08 May 2011

The Mother's Day Index -- How Do You Stack Up?

Every year some company or other (this year it was Insure.com) comes up with a Mother's Day Index. They use statistics from the US Bureau of Labor to calculate how much mothers should be paid for all the services they provide. For instance, the median salary for a cook in this country is $9.53 an hour, so if we assume mothers cook about 14 hours a week then they should be earning $6,934.20 a year just for their culinary services. This year's index suggests that it would cost $61,426 a year to hire someone else to do all that a mother does, so the mother of your children should be insured for at least that much.

I've heard of this index before but it is usually as a sound bite on the radio where they just give you the total. Thanks to the internet, when it was mentioned on CBS Sunday Morning today I could go online and see the actual breakdown including how many hours a week mothers are supposedly performing each task. I thought it would be amusing to look at how many hours I devote to these tasks and see how I stack up.

The first thing I realized right away is that the list of tasks is more appropriate for mothers of younger children. I have four teenagers in my house and they don't need me to do some of the tasks on the index, like planning activities. They have 40 hours a week down for that; in my case it wouldn't even be 40 hours a year. My kids aren't ferried to soccer or dance class, either, so driving is completely off my list. As for cooking. once my picky kids learned to use the microwave, my hours spent in the kitchen went way down. I only cook three meals a week myself; I make suggestions and ingredients available for the kids to cook the rest of the week.

Anyway, after I adjusted the hours for my lifestyle, my personal Mother's Day Index is $19,559.43 a year. I'm not sure how that makes me feel. I already know that I don't do as much as other mothers. Seeing it as a number is a little weird, though. At least it is one way for me to show people I'm not being modest when I say that having four kids doesn't work me that hard.
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