Work and motherhood don’t have to be an either-or choice, as long as we can find the right balance between the two that works for us.
Stay-at-home moms often feel left out of the constant “Girl Boss” mantras we hear in pop-culture, but studies show that women actually become more creative and resourceful after having children, making us excellent entrepreneurs. I would like to make the case and give some examples of how you can earn money from home and derive satisfaction from work while still prioritizing your family.
There’s a pervasive myth that only privileged, rich women are capable of being stay-at-home moms and that surviving on a single income requires 6 or 7 figures. This is simply untrue. Certainly your location and the cost of living will be variable, but the majority of stay-at-home moms I know are nowhere near rich and live very modest lives on a strict budget. This doesn’t mean that stay-at-home moms are unwilling or un-wanting for meaningful work from home. Many of us deeply desire to take on creative projects that contribute to family finances, but we simply don’t want that work to take precedence over the work of family life.
Many stay-at-home moms simply don’t want their work to take precedence over the work of family life.
Sometimes that means the work is seasonal, only done when necessary, or something that you can even include your children in while doing it. These projects don’t have to become your life’s work to be of immense value to the home and your sense of self. Even if you only make enough to occasionally cover the groceries, that’s something to be hugely proud of. So what are some realistic options that can help bring money into the home?
Run a Stall at a Local Market
I will first start off with my favorite example and the example which fits best with my own life, and that’s open market selling. The beauty of working at such markets is that they often only happen once a month or during holiday seasons, meaning they’re something you only do occasionally and make a big cash payout in a short amount of time. There’s also the advantage of being able to sell almost anything there. Choosing something to offer for sale simply depends on your own areas of skill and interest.
I used to make air plant terrariums and sell them at craft and Christmas markets. This work required an initial investment of the supplies to make my terrariums, the time to put it all together, and the cost of participation in the market. I would often triple my investment. I loved this work, and while it’s on pause during the early stages of motherhood, I fully plan to begin it again one day when the time is right.
Some other ideas that I witnessed working excellently during my five years working at markets were the following: making and selling artisanal candles/soaps, handmade jewelry with gems and crystals, resale of vintage clothing/furniture and antiques, handmade wool/linen clothing, knitwear and wool blankets, artisanal food (because some people go to markets simply for the food!), and handmade artwork.
I recall a very clever woman at the markets whose stall was just for framing, which allowed people to buy artwork from a local artist and bring it to her stall, where she would frame your artwork for you so you left with something ready to hang on your wall. Offering a product or service that’s hard to find elsewhere or appears to make your customer’s life easier is key to success at markets.
Offering a product or service that’s hard to find elsewhere or makes your customer’s life easier is key to success at markets.
If you’re at a Christmas market, you can include handmade Christmas decorations, wreaths, and custom present wrapping, which is a huge earner because people love to leave markets with their presents for others fully wrapped and ready for delivery. Also, selling things like peppermint hot chocolate, mulled wine, and hot apple cider are surprisingly successful market stalls due to their minimal investment in the ingredients.
The options are endless and really provide you with a world of possibilities if you’re creative and the type of person who resonates with entrepreneurship.
Monetize a Skill Online or in Your Community
Another versatile option is monetizing a skill online or in your community. If you have a skill like playing an instrument, ease with maths or science, etc., you can start a tutoring group where you charge each student $20 an hour giving lessons in these subjects. If you’re good at sewing or knitting, start an Etsy shop where you can hand-make pieces of clothing to order and ship internationally. If making delicious home cooking is your passion, you can start your own catering business by taking out a few Facebook ads and letting your neighborhood know you’re available for hire.
Determination and confidence in yourself is key to getting yourself off the ground.
These skills are in reality not so difficult to monetize. The key is in marketing your skill fairly and well. Whatever service you’re offering you can be sure there’s someone out there who will pay you to do it. Much of the hesitation women experience before starting a project like this comes from the thought, “No one would pay me to do that!” I’m here to tell you they can and they will! Determination and confidence in yourself is KEY to getting yourself off the ground. Once you get your first client, things almost always snowball into something bigger.
Doula, Birth, and Postpartum Support
Doula and birth support is a side hustle I’ve seen take off in recent years, especially among mothers in the natural birth community. A doula is a birth support person who is trained in offering emotional and spiritual encouragement throughout the pregnancy and labor process.
It's a skill you can use to take on as many or as few clients as you can handle.
Becoming a doula takes minimal training and monetary investment to be certified and can earn you $800-$1000 per client. What’s great about this job is that it's a skill you can use to take on as many or as few clients as you can handle. For women who have already had their first child, this can be very appealing as they have the added benefit of their own experience of becoming mothers.
It’s important to note that a doula is not a medical certification and is not in any way involved with delivering babies; a doula is someone who acts like a knowledgeable sister, therapist, or spiritual support in everything birth and labor related.
Gardening and Raised Bed Rental
Finally, gardening and landscaping are some of my other favorite options, available to anyone with a backyard. If you have the benefit of owning land, you can not only grow things that you can sell at market, but you can potentially build and rent out raised garden beds to people in your community who wish to garden but don’t have the space. If you build five raised beds and rent each one out fully ready to plant in for $200 per growing season, you can make an extra $1000 for your home in a single summer!
You can even make a small business going to people’s homes and cultivating their land for them.
If you’re a skilled gardener, you can even make a small business going to people’s homes and cultivating their land for them. Many people wish to use their gardens more productively but can’t due to limited knowledge or time in their own schedule. Stopping by once or twice a week to several gardens to maintain the plants chosen by the client is uncomplicated and allows you to earn money in the sun and fresh air. The neat thing about this job is that you can bring your kids with you to the gardens and teach them about nature and agriculture while you work.
Whatever your personality or skill level, you’re only limited by your imagination. I firmly believe that there’s meaningful and enjoyable work from home that can be done to fit anyone's schedule. Take some time to dig deep within yourself and give yourself the space to figure out what kind of work from home would suit you best.
I think the greatest benefit will not actually be the money, but teaching your children resourcefulness and determination by example, as well as the personal satisfaction in accomplishing work that allows you to keep your family as the top priority.