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Best Jobs for Stay at Home Moms in 2014 - SmartMom

Best Jobs for Stay at Home Moms in 2014

The decision to be a stay at home parent is never one that is arrived at easily. But for moms who want to be home with the kids and contribute to the household income at the same time, we have found some of the best jobs for stay at home moms in 2014.

There are multitudes of logistics to consider before informing your boss, that yes, you would prefer to spend time with your adorable children rather than stare at a computer screen all day (really?).  However, there often comes a moment a few months into the new gig one looks at the bank account and realizes that along with all the pros that can come with staying at home, there is one glaringly obvious negative: less income.

So what’s a parent to do?   If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself Googling “best work from home jobs” or “best jobs for stay at home moms” or “I will do anything for money as long as I can do it from the comfort of my home in yoga pants.”

There are entire websites dedicated to this subject matter, but I’ve come to the realization that if it looks like a pig and smells like a pig…it’s probably too good to be true.   The one exception I’ve found is an article on Forbes.com from April, which in all honesty I trust solely because it’s on Forbes.com.

With that being said, there are a few avenues that one can explore to find the best jobs for stay at home moms that can yield promising careers, while also allowing for the flexibility and prioritization that being the primary caregiver for a child requires.

Childcare

Since you’re already taking care of one kid, why not add a few to the mix?  I mean, at least you’ll be getting paid to wipe snot rather than do it for free.

I jest, but in all honesty, if you have the temperament/patience to take care of additional children, this is a fantastic way to make money.   You already have most if not all the gear.   You can set your own schedule and salary.   And at the end of the day, when you send all the other children home, you will feel like your own child is the most perfect and well-behaved child of all time.

Church

Churches are often flexible and understanding when it comes to part-time employees with children.  You might be able to bring your child with you while you serve as a secretary or education coordinator.  You’ll most likely get the added bonus of discounted preschool expenses if the church has that program.

Freelance Writing

While this can take a great deal of effort and time to begin (and obviously, you need to have an interest/capacity for the written word), the flexibility of being a “professional writer” is beyond compare.   I thrive with deadlines, and am thrilled by the rush I feel when sending off an article that could be potentially thrown back at me and considered “rubbish” by an editor.  This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, however.  This path does allow you to work when you can, from wherever you can.

Customer Service

This is definitely not everyone’s idea of a good time, but if you’re able to patiently respond to the needs of a whiny toddler, you probably are already overly qualified for these positions.  You need to have the ability to be “on call and available” for chunks of the day which isn’t always possible with young children, but if you have a reliable nap schedule, answering the phone and telling people how to install their printer could be an easy paycheck.

Direct Selling

Whether it’s books, knives, jewelry, makeup, or cooking utensils, there is a company that will allow you to sell directly.  Think of those boozy gatherings your mom had at her house where there were tons of women and tons of Tupperware. This route really depends on how much you are willing to put into selling to your network (and how willing they are to put up with you).   I mean, some people have been so successful they’ve ended up with pink cars.  Dreams really do come true…

All in all, there are very few of us who are able to find the happy medium between totally fulfilled career whilst simultaneously a totally present stay at home parent.   Most likely, one area will give a little.   The options listed above may not feel like they are furthering your career, but they will allow you to make some money while being present for those first steps, sloppy kisses, and endless giggles.

 

If you’re a stay at home mom, you may be thinking about homeschooling. Here’s some information.

 

RELATED QUESTIONS

I’m a new mom. I’m 31. I’ve worked my whole life. My husband wants me to quit my job and stay at home with the baby…
I’m looking into Advocare so I can stay at home. Does anybody know anything about it or any other jobs for a SAHM?
I am a stay at home mom! What kind of jobs so you mammas do if your working?
I want to be a stay at home mom so I’ve been trying to look at jobs I can do from home. Any ideas?
I think hubby wants me to eventually quit my job, once we have the baby. For a number of reasons it scares me to DEATH. Anyone out there been a working woman…
So my fiancé was talking today and wants to get a second night job and for me to be a SAHM. I’ve been at my job for 4 years…
I am a stay at home mom to one 7 month old baby boy! I love it but would like to make some extra money…
Got a stay at home job! Do training next Tuesday! Get to be the Case Manager for my old boss for her Metabolic Mapping…
Anyone had to give up a stable high paying job to be a stay at home mom?
Any moms find jobs where they can stay at home?
 

