Stay-at-home moms: Worth $100K+ a year?

A Salary.com infographic reveals what stay-at-home moms should have earned last year, but Jennifer Pinarski thinks they missed the mark.

1SAHM-January2014-iStockphoto
Photo: iStockphoto

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

Last week, Salary.com released a cutesy infographic that illustrated what stay-at-home moms should have earned as an annual salary in 2013. Estimating that stay-at-home moms juggle 94 hours of work per week, they pegged our annual salary at $113,568. By figuring in roles like CEO’s, computer operators, facilities managers and janitors into their calculations, parents and pundits everywhere had something to say about the six figure salary estimate.

Read more: Should stay-at-home moms receive a salary? >

I found the most interesting debates on Jezebel’s GroupThink:

“The problem with this chart is that it inflates the value of a stay-at-home mother by putting her on par with professionals. Some hourly rates are accurate but others are not.” — ARCHIBALD_PERKINS via Jezebel GROUPTHINK

“This graphic is demonstrating the estimated replacement cost of a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). If you didn’t have a SAHM you would have to hire an assortment of professionals to receive the same services or go without them. You can quibble with the estimates derived but, whether or not the SAHM is a professional, her replacement WOULD be a professional.” — SeaLyonWoman via Jezebel Groupthink

“I hate these kinds of infographics because they tend to further the gulf between stay-at-home parents and working-outside-the-home parents. There’s so much to both sides, and all of it is unnecessary. Would I like to be paid for what I do? Sure. Would I like to have what I do RESPECTED as if it were paid work? Beyond absolutely. Am I gonna get that? Never.” — MadPigSty via Jezebel Groupthink

There are three things that bother me about estimating a salary for a stay-at-home parent.

First, the job positions that were picked by Salary.com are all off the mark, at least in my case. Being called a CEO assumes some modicum of control or organization in my household. Likewise, a facilities manager and janitor roles assumes that I clean my house. More appropriate roles in my house are lion tamer (code for “managing toddler temper tantrums“), goat hearder (code for “getting out the door on time“) and salesperson (code for “convincing my kids to eat scrambled eggs for breakfast“). Salary.com estimates that stay-at-home parents spend 40 hours a week on household chores alone, compared to 13 hours of “daycare teacher” time. I don’t know about you, but in our house there is way more playing than cleaning.

Second, it drives a bigger wedge between parents who choose to stay home and those who choose to work — and it makes the terrible assumption that either choice comes easily. As one commenter on GroupThink pointed out, working parents do all of those things at home, in addition to their full-time jobs. The salary of a working mom, according to the Salary.com survey, is an insulting $67,436, and is based on only 20 hours per week of “mothering” tasks.

Finally, it assumes that we even want to know what we’d earn in the workplace, which for me is a sensitive topic. I’m well aware of the raises and promotions I’ve missed out on when I gave up my salary and became a stay-at-home parent. I’m not sure I need the reminder.

Do you find the Salary.com infographic accurate? Tweet me your thoughts @jenpinarski.

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