I have been a stay at home mom for nine years now! I am so grateful that I’ve been be home with my kids and be there with them for all the big and small milestones in their lives. I feel like staying home has kept my focus on my family and allowed me to give my all at being a wife and mother. I have no bad feelings towards moms who work full time…. rather I tip my hat to you for being able to juggle all those balls! I did go back to teaching after I had my first child to finish out the school year. I was a full-time working mom for about 3 months and it was no easy task!
My husband is a teacher and for the first six years after my choice to stay home, he was usually working on extra college classes for his certification and then a masters in school counseling. Staying home was a difficult financial choice for us, but we both agreed it was worth the sacrifice. Over those six or seven years we were living on one teachers income and able to have three kids, buy a home, buy a mini-van, pay $30,000 for a masters degree and come out of it debt free (other than the house of course). It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t always pretty, but looking back at those years, it was all worth it. I really can’t tell you how we did that other than Divine intervention and huge tax returns!
One other thing that has always been helpful over the last nine years, is my entrepreneurial spirit. I quickly learned that I needed something that I could call my own (other than my kids and home) and I might as well make money with it. Here is my list of the many things I have done over the years to make a little money on the side:
This one fell into my lap one year after staying home. I was asked to coach middle school volleyball. I can’t remember what our logic was, but my husband also coached with me! We hired a 6th grade girl (she was my former 4th grade student) to come to practice and babysit Kylee, while we coached. During most games, my parents were able to watch Kylee, but I do remember having to take her with me to one. I rode the bus with the volleyball girls and my husband followed behind the bus in our car with Kylee. It was a little tricky because both 7th and 8th grade teams played at the same time, so we asked a parent to watch Kylee during the game. But that parent was running late and I ended up having Kylee in the stroller while we were warming up. I’m sure it was quite a site… the stroller next to me as I’m hitting balls at the girls and they are passing back to me. I probably gave someone’s grandma a heart attack as she worried about my little baby in the stroller! Anyways… it worked out and we only coached this year. I had my second baby right as the season started the next year, so it was not good timing to coach again. But this was a great way for a new stay at home mom to do something just for me, make a little extra money, do something I enjoy, and get out of the house for a few hours each day.
Shocking, I know. I’m sure this is the most obvious one. You’re home already with a kid or two, so you might as well have 5, right!? I actually was never up for babysitting several kids or starting a day care. (And just FYI, if that is your interest, make sure to check out your state’s requirements on being licensed.) I did however, babysit my friend’s daughter just a few hours a few days a week. That was something I could handle and ended up being great for my own daughter as well. I did the same thing a few years later for a different friend who had a daughter that was my son’s age. It works great if you can find a friend with kids that your kids like… it’s basically like having a play date. I personally was not up for watching kids all day. My kids’ nap time is sacred and I am not willing to give that up. So, set some boundaries and stick to them. You will end up burnt out and hating life if you say “yes” to everyone and every thing. Decide what you are ok to sacrifice and don’t forget your limits!
3. Sell something.
I think it is a rite of passage that every new mom first, cut her hair short after giving birth and second, sell something. I know I did it and I watched many of my friends do it as well. I can count on one hand how many of those friends are actually successful with this one and are still selling that product, but hey, I can at least name a few. I decided to sell Usborne Books. It was a great side gig for about a year maybe 15 months. After that, I started to loose my fire and ambition. I learned that relying on other’s decisions to show up and buy something in order to make my money was not something I was a fan of. I did make some “good” money for that first year and it was exciting to bring home a few extra hundred dollars for a while. I also now have several wonderful Usborne books that our family loves. I don’t want to sound skeptical of this choice for a side gig, but I just know that it is not for everyone and that is ok. You may need to try it out before you know. I do have one friend who is killing it as she sells Rodan and Fields, plus she has amazing skin!
4. Teach something.
Teaching is my talent and something I enjoy doing. I went to school to be an elementary teacher and I did teach for 2 years and loved it. I decided to try and use this skill to make some extra money. I started out by tutoring out of my home. I did 30 minute sessions and charged $10 per session. I would either help kids with their homework or work on them with related material that I came up with on my own. My mom was still teaching at this time, so she was a great resource. But I also found that if I talked with the student’s classroom teacher, I could usually get an idea of what skills needed work. Tutoring worked well because my kids would play or watch TV or sit at the table with us and do their own “homework.” I enjoyed the one on one and the short times and it did help financially with small surprises or some extra groceries that month.