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What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher, Writer

What I’ve Learned: Julie Schumacher, Writer

Julie Schumacher is the founder of Well Turned Words, copywriting and editing studio. She’s also the co-founder of Forth Chicago which seeks to celebrate and connect creative, entrepreneurial women in Chicago. 

Tell us about your family!

We have one daughter, Loie Jane, who is 3. She’s a copper top and is very into ’80s music and feta cheese. 

What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher As a first time mom, I thought that I was going to knock it out of the park. I wasn’t super nervous and felt that, if our daughter was born healthy, I was going to be one of those “at ease” awesome moms.

I didn’t. I wasn’t. I got knocked on my ass. I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, and worried incessantly those first few weeks. I’m wired anxious and assumed I’d rally…because I always rally. At about 8 weeks postpartum, I was hospitalized with postpartum depression. It was just the worst.  My mom moved in from Philadelphia, we brought in an incredible post partum doula, my husband protected and provided like a beast, and we got me in to see an incredible therapist in conjunction with a smart medication plan through a psychiatrist.

It is so, so, so humbling to have gone through that. I’ve never failed at something so spectacularly before, or so publicly. Now, I’m not saying I failed at motherhood. My kid’s great and we’re super bonded and all that and I think I’m a pretty great mom. But in the moment and the months after there was a significant amount of self-confidence and identity rebuilding that had to happen. I had to relearn to love myself, accept way more help than I’d ever been willing to take in a lifetime, and was forced to figure out what it would take to claw my way toWhat I've Learned - Julie Schumacher happiness. And on top of that, I had this wee little beastie I wanted to love and get to know and take care of and felt like it was happening with a hand tied behind my back (and blindfolded and while balancing on a very small, wiggly beam). We fought back hard and I was very quickly back on my feet (which is not to discount any woman whose fight is longer. Go mama, go!).

That’s a pretty big shadow, though, to walk out of. Even now I have to explain that PPD doesn’t mean I ever tried to harm myself, or our daughter, and I am not convinced everyone believes me. Sounds awful, right? It’s one of the reasons I’m vocal and open about my experience. More women need help and more people need to know how to help them.

The collaterals, though, are remarkably all positive. I saw how strong my marriage was. I saw how rad my mom and husband are. Seriously. My mom was indefatigable and my husband’s shoulders carried way more than I assumed a human could. They never doubted me those many nights I loudly announced I would never get better.

Our new neighbors in Oak Park stepped up and carried us through. Friends sat with me while I wept on the porch and one friend was charged with dragging me to movies so I’d leave the house…those are some damn fine friends. What I've Learned - Julie SchumacherIt was through therapy and talking with my husband and closest of friends (a mom entrepreneur champion Jill Salzman of the Founding Moms) that I took the years of research and teaching of writing and launched Well Turned Words. I was given time and permission and support to do something I always kind of thought I could do but would likely have never done…because who actually gets paid to write? Now, our world makes so much sense on this path. Our family is happy and strong. It was a slog. No doubt. But hot damn, I’m happy and our family is thriving.

I sometimes wonder if a single part of my body, mind, worldview, approach to life, or future goals have not been touched by parenthood. On a very basic scale, having a kid is a nice swift kick to the shins of whatever routines you enjoyed pre-kids. On a larger scale, I think more about modeling for her an expansive life. If I let fear, regret, guilt dictate how I move through the world, she’ll see that. If I don’t do something because I’m just too tired or if I don’t handle a relationship with care, she’ll see that. If I lead with a strong partnership, good friendships, grace, confidence, humor, sass, joy, and a dash of “well, I guess we’ll see what happens!” she’ll see that. I want her to know she can have many acts, be many women, and do many things in a single lifetime. So I have to live that first. When I need parenting advice, first and foremost, I talk to my husband.

