This week’s Financially Savvy Friday launches the first post in a multi-week series featuring the Work at Home Mom (and a few Dads too!). While we typically focus on money saving tips, this series will focus on parents who earn income, while being home with their families.
Multi-Talented, Multi-Tasking Wonder Women
A few weeks ago, I reached out to a few of the women who had served as my inspiration, motivating me to push PlaygroundParkbench from a concept in a business plan to reality. As a show of gratitude, and to share their success stories with my followers, I asked if I could feature them, their stories and businesses. Since launching PGPB late last year, I’ve also had the opportunity to network with fellow bloggers and even more WAHM’s. I continue to be awed, humbled and inspired by all these women have built and what they accomplish in a 24 hour day. Women entrepreneurs are a force to be reckoned with!
And experts agree. Last week, the Huffington Post lauded female entrepreneurs, noting “women-owned businesses are currently thriving (trouncing the national average by one and a half times currently) …. resulting in the largest gain in private sector jobs (8m+) in the U.S. marketplace since 1997 as well as $1.3 trillion dollars pouring into today’s economy.” In November, the Kauffman Foundation suggested that “accelerating female entrepreneurship could have the same positive effect on the U.S. economy that the large-scale entry of women into the labor force had during the 20th century.” This previously side-lined, highly educated and experienced talent pool has immense breadth, depth, and limitless possibility.
What started out as as a post featuring 3 women, has grown to a dozen with responses still coming in. Over the coming weeks, we will highlight a tech company co-founder, a professional photographer, a leading UK blogger, and a parenting coach, just to name a few! Despite the diversity of jobs, many articulate a consistent message: working from home not only can generate income, it provides a creative outlet, flexibility, and life balance (although that takes practice even from home!). May you be as motivated by them as I have been. Please show them your support by checking out their websites and products.
Melissa, Mother of Twins (with #3 on the way!), Co-Founder: weeSpring.com
I am one of the co-founders of weeSpring.com, a resource for new and expecting parents to figure out what they need for their baby. The site allows you to connect with friends via Facebook- or a larger parenting community- to share “must-have” and “don’t buy” products. We actually started weeSpring while I was on bedrest with my twin girls in the summer of 2012. The timing was somewhat ironic, but it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I just believed so much in the company’s mission. In many ways, I really believe there’s never a “perfect” time to start a company, so sometimes you just have to seize an opportunity when it feels right!
The idea behind weeSpring came from a few of us as parents feeling it was harder than it should be to wade through ALL of the information out there about what you need- and don’t need- for your baby. So many of us – especially as expecting parents – rely so heavily on advice from friends, those who have already been through it. Why not create a community and social network that makes sharing this information organized, accessible, and fun.
weeSpring has been an amazing opportunity to see something from ideation all the way through to a thriving community with 50,000+ members, as well as a personal chance to be involved in something I am truly passionate about. I have the chance to think about something during the day that is both relevant to my everyday life, but also meaningful to many others out there. I stay challenged by the constant attempt to keep the site growing, adding value, and evolving as our users’ needs change and become clearer. Measuring success with weeSpring falls into several camps…there is personal satisfaction each time we receive an email from a new or expecting parent out there who tells us how valuable weeSpring has been to them, and how much they wish they’d had or known about it earlier. Business satisfaction comes from successful partnerships with large brands excited to connect with our highly engaged community, who drive a ton of value for these large businesses.
Over time, my time commitment to weeSpring has varied. At first, I was working every waking moment, including 50-60 hours/week for the first 10-12 months or so of my girls’ lives. Around their first birthdays, I realized I needed to find more balance, and started delegating a bit more. We added resources to our team which helped a great deal. For the next year, I worked closer to 25-30 hours a week. Now, in early 2015 – with #3 on the way – I am spending a bit less time on work. I feel the need to focus on my girls with such a big transition coming up. I am sure things will pick up again once I’m feeling more settled in this next phase of my personal life, and no matter what, I am connected to weeSpring in some way each day. In this digital age, the beauty of a technology company is you can do your work from almost anywhere, and that flexibility has really enabled me to continue working on weeSpring regardless of where I am or what else is going on in the best way that works for me and my family! I work from anywhere – home at my desk, home in my bed, local coffee shops, NYC where our office is, and everywhere else imaginable.
I truly believe balance is forever a challenge for any working parent. Even as I have scaled up and back my working hours, I find there isn’t ever really balance with toddlers running around! Efficiency is key. As a parent you can’t do it all, so figuring out how to do what you need to do well and really prioritizing can make all the difference. Oh – and lastly, asking for help from friends, parents, partners – whoever – is critical to maintaining your own happiness. You need time away from work – and your kids – to stay sane. That balance really makes all the difference in the world!