I then decided to go bigger, and planned to start a preschool out of my home. I did not want to mess with licensing and I guessed that it wasn’t a big deal. I advertised on Facebook and had several interested. I also got chastised by a local lady in town who did think licensing was a big deal. I thought the idea was over, but then had a thought to try talking with our rec center about teaching a class there. They loved the idea! This particular rec center was awesome and unique in that they allowed me to charge any price, they advertised and handled the payments and they kept 10% of the profit from my class as rent. I brought home 90% of what I charged and I did not have to pester people to pay me, or clean my house before or after school, I used their tables and chairs to paint on, and I was given cupboards to use for my supplies. It was the best thing that could have happened. I did this preschool for 2 days a week, 1 hour each day. It was mostly for 3 and 4 year old kids before they went to a longer preschool. I charged $52 plus a $3 supply fee to cover disposable supplies. I finally started making good money and this extra income was a huge blessing for us. I did this for 3 years before we moved. I enjoyed it so much that I added classes. During the summer I taught a science and art class for elementary kids. I really enjoyed teaching the art classes, so I continued doing that during the school year as an after school class for kids. With my combined classes, I was usually making around $500. That was very helpful for us.
I started a preschool again after we moved, but our rec center in our new town did not offer the same great deal. They wanted to pay me $7-$10/hour, which did not feel worth my time when I was making $50/hour before. So I decided to use my home, but this time I did not advertise on Facebook and I am keeping it small enough that I don’t need a license. I am mostly doing it this time so that my 3-year-old son can get the benefits of preschool without having to pay for it.
If teaching preschool is not your thing, don’t give up! There are so many things you can teach: fitness classes, swim classes, private lessons in your favorite sport, art, reading, math, animal care, horse riding, what ever you are interested and skilled in; you can find a way to teach it to others. It will hopefully make some extra money, but more importantly, hopefully you will find joy doing it.
If you have ever had the itch to try blogging… I say go for it. Today is my one year anniversary of starting my blog. I had big dreams of using this blog to make extra money as a stay at home mom. Although this did not come to fruition, it did lead me to my current job that is making a great financial contribution to our family. Blogging is a creative outlet for me that I enjoy as a hobby. For now, that is all it is and that’s ok. You never know if yours will be the one that “makes it” as a business and you’ll never know if you don’t try. I will always encourage everyone to try blogging if it’s something they are interested in. There are sooooo many success stories of profitable blogs, so why not yours? I used site ground to get started.
6. VIP KID
I started teaching with VIPKID about 10 months ago. This has definitely been my most profitable side job in 9 years. I wish I had found this one sooner. I teach Chinese kids English. I did not have an ESL background and I do not speak Chinese. These kids know enough English that we are able to communicate and I help them advance their English speaking, reading, and grammar skills. The lessons are preplanned, so all I have to do is show up and teach! I teach out of my home using my laptop camera and high speed internet. If you have a bachelors degree in any field and some kind of experience working with kids (does not need to be professional experience), you can apply.
The reason this job is so perfect for stay at home moms, is because I teach when my kids are asleep, so my daily schedule of being with them is not affected. In order to teach the Chinese children in the evenings after school, I must wake up early in the morning. I live in Mountain Standard Time Zone, so I teach from 4:30AM-7:00AM or 3:30AM-6:30AM during daylight savings time. It is also an option to teach evenings-midnight, but I prefer the mornings. I get to choose my own schedule and open as many or as little time slots as I want. Each class is 30 minutes, so I work in 30 min. intervals.
It can take a few months before all of your open time slots get booked, but once you get a few good parent reviews, it’s easy to fill your slots. After about 3 months, I became busy and my slots filled up. Now that I have a full schedule I make over $1,500 each month! I choose to work 3-3.5 hours/day, six days a week. This is my highest pay check so far. This includes a $100 bonus.
If you are interested in applying or learning more you can do so here. You can also read about my first month with VIP KID here. I do make $100 as a one-time referral bonus if someone uses my code (COURT0213) and gets hired. It is not a pyramid business, just a referral bonus. I would love to get that bonus and earn it by helping you through the interview process, so let me know if you are interested and would like some help!