What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher We share what we see, strategize, offer gentle suggestions on something that worked for one of us. He’s the person I chose to parent with so his opinion or ideas matter more than anyone else’s to me. Then, I have a phenomenal community of women. I highly recommend surrounding yourself with women better than you. My mom and sister are awesome and talented mothers (and great overall) as are some close friends who I’ve known since college and met as a mom. I also have plenty of dad friends I think are just phenomenal parents. I don’t just talk to other people with girl parts. A good parent is a good parent.

I have an online community as well. I have the SpitfireMom Society, which I started with a design partner in Denver and appreciate the conversations there about business and family life. I adore Ask Moxie and the community she’s built. I also have a top secret group of women from a birth board now connected on Facebook. We all have kids the same age and were bonded over those first months. We’re all over the country and about as different as can be but it’s a safe, warm space to say out loud the stuff that goes through my head. We call ourselves the Mamascenti. It’s silly and awesome. What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher

My favorite thing about being a parent is the forced intentionality. I have to be more purposeful and thoughtful about what I say and do, both around her but also in general. The selflessness is hard but great creativity emerges through constriction, I think. There’s also the heart-explodingly-huge amount of love I get to experience when she says “Mama?” and then asks me something weird. For my marriage, I love having a whole new way to fall in love with my husband. I knew he was great. Watching him as a father? Wow. Watching Lo, my favorite thing is her acquisition of language. It’s like watching civilization evolve. That sounds ridiculous. But it’s really incredible to witness and hear how our intonations and expressions regenerate in her. She says “awesome” a lot. Not surprising.

Are there routines that you’ve set up in your family to help things run more smoothly?

Yup. M/W/F I get up with Loie and get her ready for school. T/Th my husband gets up with her and I sleep in. I say once a month I am going to start getting up to work out. I will let you know if that ever happens. We tend to each sleep in one weekend day, which is superb. We encourage each other to spend time out at night with friends. I’m home with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We do a play date or go to the library or play outside in the mornings. Sometimes we just hang around the house in our PJs all morning. We host a toddler music class here on Thursday afternoons. One of us takes her to school, the other picks her up. Whoever is putting her down for bed, theWhat I've Learned - Julie Schumacher other person is prepping a late dinner or tidying up. We try to keep the house in good shape because we both work from home and my husband is a neatnik. We’re pretty rigid about her sleep. A well-rested kid makes the whole world sunnier and protecting her sleep 85% of the time means we can be flexible the other times. We have a weird kid who sleeps in so we get her up at 7 so she’ll take a nap. And we wake her up from her nap 90% of the time so she’ll fall asleep at night. Please don’t throw things at us. I know most moms would kill to have a 7am wakeup. We all seem to thrive on routine. We talk about whether she’s a creature of habit (she yawns at 1:15 if we’re late putting her down for a nap) because it’s in her DNA or in the air of the home.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back then? (as a first time mom) 

That you’ll find a way. That any thing your kid is doing that feels unsolvable, untenable, or totally bizarre will likely be replaced by something that feels equally permanent, annoying, or odd. And you’ll be so busy worrying about the new thing that you will forget to realize that the previous worry has resolved itself. That cyclicality of parenthood is both comic and infuriating to me now. That no one gives you a reward or medal if you refuse to ask for help or refuse help that is offered. Even now, after being knocked on my rump, I still want to do it all myself. That’s lame. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. And if someone offers to hold the baby so you can pee in peace or take a nap? JUST SAY YES. What I've Learned - Julie Schumacher

When it comes to fun, I always crave travel. My husband and I like to cook together, I love baking. The fun of chopping and stirring and seasoning as a couple was a huge piece of our courtship. As counterintuitive as it sounds, the meticulousness of baking is very calming for me. Give me some flour to sift and something to level and I’m in heaven.

