Simple Family Life - Part Three

15 April 2008
People are often surprised when I tell them that I’ve never had a permanent full-time job. I have worked full-time hours as a waitress and in office administration, but they weren’t permanent positions – I was doing temp work or extra shifts as a student mostly.

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.

Further Reading:
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.


  1. This was very interesting, Bel. It shows me that with a few adjustments, you and your family are living in a very similar way to Hanno and I. Great stuff! Thanks for your birthday wishes.

  2. Hi Bel, I was what we in the UK call a latch key kid. I hated it when my Mum had to return to work . She hated it too but she had no choice.
    I have done my level best to be here for my girls and, like you, have done a wide range of "fit in" jobs. My girls are now mothers themselves and I am so proud they have turned out so well.
    Keep up the good work it is certainly worth it.
    Julie xx.
    P.S. Happy birthday Rhonda Jean you are my role model!!

  3. Great post Bel. I enjoy reading about your life - thanks.

  4. You are an inspiration. I am so glad I found this blog.

  5. Hi Bel :) What a great post! It is a joy to read about what you are up to and about what you love and enjoy.

    I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mommy, too - and I love it!
    Blessings! Q

  6. There's a blog that I've found (not an organic-minded blogger -- but lovely just the same) called the Pioneer Woman and she seems to be doing quite well with her blog. I believe that she works from home and makes money on her blog through ads and whatnot. Her blog is enormously popular. Thousands post there and she gives away very nice things.

    If one were looking for a great example of making their blog pay the bills -- well that's it!

    I work from home, too. I sell my bread, soap, vegetables, eggs, and canned foods (salsa, jam, jelly, applebutter, etc.). I make fairly good money on it, too. There is a great demand for homemade items.

    One day, we hope to adopt a child and I hope to be able to stay at home with that child by continuing to do the little jobs that provide that extra money that's lovely to have.

    Blessing to you, Rhonda Jean. Thank you for yet another wonderful blog entry!

    You are terrific!

  7. Hi Bel, another great post. I look forward to reading next Tuesday, Happy birthday Rhonda Jean...

  8. Bel, another great post, thank you; I admire you for finding your own way. I was a full-time working (divorced) mother and I realise how much I missed of my kids childhood and I can never get those days back. I hope we'll get to hear more from you. :)

  9. I think it'd be great if our society found better ways to manage working for money and working at home so that all parents had a better balance of interesting work and financial independence and also spending all that valuable time with their kids.

  10. Nice post. I'm glad you pointed out that you can find ways to get money in, if nothing else, then to pay for the things you really wanted.

    Happy Birthday Rhonda Jean!

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  12. Sorry, I'll try again. My favourite post Lacy on the website you mentioned is the biscuits and gravy tutorial.

  13. I love this post! I am really enjoying your guests posts, as well as your regular posts!


  14. I love your posts Bel. I also do EVERYTHING I can to be able to stay home with my children. I work part-time in the evenings at my local supermarket, pack papers into bags in the evenings for a local printers and also clean the local village hall with the kiddies in tow.
    Its a much more rewarding way of life than putting the children into nursery and working in a office 9-5. I am very lucky. xx

  15. Hi Belinda, I really enjoyed this (and your previous posts). I don't have children, but still it resonates. I too have never had a 'full time permanent job' - I've always been self employed, with the odd additional seasonal/part time post. I value my time too much to be in the same space all day every day (unless of course it's my home!). Beautifully written and insightful, thank you.

  16. So glad to see this. I think this fits right in with the 'down to earth' and 'simple life' theme.I, too, left the workforce 16 yrs ago (registered nurse) to raise our children and be a homemaker as we travel the globe with my hubby's job.
    So worth it in every way!

  17. Thank you all so much for your comments! It's great to hear of others trying to do similar to what I'm doing. Sometimes I do feel the odd one out in this busy, materialistic world! I know I am blessed to be where I am with my family, but we also work hard to be here - so I think it's half luck and half effort...

  18. If possible, I think one should look for jobs that offer more than mere money -- ie, avoid fit-in jobs unless there is no alternative. I feel fortunate to have a satisfying job (librarian) that is part-time and family-friendly. Working full-time *and* being a Mum is a short-cut to madness, I think, unless the alternative is destitution. Also, I think all non-earning Mums do need to ask themselves what would happen if their spouse or his job suddenly disappeared. I have friends who would be in a very bad position if it happened, and it worries me.

  19. Good points, Chookie. A bit of food for thought there...

  20. Hi Bel,
    a very thought provoking post and it comes at a great time for me. I have just spent the past 3 years studying for a degree that my heart wasnt in because i really wanted to be home with my kids. So now i am out of the workforce indefinatly - the kids think its great- DH isnt having to do housework and i am a much happier person. Im homeschooling my 13 yo and dismayed at how little he has learnt in conventional school for the past 7 years!
    Love your posts.

  21. Hi Bel, I'm a homeschooling Mum of three children (13/10 & 2). We have been homeschooling for about 1.5 yrs now only and I finally feel like I'm finding my feet. I left paid employment for us to do this and was very interested in your blog comment that if you are a wordsmith there are employment opportunities. This was my nickname at work and is also what I am called by family and friends seeking help with wording for different purposes. I would love it if you could point me in the direction of some URLS to explore this option further.

    Thank you in advance,



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