For many, being a stay at home mom (or dad) is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s also a common occurrence. The latest Pew Research suggests that about 1 in 5 parents stay at home with children under the age of 18. What’s more, those numbers haven’t varied in the last 30 years.
The number of stay at home moms dipped to 23% in the year 2000, but now it’s back up to around 27-28%. On the other hand, the number of stay at home dads rose from 4% in 1989 to its peak at 9% in 2010 during and after the recession. That number has stayed close to 7% in the last couple of years.
Today, stay at home moms have two things to their advantage. First, being a stay at home mom is more culturally acceptable than it was in the late 90s and early 2000s. Motherhood is viewed more as a choice and less as a duty.
The second advantage stay at home mom’s have in this era is the digital tools that make it possible to work from home. Remote work is growing in popularity, as is work in the gig or shared economy. Companies rely on part-time help to fill critical roles.
All in all, if you choose to be a stay at home mom or dad, there are work options out there for you. The goal of this article is not to provide a list of stay at home mom jobs. You can find those elsewhere on the internet. Instead, this will help you create criteria for choosing a job.
Why Work From Home
Before looking for a stay at home job, identify why it is you want to work. Doing so will help you pick a job that sticks and is worthwhile to you. To make things simple, there are generally four main reasons to hunt for a job as a stay at home mom.
- To Make Money
- To Fill up Your Day
- To Pursue a Passion
- To Be Social
You may fall into multiple or all the categories, or you may just fall into one or two. Let’s dig into each.
There are many different circumstances that would lead you to need to make extra income. You may even be the sole breadwinner but can’t afford to leave your kids alone. Even though a spouse works, you may need a second income to supplement the family.
On the other hand, if you’re able to being a stay at home mom, you’re likely in a financial position to do so. You may have also decided that working full time and paying for daycare isn’t an option.
Whatever the situation is, before looking for a job, decide how much it is you want to make.
Do you only need a few hundred dollars a year to put toward a vacation or Christmas? Are you saving up for a home, car, or another big expense and want to contribute a significant chunk? Are you the breadwinner and need to bring in an actual salary that supports your family. Or, you might like the idea of making a few bucks a month to use on a shopping spree.
So how much is it? And if you’ve gone through this and thought, I don’t actually need money, there may be other reasons why you’re thinking about work.
Fill up Your Day
If money isn’t the primary reason to work, the real reason may be to fill up your day. You want something to stay busy with. Perhaps you’ve been in the workplace before and find the pace of home life a little too slow. Maybe your kids go to school but you still want to be there in the morning and when they come home. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to want something to keep you busy.
You may find that a job isn’t the right answer at all. When money isn’t an issue, things like hobbies, volunteering, or social groups could provide the outlet you’re looking for. Going through the hiring process and formalities of a job is burdensome and frustrating. Not to mention that working without a purpose can be unfulfilling.
Pursue a Passion
Besides making money and staying occupied, a motivation for working from home can be to pursue a passion. These range from artistic talents like writing, painting, and photography etc. to learning a new skill set like graphic design, web coding, or a new language. Your passion may also be related to something you studied at school.
If a passion is the main motivation, there are several other questions to ask. First, does this passion need to make you money? If so, it may require more commitment and attention. For example, many stay at home mom’s recommend starting a blog. However, blogging is tough work. You have to write every day or week, manage a website, do your own designing, and even after all your work, there is no guarantee anyone will read it.
The same is true of starting a social media account. The life of an influencer looks plush, but it likely took them years of commitment, research, and execution to get to their level.
Another question to ask is if you can pursue the passion by working for a company. If writing, designing, or managing a social media account is your passion, but you also want to make money, consider finding a company to work for. Many small businesses don’t have the time or knowledge to run digital marketing. Don’t be afraid to offer your services to local companies. If you don’t care too much about the money, do it for them at a good price and enjoy the experience and learning.
There’s no denying that being a stay at home mom or dad can sometimes be a lonely experience. Even with children at home, it’s nice to have other adults to talk with and a community to contribute too.
If your goal is to be more social throughout the day, consider what kind of interactions you’re looking for. Is talking with someone enough? Does it count if it’s on the phone? Do you like being with a group, big or small?
Finally, is the social element your biggest goal, more than money for instance? Maybe a job isn’t the best avenue for fulfilling this. You may be better served to organize a book club, volunteer at a local nonprofit, or join a school committee.
Stay at Home Mom Job Flexibility
The motivation driving your desire to work is only one of the criteria you need to pick the right stay at home job. In addition to your motivation, the choice between jobs comes down to flexibility.
Young children, especially those younger than kindergarden age, are the biggest factor in determining your flexibility. If they need constant attention, it can be hard to give your time to a job that needs silence, prolonged periods of work, or a given number of hours a day.
On the other hand, if kids aren’t a factor, getting a job as a mom can still limit your flexibility. For example, my mother no longer has young children at home, but she does have a son in jr. high and one in high school. She likes to be at home to send them off to school and greet them when they return early in the afternoon. She decided she could work 3-4 hours in the middle of the day as a classroom aide at the elementary school just down the road.
While the time requirement worked out great, she found she no longer had the flexibility she had before working. The new job started when she usually went grocery shopping, and she couldn’t get away for the sporadic lunch with her sisters or a friend that would often pop up. 3-4 hours wasn’t a big commitment, but being there every day limited her flexibility and ended up being a frustration.
Because money wasn’t the primary motivator, she determined that there were better ways to find social interaction during her day, so she started a group that meets every week for an hour or two.
The decision to work a job depends on what you value the most.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of what you’re looking for as a stay at home mom job. Like any job, it’s helpful to be honest and reflective about what you’re looking for and what your end goal is. That being said, don’t be afraid to try new things and see what sticks.