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May 03, 2007

Just in Time For Mother's Day

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According to a story in Reuters, Salary.com released a study that shows that a stay-at-home mom should earn $138,095/year for what she does. Salary.com provides this online tool so that people can calculate how much a particular mom’s work is worth. I hope lots of moms forward this information...


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Comments

After reading all these comments, the one that makes most sense to me is that of Elizabeth. I don't understand why the government does not give subsidies to SAH moms (for example, free daycare).

I am a 23 year old from India, studying in the USA. I have a brother who is 5 years younger to me. My mom has been at home for the sake of our education pretty much all her life. I feel really bad that she had to sacrifice her life's goals for our sake (she has a Masters). A month after writing this post, I am going to earn $105,000. I would have been nowhere today, if it were not for my parents (more so, my mom).

At this point, I am feeling very guilty about the whole thing. I want to give back my mom something, but I don't know how I am going to repay the incalculable debt that I owe her. I think the only justifiable repayment at this point is to make them proud.

The world would fall apart if women didn't do what they did for their kids and dependent parents. Women are the primary decision makers and caregivers in both cases - over 75%. You can't put a monetary figure on an activity that essentially keeps our society going. It is priceless.

This is nothing more than a factoid, of the same value as the canard that "women earn only 71 cents for every dollar earned by men". In an economic sense, any work is worth exactly what the market pays for it, so only if there are "professional mothers" in the marketplace actually making $138K does this have any real meaning.

But of course, economic "worth" as represented by salaries is not the only kind of worth.

They should offer parenting degrees in college. Maybe it would improve the product.

Thank you, Guy, for posting this piece (PR it may be, but so what?), out of (I hope and assume) respect for mothering.

Let's put aside the silly hourly calculations and use this as an opportunity to look at our system and culture that do not really value mothering, financially or otherwise. Some of these blog comments sadly prove this point.

The hard fact is, the U.S. is the only industrialized country without legislated paid maternity leave, period. We pale in comparison to most European countries when it comes to making it at all affordable for families/mothers to raise children in the critical first years -- as well as when it comes to helping women transition back into the working world when the kids go to school. Many nations do, in fact, pay stay-home mothers for the first critical years. Not six figures, but enough to show that they value the job of raising the country's next generation. (This all goes for fathers too, but, come on, studies show and we all know that the lion's share of this work is done by women, throughout the world.)

I am irked when the conversation turns to our individual "choices" with a system so behind the rest of the developed world. There is only a facade of choice for women in the United States because so many organizations offer only full-time work or nothing. (Mine did.) This is not a choice that works well for most families.

Please read The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars by Miriam Peskowitz for an intelligent, important discussion of how the system is the problem here. Please visit www.momsrising.org to see work being done to change the United States' archaic, anti-"family values" system.

The attitudes of some of these readers make me sad for this country. Yes, I am a mom, I work from home as a freelancer, but my real work is raising my children to be responsible citizens and good people. That takes time, attention and, yes, money.

My mom is worth way more than $140,000 year. Or $140 million for that matter. So is my dad.

You can't put a price on everything.

"I wonder if they will start teaching stay at home mom degrees in college or some sort of extended school."

And everyone should give an exam, what looks like that a wife has to feed the child, take the dust, wash dishes, make a cake and so on AT THE SAME TIME :D ? Right?

But, since people insist on calculating what Mom's salary should be, why not estimating the value of Dad's work at home? I do all of the cooking for dinner plus all cooking on the weekend. I do all of the yard work and all home maintenance and repairs that don't require a tradesman. I maintain the cars. I take the dogs for their twice-daily walks. All of this on top of working my full-time job. I want MY paycheck!

My wife and I try to be home for the children. As newly married (almost 6 years) and two children (3.5 and 2) the bills seem to a little higher than the income. We nearly make it on one income and my wife is a nurse. She works the minimum 3 days usually. Sacrifice is key. Both my wife and I realize why we do this and the cost. Our minivan (9 years old) was inherited, our Focus is five years new. The car is paid for, we have little debt, and are happy. We save for family trips, my wife is from the Caribbean so it is quite a bit of money for her to go back.

