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??
Have you ever read the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People? It’s a great book and I love the idea of developing habits to help me to be more effective and productive. This gave me the idea to ask some of the most highly effective stay-at-home-moms what HABITS they have that help them to be highly effective at their many responsibilities. Now I get to share the ideas I’ve gathered with you!
7 Habits of Highly Effective Stay at Home Moms:
1. Make your bed. I know this one is not a new concept to anyone and that’s because it really does help get your brain in the right mindset to be productive. My sister who offered this as one of her habits said it like this; “Messy Bed = Messy Head.” I had never heard that and I love it! What a simple way to clear your head! If this truly becomes a habit, then you will do it no matter what! I have made my bed at 3:00 PM before, just because I hadn’t had a chance to do it yet and it really did help me feel better about the whole day!
2. Wake up early to get in YOU time. My friend said that she likes to wake up early, before anyone else, to study and exercise so that she makes sure to get in something for herself. I love the analogy that in an emergency on an airplane, we are told to put our own air mask on FIRST before helping anyone else (even our children) so that we can ensure that we have the ability to continue to help others. The same thing goes for moms during their day to day routines. If we don’t take care of a few of our own needs first, then we are not as likely to be helpful to others (including our children). I know that when you are up in the night with waking children, that you probably feel like the “YOU” time you need is to sleep. I also know that I have never once regretted getting out of bed, but I have regretted more than once when I sleep in. It can be difficult to start, but if you make it a priority, it will become a habit and become easier.
3. End the day with 5-10 minutes to pick up the house. I know that sometimes we think, “what’s the point of picking up anything” because the house is so messy and we feel like it will take too much time to even put a dent in the mess. But I bet we would be surprised what can get done in just 5-10 minutes. Set a timer, so that you don’t get sucked into cleaning the whole house. I usually choose one area of the house that matters the most to me to be tidy and focus on that area. For me, it’s the upstairs living area (kitchen, dining room and living room). If that main area is somewhat picked up, I feel better about starting the day tomorrow. My basement, where all the toys are, can be left messy without it bothering me the next morning. So decide what area is most important, set a timer, and make it a priority until it becomes a habit.
4. Do a little cleaning every day. Cleaning the whole house in one day is not an option for me. That would take at least 2 hours without interruption (which is also not an option) and by the time I finish one room, there would be a new mess in another room. I just have to accept the fact that my house for now, will not stay clean for long. My sister is great at this. Her house always gets cleaned during the week. She makes sure to clean the bathrooms one day, floors another day, dust another day, etc. She said that she does not do it all at one time, but throughout the week and she knows that her house is staying CLEAN. This is different (at least in my mind) than staying picked up. A house with toys laying around is not a dirty house, but a bathroom with pee stains on the toilet is a dirty toilet. So do a little actual cleaning every day to ensure that the basics are being done. It’s best to set a schedule:
Wednesday: Sweep & mop
Thursday: dust & vacuum
Friday: run errands and/or extras at home
5. Do the dishes before going to bed. There is not much that I hate more than waking up to a messy kitchen filled with crusty dirty dishes. I usually aim to do the dishes and clean the kitchen immediately following dinner, but if we have to be somewhere before I can do that, then I make sure to take 15 minutes and do it after kids are in bed and before I go to bed. Our mornings are busy with getting ready for school, eating breakfast and making lunches. These things in and of themselves can be stressful, but if I have clean kitchen counters and a clean table for my kids to eat on and an empty sink for the kids to pile their breakfast dishes in, it is more enjoyable for everyone! Again, this might feel like a huge burden at first, but if it becomes habit, you will wonder how you ever used to sleep knowing what was waiting for you in the morning!
6. Do ALL of the laundry in one day: wash, dry, fold, put away! This is a new habit of mine that has been LIFE CHANGING! Maybe a little dramatic, but seriously… life changing! I used to wash whites and darks on Monday, colors and kid clothes on Tuesday, towels and sheets on Wednesday. I washed those things during the day and usually left them in the laundry basket to fold later that night while sitting on the floor and watching a show. Then I put the folded clothes back in the laundry basket to put away the next day. Basically, I was never DONE with the laundry. Ever. Every day I had something that needed done with the dang clothes! I have now set aside Monday’s as my laundry day and that is the only day I deal with laundry… for the whole week! I make sure that I can mostly be home all day on Monday and I start first thing in the morning. I do the 4-5 loads of kid clothes first. As soon as one load is washed and dried then I fold it on my bed and leave the piles there. After all kid clothes are washed, dried, and folded on my bed then I sort them into their own laundry baskets. This is usually getting finished by the time that kids are getting home from school. The three oldest kids put away their laundry right when they get home from school. Then I do the three loads of adult laundry and by then my husband is home to help get those loads folded and put away while I’m working on dinner. Every once in a while I do need to do towels or sheets on Tuesday, but I’ve noticed that when I do that, they sometimes sit in the dryer until next Monday when I do laundry again. Aiming to get it all done and put away in one day helps me to feel like I can get other stuff done during the week and we all have clean clothes in our drawers for the whole week. Try it!
7. Have a schedule and routine and write it down! I am a list person. Big time. I use my notebook and write my schedule for the week in the exact same layout and usually the same things week after week. Seeing your schedule written out will help you prevent double-booking your time, forgetting out of the ordinary things, and will help you feel great about how much you’ve accomplished. Daily routines help you stay on track with some of the habits we’ve already discussed like cleaning something every day, doing the dishes, laundry, and having time to do something for you. A schedule helps make sure that you are getting out of the house and meeting the needs of other people (story time, play-dates, volunteering, etc.). There is something wonderful about consistency!
There you have it. I’m sure there are 70 x 7 other habits that I should include in this list, but I felt good about starting with these 7 habits. I just googled to find out how long it takes to develop a habit. I always thought it was 21 days, but “new research” has found it to take 66 times before an action is considered a habit. So give yourself some time, set a goal 2 months out, and hopefully a new habit will have formed to help you feel like a highly effective stay-at-home-mom! I personally am going to improve #4! I don’t even want to admit on here how many times I’ve mopped my kitchen floor since we moved to our new home 8 months ago…
Oh, and one more thing. I asked my sister-in-law (who is highly effective) for her habits and she had an interesting spin on the topic. She recommended that readers learn about the 4 tendencies that Gretchen Ruben discusses in her book, The Four Tendencies. The more we learn about ourselves and what makes us tick, the better we can improve our habits and become highly effective in the work we do within our home!
I would love to hear about what habits you have that help you to feel highly effective and nice and happy!