Salary.com's Assumptions About Division of Labor

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

A couple of years ago, Leslie wrote about a nifty little PR gambit by Salary.com, which came up with a Web site that purported to calculate the value of work done at home by both go-to-work moms and at-home moms (it was later extended to dads, too). The original column received a lot of comments on whether there was any great perspective to be gained in attaching a dollar amount to labors at home.

Salary.com is still at it, two years later, but what is really interesting is not how much they think we're worth around the house, but what they're assumptions are about what parents do all day. The Web site comes up with the final salary numbers by figuring out what real-world jobs a parent does at home, making the assumptions behind the final "salary" every bit as interesting as the number.

Among the highlights, assuming one go-to-work spouse and one at-home spouse with two kids:

  • They assume the average household generates 9 hours (!) worth of laundry. Regardless of who is at home, mom is assumed to do most of it.
  • They assume 11 hours a week playing the role of "van driver." Seriously? Are the soccer fields that far away?
  • Moms are assumed to spend no time working as a "groundkeeper" at home. At-home dads log 4.1 hours at it.
  • Families with an at-home mom are spending about 14 hours a week cooking (with mom in the kitchen for 11.5 hours), according to the calculator. Those with an at-home dad cook 16 hours a week (with dad responsible for 9.8 hours).
  • At-home moms apparently spend 17.2 hours a week as a "housekeeper." Working moms rack up 7.8 hours in that role. Salary.com doesn't give dads any credit for housework, but we do spend 11.7 hours as a "general maintenance worker" if we're at home and 5.1 hours if we're working.
  • I am all for parents getting full credit for what they do around the house, but looking at the numbers, things seem pretty inflated, at least using my life as a model. Am I simply lazier than average: Do the Salary.com breakdowns reflect the division of labor around your house?

    Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

    Note to Readers: Guest blogs are on a short hiatus. Look for them to return in a few weeks.

    By Brian Reid |  May 20, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Dads , Division of Labor
    Previous: Finding the Smart Time to Return to Work | Next: What Are You Doing May 30th?


    Add On Balance to Your Site
    Keep up with the latest installments of On Balance with an easy-to-use widget. It's simple to add to your Web site, and it will update every time there's a new entry to On Balance.
    Get This Widget >>


    Comments

    Please email us to report offensive comments.



    I don't know -- I'm looking at the numbers and if you take the 11 hours of 'van driving' and divide it by 5, that's two hours a day. Assuming you have kids that attend an activity every day, then taking a kid to an activity, staying if they're little (at soccer or someplace), then driving them home is indeed two hours.

    The cooking, divided by seven, is about two hours per day, which I don't spend cooking but I do spend preparing food, cooking, cleaning up afterward, unloading the dishwasher, etc.

    We live in the big old burbs with big old lawns and lots of commute time, so these numbers actually aren't too far off for us. Sad but true. Lawn care actually takes 4 hours every weekend.

    I'm with you on the laundry, however. I do three loads a week and it doesn't take nine hours,.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 7:40 AM

    It's always interesting to actually log your time, especially for those tasks you dread. Whenever I do this, I find that the task I hate the most takes much less time than I build it up to in my mind. I spend more time despising and dreading dealing with the mail than the few minutes of my day that it actually consumes.

    Posted by: babsy1 | May 20, 2008 7:47 AM

    I agree that he laundry seems like a lot, unless you don't send the work stuff out to be dry cleaned and then I can totally see how there could be nine hours with all the ironing of the work clothes. The driving really can be brutal. My kids don't get bussed, so I spend 2 hours each day just driving them to and from school. Activites are really a small part of our driving time.

    The rest does seem pretty reasonable, but really doesn't reflect the division in our house. I do most of the work here, while he does the work at work. I'm in charge of the lawn and garden care, he is my trusty assistant sometimes (takes direction well, I might add), and all of the maintenance and repairs. When he is here, I'd like him to spend time with the kids or me.

    What this doesn't account for is that some of these things are enjoyable. I like working in my garden and it is as much a hobby as it is work. When I'm at ballet, I often get to sit and chat with other moms, which is sometimes a curse, sometimes a blessing depending on the moms. Finally, as a SAHM, I have more control over how my day rolls out than I did working at an office, but I never get to punch out and I'm usually the go to when someone is sick in the night, so the whole thing is really apples and oranges.

    Posted by: Moxiemom | May 20, 2008 7:52 AM

    Some of these numbers seem about right, at least for us. 14 hours a week for cooking isn't far off, considering I cook (or at least prepare) three meals a day most days. I maybe spend an hour a week on the lawn, if it's averaged out over a year and I can count big projects that take me a day. DH probably spends 1-4 hours a week, depending on the season.

    Housekeeping and laundry are way off, though. In an ideal world, I'd probably spend 1-2 hours a day keeping up with everything (decluttering included). Realistically, it ranges from 15 minutes to an hour a day, with supplemental mad-cleaning days to catch up.

