spent more time on his career.

Posted by: Man's Observation | May 4, 2006 3:31 PM

I don't read most comments by SAHM's on this blog as implying (or saying outright) that their choice is better or their day is harder than those of working mothers. I do, however, see several comments by working mothers aimed at demeaning SAHM as lazy, spoiled, bad role models who somehow think they should be earning huge salaries while watching soap operas and spending their husband's money. Why is it ok to beat up on SAHMs on this blog? Raising kids is more than doing laundry and mowing the lawn. If working moms want credit for all the things they do, they should be willing to give credit to moms who stay at home and do a lot of important things too.

Posted by: WorkFromHome | May 4, 2006 3:42 PM

Man's Observation |

I agree that men tend to not be as judgemental about what they do with the kids as women, but on the other hand, some men become very threatned by men who are okay with their wives working.

I come from an area of Ohio where almost none of my husband's friends wives work. My husband either hears "can't you make enough money to support your family," "Or why do you let her work."

However, there is also a backlash that we can afford more things, our daughter can go to a better school, and that we don't worry about money. So, it's a different aspect of the mommy wars with men.

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 3:45 PM

To Scarry: Really? I'm a southern boy, and where I come from there's a saying - "the only three things a man needs to be truly happy are a chainsaw, a pickup-truck, and a working wife."

Sometimes rednecks can be surprisingly enlightened ;-)

Posted by: Man's Observation | May 4, 2006 3:48 PM

Work from home sorry you missed these.

"One thing is certain and it is that it is HARDER to work fulltime at home than at 'work' outside it. One must have the strength, both inner and physical to make it. Keep writing."

"There's no sense in getting defensive because the exercise produced a number that's higher than my current salary - the authors of the study are not trying to say that stay-at-home moms are better or more valuable people than the rest of us (they just want to remind us that what SAHMs do is very valuable)."

"WOHMs shouldn't be offended because the value assigned to their "mothering" is less. It simply means that they're spending less time on some aspects of childcare and household management"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 3:53 PM

Man's Observation

yeah, i'm serious. back there if you do work, your kid doesn't go to day care either. A family member watches them. I'd like to say that i'm the mother of one child, but I've already raised 6.

That's a funny saying about the redneck though. My husband got a lot of flack too because i kept my name and my sister in law thinks I work for nice pants. Sometimes, i just have to laugh.

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 3:57 PM

I was wondering. Does everyone here understand that we are not actually going to pay every SAHM $134K?

Posted by: LC | May 4, 2006 3:59 PM

Man's Observation

Oh by the way, my brother traded his pick up truck for a chain saw one time. Now, if he could only trade out his wife for some beer I think he would be happy.

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 4:19 PM

Would men that stay at home get paid higher because of gender inequality in the workplace? As a man, this article is dumb and the author is dumb for writing it.

Bless He who gave the gift of peeing while vertical.

Posted by: You suck | May 4, 2006 4:22 PM

It's definitely a silly survey. Before we decided that my wife would stay home, we had a nanny and a housekeeper who between them did the laundry, cleaning, and childcare, and all that was less than $60,000 a year. But, this wasn't a rigorous scientific study, but a goofy PR thing to say thanks to moms. Maybe I just need to work harder at getting offended.

My wife has stayed home for the past couple years, and although she is hardly the perfect housekeeper or cook, our family life is immeasurably better. Much of that is due to her constant presence with our kids. The kids spend most of the day in school, but we still like the arrangement where my wife stays home. Not because the house is spotlessly clean all the time or the laundry is always done, but because all of us are happier with her at home.

Posted by: kb | May 4, 2006 4:24 PM

No, no . . . contrary to popular misconceptions, it's the wife that's in the top three - not the beer

Posted by: Man's Observation | May 4, 2006 4:25 PM

Anonymous,

If you look at the context of your quotes those were not SAHM comments attacking rather they working parents trying to bring calm to a storm. I think you should learn to read someone's post before posting. I saw no SAHM attacking a working parent. A text without a context is a pre-text.

Posted by: DE Dad | May 4, 2006 4:38 PM

In response to daughter, who said:
--"Take a moment to appreciate the work that the mothers and wives in your life do, and appreciate that they do it for free, out of love."--

Ha. They don't do it for free. If they did, how would they afford to eat or clothe themselves, or where would they live?? They stay at home with the kids in exchange for their husbands working and supporting them. That is their compensation. They have food to eat, a house to live in, a car to drive, clothes on their backs, etc...

