THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Wanna star? Hire a stay-at-home spouse
I just hired someone– for $50,000 a year– to take care of my house. A house manager. This is in addition to my full-time nanny. And the cleaning service. And my assistant at work.
You think I'm loaded and I'm lucky. But I'm neither. My house is so small that I sleep in the kids' room. I think having money to pay people to help me maintain a sane household is more important than having tons of space for tons of possessions.
I mentioned my new hire to a friend, Jason Warner, a director at Google. He said that every high-level woman he's ever worked with has had to pay for help at home or had a stay-at-home husband– or has been falling apart at work.
For the past year, I've been falling apart. It's clear to me now that a woman competing at high levels in corporate life has to have help. Serious help. Most men who make a lot of money and have kids also have a stay-at-home wife. She holds their world together while he focuses on work.
What's it like to be a woman competing with men with stay-at-home wives? Expensive. A recent study said housewives are worth six figures. That's no exaggeration. Those men are getting not just a house manager, but someone who is there all the time and is willing to have some sort of regular sex life. For all that, the estimate of $100,000 a year seems very low.
My new house manager's specialty is families with moms with time-consuming jobs. I told her I'm worried that she won't be able to deal with our family's eccentricities. She says she can: the last family used to have birthday parties at breakfast instead of dinner because the mom couldn't get home for dinner.
I told the her I'm always home for dinner. And violin lessons. When I'm not traveling. I felt smug. For a minute.
I hired a house manager because I don't think there's any way I can compete in my profession if I have to do things like clean up for an hour a night, or make a toy-store run for a last-minute birthday party.
Jason told me his wife went out of town for five days, and he had to take time off. He said he didn't want to use up vacation. He said he'd be fine.
By the second day, he was going nuts. He said, "I'm telling the kids I'll be there in a minute, and then I send an email. I IM while I'm driving. I take phone calls when the kids are waiting for me. This is crazy. It's so hard."
I've been doing this every day for years. That's really what convinced me to hire the house manager. Jason was living my life for four days, and he thought it was crazy. And Jason is the type of guy I'm competing with in business. He has a housewife. They're a good team.
So here's my advice to women who want a big career and a stable family: you need to earn a lot of money to make it happen. I don't know a stay-at-home dad who's taking care of kids full-time, over the course of five to seven years, without a lot of money in the bank. And I don't know a woman with a huge career without money to support a bunch of people to take care of things at home.
For women, the difference between success and failure at the top of the ladder is a house manager.