A friend of mine that I referred to VIP KID recently told me that her kids told her she was happier since she started working. I feel much the same way. It is so therapeutic to have something to call my own, to use my brain again, to feel that I contribute financially, and having a responsibility outside of laundry, dishes, diapers, and dinner!
I hope that this list might help you come up with an idea to use your talents and creativity to take on a side job. Motherhood is a wonderful primary full-time job, but it is also nice to have a reason to take a break from that job!
What side-jobs have you done and would you recommend them??
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I have been in the chicken business for about 5 days now, which practically makes me an expert (ahem). Although I am truly NOT an expert in the chicken department yet, I would like to share what I have learned from my research from experts and how this newbie (a.k.a. me) got started with raising backyard chickens from chicks.
I had planned on writing this post months or years from now, when I actually can consider myself an expert. However a combination of a last minute decision to not write the post I had planned this morning, writers block for other ideas, laziness to go upstairs and get my list of blog post ideas, and the constant chirping I am listening to at the moment has led me to the decision to share with you what I have learned in the last 5 days from experience as well as all the great resources I have discovered.
Our family has always enjoyed other people’s chickens and their eggs. When we lived in Colorado, we were friends with the nicest people who truly were experts on backyard chickens. They shared their fresh eggs with us weekly and we took care of their chickens if they were out of town. My kids loved to go and gather eggs and take our scraps or freshly caught grasshoppers to the chickens to watch them fight over the food. We have missed that sweet couple and their chickens since moving to Wyoming. We have made friends in our new town who have chickens and it was talking with her that convinced me to go ahead and give chickens a try. This friend of mine adores her chickens and once she informed me that I wouldn’t need a heat lamp for the chickens in the winter, I was ready to try it!
Talk with friends, neighbors, and family about their chickens and get all the advice you can from those already doing it in your area. They know the predators to be aware of, how to protect the chickens from the elements where you live, and what breeds do best in your climate.
My next step in gathering information was watching a ton of YouTube videos. Here are links to a few of my favorite:
The other helpful information I received is from Murdoch’s, where I purchased our baby chicks. The salesman answered several of my questions and they had a pamphlet and information sheets and checklists to help me get started.
I found these websites helpful in learning about the different chicken breeds:
After gathering all kinds of information, it was time to make some decisions.
- Where to build the chicken coop. I learned that there are city codes to help you make this decision. One code said the coop must be 25 feet from the house (not including the garage) and 35 feet from the neighbors house. We wanted an area that would be easy to get to during the winter months (which is about 9 months out of the year for us…). We decided the perfect spot for our coop would be next to the far side of our garage. The garage and a fence will help protect the chickens from the wind and cold of Wyoming and there is a patch of cement on the other side to prevent predators from digging into the run.
- What type of coop you will use. There are so many great designs out there, so the hard part will be choosing what works best for you. A general rule I have noticed is that the coop needs to be about 2-4 square feet/chicken inside and about 8-10 sq. feet/chicken in the run. We got our idea from one we saw in a neighbor’s yard. I will keep you updated on that project when we get there!
- How many chickens you want. We want enough eggs to feed our family of 6 and provide a few extras to either give away or for the kids to sell. From what I’ve read, I think 5 chickens would be plenty to provide eggs for a family of 6. We are starting with 9 knowing that some might not make it and to have extra eggs.
- What type of chickens will you buy. There are online hatcheries that you can order your chicks from and that seems to be a good choice. We decided to just buy our chicks from Murdoch’s, which does limit the breeds available to buy. They were totally sold out of chicks, but getting new shipments weekly. I got a list of the breeds that would coming in and then I did my research on those breeds to make sure they were hardy (could survive the winter). I then showed a picture of a full grown chicken from each breed to our kids and they each got to pick 2 breeds they wanted to claim as their own. This was a good idea in theory, but the day we went to pick up the chicks, they were already sold out of some breeds and I had been given wrong information on the date that other breeds were coming. So we didn’t get to buy the variety we were planning on, but we are still happy with what we got. We ended up with 2 Delaware, 2 Silver Lakenvelder, 4 Rhode Island Reds, and 1 New Hampshire Red.
