Jul 13 2014
Most of these ideas could probably apply to dads too!
This topic has come up a LOT recently. SO many people saying that single moms can’t work AND homeschool (I work from home, volunteer with church, homeschool my son, am paying down school debt and my home is open to guests at any time… I am NOT supermom, nor do I want to be; I was not “privileged” to have any financial backing when I started (I kept our current apartment by the grace of God alone, with 3 eviction notices in a 2 year span of time))….
And then there are the moms whose husbands provide entirely for their families but who would like to supplement the family income – with lots of little ones running around at home.
So – just some ideas in random order as they came to me in the past week or so – combined in multiple ways, in varying degrees, modified to meet your family’s needs, these are TRIED and TRUE:
- take in babysitting – a full in-home daycare, or just one child. Registered/licensed with the state or unofficial (most states allow a certain number of hours of childcare in your home before licensing rules kick in). Licensed in-home daycares also have access to the Federal Food Program which, in low income areas, can slightly more than cover the cost of food. If your household qualifies, you can receive credit for your own children as well (up to age 8 in the state I had a family daycare).
- craft skills – take some time to make something you love. Make as many as you can/want. Sell them at craft fairs, post them on Etsy (20 cents a listing that lasts 4 months or until it sells – final sale prices apply). Etsy is easier than Ebay, and there are other websites available for such sales.
- craft skills related to more practical items – items could be made ahead or take orders for custom items. Clothing, soaps from scratch (if you can set up a safe area and/or time to work with the lye without little-little ones underfoot) — find your personal niche and zero in on that audience. Find out their other interests and explore what more/different you can do from there.
- Create something that self-replicates – a file that can be purchased and downloaded without additional work on your part (or that you e-mail to those who purchase it).
- Take in small odds and ends projects – no more than you can commit to in the next couple of weeks, or by the month — so that you can work around the needs of your children. Sewing (full-blown new creations or repairs), small organizing (client hands you a box of photos and you are to organize them into photo albums), large organizing (can you take a day or a couple of half-days to give to a client to organize a room or an area of their home).
- Housecleaning – can be done with a little one in a sling if all-natural cleaning products are used. By “all-natural”, I actually mean food-based and/or otherwise safe and inexpensive – not the expensive all-natural cleaners.
- House repair or maintenance at others’ homes.
- Offer services as a doula or a birthing coach.
- Yes, I will list selling things with multi-level-marketing companies. Not all are bad. If you are looking for minimal effort, you might join a few (one at a time!) and be available to take orders on any of them, without doing any particular parties or shows. I know a mom who works with 4 companies, she rotates through each one, focusing on one each month with an online “book show”, while maintaining a company-based website that allows for orders to be taken at any time as well. Sure, she’s not getting all the high-level benefits, but she brings in enough to cover her particular family’s lifestyle choices so that those choices are not a financial burden – and she makes a little extra to boot (think make-up/clothing, candles, essential oils, that sort of thing).
- What skills or knowledge do you have that you can share with others? Either in-person talks or seminars, or something you can videotape and sell (self-replicating idea from above) – or a video-conference that you offer to a limited number of people for a small charge; repeat again in a few weeks for a new audience.
- While preparing your meals, can you prepare twice as much and sell it to a busy family who is not at home to cook their own meals and would like freezer meals to heat up? (this is a good ministry too – taking home-prepped foods to shut-ins)
- So think: what do you LOVE? What can you DO? What can you MAKE? Then think how to market that – what is your audience? Does this need to be out of your home or can it be done IN your home? With your children or without? (after bedtime, or can the children help and make this a family venture)
- Someplace part-time you can take the children; or husband takes the children (if you are married; or the father has visitation) – page at the library, manning the desk of the community center.
- Sell unneeded items. The less clutter, the lower the budget needs to be. I don’t entirely understand how this works, but it DOES.
- Doesn’t bring in money but consider: being home, you can maintain things better/longer – making your own minor repairs (or sometimes even major repairs!), homecooked meals even if not from scratch are still cheaper than fast food, keeping the home clean and organized so that things are not re-purchased for being damages, lost or misplaced.