    And since DD is a toddler, her social schedule isn't exactly packed and most of her/our friends are nearby. So we don't spend more than 30 minutes a day or so in the car.

    Posted by: NewSAHM | May 20, 2008 8:00 AM

    ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ....................

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 8:04 AM

    We don't spend much time on driving since we live fairly close to the school and only one kid has occasional activities at this point. I can believe the amount of time on laundry although we might be a bit under 9 hours. I expect that we have around 8 loads of laundry a week. That's a lot of folding. And we don't even iron. We're fairly minimalist in terms of yardwork. Most of the time the grass just gets cut, so maybe 2 hours a week. I think 14 hours a week for cooking is way over what we do normally.

    Posted by: Rockville Mom | May 20, 2008 8:14 AM

    The laundry number seems way off to me too and my husband does the laundry chez nous. I think the assumption that moms do the laundry is way off. Several of our friends have the dad doing laundry. My husband does do the yard work but does not spend 4 hours a week. We could spend that and our property probably needs it but we live with the weeds and use the time for other things.

    As far as the driving, with my daughter in public school taking a bus there is less driving than for families with kids in private schools. One of her activities is at the school. My little one goes to preschool less than 2 miles away and has very little activities right now. We also do carpools for most activities so I'm only driving one way. So, I probably average about 30 minutes a day if you look at the whole week.

    Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | May 20, 2008 8:17 AM

    The averages seem high, but it all depends on how many kids you have. 5 kids vs 2 makes a huge difference in laundry and activities. Not sure if this is cited in the study, not to mention the age of your kids.

    Posted by: Get Real | May 20, 2008 8:21 AM

    As Get Real notes, it depends on how many kids and how old they are. With more kids there's more total work, but it can be split among more people. My thoughts:

    • They assume the average household generates 9 hours (!) worth of laundry. Regardless of who is at home, mom is assumed to do most of it.

    With oldest DD home from college, we do about 20 loads of laundry per week. Way more than 9 hours. I probably do most of it; DW does a lot, and the kids do some.

    • They assume 11 hours a week playing the role of "van driver." Seriously? Are the soccer fields that far away?

    This past Saturday was typical. Youngest DD had a softball game at 8:30 and another at 5:15. Middle DD had a travel softball game (45 minutes away) at 6. Oldest DD needed to get to work. DS wanted to go to the gym to work out and to the library to study. Easily 3 hours in the car on Saturday.

    Add in all the after school stuff on weekdays and 11 hours is low. There are now 4 people in the house with drivers' licenses (soon to be 5) so this gets split up among us.

    • Moms are assumed to spend no time working as a "groundkeeper" at home. At-home dads log 4.1 hours at it.

    I like to tell people I have a "kick-start" lawn mower. When the lawn needs mowing I kick DS until he starts.  (Settle down folks; that's a joke.) Seriously, between mowing, weed-whacking, etc. the groundskeeping takes about 5 hours a week. As moxie said, part of it is fun - my vegetable garden is one of my sources of relaxation, and DW likes working in her flowerbeds.

    Bear in mind that that's seasonal. There's almost none of this in the winter.

    • Families with an at-home mom are spending about 14 hours a week cooking (with mom in the kitchen for 11.5 hours), according to the calculator. Those with an at-home dad cook 16 hours a week (with dad responsible for 9.8 hours).

    This depends on what you include in "cooking". If all the prep work and clean-up are included, then 14 hours a week is about right. If you include all the cleanup (dishwasher, washing stuff by hand that doesn't go in the dishwasher, etc.) as housekeeping, then you can knock some of this time off.

    • At-home moms apparently spend 17.2 hours a week as a "housekeeper." Working moms rack up 7.8 hours in that role. Salary.com doesn't give dads any credit for housework, but we do spend 11.7 hours as a "general maintenance worker" if we're at home and 5.1 hours if we're working.

    The total time sounds about right, but it's split among family members. Kids clean and vacuum their own rooms, and clean their own bathrooms. DW and I mostly do the general family areas, although sometimes the kids are assigned to clean and vacuum the halls and family room. And yes, DW does more cleaning than me.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 8:43 AM

    Seems high to me. Laundry for us is maybe 1.5 hrs total -- 1 load/person/week, plus sheets and towels, no ironing, and it just doesn't take that long to put stuff away. Well, especially when you live out of the clean clothes basket for half the week -- really shortens that "putting clothes away" time. :-)

    Yardwork is maybe 2 hrs/week for half the year, including taking care of the garden and periodic weeding of the beds. Oh, and that's me, not DH -- he'd be happy with 3/4 acre of concrete and gravel. We have a lawn service for the rest. I guess if we did the mowing, this # would be reasonable.

    Cooking seems high -- I haven't had 2 hrs/day to spend in the kitchen since I had my kids! Well, if you don't count the periodic birthday cupcake time, which is always quadrupled by "mommy, can I help?"