So if you think they do it for free, you are sadly mistaken.

Posted by: BLN | May 4, 2006 4:38 PM

"Ha. They don't do it for free. If they did, how would they afford to eat or clothe themselves, or where would they live?? They stay at home with the kids in exchange for their husbands working and supporting them. That is their compensation. They have food to eat, a house to live in, a car to drive, clothes on their backs, etc..."

No, marriage isn't the exchange of services for cash, a wife isn't a live-in prostitute, and a family isn't a business. If we can't make those distinctions, we have no business getting married.

Posted by: Appalled | May 4, 2006 4:50 PM

BLN

If you ask me, I think you might want to drink a little less coffee tomorrow. I totally agree with Appalled's assessment.

Posted by: DE Dad | May 4, 2006 4:57 PM

It's too bad they didn't do a better job of designing the salary calculator. I am a SAHM and recently was confined to bed for a couple months due to a health problem (thankfully resolved). While my husband worked his tail off covering most of the household tasks, we did have to pay for child care while he was at work, and found that the care that was closest to what our kids had been getting at home was a fairly expensive montessori school. However, I don't believe this means I am "worth" the same as a trained montessori teacher.

Perhaps a more accurate calculation would be to list the tasks a mother performs, and then determine the cost to hire someone else to do it (i.e. the cost of getting 10 lbs of laundry done, instead of 6 hours of a laundry operator's pay).

Actually that would be a smart calculation for any couple making decisions about life insurance.

Posted by: new midwesterner | May 4, 2006 5:26 PM

"One thing is certain and it is that it is HARDER to work fulltime at home than at 'work' outside it. One must have the strength, both inner and physical to make it. Keep writing."

Hey DE,

I find the above qoute offensive too. This seems like a put down to me.

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 5:29 PM

"This seems like a put down to me."

Yep - some of these put downs between moms are as good a smash-mouth as any pro athlete could manage. Seems a shame.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 5:37 PM

Hey "No Offense"

Sorry - you misread my post (or I miswrote it). I wasn't actually referring to you. I was just telling the previous anonymous poster not to take offense and that he/she made me laugh.

And I'm actually a working mother -- so I'm with ya, babe, all the way!

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 5:42 PM

I wonder why they didn't throw in compensation estimates for emotional damage etc, like in law suits. Then the figure could easily get into the millions!

What a lame tribute to Mother's Day...

Posted by: BlogBuster | May 4, 2006 5:46 PM

no problem FS.

I did misread your post.

Posted by: no offense | May 4, 2006 5:51 PM

Scarry,

The post you listed was what appears to be a working mom (potentially empty nester) who was defending SAHM who were being attacked. It was not a SAHM attacking working moms. However, since the poster does not state if she is or is not currently working I have to admit I too assumed (and you know what happens when you assume). I thought her statement that she has been a mother for 25 years (kids would likely be in college at the youngest..again just a guess) indicated she was back at work. It would be an odd statement to compare a situation 25 years ago to present (again assuming she quit work once she had kids).

Posted by: DE Dad | May 4, 2006 6:02 PM

man, BLN, you have some serious vitriol. What's up with that?

Posted by: dude | May 4, 2006 6:03 PM

Okay, so by defending SAHMs she can offend workgin moms. It's still offensive no matter why she said it.

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 6:07 PM

Wow - I've been away for a couple hours and such hostile responses to my posts! To set the record straight -- I am a working mom. 4 days a week flex time. So the tirade on my staying home? Unfounded.

And, no, I don't think my children are my boss. It was a metaphor. It was in response to the silly comment that SAHMs can set their own leisurely schedule. Anyone who has taken care of kids knows that is completely untrue -- especially when they're young. I was just giving some examples of how that is untrue. I considered it more humorous than whining.

Although, yes, picking up cheerios is quite challenging when one is 8 months pregnant :-)

Lighten up, people. I think we're all on the same side here.

Posted by: FS Mom | May 4, 2006 6:11 PM

I told my husband what his new salary requirements were. He has one year to garner enough raises to bring our total household income to 134K in order to reimburse me for my contributions. He doesn't have to earn more than that, because all the money goes into one bank account for the entire house.

