Have you ever wished you were being paid for all of the time you spend doing your job as a single mom? After all, you’ve got a lot of marketable skills that you use every day. You’re an expert at taking care of children, making sure they stay healthy and happy, helping them keep up with their school work, and teaching them about responsibility, discipline, and getting along with other people. All of these skills can help you on the job, too. For example, if you’re used to settling arguments between two of your children, you’ll be great at helping close a sales deal, or making sure that people in the same department know how to work together without conflict. “Mother” might not be a job that you list in the employment history section of your resume or on a job application, but you definitely work as hard at that job as any other – and maybe harder.
Since you have all of this experience, why not put it to work for you? There are a lot of busy parents out there who need the skills you have. If you have extra time in your week for freelance work, and you want to turn that extra time into extra money, here are five ways you can make a profit from parenting.
The first time you planned a birthday party for your child, it was probably pretty easy, and maybe even a lot of fun. But by the second or third year, parties get more complicated and the planning gets more involved. If you have two or more children, it can be hard to keep up the energy to do the party planning for every birthday, every year. There’s a lot of work in organizing a party and taking care of all of the preparations! Busy moms don’t always have time to take care of all the little details that make a birthday party really fun for kids, and if you like the work, this is a great way to enjoy yourself while you earn money. Here are some of the things you’ll need to know how to do to make a successful part-time career out of party planning:
- You can offer theme parties that you’ve already thought about and researched, but you’ll also need to find out what the family wants to do. Does the child have a favorite sport, a favorite movie, or a favorite animal? Once you learn what the child likes you’ll know what sorts of decorations and games to choose.
- Set a budget. You’ve got two options as a freelance party planner. The first option is to offer a complete party package, where you charge one set fee for everything: your time, the supplies, the invitations, the food – everything. The second option is to charge a smaller set fee for your services, and then keep track of what you spend on things like supplies and food, and submit a bill at the end. Either way, you’re going to have to work up a budget and stick to it. If you’ve gone for the first option with the set fee, and you end up spending more money than you thought, that’s money you’re losing. If you’re billing at the end and the bill is larger than the client expected or agreed to, they may not pay it all, and you probably won’t get a very good review from them.
- You’ll have to organize your own schedule, and work with someone else’s schedule at the same time. That means that even though Friday afternoons are perfect for you because your kids are all at their sports practice, the other mom might say that she’s never available on Friday afternoons because that’s when her office does its end-of-week accounting. You may have to spend more time than usual on a party because you can’t put in the time you expected each week.
- Be creative. Party planners do the decorations, plan the theme and the games that go along with it, create the invitations, and do all of the artwork and other creative tasks. You might need to sew things, or paint things, or create decorations out of paper, plastic, or even clay. If you’re naturally artistic and you like that work, this won’t take you very long. If you don’t think you have the talent or time to make individual peacock-feather crowns for each of the thirty-five children invited to the party, for example, you’ll need to look for alternatives that you can buy ready-made. This can be more expensive than handmade, though sometimes it’s cheaper and more efficient. The good news is that the more you practice, the easier these “crafty” tasks will become.
You can get some jobs just by word of mouth. Moms who’ve been happy to leave the party planning to you will tell their friends, and if those friends are just as busy, they’re just as likely to give you a call. You don’t want to depend on that first person to remember your telephone number or e-mail, though, so be sure to get some business cards made up to hand out. You can order free and low-cost business cards from places like Vistaprint (www.vistaprint.com), and they’ll even help you design them if you don’t have a good graphics-friendly word processing program on your own computer.