    The driving figure seems realistic. Even with school/daycare only 10 mins away, dropoff/pickup is 30-45 mins each end for 2 kids. Throw in weekly gymnastics and swimming, and there you are, even before the boy is old enough to do stuff. I'm really looking forward to next year, when my girl switches over to the local elementary -- grandma and grandpa have already volunteered to walk her to the bus stop or to school in the morning. How cool is that?

    Cleaning is WAY high. We have maybe 15-30 minutes of cleanup every night, on average, plus an hour or so of picking up once a week; before we had the maid service, it took @ 2 hrs together on a Sat. AM to bust through the cleaning. Of course, we also have low standards. :-) Also think they give dads really short shrift in the cleaning department. We always split that down the middle (since we both hate it, doesn't seem fair to stick one person with the whole deal) -- and usually, when guests are coming, he's the one who goes into "must be perfect" mode.

    Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2008 8:44 AM

    Reminds me of a time years ago when I read a statistic on how many hours per week a couple usually spends on housework, gocery shopping etc. I excitedly told my husband that we were beating the average. He replied, "Yes, except our house isn't really clean."

    In the end I think people do what they have to do and then they do what they can. For us it's motivation rather than available time for chores that waxes and wanes.

    Posted by: Green Mtns | May 20, 2008 8:46 AM

    Laura - "Laundry for us is ...1 load/person/week plus sheets and towels"

    Really? Wow - even when I was single and living alone I did three loads of laundry per week. One load with the white athletic socks, undershirts etc (stuff that really needed to be bleached, in other words); one load of that was mostly stuff I wore to work, and one load of stuff like jeans and sweatshirts. And once every few weeks there was stuff that had to be washed in cold water else it would run on everything, so there was an extra load that week.

    If I could have ever figured out how to get down to one load of laundry per person per week, I'd be very happy indeed.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 8:54 AM

    It doesn't sound completely unreasonable. I don't spend nearly that much in the car. We live where everything is within a few miles, and kids are very young - so no games with people far away.

    Cooking, probably, but I enjoy it, and I'll probably be doing more this summer with the kids - they enjoy helping. Does that include packing lunches for the kids? Cause that's a few minutes longer, too.

    Did anyone see the headline for the WaPo story re: obesity and how kids who live in the 'burbs are fatter than those in the city? Not surprising to me, considering all that time in the car (then I guess people eat in the car too) - but interesting to see it in 'print.'

    Posted by: atlmom | May 20, 2008 8:59 AM

    And I'm with the laundry - we have at least one load a day. Which would be 7 loads a week - and I believe with summer that might change, given my DH changes frequently, then the kids probably will too.

    Of course, not in too long, the kids will be doing more (hopefully!).

    Posted by: atlmom | May 20, 2008 9:05 AM

    I can weigh in on this one a bit since I vaguely track my hours.

    # 9 hrs of laundry: we have 3 people in the house but generate 5 loads (lights, darks, towels, sheets, and miscellaneous other - throw blankets, curtains, extra clothes some weeks, cleaning rags) a week, sometimes 6 like right now as we're potty training. I hang as much as possible to reduce our energy consumption so each load takes about 10 min sorting time, 5 min loading time, 20 minutes hanging time, 20-25 min folding time (depending on how much toddler help I have, but not for the sheets) and 10 min putting away time. So about 5 hrs a week, give or take.

    # Drop off and pickup at daycare is about an hr a day - half an hour total including chatting to teachers, finding lost sunhats, etc. For Saturday playgroup I can add on 2 hrs IF you count staying. That would be 7 hrs a week - and no activities yet, and one child. I can see this getting to 11 hrs pretty quickly.

    # I'm the groundskeeper. In the winter I shovel after storms and that's about it. But spring, summer, and fall, I think 4.1 hrs is very low. I probably spend 6-8 hrs total, although I like it fine. Again it also depends on how much toddler 'help' I have.

    # I think 14 hrs is emminently reasonable. We probably spend 15-20 minutes in the morning cooking breakfast and making lunches for the adults, and half an hr making dinner (unless it is crockpot but then that prep happens the night before).

    When you add in making lunches on weekends, prepping things (washing the week's fruit, prepping veggies); baking for snacks; preparing nicer meals on weekends, etc. I'm pretty sure we're close. AND we're not home for lunch.

    If grocery shopping, checking flyers for sales, and meal planning is included in that, we're so there.

    # I'm surprised you could have been home with a toddler and NOT found that 17 hrs of homework is reasonable. I have never before mopped up the kitchen floor three times in my life. :) Working out of the home I do about 1.5 hrs a day (20 min in the morning, the rest at night) and a few hours on weekends.

    Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 9:06 AM

    "Housekeeping" or pick up really depends as well, which I seperate from cleaning as in scrubbing bathrooms, mopping floors, vacuum, dusting. Actual cleaning depends on standards too.