I like to talk. A lot. So talking with my friends and husband about things inconsequential and grand. Plan and scheme for the next phases and iterations of our life. If I’m not talking, I’m reading. I’m in an excellent book club of smarter-than-me women who actually read the books. Our neighborhood is ripe with families so we do things locally, the Farmer’s Market, the park. Because we like the parents of the kids our kid knows even toddler birthday parties at jumpy places can be fun. Forth Chicago, a creative salon I run with two other Smart Moms, is so much fun but not super unwind-y. It does connect me to other women who like to talk about all sorts of things. And I What I've Learned - Julie Schumacherget to try out new parts of my brain through the beauty of our events and revisit the parts of my brain that love facilitating conversations.

With my daughter, I love reading. I will read the same damn story over and over and over. And there is nothing a 3 year old likes to do more than read the same story over and over and over. When it comes to values, we talk about wanting our daughter to move confidently and with empathy and awareness through the world. To have a chance to try many things she might like and to fail miserably at some and experience success in others and to realize there’s value in each. To cultivate community and to be civically minded. To be an excellent friend. To be able to speak her mind and to listen with equal measure. To have a strong moral compass rooted in global and progressive values. I want her to have a social sport she can play with friends into adulthood (that is one of those “because I don’t” things). I want her to be a good communicator, always put her shopping cart away, and to vote (because I do).

Photo by Kelly Allison

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Breast Pumping at Work

I didn’t set out to become an exclusive pumper. I knew I would have to pump once I rejoined the workforce following my maternity leave, of course, but that seemed ages away. I had visions of my baby and I blissfully breastfeeding together, and fantasies of a freezer packed to the brim with bags of extra milk. Everything was going to be perfect.

The reality check came shortly after my son was born.

After a week of frustration and midnight crying marathons, it became clear that life had other plans. He wouldn’t latch and my supply was dismal. A breast reduction in 2005 had left so much scar tissue that my body simply couldn’t produce enough milk, but I was determined to give him everything I could, and my relationship with my pump began far sooner than I had originally planned.  Breast pumping at work was my only option. 

Because of my operation, I need a really aggressive pump in order to fully empty my supply. I ended up renting a Mirena Symphony, the same medical grade pump I used while I was recovering in the hospital. It’s pretty much the Rolls Royce of breast pumps, and it does a great job, but it does come with a few downsides.

On my first day back at work, I packed up my car with everything I needed and set my pump in its thick plastic case on the passenger seat next to me. I buckled myself in, started the engine as usual, and was surprised to hear the car start to ding. I got out and double-checked my doors. All firmly latched. I got back into the car and buckled in again, making sure I clicked the belt in securely, but the alarm was still sounding. I looked at my dashboard and realized the problem: the pump was so heavy that it was tripping the seat belt alarm! That’s when the reality started to set in. Every day, I was going to have to haul this pump, which apparently weighed as much as a small child, back and forth to work.

This was going to be a long, long year.

When I got to work, I headed for my boss’s office to talk to her about pumping.  I was knocking things off counters and accidentally whacked a few of my coworkers on the way as I tried to maneuver around with my heavy bags.

I work at an animal hospital, where pumping options are pretty limited. My boss told me I could choose between an exam room (which doesn’t have locks and isn’t really the most private space) or a completely private, lockable shower stall. I opted for the exam room. I would have rather pumped in the lobby in front of the whole staff and all our clients than resort to pumping in a bathroom. (Which, by the way, is not a legally acceptable place for an employer to make you pump. However, I was told a shower stall “didn’t really count” as a bathroom. Crazy, right?)

For a month and a half now, I’ve been lugging that thing with me every day and sneaking off every three hours or so to pump, and I’m going to be honest here: it’s a huge pain in the tuckus. My back is about to give out from carrying all my pumping accoutrements, my coworkers get irritated at me having to duck out all the time, and there’s just something inherently weird about hanging out at work with your boobs out, even if nobody can see you. But I’ll tell you something else: knowing my son is getting every precious drop I produce and reaping the countless benefits from nature’s perfect baby food makes it all worth it in the end.