Another task that many parents need help with is one-on-one tutoring to help a child get through school successfully. Sometimes the parents don’t have enough time for this in their own schedules. Maybe both parents work different schedules, and they can’t keep up with work and home chores as it is. Maybe the parent is another single mom with several kids, and one of them needs the focused attention she can’t provide right now. Or maybe the child needs help with math or English skills that their parents don’t think they have themselves. For example, many families arrive in the United States from other countries as immigrants or refugees, and the parents’ first language might not be English. Other parents might not be very confident of their basic math skills, and want to be sure that their children learn the things that they never did in school. If you have a good knowledge of the fundamentals of math, science, history, or English, you will likely have several opportunities to be a tutor.
Tutoring can be done at your home, at the child’s home, or at an outside location like a library or community center. Depending on the school, you might be able to meet with the child in their classroom, after school is out in the afternoon, or before it starts in the early morning. Since you don’t usually have to coordinate with the parent’s schedule, it should be relatively easy to find a time that works for you and the child. If you’re already home-schooling your own children, you’ll have a lot of the essential teaching materials at hand, but you might need to invest in some reference books before you get started as a tutor.
Day Care Services
Many stay-at-home moms decide that since they’re already at home all day with their kids, they might as well make money at the same time by including children from other families. Commercial day care can be expensive, and there’s not always a day care center close by. That leaves many parents searching for local places and people they can trust to take care of their children while they’re at work. If you enjoy being with kids and can meet the requirements to set up a day care business, this might be the perfect way to earn money as a single mom. Here’s what you need to think about:
- Can you make the time commitment? If you’ve only got your own kids to worry about, you can take them with you to do errands like grocery shopping. But if you’re taking care of other children, you’ll probably have to stay with them at home. In addition, you might be faced with a parent who’s running late and can’t pick up their child on time after work, which could impact your own family schedule.
- Is your house ready for more kids? If you have children at home already, their toys are taking up space, and so are they. If your three kids are already occupying all of the floor space in your family room, where are you going to fit in another three? Even if you have a spare room, you’ll want to have all of the children where you can supervise them.
- Are your kids ready for more kids? One or more of your children might be at school during the day, but if they’re at home, can they get along with strangers? Will they be upset at having other kids in the house? Can you take care of a baby while your six-year-old twins are running around, or vice versa?
- Is your house safe? You worry about your own children, of course. But if you’ve got someone else’s kids in your house, you need to worry even more. That’s because any accident that could have been prevented by something as simple as an outlet cap or baby gate could leave you open to a lawsuit. Make sure that your house is as safe as any commercial day care center.
- Can you meet any state or local requirements? Some cities and states have strict requirements for home-based day care. You may need to spend money on passing a general health and safety exam. You might have to get a license that has to be renewed regularly. You could end up spending money to make repairs to your house that would make it safer or get it up to the standards set by the licensing agency. Search for “day care” on your state’s government website, or look for someone in your local city administrator’s office to talk to about what you need to do.
You can find more tips and information on starting a home-based day care business in this article from by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Have you ever heard the term “mommy blog”? A lot of popular websites these days are blogs written by parents – single mothers, single fathers, homeschooling parents, couples with twins, and more. They’re usually full of humorous stories as well as helpful advice for other parents in the same situation. If you enjoy writing, this could be a way for you to share your parenting experience, though you might not make much money at first. Many of the successful and popular parenting blogs that get millions of visitors a week started out as personal blogs that were only read by that parent’s friends and family.
One way to get some money from your blog is to link advertisements in it. A lot of companies offer “click through” payments if you put an ad for their product or service on your website. That means you’ll get a few pennies if someone clicks on that link and goes to the company’s website from yours. You’ll often get more money if that person actually buys something. You can also charge a small fee for a weekly newsletter that you e-mail to your subscribers, one that has recipes, parenting tips, or other useful information.
Another way to earn money by writing is to get your stories published on other websites instead of (or in addition to) your own blog. We’ve talked about the best ways to make money as a freelance writer in this article. Once you’ve decided to become a freelance writer, start your job search here. You can also send trial articles directly to online magazines like Working Mother or Parenting.com, but you’ll need to look at their websites first and read their writer’s guidelines to find out what types of topics they want.