Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moms and Working

I've been thinking a lot this week about the issue of moms who need to earn extra income.  This is the first time in a long while that I've been working for a "boss", although I'm still technically an independent contractor in my real estate work, which  gives me a certain amount of leeway.  Working for someone else makes everything so much more difficult when you have a household that needs somebody's full-time attention.

I read a good book a long time ago, (the title of which escapes me), which talked about women going through various stages in their lives.  For the majority of women, this looks something like:  young, unmarried, just out of college; young and married without children; 7 years (or so) of being married with small children,  then married with children in school, and eventually married with kids all grown up.  Of course, there are also single women at all phases,whose issues are somewhat different than the majority of homeschooling moms.

The problem with homeschooling moms is that phase three, married with children, doesn't last just seven years for lasts about a third of our lifetimes!  That makes it more important than ever for homeschooling moms to consider carefully whenever we are trying to earn an income.  I still believe that it is much, much better for moms to either not work at all when their kids are still needing them a lot, or to figure out some way to do it being their own boss....An outside employer throws a real wrench into your priorities when you still have kids at home that need you at odd hours.

Even now, with just two "kids" at home (aged 20 and 33), I find there are still moments when I'm needed.  As they get older, these moments are rarer, but they seem to be all the more critical at the exact moment of need. Even though I have deadlines now, I still have a little flexibility since much of my work as a real estate appraiser is done at home at my computer (and often in my jammies at midnight!)  Still, I could never have done this job when my children were younger, because the stress would have made me crazy.

For those of you whose kids are still young, I strongly encourage you to explore any options you can find to make money on your own schedule. Nowadays, that probably would be easiest to do using the internet.  My daughter Laura is thinking about making a variety of handcrafted items and selling them on an internet site.  I had so many botched attempts to make money when my kids were little.  The worst one was distributing phone books. I had pictured walking down the street with a little red wagon while Sam and Ginny took turns running up to place a phone book on a porch...Instead I wound up with 400 phone books I had to haul up to the 15th floor of an office building while they sat at home being babysat!  The best job I ever had as a young homeschooling mom was teaching piano lessons to school kids after school at my house.  By then my little guys were ready for some quiet time in their rooms, and as long as I kept it down to 2 students a day, it worked fine.  Then later, as I began working with homeschoolers, things also worked fairly well because it was all homeschool related, so the kids could usually be around and moderately helpful.

I don't regret the last four years, working and studying in the field of real estate. It has definitely helped me learn more about computers, marketing, and lots of technological areas that I'd been avoiding to that point. However, I could never have done this when my kids were all still at home.  I miss the more leisurely days of homeschooling and working with other families and I''m looking forward to putting this real estate work aside again someday and returning to the field of education....But for now, gotta go...I have a deadline to meet!


  1. Good advice, Mary. It is a tricky balance, working like that for extra income. I agree with you, if at all possible, be as available for your kids, especially while they are younger.

    Have a great weekend,

  2. I'm a full time working, homeschooling mom. However my dh is unable work so he helps to balance things. It is a very different situation for us. I LONG to be home with her. My oldest children are 23 and 20, the 20 year old still lives at home so he is able to help too!

  3. I did the phone book thing too! It was so hard, one had to drive and one walk phone books up to apartments and kids in the car, long hot days. It paid very little but it was needed. I knew a mom whose hb. left her with 2 small children pregnant and she delivered newspapers at 2 in the morning with the kids in car seats (hopefully sleeping). Every night. It was so hard. But she was faithful to do what she could and met a man who was so impressed with her determination to be a good mom and provide for her children that they married.

    I've written articles (good thing to do), done those research studies, (ok) started a homeschool soccer league(awesome income and worked well with the family), tried temp work (not with a nursing baby I found out) and started a carpet cleaning business - (very time consuming but at least I'm still here in body, if not in mind). Probably the most fun was teaching at Mary's homeschool center, able to bring my 4-8 yr. old to hang out with teens while I taught classes.

  4. In my opinion, one of the very best things about the resource center was the ability to generate a little income for a number of homeschooling moms...hope we have another one (or many!) someday again.