    If both parents work and there is no one home during the work days to mess things up, the pick up is diminished. If you stay home with little kids the pick up is endless.

    When both my kids went to school full time and we both were in the office most days, the house became much easier to manage. Plus our kids are old enough to pick up after themselves now and do additional chores.

    Posted by: Get Real | May 20, 2008 9:08 AM

    AB -- yeah, I was equally surprised by your 20 loads/week figure! Low standards help -- plus a reeeeeally big washer. :-) But really, my life is basically one outfit a day, plus periodic gym stuff. Which pretty much adds up to one load a week (especially since you can wear stuff like jeans more than once). I never bother to separate colors any more, since I discovered color-safe bleach, and I got tired of dry cleaning and woolite, so now everything but my suits are machine washable (well, some of it wasn't, but I found that out the hard way, so they're not really an issue any more). I do separate gym stuff, but that just divides the same amount of stuff into two loads every two weeks.

    And, of course, the kids' clothes are small, so you can really squish a lot in one load. :-) And it's not like you have to stand in front of the washer when it's running, right?

    Basic moral of the story: when you really, really hate doing something, it's impressive how little time you can squeeze it all into.

    Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2008 9:10 AM

    Oh to ArmyBrat - it helps to have a big front-loader. I just have all white towels and throw the socks in there. :)

    Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 9:11 AM

    Laundry hour seem right. I put a load in the washer. It takes 30 minutes. After that, it goes into the dryer for 45 minutes. After it gets folded - about 15 minutes.

    So, 1 load of laundry takes 1 1/2 hours. 6 loads a week = 9 hours. And during the 75 minutes of machine time, I get to watch Oprah.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 9:18 AM

    I think those hours are reasonable as an average across households. Multi-children families will bump the numbers up.

    I would say that my washer/dryer RUNS 9 hours a week easily. However I am not standing there waiting for it to finish. Sometimes I think they estimate "elapsed" time instead of time that requires input.

    You might drive your kid around all that time, but how often do you sit in the car and read or run over to the grocery store while you're waiting for practice to end? We parents can fit a lot into a day!

    The one household task that I've timed myself doing is emptying the dishwasher. That's a chore I procrastinate on. Yet it only takes 3 minutes. It just seems like it takes longer.

    Posted by: RoseG | May 20, 2008 9:22 AM

    "If I could have ever figured out how to get down to one load of laundry per person per week, I'd be very happy indeed."

    Here's where those low standards come in handy. I learned in undergrad that sorting clothes isn't necessary (unless you are silly enough to buy red clothes). It also helps if your lifestyle accommodates simple clothes in easy-to-care-for fabrics. Unless you change your clothes several times a day, it should be possible to fit a week's worth into one (large) load.

    Posted by: NewSAHM | May 20, 2008 9:26 AM

    I have a problem with assigning a monetary value to housework and child care for one's own children in general. Not only do these artificial times show a complete lack of scientific method in arriving at a value, but value itself should not have to be defined by the almighty dollar at all.

    I like the way Virginia courts value each spouse's contribution when determining how to divide up assets in a divorce--a spouse can make monetary and non-monetary contributions to a marriage and both are equally valued. The property is distributed equitably based on the extent of each spouse's contributions, which in most normal marriages is about 50/50. This law has been around for about 25 years now, and its purpose was to protect SAHMs from getting the shaft in property distributions.

    Posted by: Elizabeth R | May 20, 2008 9:34 AM

    Last Friday's topic was better than this one.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 9:44 AM

    It isn't clear if those assumptions are made about the population, e.g. everyone in the U.S. whether or not they did that activity on the day, or participants, those who actually reported doing that activity. The American Time Use Survey has average numbers for all of those activities. www.bls.gov/tus. Their most recent press release talks about how much time is spent by stay at home moms who are married to dads who work full time. It might give you all a different idea, and is based on people reporting what they did the previous day.

    Posted by: canary28 | May 20, 2008 9:46 AM

    Shandra, Laura - bwaaah! You two just sound so different from DW and the DDs.

    Yes, we do have an enormous front-load washer. This thing can take 10 pairs of jeans or five sets of sheets or pretty much whatever you want, without a problem. Otherwise there probably wouldn't be enough hours in a day to do the laundry these folks generate.

    "One outfit a day" - I can't relate to that. Unless I wear jeans and a sweatshirt to work (which I do on occasion) I'm changing as soon as I get home, because it's off to softball or volleyball, or out to work in the garden, and I'm not wearing work clothes to do that. (And we're not talking suits as work clothes except on special occasion; mostly just khakis and a polo shirt.)

    And, um, DW and the teenaged daughters? One outfit per day? I'm sorry, three or four seems to be the minimum. DS usually runs through two outfits per day, but he's "between girlfriends" right now; after that changes he'll probably go up to three or four as well. The 11 year old will sometimes go through only one outfit per day, but that's only if it's not softball season or volleyball season and she hasn't been painting or working in the yard or...

