Six straight days and nights of freezing rain. (I’m picturing a beach. I’m picturing a cobalt sky. I’m feeling the swaying of the hammock – and yours truly in occupancy.)
My college kids back in school at last – credit card charges and empty gas tank to show for it.
And if you offered me a choice between an all expense paid vacation versus a guaranteed increase in compensation?
Your Money or Your Life?
Your money or your life? Hold on. It’s not so simple!
Sure, I could use a vacation. A year? It sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? But all it would take is a month to make me a new woman! And yes, if I could, I would even take my college kids somewhere abroad (if they wished). Taking them on vacation is something I’ve been unable to do in all the years since divorce.
Yet as weary as my brain (and body) may feel at times, it’s nothing new for any working parent. It’s nothing new for most working adults these days – who juggle long hours, multiple jobs, a little moonlighting and constantly looking.
But the working mother in particular – who is often harder on herself when it comes to domestic duty than any appraisal of professional performance – what would she choose if she had the option? Bucks or the Bahamas? Or perhaps she’d prefer a mountain cabin to the beach?
Mothers and Money
But whatever the age of your kids and the stage of life in which you find yourself, if offered a choice between a year’s vacation or a 20% raise, it seems that most of you – shall I make that “us?” – would pick the additional compensation.
Last week, Forbes featured an article on working mothers and compensation, specifically citing data from a survey referenced in Working Mother.
I wasn’t surprised to see the numbers, clearly showing that Money-Earning Mum would take a raise over vacation more often than the other way around.
Jenna Goudreau’s article points out that the nationwide survey used a sample of 822 working mothers, and a hypothetical 20% raise versus a year of vacation. The results?
According to a new survey by Working Mother magazine and Chase Slate, most (61%) working moms would take the salary bump.
In reading the referenced findings in more detail, summarized on Working Woman, it seems that the survey “drew” respondents who were both career and family-focused. Might I add that Chase (Credit Card) Slate sponsored the survey? So how representative is this data? Were we to have a larger sample (and more diverse?) – in age, earnings, marital status – how then might the results skew?
Ages and Stages: Single Moms, Older Moms
A broader (non self-selecting?) sample would be useful, as would additional data which included number of children, ages of children, age range and stage of career for the mothers, not to mention their marital status which seems to me to be a significant (missing) factor. Industries and job classifications would also be relevant.
We all know that women on average earn roughly 80 cents on the male dollar, so naturally a little “extra” would go far. And it’s only natural that we have evolving priorities as our families grow – including higher costs. But depending on our earnings (and whether or not we’re carrying the load solo), is the collision of work and “life” about juggling and extras, or covering the necessities – which requires more money?
I am not surprised by the findings; I’m only surprised the percentage isn’t higher. Doesn’t more money buy us more time?
And doesn’t that time ease our juggling and stress?
One child, two parents, both salaried with benefits – whatever their ages?
That’s a different scenario from the same couple as older parents, with all things being equal, and very different if they have three or four children to support.
One parent, in her 30s or 40s, with children she’s managing as a single mother?
She may crave some downtime – desperately – but I suspect she’ll be driven by the more pressing need for additional compensation.
That same parent in her 50s or older? With high school students prepping for college, or college students in need of an infusion of cash for books and fees, not to mention tuition? Young adults who may be settling back into the family home – with financial strains of their own, and possibly kids?
Take the money and run might be the preference! But I imagine that additional compensation is the only reasonable path for most working parents.
Incidentally, both articles are worth your reading, touching on issues of women increasingly taking responsibility for family finances, and wanting more money-savvy children as part of the process.
So what would it be if you had the choice? A big bump in salary or a year’s paid vacation? And what stage in life are you at, that explains your choice?