I was a student doing a double-degree before I became a mother. I intended to go to work, to study further, to do something with my life. I’m glad I realised that being an at-home mother is a wonderful way to live. A blessing. A privilege.
I’ve been at home whilst my husband studied, did an adult apprenticeship, worked very long hours, worked away and worked part-time. We’ve always found a way to pay for our expenses and move ahead. We have struggled, but we have made it through so far.
I have usually dabbled in some sort of paid hobby:
* Several years ago I did some design work on the computer – stationery, address labels etc.
* I have usually sold our excess household items, books etc through auction sites and on internet forums. This generally funds new purchases.
* For awhile the children and I were packaging our saved seeds and bulk-bought seeds and selling these online. This appealed to us because growing food is something we are passionate about.
* We’ve also sold excess eggs, produce, jams and plants from a roadside stall.
* I have done some freelance writing and editing. Sometimes a lot of hours for reasonable pay, and sometimes only small amounts of work and financial reward. I stick to my interests with the freelancing, and don’t pursue work outside my field of parenting and education and my passion of gardening.
* Late last year I bought an online business from a busy friend who had returned to full-time study and couldn’t keep up with the business. It is called Spiral Garden and is a real blessing in our lives. Right now I am still investing hours setting it up and trying to make enough to expand and buy stock. In the future I think it will be a steady stream of income for me, while I’m at home with my children – homeschooling, growing food and planting trees. Ideally such a venture would support our family, but then I would be stuck in my home office several days a week keeping the business going and somehow our lives would need to accommodate this. At the moment my husband can earn more than me per hour, so he’s still out there working, dreaming of being home more to work on the farm and be with the children.
While my hobbies have paid me, they’ve been more about keeping my mind active and showing my children how there are many ways to make money. The pocket money is lovely, and has helped to support my hobbies at least – more plants for the garden, some fabric for sewing, magazine subscriptions etc.
If I needed more money to be able to stay at home I would initially look at where I could further save money. A dollar saved is a dollar earned – more because it’s not taxed! If we were still struggling I’d pursue one of my latest venture (such as those listed above) or take in ironing or offer childcare, because these fit with my lifestyle of being at home with children. If this didn’t work, I would look for casual work outside of normal working hours so that I could go to work when my husband was at home with the children. Now that they’re older, I can see that this could be quite manageable (the youngest is 4 years old). I'd try to avoid expenses such as commuting a great distance, or a large outlay for clothing - I’d want to keep as much of my earnings as possible! If you are crafty, computer-savvy, a keen photographer, a wordsmith, good with woodwork or flowers or languages for examples - there are alternative employment opportunities out there...
I hope this post helps you to think about your options, especially if you have young families. I encourage you to think about what you’re good at, where your interests lie, what sort of work you prefer, what’s lacking in your community and how you can perhaps make a little extra money to help the family budget or save for the future. I’m not saying that staying at home is better than working, but it is a wonderful lifestyle for us. Watching my sister juggle her children and work, and seeing my own mother (against her wishes) do the same from when I was three years old – I know I choose this way because it’s what I can handle. I prefer to be home, cooking from scratch, growing food, mending clothes and making do, and feel blessed to have been able to do so for 14 years.
Bringing it Home by Wendy Priesnitz
Hundreds of Ways to Make Money From Home by Rosalind Fox and Tessa Stowe
Making Money from Home by Better Living Collections
Making Money from your Garden by Jackie French
Write to Publish by Vin Maskell & Gina Perry
Happy Birthday to you, Rhonda!
* Third in a series of guest posts by Belinda Moore. Here are part one and part two of this series.