    What's that you say? Wear the same outfit multiple days without washing? Yes, I suppose you could do that, if you didn't sweat too much in it or spill something on it. Figure the odds of a teenager doing THAT. (DW will sometimes wear the same outfit multiple times between washes; she seems to be the only one in the house with the grace and coordination to not spill something on it. :-)

    Given the electricity costs, we do laundry late nights, early mornings, and weekends. We hang most of it to dry - probably about two-thirds - but it's a lot of time. Usually, we'll put a load in late at light when the rates drop, then put a second one in when we get up for work in the morning. So two loads a day during the week; then about five loads on each of Saturday and Sunday. It adds up. :-)

    (When oldest DD was away at college it dropped by about five loads per week. But she's home for the summer, so...)


    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 9:48 AM

    The one household task that I've timed myself doing is emptying the dishwasher. That's a chore I procrastinate on. Yet it only takes 3 minutes. It just seems like it takes longer.

    Posted by: RoseG | May 20, 2008 9:22 AM

    I have a real aversion to emptying the dishwasher but it is the shortest, simplest task. When I hear 3 minutes I laugh, it is absurd that I procrastinate on this. BTW, it is ready to be unloaded right now. I'll check back in 3 minutes.

    Posted by: Get Real | May 20, 2008 9:50 AM

    AB's 20 loads is a testament to a household full of teenagers who if I recall are all involved in sports. Gym and practice clothes create a TON of laundry and usually need to be washed separately. When I was in HS there was usually at least one emergency small load of laundry to get a uniform shirt clean in time for the next game.

    Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 20, 2008 9:56 AM

    AB, I'm laughing now -- I think my daughter's going to be like yours. Luckily, by that time, she'll be able to do it herself. :-) Oh, and I wear jeans to work every day, which definitely helps with the "one outfit" thing. I do have some yoga pants that I change into at home sometimes, but since I'm only wearing them for an hour or two in the evening, I don't feel real compelled to use a different set every day. Same thing with the gardening/outside clothes -- figure if they're just going to get dirty again tomorrow, and no one's going to see me in them, why bother? :-)

    But my husband's got it down to a freaking science: he now skips folding our son's clothes -- he separates out pants, shirts, jammies, and socks, and just shuts everything into the right drawer.

    Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2008 9:56 AM

    Laura: Haha my mom did the same thing - when my laundry came with too many "instructions" - things that needed to hung to dry, my preference for medium heat to avoid shrinkage, yada yada she told me it was my responsibility. Frankly I don't think any kid should leave home (for college or whereever else life takes them) without basic laundry skills! That said most of my laundry disasters were well into my adult years and were the result of laziness... assuming that the unknown new red shirt wouldn't bleed.

    Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | May 20, 2008 10:05 AM

    wow! ArmybratI could not imagine being willing to do that much laundry! There is absolutely no reason for 3 or 4 outfits on average per day! I can understand 2, but not on everyday. Because when I get home from work if I'm staying home, its pajams. And pajamas, like jeans and sweaters, definitely should be worn more than once. My husband and I do laundry every 2 weeks or so, because thats how long it takes us to get one whites/colors (we use those dye magnet things and color safe bleach detergent) and one for blacks. Occasionally it builds up to do an extra load of sheets and towels, so maybe its safe to say 2.5 loads every 2 weeks.

    I also was confused by the large amount of housework stay at home moms have compared to working moms. Do you really think stay at home moms homes are cleaner? I think stay at home moms like to inflate how much time they really spend cleaning.

    I also really hate the assumptions of who does what in the family, its 2008 people, not 1958. Women, if you really have a husband that does that litle if you both work, why are you with him?!

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 10:11 AM

    At the risk of boring everyone, a really good way to cut down on laundry is to buy everyone a unique set of towels and then only wash each person's towels once a week. We swim almost every day all summer long but those towels get hung up on the deck and air dried once a week and only washed on weekends.

    Although I am NOT enjoying high gas prices, I AM actually enjoying all the ways in which people are becoming more environmentally minded as a result of high gas prices, etc. Try to sell your kids on the environmental benefits of wearing something more than once, not WASHING your towel every time you take a shower, etc. We've been working on running the dishwasher less and not running a glass through the dishwasher every time you have a glass of water. I'm hoping that as we get more environmental, we'll reap both money and time benefits as a result.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 10:15 AM

    "Try to sell your kids on the environmental benefits of wearing something more than once, not WASHING your towel every time you take a shower, etc. "

    You're kidding, right? Are there people who wash every towel after every use? I've never heard of anything so silly. Oh - Except for 3 -4 outfits per day per person. That IS sillier. No wonder some of you people are doing ridiculous amounts of laundry.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 10:28 AM

    All of our laundry is washed together. We do a load a day. It takes 15 minutes to fold and put away. That's about 2 hours a week.

