Mom typically juggles the many jobs necessary to keep a household running smoothly, even if she works outside the house. You might think all this devotion and TLC are priceless, but according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the market value of the tasks we commonly associate with motherhood has declined slightly over the past year.
Like many professions during the current recession, motherhood has taken a pay cut.
Stay-at-home parents versus working parents
For its 2012 Mother’s Day Index, Insure.com took an informal look at the work mothers perform and how much a family would pay to hire others to take on Mom’s duties around the house.
The 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 percent), 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.
In addition to the loss of her services at home, many families would lose an important source of income were Mom no longer around. Although a gender gap still exists regarding pay, it’s narrowing. In 2007, about 22 percent of wives out-earned their husbands, compared with only 4 percent in 1970.
Although Dad often earns more than Mom, there’s no doubt about who’s more valuable at 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.
According to Jamie O’Boyle, a senior analyst for the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis in Philadelphia, 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’re going to live; where your kids are going to go to school,” said O’Boyle. “Women are the ones who are there to make that family unit work. Men are essentially fungible – you can always get another one.”
Too much stress
No matter how much you pay her, motherhood is a tough job. “Moms are taxi drivers, and that is a huge responsibility,” said psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, author of “A Happy You,” which examines how to find 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, said Amy McCready, a mom and the author of the parenting book “If I Have To Tell You One More Time …”
“They just carry a tremendous amount of guilt,” McCready said. “We all need to just lower our standards a little bit. Perhaps I’m not making homemade cupcakes for the school party, but I can buy a dozen cupcakes, and that’s just fine.”
– Contributed by Emmet Pierce, Insure.com, via money.msn.com