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Moms Making Money from Home
Filed under: Work Life
As the economy continues to drag, a lot of moms are creating their own family bailout plans by launching home-based businesses. If you're looking to join the ranks of the "momtrepreneurs" – moms who work from home while taking care of family -- first you need to consider what kind of business is best for you.
Don't overlook the obvious -- if you once worked as an accountant, launching a part-time bookkeeping service makes sense -- as well as the not-so-obvious. For example, take former kindergarten teacher Ellen Delap. After creating effective ways to organize time, space, supplies and equipment in her classroom, she transferred those strategies and her love for teaching to a home-based organizing business.
Beyond career history, often the best entrepreneurial endeavors are spawned from a hobby you love or a solution you created to meet a need in your own life -- which is a need other people may have as well.
Former journalist Susan Elliot loves to cook, so she created a summer cooking camp for kids which includes cooking lessons, and fun crafts and activities. The camp was a huge hit so she self-published a book that shows other moms how to start their own home-based summer camp based on their affinities -- cheerleading, jewelry making, sewing, painting, or other interests.
Christy Lafferty, mother of two pre-schoolers, meshed her photography hobby with her love for babies and launched a home-based photography business.
Veteran moms Kimberly Hope and Terri Haarala related to the younger moms in their neighborhood who wanted extra privacy while nursing their babies on the go. They created and marketed a nursing blanket that stays put on a mother's shoulder.
In addition to extra income, one of the biggest pluses of a home-based business is flexibility. But beware: Balancing your paying job with your Family Manager job requires an extra dose of discipline and organization.
Here some guidelines on how to achieve that balance.
Use a Home Business Hit List. Each morning, write daily tasks for both of your jobs-entrepreneur and family manager. List what you need to do, what you can delete (you only have 24 hours a day), and what you can delegate-to a spouse, an able-bodied child, or someone else.
Work out childcare. Hire someone to watch small children while you work. This will allow you to work for several, focused hours at a clip rather than having to wait for naps or evening. Or, trade childcare with other mothers from preschool or the neighborhood.
Guard your time. If you choose not to hire a sitter, practice extreme discipline with your time. Work your schedule around your children's naps or preschool hours and create a backup plan for days when your child has vacation or is home sick from preschool.
Screen your calls. To protect your high-focus time, screen all phone calls with an answering machine or voice mail.
Develop phone rules. One mom says she painted a Ping-Pong paddle red on one side and green on the other. When she's on a casual personal call, she holds up the green side; when the children need to be silent and wait to talk to her (barring an emergency), she holds up the red side. Another mom puts on a special hat that lets her kids know they must be quiet while she's on a phone call. Reward your children for following the rules.
Set up a "home office" for your child. Put art supplies and activity books in an old briefcase. One of my toddler's favorite games was "working" with me. He became so engrossed in his own projects that I got extra chunks of time to get things done.
Establish workspace boundaries. Count yourself blessed if you're able to work behind a closed door. Otherwise, have some sort of indicators that mark out your work zone, like orange cones you can buy at sports equipment stores. You need something that alerts passersby that "Mommy is working-do not disturb."
Use a timer. Set a timer for a certain amount of time to signal your child that it's time for mommy to play or go back to work after playing for a set number of minutes.
Adjust household responsibilities. If you enter the workforce, use a Who's Responsible for What? checklist to re-negotiate and divvy household chores with your spouse.
Have you launched a successful home-based business? What makes it work for you?
Kathy Peel has authored 20 books, including the award-winning Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy, Organized Home. Her own home-based business evolved into a full-time career of writing, training, and helping other moms launch their own home-based businesses as Family Manager Coaches.