    We clean about 15 minutes a day during the week, with about 2 hours on the weekend. That's about 3.5 hours a week.

    I do most of the food prep on the weekend (about 2 hours) and cooking takes about 30 minutes a night. Then there's putting together breakfast and lunch, at about 15 minutes a day. That's about 6 hours a week.

    Groundskeeping! Ha! Maybe 15 minutes a week averaged over the year.

    Driving our daughter to daycare adds about 30 minutes a day to our commute. We walk to the parks on the weekends. So, that's 5 hours a week.

    We're WAY under, and I couldn't be happier about it! We have a neat home, but not the neatest. Our yard is passable. The food is great. I would do anything to live, work, and have a daycare provider all within walking distance of each other, but that's so unlikely to happen, though I do have my eye on a couple of things.

    Posted by: atb | May 20, 2008 10:29 AM

    anon @ 10:11: "Because when I get home from work if I'm staying home, its pajams"

    With four kids, there are almost zero days where I come home from work and stay home. Softball games, baseball games, chorus concerts, band concerts, church groups, and just going to do the grocery shopping and other errands come up always.

    anon @ 10:15: We do issue one towel/ washcloth/ hand towel to each family member and tell them to use them for a week. But that's five sets of sheets, six towels, six hand towels and six washcloths a week, plus dishtowels, plus the hand towels in the "powder room" used by guests, at a minimum. It adds up. (Side note: that drives my mother nuts when she visits, because despite the fact that she worked full-time outside of the house the whole time I was growing up, she insisted on washing towels after each use. She insisted it was the only way to keep the bacteria at bay. So our standards are lower in some ways.)

    Product of a Working Mother: all of our kids do know how to do laundry, and oldest DD has said that she wants to do her own this summer - she's learned how she likes it done. We've told her that's fine, but except in emergencies, no small loads of laundry will be done - it's a waste of electricity.

    Laura - your husband sounds like my kind of guy! Although I no longer put laundry away; in fact I rarely even sort it except to get my stuff and DW's. Mostly I tell the kids that their clean laundry is in location X and they need to get it and put it away. We're verging on TMI, but the catalyst for that was that I was no longer able to easily tell which underwear belonged to which daughter (nor did I particularly want to know). After enough screaming about giving the wrong stuff to the wrong girl, I quit worrying about it at all. It's their problem.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 10:32 AM

    "After enough screaming about giving the wrong stuff to the wrong girl, I quit worrying about it at all. It's their problem."

    So, think 7 is old enough for that approach? :-)

    "I also was confused by the large amount of housework stay at home moms have compared to working moms. Do you really think stay at home moms homes are cleaner? I think stay at home moms like to inflate how much time they really spend cleaning."

    To be fair, the house gets a lot messier when you and the kids are there all day -- more dishes in the sink, toys strewn everywhere, etc. (you should hear my husband b**** about the extra dishes when I work at home -- even without kids there!). And cleaning it all up takes twice as long when you have a remora attached to you.

    "Are there people who wash every towel after every use?"

    Ditto. Would never even occur to me. But then again, I doubt that would be a surprise to anyone who's been reading this morning, now, would it? :-)

    Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2008 10:51 AM

    Laura,

    I agree with you about how messy the house gets when even one additional person is home all day long - let alone kid persons. AGH!

    Anyone who has ever worked from home, been unemployed or had a spouse work for home or be unemployed for any period of time has experienced the phenomena of exponentially extra mess. Some people just forget what it's like.

    Posted by: MN | May 20, 2008 11:00 AM

    re: the phenomena of exponentially extra mess. It definitely depends on the person. The presence of my toddler, my husband, or my MIL means lots and lots of extra work. The presence of mother, brother, sister, or I and the mess is greatly reduced, as we are genetically predisposed to extreme neatness and awareness of dirt and clutter.

    Posted by: atb | May 20, 2008 11:09 AM

    atb, the fact that you each clean up after yourselves does not negate the occurrence of the mess. It means you timely clean it up, often mid-task. It does, however, eliminate the risk of intra-familial murder or assault that might otherwise result from exponentially extra mess.

    Posted by: MN | May 20, 2008 11:17 AM

    ""One outfit a day" - I can't relate to that. Unless I wear jeans and a sweatshirt to work (which I do on occasion) I'm changing as soon as I get home, because it's off to softball or volleyball, or out to work in the garden, and I'm not wearing work clothes to do that. (And we're not talking suits as work clothes except on special occasion; mostly just khakis and a polo shirt.)"

    I change when I get home from work. I air my work clothes out and often they can be worn again. I shower every day and my work's not physical, so usually I can wear that again another day.

    For the clothes I change into, that outfit's only used for a couple of hours, so I change into it again the next day or two. Especially jeans. I guess I think more in terms of hours worn over times worn. :)

    I wear an apron for cooking - it might be old fashioned but it saves my clothes! I'm not that prone to spills otherwise.