Now here's my take on SAHM's. Most of my day isn't involved with laundry at all. Most of my day is pretty much similar to what a daycare provider would do. I have two toddlers. Daycare costs are too expensive for two toddlers, so I quit work . Before you all start yelling at me about making that choice, we planned financially for one kid, we weren't expecting two. My day involves actually TAKING CARE OF THE CHILDREN, not lounging out in front of the TV on the phone eating chocolate.

SAHM's didn't actually create that silly survey and frankly, I'm insulted that it listed laundry machine operator and janitor as 'jobs' we do. They are more like chores everyone needs to do. Now, landscaping, daycare center provider, after-school care provider, tutor, pre-school teacher and chef *if beefaroni counts* I'm fine with. The hostility toward SAHM's is often misplaced, but understand that the survey isn't something SAHM"s created to try to get a paycheck. We've all figured out by now that nobody is going to pay us to stay home, and that one-income household means that we do this with the spouse's income. Also, many SAHM's are not upper middle class with extra disposable income we can just toss out to do things like hire cleaning services and stuff. Saying that, man, if I could, I so would.

Posted by: anon | May 4, 2006 6:38 PM

BLN, I don't see why the fact that someone makes a choice means that they should not either get credit for what they do or be able to complain when they're tired of it. My husband and I made a choice that one of us should be home because, as somone else wrote, it makes all of our lives easier and less hectic. Right now, it's my husband who stays home. That was a choice. It doesn't mean that his day isn't tiring and hard sometimes, or that he isn't entitled for recognition for what he does all day to make our household saner and our child happier.

Posted by: Megan | May 4, 2006 6:43 PM

okay, i've been on this blog way to much today. Now, I have to go earn 20 grand by doing the laundry.

unfortunatly, it's the two year old's laundry and anyone with kids knows what I'll find there!

Posted by: scarry | May 4, 2006 8:01 PM

This is silly. A single person with no kids still has to clean the house, do laundry, shop for groceries, fix the computer, et al. Why are the normal household tasks that every other person does only valuable if the person doing them is female and a mother?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2006 9:19 PM

BLN - I'm with you. A SAHM does have more control over her time than a working mom. My children have had accidents at stores also. Not very often though because I usually don't make it to the grocery store until 9 p.m. or later - after working all day, dinner, play-time, bath, read a story and put to bed - kids home with Dad and I shop alone. I would love to be able to run errands and perform chores before dinner on a regular basis. Taking my kids to the grocery store means that I could spend more time with them, even if they do have an occasional accident.

Every SAHM I know is extremely busy. But, they could cancel some of the activities for themselves and children and not be as hectic as they are. A tired SAHM can reschedule a play-date, visit to friends, shopping trip, zoo trip, gym class, etc., but a WOHM cannot cancel or postpone their jobs. And when the kids get up in the middle of the night, we still work the next day without benefit of a nap when the kids are napping.

An older woman I worked with described her days with infants/toddlers as feeding, dressing, putting in a play-pen with toys and letting the children amuse themselves while Mom cleaned house, laundry, etc. Sent them out to play in the yard when they were a little older, but didn't stay out in the yard with them. Maybe there is something to be said for more down time for the kids.

I really do greatly respect SAHM's. I just find it annoying when someone says that it is harder to be a SAHM than a WOHM. IMHO, a WOHM does everything a SAHM does in addition to holding an outside job. We just sacrifice lots of sleep and personal time (no gym, no classes, no time for hobbies, less time with kids, no dates with hubby unless kids are along - hate to leave them behind since we miss them so much at work)

Posted by: bj | May 4, 2006 10:56 PM

"I just find it annoying when someone says that it is harder to be a SAHM than a WOHM. IMHO, a WOHM does everything a SAHM does in addition to holding an outside job."

Man - this is sick. I really, really don't understand this contest, or why it seems so important to so many many women that they win it. Why does it matter - do women who work really believe that the legitimacy or appropriateness is threatened by women who stay at home? Do women who stay at home really believe that their value is threatened by women who work? If women in this country really are doing this to each other - and this blog strongly suspects that they are - then something is seriously wrong. It helps no one if women are making each other feel like dirt (and do not DARE to blame this on men - this is a purely intramural fight among your sex).

Posted by: What's With Women? | May 5, 2006 9:18 AM

I've been both a SAHM and a WOHM. I have found being a SAHM can be more stressful for me personally, mostly for psychological reasons.

My favorite time with family and work was when my husband and I both worked, made equal salaries, and we both shared in childcare-related responsibilities. That was short-lived however. As time went on, I worked but took on more home and child responsibilities.

