Home Ec.: What is Your Housework Worth?

When I was a kid, I always got stuck doing dishes while my brother and cousins climbed trees outside. My grandma told me it was women's work and I told her that was a bunch of hooey. Yet here I am, many years later, doing dishes nightly along with a lot of other chores, from cooking and cleaning to running errands and taking care of pets. I am a part-time homemaker.Truth be told, I agreed to the arrangement. My future hubby is a tenure-track professor, which means he works really long hours and weekends. I am a freelance writer, and although I have days when I'm totally slammed, I usually have significantly more free time than he does. I also bring in about a third of his income, so instead of paying exactly half the mortgage and bills, I do nearly all of the housework.

I love how relaxed my man looks when he comes home to a clean house (not always) and a home-cooked meal (almost always). It provides me with a feeling of accomplishment. What irks me, though, is when he casually mentions that he pays for more. Then, as I contemplate banishing him to the couch for the night, I can't help but mull it over in my mind: What, exactly, is my work worth?

Following the advice of one of my best girlfriends, who is a relationship counselor, I started keeping track of how many hours I spend doing it each week. It was way more than I thought — and we don't even have kids! Yet trying to put a dollar amount on that work proved to be a challenge. Then I read this finance story titled "How Much is a Homemaker Worth?" Bingo!

According to the article, a fulltime homemaker who cooks, cleans, plays chauffer and cares for children would earn approximately $96,000 if his or her services were paid at market value. That includes laundry and yard work, as well. Of course, that number is just an estimate — and seemingly inflated at that — but I thought the breakdown was pretty interesting. I'm bookmarking it as proof that I'm earning my keep, even if I don't get a paycheck for my many hours of labor.

What do you think? How do you share the housework in your home? If you handle it all, do you feel the time you put in is valued?

Image: Shutterstock

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