    And at the gym I wear a sports tank and shorts, so not a lot of bulk there. :)

    It probably helps that we send most of my husband's work shirts to the cleaners. I iron my work clothes myself though.

    But I will say that my son is not a teen and his clothes are small. :-) I can see how sports would radically change that.

    Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 11:24 AM

    "I have a problem with assigning a monetary value to housework and child care for one's own children in general. Not only do these artificial times show a complete lack of scientific method in arriving at a value, but value itself should not have to be defined by the almighty dollar at all."

    I don't have a problem with it as a thought experiment. I'm sure we all know that Salary.com does it as a PR thing. But it does bring to light the fact that a lot of work that is NECESSARY for the continuation of society (raising kids, feeding them) is perceived as a "lifestyle choice."

    Women's work like caring for the elderly is somehow perceived as taboo when it comes to putting a value on it, but we have no problem paying landscapers tons of money to move rocks around. I don't know. How else to measure but dollars? Shall we give out "love points" instead?

    Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 11:31 AM

    One load per person per week covers clothing in our family. But add in sheets and towels and you've got a few more. I'd say 10 loads of laundry per week. That's a lot of folding...

    Two-thirds of our kids are tall enough to load and unload the washing machine now so that helps. As does paying someone else...

    The basic issue here, regardless of the accuracy of salary.com's numbers, seems to be that housework and childcare constitute real work, no matter who does 'em.

    We'd all be better off if we handed out compliments and respect for these jobs on a daily basis to whomever is doing the work, keeping the house and clothing clean and the kiddos safe, well-fed and happy.

    Posted by: Leslie | May 20, 2008 11:44 AM

    9 hours of laundry? I will have to check with the honey on that one but I am pretty sure he doesn't do 9 hours of it.

    We tend to do a lot of small loads tho. My honey needs to wear work shirts with a company logo but only got three from the company. That means 2 loads of darks a week. If the kids get muddy? Sometimes we don't have extras and in to the laundry it goes so they have clothes to go home in. Nose bleed on my cream hand towel? Into the washing machine it goes with whatever other clothes are appropriate.

    Our driving is absolutely insane (and so be the gas) to deal with the kids and the ex.

    Cooking and cleaning are well below. I can't imagine that we spend more than a couple of hours a week cleaning (ok... our standards aren't super high). Cooking? I make one meal on Sundays which lasts us most of the week. The kids come with their food so I just have to microwave everything for the rest of the week.

    And I am with the rest of the folks who mentioned the dishwasher. For whatever reason I procrastinate on that puppy and I don't understand why. It takes seconds to perform the job. Why... oh... why... do I not just.do.it.

    Posted by: Billie_R | May 20, 2008 11:46 AM

    What category does Salary.com put blogging on On-Balance? I mean, are we a 2 cent or 2 dollar item?

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 12:00 PM

    MN- I think it's more nuanced than that. It's that I don't have to dirty every pot and pan in the house to make a single meal or use all the kitchen towels in one day. I do agree that it's because I clean as I go and don't get off task easily. For instance, I know there is already a roll of paper towels opened, so I don't have to open 3 more, making them inappropriate to put back under the sink, resulting in a tower of opened rolls of paper towels on the counter top at the end of the day. Not that all the above has happened or anything. ;) Somehow my husband, MIL, and toddler make 1.5 me units of mess. Maybe not quite exponential, but it feels that way!

    Posted by: atb | May 20, 2008 12:00 PM

    I use the clean one area a day method, which means I only spend about 15 minutes a day on cleaning, and about 90 minutes for the weekly vacuuming, dusting, etc. I also do food prep on Saturday, which means planning meals on Friday afternoon for the Saturday AM grocery run. I usually make a new recipe on Saturday afternoon, portion the leftovers into containers for freezing that day, and assemble as much as possible for the coming week. Laundry is Wednesday evening and Sunday morning while I'm at Mass. Oh, and correspondance Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Some call it regimented, I call it planning for success.

    Posted by: babsy1 | May 20, 2008 12:32 PM

    The house definitely gets messier when one is home with kids all day. The kids play, they eat, they make poopy diapers, they make a mess. In a daycare, the daycare staff clean up the food kids drop on the floor in the course of eating. At home, a SAHM does it. etc etc. Working outside of the home all day redistributes about half of one's trash: the workplace and the daycare deal with that stuff. Yes, I counted the number of trash bags.

    To anon at 10:11 who thinks that SAHMs are inflating their housework: do you think kids go into stasis in little boxes while you are working? No, they are running around playing and creating clutter. When they paint, someone has to clean it off the table, etc.

    My house is far cleaner as a SAHM than when I was working because now I have time to clean it and I am more highly motivated because if it isn't clean then I have to look at and trip over the mess all day.

    We generate 8 loads of laundry per week (two loads per person, on average), not including sheets. I don't know how anyone could get away with 1 load per person, unless your washer and dryer are huge. Also, a casual workplace that allows you to re-use jeans etc will generate less laundry than a formal workplace where you have to dress professionally and wear fresh clothes every day.