When I was laid off and then became pregnant, the balance shifted even more.

Some people are better at both gigs than others. I excelled at being a WOHM. Some of my stress when working came from other people criticizing WOHM moms (whether male co-workers, or my sister-in-law).

I'm a decent SAHM and mostly my schedule is my own when my kids are in school, but they're on different schedules, so I don't have many hours each day, in all honesty. And, even when I do have time, I usually do not have a lot of extra money to spend on shopping or recreation. We do not have a McMansion or SUVs. We have two cars: a 1989 Honda and a newer car that also gets good mileage.

And, the pressure to return to work has been on my shoulders for the entire time I've been home.

And, for the record, you can be fired from a job as a SAHM. Your husband may want a divorce, he may lose his job, whatever.

On a final note, I do not see the great divide between WOHMs and SAHMs. We all need each other. I am grateful that my kids' pediatricians and my doctor are working moms. I also appreciate the SAHMs who volunteer at my kids' schools. Or who create art or take care of elderly parents.

If all the WOHMs boycotted work, we'd be in trouble. But the same is true of SAHMs, too. There you go.

Posted by: Kate | May 5, 2006 10:59 AM

Please enlighten me what specifically in the article and in the study inflamed such passions. I sent it around to my friends at work, all working mothers with kids of various ages, ranging from a newborn to a teenager, and we were all joking about being able to "afford ourselves". The study is entertaining and a good subject for a humorous conversation with other parents. I did that survey to see how much I would "earn" as a working mother on top of my salary. It actually helped me to see how much of my time is spent on chores (cleaning, laundry) vs. being a "CEO" and "CFO" (planning playdates, vacations, or researching 529 plans). My husband is definitely a CIO -- he is in charge of keeping a database of our kids pictures on his computer and sending it out to relatives.

Posted by: bethesdamom | May 5, 2006 11:03 AM

It seems like I'm in the minority here - besides the fact that I think the study is completely ridiculous (and probably never intended to be taken seriously), I am amazed by the whining that mothers and fathers do on this blog.

I work full-time, my husband works full time, I'm in law school three or four nights a week (depending on the semester's schedule), and my husband and I have an 18-month-old daughter. He takes care of her when I'm at school, does all the laundry and vacuuming, and doesn't complain - he understands that law school isn't easy and our family will be better off when I'm done. In return, I try to give him "guy time" at least once a week, I do the cooking and grocery shopping, and take care of things like buying clothes and making doctor's appointments.

We just do it - we do what we have to do to make our family work and to keep our little girl happy. She has a great time with both Daddy and Mommy and has the added benefit of having two parents who, by necessity, have to consult each other on all aspects of parenting and who both have to be able to give her a bath, get up in the middle of the night, or take care of her for large blocks of time.

Our house is clean, we still manage to make time for friends and family, and my only complaint is that I don't have as much time for myself as I'd like.

So when I hear SAHMs or working moms whining about how hard they have it, how undervalued they are, I usually just chuckle to myself. Because, really, most of us have it pretty darn good.

Posted by: PLS | May 5, 2006 11:53 AM

I think the point of those figures is to just provide baseless validation. After all, I guess if we all just stayed home and took care of the place, we'd all be worth $135k - of course, we'd still be living in caves and using the barter system because there would be no national economy, but hey - as long as whoever's scrubbing up feels important.

Posted by: Irresponsible Speculator | May 5, 2006 1:51 PM

Leslie wrote:
"This is a big story because women want to -- and deserve to --have our worth as mothers quantified in dollar terms. Like it or not, money is how we measure humans' value in this country."

Poppycock. Just because you've fallen for the marketing hype of Salary.com doesn't mean everyone else has.

Are you so blinded as to not see this for the marketing stunt that it is? How many people had never heard of Salary.com, and now have? As if that weren't bad enough, you invited Salary.com to your live chat. Hook line and sinker. Game, set and match.

Arguing about how to quantify in monetary terms a parental contribution is a particularly unproductive way to waste one's time, especially in the context of a marketing gimmick for a website trying to take advantage of a holiday.

Posted by: Skepticality | May 5, 2006 1:53 PM

Oh, and Leslie, it might have been a news flash to you that "Taking Care of Kids is Real Work", but the rest of us already knew that.

We didn't need Salary.com or anyone else to tell us that.