- Consider areas you can cut back on expenses – make-up and cleaning products and other consumables. What can be modified or removed altogether; things that take time and/or money?
What have I done in the past that was successful?
I ran a family daycare for 3 years. I LOVED it. I would so do it again, but where we live now, it is simply an impossibility. I closed the daycare to move across the country for Montessori training. I made good money; while not regretting the Montessori training, I did long for those last several months of in-home daycare, pining to return to the income I made, while working at home, tutoring those children, homeschooling my own son, preparing home-cooked meals, etc. Each eviction notice drove that knife home deeper into my heart. As a single mom, I allowed my home to be open 24/7. I had a limit to the number of children I could have at one time, but not over the course of a day or week; I was rarely at “full capacity” and I routinely had hours or days without children so that we could still visit family, continue Catechesis of the Good Shepherd training and volunteer at the local church. I lived in a low-enough-income area that I qualified for the food program higher reimbursement level and with the business deductions, the tax obligation was entirely doable. I paid down debt, paid for continuing bachelor’s degree classes, and saved up for the year of upcoming Montessori training. I even was in a position to help neighbors/friends in crisis mode.
I also babysat in others’ homes, took in random sewing projects (some creations, lots of repairs), did some housecleaning and home organization projects, painting (walls and small items), minor repairs on what I could… and my son learned a lot alongside his mother and the people I have worked with over the years.
What did I do in the past that was not so successful? (at least for me)
Those sites where you are paid to write articles. I love to write. But it didn’t take off for me.
Sites where you are paid to help with various problems or questions. Again, it just didn’t take off for me, although I provide pretty much the same service with my Keys of the Universe online support. Go figure
Selling cloth diapers as a re-seller. I think if I’d had the right website from the get-go, it would have been better; but by the time I traded tutoring for learning how to set up a website, I was ready for more than just selling infant/toddler items.
Working outside my home in almost capacity. If it was known to be temporary going in, I did fine. If the plan was for the job to be ongoing it always fell apart.
What do I do NOW?
I prepare and sell Montessori homeschool albums. I am also adapting them for the varying needs of my intended audience. I started with the core albums, noted questions, concerns and suggestions – as the original albums sell, they “buy” me time to prepare these off-shoots, while I no longer directly advertise my Garden of Francis site (which is still doing well, despite delays on material preparations due to the limitations of my living situation – no saws in my own home so I travel to a friend’s for wood-cutting, for example). Moving forward in time from those moments of wishing I could return to the family daycare (I would still do it in a heartbeat if we find the right home to move into – which we are looking for!), the self-replicating creations are covering that amount and then some, with the Garden of Francis business maintaining itself quite well.
So, yes, Garden of Francis continues (homemade basic soaps, lingerie bags, snack and fruit/veggie bags, some clothing, lots of Montessori and Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials and more). I set up my own website with the help of a friend with whom I traded tutoring services; then I set up on Etsy…
and starting setting up “simple” websites for friends and acquaintances who had money but not the time to do so themselves. I list this here, though it is not a huge source of income, because it IS a nice little extra income here and there. And worth mentioning that sometimes those little things can provide enough of a side income (let’s say you are a stay at home mom of 4 and just need a little something extra for Christmas gifts, or to pay the mortgage down a bit faster, or to stretch the husband’s income just enough to cover the final bits of the budget). This money should not be ignored.
Off and on, we also sell off used homeschool materials, toys, clothes, etc. that have been outgrown or no longer meet our needs. This not only helps declutter but helps offset the costs of bigger clothing, and changing needs of a growing child.
I did not place in the general list above, because it is trickier with certain ages of children; but something that works for us in our situation is substitute teaching. With my Montessori background, schools are generally open to me bringing my son with me (more so when he was younger actually, due to the dynamics of Montessori elementary environments being more difficult to “join” for a few days then disappear).
Just random thoughts; I may update this post in the future (especially if I receive some more great ideas!).