    Posted by: jcadam | May 20, 2008 12:32 PM

    anon @ 10:28: "Except for 3 -4 outfits per day per person. That IS sillier."

    Thank you. Can you please tell that to my teenaged daughters?

    In some defense of middle DD - we just finished softball season. For two and a half months, she went to school in whatever school clothes were appropriate. Then she changed into softball practice clothes and had a three-hour practice. When she was done, the practice duds were truly gross, and she just wanted to get out of them and take a shower. After the shower she'd put on outfit #3 (didn't want to put the school clothes back on). And yes she used a different practice outfit each day. So that I could understand.

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 1:29 PM

    Shandra: "I air my work clothes out and often they can be worn again. "

    I'm sorry, this is terrible, but that conjured up an image in my mind. One of my college roommates would do as many guys would - just throw his clothes on the floor when he took them off. Then later he'd run around all over the room, picking up various shirts and sniffing the armpits to see if he could find a shirt that could be worn again. If not, he'd find the one that was least objectionable and hang it out the window to flap in the breeze, thinking that would "air out" some of the smell.

    (Oldest DD lived in a coed dorm, on a coed floor, this year, and was shocked that most of the guys did the same thing. Hey, it can beat doing laundry. :-)

    Posted by: ArmyBrat | May 20, 2008 1:33 PM

    There was a post on how the van is becoming the new dinner table awhile back. Now suddenly a lot of time in the van is over inflated? Which is it?

    Posted by: Liz D | May 20, 2008 2:24 PM

    Ah, the greatest luxury in my life, laundry! DH tells the boys to do a load of jeans (or colored clothes, or a bleach load - as needed) and they do it! And I have clean clothes with no effort on my part.

    The estimate for laundry time is about right for our house, since the boys aren't as efficient as I might be. But, I'm not going to say *anything* because I like not having to do that chore.

    I love my yard and my gardens, though, so I spend a lot more time on them than that estimate. I've also got older son doing the lawn mowing this year, for pay. I don't mind doing it, but he benefits from the exercise, and the spending money, so I'm okay with handing it over to him.

    Cooking - I can't even guess if that estimate is close - DH does all the shopping, cooking, and 90% of the clean-up.

    Driving is probably reasonably close. Again DH does most of it, so I don't have the best info. The last time he was sick and I stayed home for a day of chauffeuring, there was about an hour in the car to get each kid to his respective school and then get home, and separate trips to each school for afternoon pick-ups. It was probably more than 2 hours total that day.

    Older son will be turning 16 next month, and taking driver's ed over the summer, so maybe he'll be driving himself to school next fall. Something will have to change because younger son will be out of elementary, and the middle school and high school schedules would require teleportation to get both kids to their respective schools on time.

    Posted by: Sue | May 20, 2008 2:33 PM

    It seems like the SAHM in my area shove the kids out the door and get their hair done, play golf, etc.

    Posted by: Anonymous | May 20, 2008 2:40 PM

    LOL @ Army Brat. I do employ the sniff test, but not for smelly things from the floor. :)

    I just try to reduce our energy footprint and for me part of that is making a decision about whether something is dirty, vs. assuming it is because I wore it to work after a shower, wearing deodorant, sitting at a desk.

    Posted by: Shandra | May 20, 2008 3:00 PM

    If I wanted to know this much about people's cleaning habits, next time I will pick up the current copy of "Commercial Laundry & Dry Cleaning".

    Posted by: Oh Yea! | May 20, 2008 4:14 PM

    I think if the driving time includes driving around running errands it is entirely accurate. There are many days that I drop the kids off at preschool and spend the next 4 hours going to the grocery store, Target, dry cleaners, drugstore, and a million other various errands. Although I'm not driving the whole 4 hours, it is more time in the car.

    Posted by: nvamom | May 20, 2008 5:46 PM

    Did you really mean 3 hours a day of softball practice? Is this for real? Just wondering...

    Posted by: katy | May 21, 2008 2:41 AM

    This is late to the post, but I was surfing while eating lunch and actually went to the Survey.com site to see what the dollar figure would be for me, a WOTH mom. I also did the same for my husband figuring it would be an interesting discussion. I was SHOCKED and now flaming MAD that for the exact same job, CEO stood out, I was allocated $70.22/hour and my husband was allocated $180.93. Are you KIDDING me? I understand that somewhere there is a statistic that male CEO's get paid more than women, but this is unimaginable. I was wondering how he could get "paid" almost as much as me for doing half the work (I used the "typical" hours). What could have been a useful discussion tool has now lost whatever credibility it might have had. I have not used the site previously, but I would never trust salary.com for anything.

    Posted by: IPMama | May 22, 2008 2:22 PM

    The comments to this entry are closed.

     
     

    © 2007 The Washington Post Company