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Home Production

money-fam.bmp Have you ever thought of yourself as a financial asset? Economists use the term, “human capital.” The concept is that people = money. You can increase your human capital by getting married, having children, going to school, learning a skill, or teaching a family member a skill. So, way to go all of you who are potty training… you’re increasing your human capital!

One of the ways women particularly (and thanklessly) add value in a household is through home production. Home production is defined as “unpaid activities which are carried on by and for the household members which might be replaced by market goods and services.”

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Unpaid home production I’m planning to engage in today includes; research for building our new house, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, cleaning up the toys (I plan on delegating that one), making my bed, cooking the meals, doing the grocery shopping, and mowing the lawn.

Can we just talk about mowing the lawn for a second? I’ve been married for 13 years. Last year, because of unusual circumstances, my husband was no longer able to mow the lawn. We had two choices: I could do it or we could hire someone. I thought it might be fun to learn and I was sick of not being able to see out the windows because of the over-grown lawn. So I figured it out. I’d never in my life mowed the lawn before so there was a bit of a learning curve (most embarrassing was when I poured a whole can of oil in and the machine started smoking so badly, I had to call my father-in-law over to perform an emergency oil change).

After a couple of weeks, the novelty of the job started to wear off. So I told my husband we were making a new deal. I knew that eventually I was going to grow resentful for taking on this new home production task on top of all the others that fall to me. So my solution was that from then on we would pay me. Now I get the going neighborhood-kid-rate every time I mow the lawn. I think lawn-mowing is now my favorite home production task.

That was a long story. The point is… is there a home production task you particularly dread? See if your budget can handle paying you five bucks every time you do it. If you do not feel rewarded for your work, it will be really hard to keep doing it. One of the ways I reward myself is by ruthlessly fishing for compliments. If I spent the day vacuuming and a friend drops in, I make good and sure they know I’ve been vacuuming so they can say, “well done.” Hmmm… I’m not sure what that says about me.

You are amazing, creative women. How do you reward yourself? Don’t you think built-in rewards make home production more enjoyable?

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