Stay at home parents (usually moms) have long been assigning a monetary value to the work they do. We live in an economy that values productivity, passion, and hard work. We also live in a time where the Mommy Wars continue. Those two factors fuel the urge to highlight and promote the value of a stay at home mothers.
The stay at home mom* statistics have been making the rounds on the Internet for awhile now. One chart in particular is fairly popular, yet it's quite misleading. 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.
Facilities Manager — iffy. True, the stay at home mom does over see the general maintenance of the residence, but that doesn't take up as much time as a 50 story building or an entire campus. Also some of those duties overlap with janitorial services/housekeeping.
CEO — completely false. The average CEO has an MBA and/or other advanced degree. She also has extensive training in businesses practices, and she has most likely worked her way up the corporate food chain, which takes at least a decade if not more. The CEO is the public face of the company that has hundreds or thousands of employees. She is entirely accountable to a board of directors and investors. That means if shit goes down on her watch, whether she knew about it or not, she's responsible and she has to answer to her board, her staff, the press or law enforcement. The CEO's salary is supposed to reflect these duties and responsibilities. (Yes, I realize CEO salaries are inflated today.) The stay at home mom may oversee the household's finances and everyday operations, but those duties don't compare to what a CEO has to do every day.
Laundry operator — true.
Computer operator — iffy. I know plenty of IT people who would justify their awesomeness by telling you all their qualifications and years of experience. Although some may have an over-inflated ego, IT workers are right. You need training and maybe some education to do all the technical things beyond restarting a computer and re-installing an operating system. (That sums up my computer skills.) The stay at home mom is probably tech-savvy, but not so much that she could work full-time in an IT department and be paid as such.
Housekeeper — true.
Cook — iffy. This one is tricky because I've known some people who went to culinary school, and that was intense but worthwhile experience. I'm not sure what the definition of "cook" is in this case. If it's doing the basics, then I'd say that's accurate. But if this chart means cooking five star meals, then no.
Daycare teacher — iffy. Daycare means different things to different people, as I've learned from my mother, a former teacher. Some people think it's just babysitting while others want it to be an education and fulfilling experience for the child. Again, daycare teachers have specific training, licenses, and education experience. States vary on requirements. But parents play critical roles in their child's formative years too — reading, basic math, learning sounds and words, etc.
Van driver — true.
Janitor — true except that it duplicates the work of a housekeeper. Again, we're not talking maintaining and cleaning a typical office building.
Psychologist — false. Similar to the CEO, psychologists have PhDs, a license, highly supervised training, and serious legal and ethical liabilities. If they screw up, they could get charged with a crime, sued, or have their license revoked. Given these major responsibilities and background requirements, psychologists are paid accordingly. Again, a stay at home mom doesn't have to deal with those requirements or legal liabilities.
The comparison to what a stay at home mom does in this area is simply inaccurate and not fair. In other words, me putting a band-aid on an open cut doesn't made me a nurse. I can do some of the things she does (bandaging and cleaning wounds, taking temperatures), but I have neither the schooling, training or licensing to do the things that she is expected to know how to do (x-rays, triage).
To be sure, being a stay at home mom is a personal choice, and it is no doubt hard work. I will not argue either of those points. However inaccurately inflating the value of this work — whether intentional or not — still doesn't give a truthful picture.
*I'm referencing mothers only because the chart did.