8 Things Moms Do That You Can't Put a Price Tag On

Aimee Ogden | Jul 13, 2015 Being a Mom
8 Things Moms Do That You Can't Put a Price Tag On

A few times a year, there's a lot of talk about assigning some sort of monetary value to the work that stay-at-home parents do. Typically this kind of work is referred to as mothering work, specifically, because as a society we've more or less decided that child-rearing as an occupation should be avoided by men lest they catch a serious case of cooties. A new article by Laura Fitzgerald Cooper in the Washington Post, however, is asking us to start thinking about valuing the work mothers do in a different way.

Assigning an enormous but fictional salary to stay-at-home moms, which is what usually happens during conversations about the worth of mothers, is a dead end to progress. It's a convenient way to feel good about how much we really care about mothers, without actually dealing with any of the things that would do more than pay lip service to their value: national paid maternity leave policies, say, or publicly funded day cares, or a universal 401(k) program. Besides, pretending that mothers are basically worth of the same salary that doctors, CEOs, and chefs make devalues both the work that those actual professions do as well as the choice that these women have made: I stay at home with my kids, and my husband and I did the economic calculus to figure out if and how that was going to work. I don't need a pretend paycheck to make me feel good about that choice.

That said, there are plenty of examples of non-monetary ways to value mothering work suggested by Cooper in her piece: For one thing, an emphasis on valuation and respect from the non-primary parent. Of course, valuing the work that moms perform is hard to do without having an idea of all the minutiae they actually deal with day to day. So let's run down a list of things Mr. (or Ms.) Non-Primary might not be aware of.


Image via © PathDoc / shutterstock 

  • Saved Calls to Poison Control


    Image © Sokolova Maryna / Shutterstock

    As a mom, I have snatched untold numbers of distressing items out of my kids' hands on the way to their mouth during walks and trips outdoors: strange mushrooms, berries of unknown provenance, the occasional mystery turd. The great outdoors is beautiful, and also it wants to kill my children.

  • Carefully Perused Tissues


    Image © Serhiy Kobyakov

    There's nothing quite like investigating the post-sneeze remains of a Kleenex to evaluate snot quality and decide whether the doctor needs to be called. "Is it supposed to be this color?" is a question we ask ourselves frequently about our kids' bodily fluids. Yes, it's gross. No, we don't care.

  • Gallons of Sunscreen Applied


    Image © BlueOrange Studio / Shutterstock

    Also, sunglasses and hats placed on heads (and replaced, and replaced again), signs of overheating monitored for, and cool drinks offered ... not counting the mojito we might be pouring ourselves after an entire day at the park or splash pad.

  • Nutritional Labels Examined


    Image © www.BillionPhotos.com / Shutterstock

    I mostly describe myself as "not a math person," but I can be found at the grocery store doing statistical analysis on the RDV of iron and vitamin C found in various frozen vegetables and dry cereals.

    More from The Stir: 10 Tips to Ensure Picky Eaters Get the Nutrition They Need

  • Picture Books Read


    Image © LUMOimages / Shutterstock

    Is the little nugget getting exposed to enough sounds and words? Is his brain getting enough ripe fodder to chew on? Am I going to snap if I'm asked to read The Grouchy Ladybug for the eighteenth time in a row?

  • Piles of Clothing Organized


    Image © MediaGroup_BestForYou / Shutterstock

    No, you can't just sort them based on the size listed on the label, because the 12-month pants from this store are actually slightly smaller than the 9-months pants from that store. And no, you cannot just dress the baby in a burlap sack and call it a day.

  • Last-Minute School Projects


    Image © Ruslan Guzov / Shutterstock

    When Junior remembers that tomorrow at school he's supposed to recite the Gettysburg Address while presenting a Jell-O mold in the shape of Abraham Lincoln's head (complete with stovepipe hat), who do you think he's going to turn to?

  • Knees Bandaged


    Image © 2xSamara.com / Shutterstock

    I am the last person to argue that cleaning a scraped knee and taping a Band-Aid over it is the equivalent to being a trained nurse, let alone a doctor. I have zero years of medical school under my belt, and the only prescriptions I am entitled under the law to write are for extra hugs and kisses. However, parenting two toddlers entails a lot of scraped knees, and a lot of bumped heads, and a lot of pinched fingers, all of which I see to with all my regular-mom aplomb. And that's not worth $21 an hour, I don't think -- but isn't it worth something?

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