Posted by: Skepticality | May 5, 2006 1:55 PM

That guy from salary.com was a complete idiot and his study is trash.

Posted by: ballsdeep | May 5, 2006 5:16 PM

What bothers me about the study is that it treats family as a job. I agree that SAHMs (I'm currently one sort of, on mat leave) do valuable and difficult work.

But by the terms of this study they should also be paid as hookers for having sex with their husbands and manicurists for trimming their own nails.

It just doesn't make sense to me to try to quantify it in monetary terms in this way.

Posted by: Shandra | May 5, 2006 6:05 PM

I didn't like the guy from Salary.com either.
Someone ask him if he was biased-his answer was no.

However, if you read the chat the answer is a very big YES.

Posted by: scarry | May 6, 2006 12:18 PM

It's sad to see so many antagonistic reactions. I agree fully that this survey is worthless and in the end, as this blog demonstrates, it does more harm than good. Had they been more diligent in gathering data and had actually done a *real* study - maybe it would have sparked an interesting discussion instead of a narcissistic debate.

I believe everyone is taking issue on the idea that one job is worth more than another, but how can you possibly compare apples to oranges? Each role has their ups and downs and they each make their own contribution, as they are able to in their own unique way - SAHMs, WOHMs, SAHDs, and WOHDs. Why would valuing one person negate the value of another? And why are we so willing to antagonize another contributor just because Salary.com wrote a dumb article.

There are too many generalizations being made. First of all not all SAHMs or SAHDs (no difference as far as I am concerned) share the same workload at home and not all WOHM or WOHD share the same workloads at work. So unless you know the details of each individual situation then you really can't and shouldn't make such wide generalizations.

Running around all day with 4 children might be more demanding than doing a desk job at a really slow office or vice versa. Not to mention the wide range of disparity between those partners who help or don't help...but what about those who get assistance from the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends, should they be demoted? What ever happened to "It takes a village"?

This whole conversation is ludicrous and destructive. These are all choice we make based on very personal and individual situations. Don't let salary.com pit you against all SAHMs or against all WOHMs because it triggers some narcissistic defense mechanism. It's absolutely ridiculous and I'm sure not their intentions at all.

Posted by: RM | May 11, 2006 4:29 PM

My SAH wife was replaced by a full-time nanny, a weekly housecleaner, and a little extra work on my part for roughly $18K/year. This does not take into account the savings we now enjoy from her not wasting family funds on stuff we didn't need.

Granted, she was not the best caregiver for our 3 small children, but I would argue I'm getting a better deal on the homefront now than before she left.

So SAH mothers, take note of what value you're providing to your family. Your job too, could be outsourced...

Posted by: TB | May 12, 2006 7:24 PM

what's wrong with this idiotic piece of work is that it panders to the current misandrosy that dominates public discourse. It's purpose is to provide yet more feminist propaganda by considering only one side of the issue. Why doesn't he work out what the value of Dad's work as well? Because he is one of the feminist's lap poodles who doesn't dare rock the boat, just like those people who moan about the oppression of women at the beginning of the twentieth centure without noticing that only men were conscripted to war. IN any case, the whole analysis is bogus. If you did this kind of analysis for a macdonalds burger chef I expect you'd get a similar figure (after all, he is ceo of the stove), which just shows the idiocy of Coleman's methodology.

Posted by: wex | May 15, 2006 7:29 AM

A housewife is worth $134K, a dog is worth $125k.

Posted by: Catfight | May 15, 2006 9:34 PM

Yeah, okay...

I like "Irresponsible Spectator's" comments!! :)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 2:16 AM

I think that a parent, mom or dad, has a big job with lots of work. As with any other job, some do more, some do less.
I think that the reason people get fired up is because SAHMs, used to being put down, inflate what they do at times (and I say that they do a lot). Parents in general tend to think that their time is more precious than that of others, so the rest have to defend themselves!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 27, 2006 2:21 AM

One thing to keep in mind about this study is that not all SAHM's do all those jobs. I know one who does not clean the house, cook dinner or do dishes. Instead, she sleeps in until 9 am every day and then STILL takes a nap during the day. Working moms don't have the luxury of being able to take a nap every day even if the baby is up all night. So then her husband works 12 hours and comes home only to do the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, home improvement probjects, dishes, taking care of the kids, etc. And she STILL has the nerve to complain about how tired she is! There is NO way she is worth 134,000. She is only a drain on her very hard working husband.

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