- Where will you raise the chickens until they are ready to be outside (5-8 weeks). Chicks need to be kept inside in a brooder box for several weeks until they are fully feathered and strong enough to withstand the temperatures outside. The first few weeks they can be kept in a storage tub, but by about 4 weeks they need a bigger box still usually in the house or garage. We have a good spot in our basement that is on tile floor, so we don’t have to worry about spills or poop on our carpet. We are using a large pink storage tub. I would recommend using a clear one if you have it, because the combination of the pink tub and the red heat bulb makes for quite a glow! We plan to move them to a box that held our new bathtub when they get older and need more space.
Ready to begin
Finally you have some decisions made and you are ready to begin! We might regret this, but we bought our chicks before having the outside coop built and ready to go. We figured that we should have at least a month before they need to go outside, so we’ll see if that was an OK decision or not in a few weeks.
The first supplies we bought or gathered were:
- brooder box (storage tub and large box)
- heat lamp and bulb
- Chick starter food and grit
- Pine wood shavings
- Chick feeder and water containers (we bought used)
- Electrolytes and vitamins
- Apple Cider Vinegar
The total cost so far without the chicks was $54.
Once we had the basics and had the brooder box set up and ready to go we then got the food and water ready.
The brooder box needed a couple inches of the pine shavings on the bottom, the heat lamp securely attached, a thermometer near the bottom to accurately know the temperature (new chicks need the temp to be about 95 degrees), their feeder, and something solid for the water. We placed two bricks side by side for the water and that has been helpful to prevent it from knocking over and keeping the pine shavings somewhat dry.
For the food we poured some of the chick starter food into a container about 3/4 of the way full. We then filled the rest of the container with 1/4 of grit to help the chicks digest their food. After mixing it up good, it is ready to pour into the feeder. To prepare the water, we used a gallon jug and filled it with room temperature water and added 1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar to help the chicks with digestion and overall health. The day that we got the chicks we poured that into their water container and then added about 1 tsp of the electrolytes to their water container, not the gallon sized jug. They do not need electrolytes all the time, but it is good for them in the beginning after the stress of being transferred. Now it is time for the chicks!
We went and picked out our chicks and brought them home! The chicks cost $40 for 9 of them. Like I mentioned before, we did have to make a few last minute decisions on the breeds, but the salesman was great at helping me make those decisions.
When we got home my 5 year old was busy at carefully placing the chicks into the brooder box and then he was perfectly entertained the rest of the day!
Now our job is to
- Interact with the chicks (1-2 hours a day), so that they get used to us and being handled.
- Keep their food container free of pine shavings and filled each day.
- Clean their water container to make sure it is free from pine shavings.
- Wipe their bums if they get backed up (a.k.a pasty butt). I was not thrilled with the idea of having to wipe bums, but it really hasn’t been too bad. Only 3 chicks really needed it for a couple days and then it’s been better.
- Make sure the temperature is where is should be. It starts about 95 degrees for the first week and then decreases by 5 degrees every week after that.
- Clean the brooder box every other day.
- Get that chicken coop built!
We unfortunately learned a very hard lesson. Our kids need clear rules about what is allowed with the chicks. The first night we had our chicks, my husband and I were finishing our dinner while the three boys were downstairs with the chickens. We assumed that my two older boys would supervise the 2 year old with the chicks. But we were wrong. My two year old, apparently tried to make a chicken fly by tossing it into the air. The poor chick landed on the tile floor and died. It was the saddest thing! We buried the chick and now my son keeps asking where the chicken is and if it flew to heaven. Since this incident, we now have strict rules with the chickens. Carter is only allowed to hold the chicks if a grown up or my daughter is with him and he has to be sitting down on the blanket next to the coop. This rule applies to friends that are over as well.
The happy lesson we have learned is that the chickens like to be snuggled and kept warm! My daughter is a chicken whisperer and discovered that they like to be wrapped in her shirt and will snuggle in and fall asleep! We snuggled these chicks while we FINALLY got to watch The Greatest Showman over the weekend.
If you are considering starting backyard chickens, I hope this will give you information and encouragement to try it out. We are only 5 days in and other than one casualty, we are really enjoying this new addition to our family. It is giving the kids more responsibility and a chance to learn how to care for animals. I really don’t enjoy pets in general and I plan to have as little as possible, but I am actually excited about the chickens. They are an animal that gives something in return! Carter had to go to time out after his chicken incident and now he is ready to be nice and happy!