We will not have these though: a boat, a luxury car, McMansion, all the tech stuff for the home, a pool, etc.

The low income is not a huge problem. I will be working soon, so we are trying to figure a way around day care, we not be able to avoid it. School is soon though. However, the low income does not affect sharing time with friends and family which are our favorite pasttimes.

This info. is free from this SAHD and full time graduate student, and now part time worker.

My! Guy! You've really ruffled some feathers. From where I sit, the biggest problem with our economy is our economy. Everything costs more. We all feel we deserve to be paid more. There's no free lunch and we can't do everything for free. Somewhere, someone down the line wants to take our dollar. That's why we need to make more dollars.

Moms have a different relationship with their kids than dads do. That's a fact. I don't want to pity the single parent, but I can understand how hard it is to be one. Kids need both parents to influence their development, and parents need each other to keep them from going insane.

We are so blessed that my wife can stay home with our kids, but it's no picnic. There are some days she calls me on the phone at my office, while in that headspace somewhere between "children are my pride and joy" and "mad hysteria bordering chaos". (To Rita, another mom of 2 young boys... I salute you!)

If I didn't HAVE to work, I would love to stay home with the family, pull our boys out of public school, and home school them myself in the mornings, to free up the afternoons for walking tours through our city, learning stuff first hand; volunteering our time to feed the poor and clothe the homeless; play music and sports in the park. More time for traveling. More time for gymnastics, swimming, other activities to prevent us from getting FAT.

I tell you, life would be so much more interesting if the world wasn't so designed around the economy. Or rather, the economy wasn't built on money. Everybody down the line needs it, wants it, and is never content with how much they get from me. Oh for simpler times, (he laments, while typing on his laptop computer keyboard at 1:30 am while his wife nestles comfortably between the sheets in the bed next to his desk. Enough rambling... get back to work!)

I wonder if any of you "skeptics" are either: 1) married to a mother of children; or 2) or hoping like heck that your bride doesn't see your comment! ;-)

Wow. I feel like I need to defend myself as a Stay at home Mom now. And Aaron? Who said "You know what? Hogwash. Being a stay at home mom or dad is rarely anything but a high-and-mighty form of conspicuous display of wealth and status, mixed in with a little "it's for the children" kool-aid so that you can't be allowed to think about it's downsides in mixed company." That is RIDICULOUS. Oh yeah, I'm really displaying my "wealth and status" by driving a ten year old minivan to Goodwill to purchase secondhand clothing for my children. And yes, I am making a CHOICE to stay home, drive a used van, purchase clothes at Goodwill.

What is my alternative? Well, I do have a B.A. in Liberal Arts, and I could probably get a job as, say, a bank teller, making $8.50 an hour to start. That would be a weekly paycheck of $340.00. Let's say that after taxes and FICA, I bring home $220.00 a week, okay? My 18 month old daughter would need full-time daycare, that costs $3.50 an hour at a nearby daycare center, she would be there 9 hours a day factoring in pickup and drop-off time, so that's $157.50 for one week. Now I'm down to $62.50 for the week. My elementary school age boys would need to stay in the after-care program at school, which costs $30 a week per child, or $60.00.

Wow. I've made a whole $2.50 for MYSELF! Again, I know I CHOSE to have three children, instead of CHOOSING to have a career. But the fact is, I don't get any compensation for the fact that I am raising my children instead of paying someone else to raise them for me. I'm not asking for $138,000 a year, I know that's unrealistic. How about a better tax break, or a few years of FREE childcare until my daughter is ready for kindergarten? It won't happen, but it sure would be nice.

Why is it that there are never any figures released for how much Dad's efforts are worth? (Even those Dad's who work full-time?)

