So what's a mom to do? You've got a more flexible schedule, but your free time is almost nonexistent. It's OK to feel like something is missing from your life. Whether that's intellectual stimulation, adult interaction or expendable income, it's possible to fill the gap with the many work-at-home opportunities available in today's telecommuting world. Here are five ideas to get you thinking.
You can freelance just about anything these days. From writing jingles to managing a blog to acting as a project manager, you can secure jobs that don't ever require you to pick up a phone or interact with anyone except via email (a perk when you have a vocal toddler who always has an "emergency" when the phone rings). Finding lucrative gigs doesn't even have to be a painful process. With sites like WAHM.com (the work-at-home magazine for stay-at-home moms) and Craig's List updating their job lists daily, the options are endless.
Determine what you're good at, or consider something you've always wanted to try, and dabble a bit until you find your niche. Just watch out for scams, cautions WAHM.com: "If an employer asks for money, it's a red flag. They're supposed to pay you."
Even though you stay at home with your little ones, you still need to get out and about every now and then. Why not get paid to do some savvy snooping while you're at it? Restaurants, grocery stores, retail shops, hotels and even amusement parks look for observant, reliable shoppers to be their eyes and ears. There is great freedom as a secret shopper – you choose when and where you want to shop and are under no obligation to accept assignments. And the perks can be many – some free meals (with the kids) and hotel stays (without the kids) can truly be worth the effort.
Have a knack for cake decorating? Brush up on trendy techniques through a community course, set up a website, use your kitchen to begin the cupcake shop you've always dreamed of or be the wedding cake diva you've always known you could be. Make your own greeting cards? Get a small business license and hawk your wares at area shops (even better – your kids can "play" along with you as you cut, paste and design). Find yourself moving the furniture around every other week or painting so often you're losing square footage? Take a real estate course online and become licensed – you make your own hours and can bring in hefty commissions once you get yourself established.
Selling wares can be a quick way to bring in a few dollars, and you don't have to go door-to-door to make it happen. Get connected with Home Interiors, Avon, Mary Kay and the like and throw a party for yourself and other moms. All those barely used kids' clothes? The maternity tops you plan to never wear again? Snap a photo or two and post them for sale on eBay. The site itself is user friendly but, if you're not exactly computer savvy, there are plenty of books and courses available to help you get the hang of it. All you need is a digital camera, an Internet connection, some creativity and patience.
Pace and Rider Universities recently found that women who choose to become stay-at-home moms earn nearly 20 percent less than those who don't experience a gap in employment. You can beat the
odds – just because you're out of the "normal" work force, that doesn't mean your skills have to slip or that your resume has to be put on hold. Online education is a
legitimate way to keep current and expand your qualifications. You can complete a degree before your little one starts school. Do certificate training to stay up-to-date in your field and offer
yourself up as a consultant or contract worker to your former employer or other suitable businesses.
A mother's job is never done, but that doesn't mean you can't take time to put yourself first every now and then and earn some money while you're at it. If you're leaving a full-time job to have the unmatchable experience of being a stay-at-home mom but worry about finances, be sure to talk with your employer about telecommuting opportunities as well. It'll keep you out of the red and, even better, out of high heels!
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