Musings on the life of a WAHM:
How I came to be a WAHM, and what I would do now
During my pregnancy with my first child, I worked my engineering job and wrestled with my supervisors on how to keep it, and still be able to be with my baby. They claimed to be cooperative, but in the end did not trust people to put in their best work when they were at home without direct supervision. So I quit 6 weeks after she was born, without ever returning to work. Things were tight as my husband was starting his own business, but I knew we would work it out somehow, and there was no way I was leaving my baby.
A year later the idea came for our business. We never really intended for it to take off the way it did, but it has proved to be a blessing for our family. We tell our children all the time that if both of us took full time jobs in our chosen professions, we would easily be making 2-3 times as much money as we are right now. But we would only see our children a few hours a week. The children are willing to help make the financial sacrifices to keep us around, and we have been blessed to be able to stay afloat financially.
Seeing what we are doing, we are frequently asked for ideas and suggestions from parents wanting to start their own business so that they can spend more time with their families. We LOVE this idea, which is why I try and shoot them down gently. Allow me to explain, being a Work At Home Mom is still WORK! If you can practice the art of living on one income, and if your partner has an income, you will only lose time with your children by starting a business. So, if you just need an extra $500 a month, I recommend you find a way to save that much out your normal budget. It CAN be done, and I would be happy to suggest some resources to help. However, if you find yourself needing to go back to work regardless, then it is time to do a different sort of analysis.
First, how much do you really need to make it? See the above topic. Second, how many hours is it going to take and what are your children going to be doing while you generate that income? Is your partner going to watch them? Grandparents? Babysitter or daycare? Are they big enough to fend for themselves? Are they small enough that they nap? Are they just going to watch a lot of television? Do you have someone you could trade with? For us, the WAHM lifestyle has meant all of the above. And I have shed not a few tears over hours missed with my children because there was some crisis that had to be taken care of NOW.
OK, so you have a goal, you know what you are going to do with the children, so, what are you going to do to make that money? Let’s examine your skillset. Did you have a job before you had children? Is there a way to do that job as a contractor? Are there people online looking for someone with your skills? What about your hobbies? People will be paying you for labor they don’t want to do, skills they don’t have, or creativity that is purely yours. Labor based businesses are the least expensive to start up. Babysitting, pet care, housecleaning, etc don’t require lots of infrastructure. But they generally don’t pay that well either. (There are exceptions, and those niches are very much worth considering.) Perhaps you have education or experience that allows you to be an editor, a transcriptionist, or some other skilled trade that can be done out of your home. Or maybe you can create something beautiful that others would like to buy.
It is in my best interest to encourage people to start sling businesses. If you have something unique to add to the babywearing world, far be it from me to hold you back. The CPSC on the other hand, would like to do just that. Thankfully, nowadays we have the BCIA to hold your hand. The days of making a couple of slings at your kitchen table and selling them off your back are pretty much gone. These days you need registration cards, certificates of compliance and ASTM testing, to name a few complications. It’s still do-able, and if you have a great design, and the passion to promote it, there is still room in this growing industry, but if you are just looking to make a few dollars on the side, I recommend costumes, alterations, curtains, or other such seamstress work. Then you are free from the obligations placed on those who want to make children’s products, and filling a large need in a world where domestic arts are all but lost.
With all of these resources it is best to read a bit and then find someone LOCAL who can help you. There are lots of organizations dedicated to helping entrepreneurs/small business in America. Let them help you!
SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business" is a nonprofit association dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with free, confidential face-to-face and email business counseling. SCORE Web Site.
Other useful links:
- Better Business Bureau / Better Business Bureau Online
- Small Business Association
- Attachment Parents in Business
- Mom's Network
- The Entrepreneurial Parent
- The Online Magazine for Work At Home Moms
Our local community college also offers classes, workshops and other help.