Is this because Dads, in general, are lame? Or is it that we don't value Dads as much as Moms.

Technically, shouldn't Dad 'earn' a little money for reading bedtime stories - say, $10-20k for speaking and presentations? Surely, I could go on.

Isn't it cute how we monetized parenting and household care - as if it pays any bills or sends any of those kids to college?

Yet our kids are more medicated than any previous generation, grow up in more divorce and as adults are more depressed, more ADD and less capable of thriving or even surviving in today's society.

Hmmm...maybe we should stop bragging about what a great job we are all worth as parents and actually work on doing a better job as parents and spouses.

What's would that be worth? Priceless.

I can't think of a single child, or even one with the help of their siblings, that could afford to keep their mom at that price. And yet I haven't heard of a single instance where a child had to lay off their mom due to lack of funds for payroll. So maybe the salary estimate is wrong? (*wink wink*) (Happy Mother's Day!)

Guy, I read this to my wife and she said, "yeh, good in theory."

;)

-Eric

LOL...I wish that I could make that much money.

Thank you for this great post. I am sure a lot of moms out there appreciate it!

In other news, Salary.com estimated Majora Carter's speaking revenue at 17 billion dollars based on Steve Jobs net worth...

;-)

I definitely think the taking care of the kids and household is a lot of work. I am doing my share to help out.

Even though every day should be Mother's Day (or Father's Day) in my opinion, May 13th is the day we choose to celebrate mothers around the world. Remember to show your appreciation to all the special women in your life who are others, on that day or any day.

Here are some artistic, animated ecards for the occasion.

Best Mom
http://www.ojolie.com/index.php?step=preview&ec_id=19

Origami
http://www.ojolie.com/index.php?step=preview&ec_id=18

Note what I said in my first comment:

SAH Moms do a lot of work and should be highly valued.

I don't think that anyone is saying that SAH Moms have a cush job, but come on!

Nicholas, you say, "I think that salary is commensurate to just how much our mothers do for us."

Honestly, what my mother (not a stay at home mom) did in helping my father raise me is worth far, far more than $135k/year. But that doesn't mean that her worth should be used to push traffic to a site that (I'm relatively certain) will have zero openings for Stay At Home Moms in the relatively near future, and certainly not at that salary level.

Why not strut your stuff about jobs you can actually offer?

Wow, what a controversy. Whowouldhavethought. (Yeah, right.)

I only have a couple of minutes to write this because I have to go to the kitchen to wipe up some milk (hope that's all there is to wipe up).

1, Yes, it is a PR move on Salary.com's side. Of course. Come on!

2, But besides that, come on. Where is the respect? We are talking about Mothers. Let's put your own self-esteem issues and disgruntled attitude aside. Those of you that belittle what stay-at-home Mothers do should be ashamed of yourselves.

3, For all those Dads (including stay-at-home Dads) who are dissatisfied because you don't have a fat "paycheck": Just wait until Father's Day. I smell another publicity stunt right around the corner.

Sincerely,
Rita Fisher
Stay-at-home Mom of 2 small boys

This dad forwards it as well.

This is quite an exaggeration. It's an important job, but the skills needed don't justify a 6-figure job.

I think that salary is commensurate to just how much our mothers do for us.

***********

Amen. That's the point of my post. People want to argue whether it's accurate, scientific, whatever. The real point is that no mother should ever say/believe that she's not "employed" and not "working." She is doing a ton of work and has, arguably, the most important job in the household.

And there is great value in this that is often not sufficiently recognized.

Guy

Hhhmmm...according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2004 median income for full time year round workers was $40,798 for males and $31,223 for females.

That means that SAHM's is making the equivalent of about 3.5 full time workers.

The most common work week in the U.S. is 40 hours (1997 Bureau of National Affairs) which means that our dear SAHM is working 20 hours a day, every day.

Do I think that SAHM's add value to the world? Of course. But I also think the high price tag assigned is a marketing gimmick

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