4/25/2012 4:02 PM ET|
What's a mom's work worth?
As valuable as their job is, mothers had a pay cut this year, based on an analysis of wage data that sets a market value for homemaking.
She's a teller of bedtime stories, a packer of lunches, a dispenser of wisdom and a dryer of tears. From bandaging skinned elbows to helping out with homework, nobody does it like Mom.
Mom typically juggles the many jobs necessary to keep a household running smoothly, even if she works outside the home. You may think all of this devotion and TLC are priceless, but the market value of the tasks we commonly associate with motherhood has declined slightly during the past year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Like many professions during the current recession, motherhood has taken a pay cut.
For the 2012 Mother's Day Index, Insure.com took an informal look at the work mothers do and how much a family would have to pay to hire others to take on Mom's duties around the home.
Our review of wage data found that an assortment of common tasks is worth $60,182; last year's Mother's Day Index found those same tasks to be worth $61,436. That's a drop of $1,254 (about 2%), but still much more than most families could afford to pay. It's also a reminder of why mothers need adequate life insurance.
Based on comparable BLS data on Mom's duties back in 2003, she earned about $51,812 for the same tasks. However, factoring in inflation, that's the equivalent of about $64,593 in 2012 dollars.
The value of moms who focus on child care and homemaking was driven home recently when Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen criticized Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, for being a stay-at-home mom. There was an immediate backlash as people rushed to Ann Romney's defense. Even first lady Michelle Obama joined the discussion, offering a defense of mothers on Twitter.
In addition to the loss of her services in the home, many families would lose an important source of income if Mom was no longer around. Although there's still a gender gap when it comes to pay, it is narrowing. In 2007, about 22% of wives out-earned their husbands, compared with only 4% in 1970, according to a study by the Pew Research Center (.pdf file).
Although Dad often earns more than Mom, there is no doubt about who is more valuable in the home. Insure.com's 2011 Father's Day Index found that it would cost only $20,415 to hire someone to take over Dad's duties, roughly one-third the cost of replacing Mom.
Jamie O'Boyle, a senior analyst for the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis in Philadelphia, says fathers aren't nearly as important to families as mothers. In recognition of this, men typically concede most major family decisions to their wives.
"The woman decides where you are going to live, where your kids are going to go to school," says O'Boyle. "Women are the ones who are there to make that family unit work. Men are essentially fungible, meaning you can always get another one."
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Too much stress
No matter how much you pay her, being a mother is a tough job.
"Moms are taxi drivers, and that is a huge responsibility," says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, the author of "A Happy You," a book about finding true happiness. "Kids are in so many more activities now, and they need to be driven around. That is a big-time commitment. If you have more than one child, scheduling can be complex and extremely stressful."
Most women are unable to meet their own expectations, says Amy McCready, a mom and the author of a book on parenting called "If I Have to Tell You One More Time . . ."
"They just carry a tremendous amount of guilt," McCready says. "We all need to just lower our standards a little bit. Perhaps I am not making homemade cupcakes for the school party, but I can buy a dozen cupcakes, and that is just fine."
Mom needs more life insurance
Despite the fact that Mom pulls her weight and then some, she's often underinsured. Only 57% of women have some type of life insurance coverage, according to LIMRA, a research and consulting firm.
Women typically have smaller amounts of individual life insurance than men of similar ages do. On average, women have $129,800 of individual life insurance, while men have $187,100 in coverage, LIMRA reports. And both men and women are less likely to own life insurance today than they were in 2004.
Catherine Theroux, a spokeswoman for LIMRA, says single mothers have an especially high need for life insurance "because they have so little in terms of a safety net. That is what life insurance is there to do: provide protection for her family and peace of mind."
|Mom job||BLS occupation used||Hours per week/weeks per year||Hourly wage||Annual mom cost|
|Cooking||Cooks||14 hours/52 weeks||$9.08||$6,607|
|Driving||Taxi drivers and chauffeurs||9 hours/52 weeks||$13.83||$6,470|
|Helping with homework||Other teachers and instructors||10 hours/40 weeks||$18.48||$7,390|
|Taking care of the kids||Child care worker||40 hours/52 weeks||$9.58||$19,916|
|Nursing wounds||Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses||2 hours/12 weeks||$18||$432|
|Cleaning up||Maids and housekeeping cleaners||10 hours/52 weeks||$9.80||$5,096|
|Planning parties||Meeting & convention planners||64 hours a year||$22.30||$1,427|
|Summer activity planner||Miscellaneous community and social service specialists||40 hours/12 weeks||$16.90||$8,112|
|Haircuts||Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists||0.5 hours/52 weeks||$11||$286|
|Shopping for the family||Personal care aides||3 hours/52 weeks||$10.18||$1,587|
|Family finances||Accountants and auditors||0.5 hours/52 weeks||$23.90||$621|
|Yard work||Grounds maintenance workers||1 hour/52 weeks||$10.63||$553|
|Fixing up the house||Designers||40 hours a year||$20.40||$816|
|Finding out what the kids are up to||Private detectives and investigators||40 hours a year||$21.73||$869|
Wage data source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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My Dad worked a regular government job, maintained our 15 acres of farmland, cooked us breakfast and took us to school every morning, told us stories and attended every sporting event. We didn't have what the other kids had but we always had enough.
My Mom was an alcoholic that bounced in and out of our lives every couple of years.
My Dad is my everything. He did it all. I know he can't be the only one. Its too bad Dad's don't get the credit they deserve.