Rachel, MS, OTR/L, Mother of 1, Founder: CanDo Kiddo
I run CanDo Kiddo, a blog and Etsy shop with the mission to promote infant development and health through play. I knew I’d step away from my daily work as a pediatric Occupational Therapist when I had my first child in June, but I didn’t anticipate launching a business when he was only 8 weeks old. My business grew out of the collision of a professional passion for supporting parents, a total fascination with (and expertise in) child development and my experiences as a new mommy. The real push to start came from the feedback of Facebook friends who kept saying how helpful my photos of infant play activities were. It sparked my desire to support and inspire more new and expectant parents – to help them understand their babies and how to play with them.
The biggest benefit CanDo Kiddo provides me is an identity beyond being a mother. I’m able to simultaneously wear the hats of entrepreneur, Occupational Therapist and mommy – all of which are extremely fulfilling. My measure of success for my business is how I feel when I lay in bed at night. If I ever feel totally burnt out or over-extended, then something needs to change. But as long as I feel satisfied, proud of myself and creatively fueled, I know I’m succeeding. Eventually there will be some financial measures of success to reach for so that I can continue to stay home, but for now, I’m just working on building and growing my business.
I don’t have a set number of hours or schedule to work each week because I have an infant and that just seems like a recipe for frustration. I try to work at least an hour each day and probably average about 2-3 (7 days a week). I blog and sew in our bonus room, usually during naptimes since those tasks require more focused, sustained attention. I’m able to do social media updates, photo editing, new product design, shop management and shipping orders while my baby plays nearby.
As a WAHM, I find balance by being intentional about my time. I plan out each day the night before and I have a policy of not doing anything during naptime that could be done while my son is awake. I multi-task a lot but intentionally set aside times of every day to dedicate my full attention to my baby and my husband. I try not to let my business always be in the background of our time together. My husband and I eat dinner together every night and have dedicated at home “date nights”. If it’s not one of those, it’s assumed we’ll both be doing our own thing in the evening after baby is in bed – me working, him tinkering in the garage or working out. Ultimately, my family comes first and I often remind myself, “today does not make or break your business.” If a teething baby or a husband who had a hard day at work need me, the rest can wait.
Kira, Mother of 2, Free-lance Writer and Blogger
I currently work at home as a regional free-lance writer in Florida. I have monthly parenting columns in two different magazines, and I also write various monthly articles focusing on parenting issues, two of which have won awards from the Parenting Media Association. In addition, I’ve written on a range of topics for newspapers, business magazine and other publications.
I started working from home after the birth of my second child in 2009. We had relocated to Florida, and I had left my corporate marketing job behind to devote more time to my family, especially with a second child now part of the equation. Initially, I took on a position that was only a couple of hours a week moderating a parenting online community. The community was hosted by a parenting magazine in Florida, and I eventually transitioned into writing for the magazine. I also was learning quite a bit about blogging at the time and having a marketing background, I decided to launch my own company helping bloggers with marketing. The company did very well, but as it grew, so did my writing opportunities. In the end, I decided I left corporate America for a reason and I really didn’t want to manage a growing company with employees and all the other complexities. So, I shut down the business in 2013 to focus exclusively on writing and starting a blog with my friend Michelle, called Sunshine and Hurricanes.
I don’t know that you ever balance work and family-life, I think you constantly make trade-offs. Both my kids are in school full-time now, so I would estimate I work about 20-30 hours per week depending on the number of free-lance assignments I have in a given month as well as blogging responsibilities. We don’t live in a large home and my husband also works at home, so I have set up a small office area in our 2nd living area. However, if I really need some space, I’ll go to the public library or Starbucks. There are definitely days that even after my kids come home from school, I’m chasing them off to play so I can finish up something I’m working on and I feel bad. But being a WAHM does give me more control over the work I accept and the time I dedicate to it, and I love that I save all that commuting time.
I think the biggest benefit working from home provides for me and my family is flexibility. I can work my schedule around school and activities for my kids, and it just makes me more available to manage our household. However, on the downside, because I can be so flexible, sometimes it can be difficult to set time aside that is always devoted to work and I end up working too many late nights. Overall, while I do work to help contribute financially to our family, my earnings are not what I measure my success on. It’s really about being able to do work I enjoy while at the same time not feeling as pulled between my obligation to my work and my family. It’s the fact that I can do both and set my own rules that really makes it worthwhile.
Show Your Support for WAHMs!
|Blog: CanDo KiddoEtsy shop: CanDo Kiddo
|Blog: Sunshine and Hurricanes
Inspired to put your expertise to work yet? Come back next week to see profiles of an online educator, an SEO specialist, and the owner of the award-winning, top 3 UK parent blog, KiddyCharts.
We love to network with other WAHMs, and the more stories we tell, the more women we hope to inspire! If you would like to feature your blog or business in our WAHM Series, please email us!