Between changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking meals and so much more, being a stay-at-home parent can be a full-time job. So is there time and energy left to make money on the side?
We sought the advice of five stay-at-home parents who have figured out how to make money amid their busy schedules.
Here are five tips from parents who have done it.
1. Work with the schedule you have
“My kids are in school from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” says Jen Berson, mother of two boys and founder and president of Jeneration PR, a Los Angeles-based public relations and social media marketing agency. “I have to be really focused during that window to get as much done as I can.” If your kids are very little, she says, find “something you can do while they nap or when they go to bed.”
Flexibility is key. “People assume that once your kids hit school age, you have a free schedule, but it doesn’t work that way,” says Pamela Brill, a mother of two who’s been a freelance writer and editor for 13 years. “Kids get sick, they have vacation. You can’t depend on the schedule that worked a year or six months ago.”
If you don’t have a lot of time to spare on a day-to-day basis, consider making a little pocket money from taking surveys or user testing, in which you get paid for testing new products. Check out how to make quick money online for some things to do when you have a free half-hour.
2. Turn parenting abilities into a business
When Sarah Robinson first started her blog, Sidetracked Sarah, she struggled to find a niche. Then she found an audience when she shared recipes for the crockpot meals she made for her large family. Now she has 27,000 subscribers to her weekly newsletter on slow cooker recipes. “People had been asking me for something like this,” says Robinson, the mother of seven.
If you make awesome custom quilts or are constantly finding new ways to make vegetables palatable to your kids, you can make a business out of sharing these ideas.
“A lot of great products start with looking at the market and saying, ‘Hey, I want this but it doesn’t exist,’” says Lance Somerfeld, a work-from-home father of two who knows something about filling a market need. He co-founded City Dads Group, a national support network for fathers, after he was unable to find any groups for dads like the ones he encountered for moms.
Whatever you’re selling — be it a physical product or useful information — decide on the best venue to peddle it, like a blog or a marketplace like Etsy. And don’t be afraid to tap your friends and family as your first customers.
“They know, like and trust you, and are likely to recommend your business to someone in their network,” Holly Reisem Hanna, mother of one and founder of the resource website Work at Home Woman, said in an email. Be active on social media as well, as these are your best free marketing and network building tools, she says.
3. Use your old skills to freelance
If you already have the experience and connections in a field you can freelance in, this is an obvious choice. Call on old bosses or co-workers and pitch ideas to them or see if they have any work that can be done remotely. Even if they don’t have work, they may be able to point you to connections who do.
“It’s really a matter of connecting with people who are willing to take a chance on you,” Brill says. Check out this guide to see if freelancing is a good fit for you.
4. Stay away from scams
If a company asks you to do a simple task for an outsized amount of money or asks for a fee before paying you, stay away.
One common task is assembly work for products like jewelry and electronics. You pay a business for the supplies, build it and send it back to the company to be paid for the completed product. Often the company will then refuse to pay you for the work, claiming it’s substandard. It’s just an excuse — you were never going to be paid.
“These sorts of items can be mass produced by machines, so why would someone pay you big bucks to assemble them?” Hanna said in an email.
Envelope stuffing can be another common scam. Some companies ask for payment to send you envelopes and mailers, but when they arrive, you’re supposed to send fliers about the envelope stuffing job to other people. It’s probably a poorly disguised pyramid scheme.
5. Don’t compromise your family time
You’re a stay-at-home parent, so remember to prioritize your child over other work. It’s easy to be drawn toward doing more work than you can handle, be it the next quick task or the next client request. If you feel yourself approaching burnout, scale back.
“Once I pick up my son, I tune into my children,” Somerfeld says. “Being an at-home dad is first and foremost.”