Why is this "Mom's" work? Why is it assumed Mom does all this? My husband is the homemaker - has been since before we were married - and so also had primary day-to-day responsibility for our daughter. If both parents work, these are both Mom's and Dad's work, and sometimes this is primarily Dad's work. Please let's stop the sexism and allow and encourage families to find and value the roles that suit their situation best. These are joint responsibilities and opportunities in a two-parent household, and the "responsibility" should not automatically fall to one parent or the other because of sex.
And when these jobs are performed with love for the family, they are priceless. No nanny or housekeeper or cook does their work with the love that Dad or Mom should bring to their home.
Im a single man and have a daughter who is now 17. I have raised her alone since she was 5 for my ex decided to be with another who didnt want to "raise someone elses kid" I was a 4-H leader Girl Scout leader and so on plus work and provide for the both of us. I have no complaints for I love my daughter! As far as what its worth? The rewards are priceless
Wow, really? Both parents are equally as important. Sadly, a lot of kids don't know that as their dads aren't present in their lives...
"Men are essentially fungible, meaning you can always get another one."
I was somewhat agreeing with this article until I read this. I cannot get another husband like the one I have now and I don't want too. He is a wonderful Daddy, great husband and provider and pretty damn good in bed. We need each other to make our family work.
Even though I'm the one who stays home, I mow the yard, trim the weeds and bushes. My hubby cleans up dishes after mealtimes and spends quality time with our kids because he wants to and at times, because Mommy really needs a break. It is a give and take. Kids benefit from both parents and to downplay the role of one is just wrong.
I have a full-time job outside the home, my husband has two jobs (a full and part-time), and so most of the cooking, cleaning, and laundry is up to me (with help from the kids). My husband helps with chores on the weekends. I also volunteer for the kids' schools, sports (team mom), help with the homework, am taxi cab, etc.
BUT my husband is just as important in the home as I am. We have three boys at home who need their father's influence, and a daughter who needs time with her daddy. My husband comes in most nights around 9:00 and he is the story reader for our daughter and is there for prayers and tucking her in. He makes sure that he is at all the boys' sporting events he can be (his part-time job in the evenings is flexible), he makes time with all the kids on Sunday afternoon (movies, walks, etc).
I know single moms who are very good parents and their children are being brought up to be respectful, caring young men and women, but the role of the father in the home is very important, and shouldn't be taken for granted.
I am a SAHM and worked until I was 43. We finally had our little miracle and as a COUPLE decided to have me stop work to stay home with our son. We sacrificed ALOT to make this happen, because we knew we were making the right decision for US. These articles bother me, because they make broad sweeping statements about someone's "worth". Its not about individuals anymore once you have a child, its about the FAMILY. Yes, I cook, I clean, I get groceries, I manage our finances and educate my child on everything from manners, to his ABC's. However my husband works hard too. He does his job then comes home and gives me a break and spends time with our son. He does projects with our little guy, fixes things around the house and keeps the HOA happy by making sure our yard is weed free and the plants trimmed. He also takes the time to thank me for what I do. I am one lucky woman!
Do I miss working outside the home? Sometimes. I miss the interaction with other adults. I miss being able to sleep in past 530AM, when my son wakes up. I miss the paycheck for sure! However I would also miss that 530am wakeup call. I would miss my son coming up to me randomly during the day and giving me a huge hug and kiss and telling me I love you mommy. I can still interact with other adults, just the topic of conversation revolves more around our kids and coupons than how to troubleshoot a missile or what the rework is needed on a specific component.
its not rocket science people. Its just common sense. Sacrifices are made both by husbands and wives, SAHM's and working mothers. We do it to make our families lives better. YES there are those who are neglectful of their families. However for every one "bad" wife or husband, there are hundreds who do the best they can. I wish the media would stop trying to stirr up stuff and let us just get back to raising our families, one day at a time, and making wonderful memories along the way.
I must say that as a woman and a stay-at-home mom for the past 2.5 years, who is currently pregnant with third child (which was my husbands initiation), that this article is a negative jab at men. Men concede decisions to their wives? Are easily replaced? Not in our house, I consult my husband, we are a team, and there is no one individual decision maker when it comes to things that affect our home. I do think that SAHM are responsible for the alot of their childrens needs especially when they are small, but if her husband didn't work then some stranger would ne nurturing them, not her. He should come home to a clean house, hot meal and such. Both should be responsible for night time and outside chores. Mom's job doesn't end at five, neither should dad's. :) I am quite sure that if I went to my husbands job and tried to fill in for him for a day, I could do it, but not everyday like he does! I am tired of hearing men bashed for wanting to be men, and am beyond tired of seeing them portrayed in the media and TV as weenies. Let your man be a man, and treat him like a man, and I promise he will treat you like woman!
"If he's not horny, feed him a sandwich"!
What world do these people live in where the mother does all the household work. My wife and I are both highly educated (She is a PhD, I am an MBA/JD). We both cook, I do the dishes, she makes the kids lunches, we split pick up and drop off, we both do the laundry, I help out with the lion's share of homework, I take the kids to their various practices, we split the groceery shopping and I do the outside work. On top of that, we both earn similar salaries. We both participate in ALL major decisions concerning our household. Both of us are irreplaceable, neither is fungible.
Perhaps Ms. O'Boyle's personal experiences has colored her opinion of the value of a male in the household, but for me and the people I know, describing the male in the relationship as fungible is erroneous at best. Being a Senior Analyst, I am sure that Ms. O'Boyle has concrete, statistical evidence backing her assertions. Either that, or the Center for Culteral Studies & Analysis should reexamine whether Ms. O'Boyle should be allowed to make public statements associated with the Center.
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