 

Another SmartMom had a more embarrassing story regarding breast pumping at work – check it out.

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SmartMom: pumping in secret

Pumping in Secret: One Working Mom’s Embarrassing Story

Photo by Sydney Everett

Being a working mom comes with a variety of challenges. One of the most difficult is figuring out how to keep your baby fed and happy while you’re at work. My first baby was supplemented with formula, but when my second baby came along, I decided I would try to pump at work. But I ended up pumping in secret.

Being an elementary school teacher, there were not many opportunities for me to slip away from my students to pump.  For weeks I suffered through embarrassing leaks and uncomfortable engorgement. My husband told me I just needed to talk to my principal about the situation, tell him I’m breastfeeding and that I need time to pump. To which I always replied, “No way! I can’t say the word breast in front of my principal! I’ll figure it out on my own!”

Thankfully there were a few other teachers who took their classes out to recess at the same time I did who were kind enough to offer to watch my class while I took care of business.

At first I attempted pumping in the faculty bathroom… but it didn’t take long for me to realize it was not the ideal location. For one thing, there was nowhere to sit other than the toilet, which, besides being uncomfortable, didn’t seem like the most sanitary place to pump. Also, it turns out the echoing acoustics of a public restroom didn’t exactly provide the discrete, private atmosphere I was hoping for. When it was brought to my attention that anyone within 100 yards of me could hear the ironic “mooing” sound of my electric pump resonating down the hall, I quickly moved my pumping sessions to the comfort of my classroom. It was quiet, secluded, and relaxing…and it worked for me.

Until one fateful day there was an incident out on the playground with one of my students. Let’s call him Bobby, for all intents and purposes. It was my job to prevent these kinds of situations from happening. My principal went from mildly upset to foaming at the mouth when he confronted Bobby, “What did Mrs. Younker have to say about your behavior on the playground?”

Bobby replied innocently, “Mrs. Younker wasn’t out at recess. I haven’t seen her at recess for weeks.”

With steam coming out of his ears, the principal marched down the hall to my classroom, fully prepared to give me a piece of his mind. When he came to my door he was surprised to find it was locked. Without even thinking of the various reasons WHY it might be locked, he whipped out his master key…

Up until that moment I had been sitting at my desk, hooked up to my machine like a cow in a dairy farm. Suddenly, I heard the door rattling, as if someone was struggling to get it open. Frantically, I yanked my shirt down, ignoring the streams of white milk now cascading down my torso. In one fell swoop I leaped up from my chair and shoved myself as far away from the pump as possible.

Just then the principal bounded into the room. “There was a problem with Bobby on the playground.” He said, each word dripping heavily with accusation.

“Oh no.” My voice caught in my throat as I asked, “What happened?” Just then, I looked down and realized that although I had managed to pull my shirt down, my bra was still twisted and bunched around my neck. I could feel heat rushing to my face as I casually crossed my arms over my chest, hoping to hide the damage.

“Do you want to explain to me why you weren’t there? Why you haven’t been out to recess in weeks? “

“Well….” I stammered, “I … uh…”

“It is your responsibility to be out on the playground with your kids every day.”

“I know… I just…” At that moment I realized I had to choose between complete and utter embarrassment, or my job reputation.

“I had to pump!” I blurted out.

At first he looked confused. Then, for the first time since he barged in, he took a good look around the room. His eyes fixed on the bottles of milk sitting visibly on my desk. His face turned a deep shade of red as realization dawned on him.

There we stood, the very definition of awkward, shuffling our feet back and forth waiting in agony for the other person to say something. Finally, he turned to me, careful to keep his gaze at eye level, and said, “Yeah… uh…we need to find a time and place for you to do that.”

And with that he turned and left… and avoided me for the rest of the week.

Let this be a lesson to you ladies. Don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs as a new mother. Turns out, they are required to give you time to pump– It’s the law. Don’t worry, you are probably not the first person in the world to bring up the subject, and it is far easier to have a slightly uncomfortable conversation now than it is to have an extremely uncomfortable conversation later. Trust me.

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