Being able to stay home with my baby was something I realized I wanted within days of bringing her home from the hospital. I just couldn’t go back to work.
I needed a flexible way to earn money from home to make this a reality. Then I needed to find the time in my day to actually work. Challenge accepted.
Fast forward nearly two years, and I have been fortunate to be home with N every single day since then. But I didn’t have to give up my own career, dreams or sanity to make it happen. I earn money flexibly from two different sources, am an involved stay at home mom and even manage to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night!
I’m not doing anything special. Just optimizing my time in the right ways. Impossible? I might have thought so too, but with some tips and tricks you can make this your reality.
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I find around 5 hours each day to devote to earning money from home by blogging and teaching online. In addition to this I get to be a stay at home mom, exercise and maintain hobbies like sewing, crafting and cooking.
The first step is looking at your entire day and finding where your big chunks of time for work might be carved out. Sure, I could write 15 minutes here and there for the blog, but a two-hour work block is way more productive.
My guess is that mornings and evenings are going to be your golden hours. So the next question is, are you a night owl or a morning bird?
In addition to these more obvious times of the day, consider when your baby or child might be napping, attending a program, or school. These will also be key times to put towards earning money.
Convert that time into money!
Now, let’s make sure those chunks of time are spent earning money instead of on homemaking.
Like most moms, when I started to earn money at home, I realized a HUGE time sink in my day-to-day and week was spent on keeping everyone fed. I was using my own free time to shop, cook, prep and clean. The biggest time saver in my day has been revamping the entire way I plan and prep meals.
Bulk cooking is the biggest change I made to find more time day to day to earn money. I need mornings and naptime to be completely dedicated to working so I had to streamline meals.
The main way I do this is by prepping freezer meals. I’m hooked on New Leaf Wellness’ Freezer Meal Recipe Bundle because the meals don’t require any pre-cooking. You simply bag and freeze ahead of time, then defrost and throw in the crock pot. The best part is her included grocery lists to prep up to 30 meals at once.
Once a month, Patrick and I do a 14 or 21 freezer meal prep on a Friday or Saturday night. We treat it like a date night and actually have a lot of fun doing it.
In addition to our freezer meals, we prep things weekly to make dinner easier. Things like cooking a large batch of rice ahead of time for use, pre-chopping veggies to throw on salad and marinating meats for the grill make daily dinner prep happen in a flash.
Weekly Breakfasts, Lunches and Snacks
I always make the amount of food we cook for dinner include enough for lunches the next day. This way, when we’re cleaning up dinner, all of our lunches for the next day get portioned into glass containers and are ready to go. On nights we grill, I always throw on some extra, marinated chicken for an easy and healthy addition to salads for lunch the rest of the week.
We often make a large egg quiche or bake that gets used for the week’s breakfasts. I also hard boil eggs, make muffins/quick breads, and other snacks to have on hand. This saves money because we aren’t buying pre-packaged easy options and also saves time.
Schedule time in your week to get this done, commit to it so it doesn’t fall into your established ‘work’ times
Write out a weekly menu/meal plan
Now don’t let all of your bulk prepping go to waste! I have a white board on the fridge where I write what we’re eating each night. I also have a section where I list breakfast, lunch and snack ideas based on things I prepped or baked. This helps us waste less food and eat healthier.
I also have our Alexa set to remind me at 8pm each night to defrost a meal. This is really helpful! An alarm on your phone would do the same. I learned this after one too many mornings of going to get the crock pot started and realizing our meal wasn’t defrosted.
Get dinner going during breakfast, lunch time, or the 15 minutes leading up to eating Not during nap (or other child-free time)
The goal of your pre-cooking, prepping and bulk cooking is to ensure your child-free times do not get used for meals. Get your crock pot going in the morning or prep any other things throughout the day. If you plan and prep right, all of your dinners can be made in less than 15 minutes leading up the meal time.
Be your own cleaning lady
So much of my time throughout the week was going to cleaning tasks, yet my whole house was never clean at once. I always had one or two rooms under my belt and it would all go undone.
We discussed hiring a cleaning service to come twice a month, but my goal is to earn enough money to stay home, adding another expense seemed counter-productive. I realized I don’t necessarily mind doing the cleaning, it’s just finding the time.
Insert scheduled cleaning days every other Saturday. Sometimes we tackle this together if N is being independent or cooperative towards ‘helping’. Other times my husband takes her out of the house and I can get the whole house done in a few hours.
Do laundry daily
Something new I have been trying after a friend mentioned it, is daily laundry. We have one hamper that all of our clothes go into. If I do a load of laundry every day, it is manageable to keep up with and fold and put it right away. When I was waiting to do it once a week, doing 4 loads at once meant that clean piles of clothes would sit for days until I got around to folding them
I usually do the load of laundry while I work and set a timer to switch it. Then I fold it when N wakes up, and it is fast because the load wasn’t excessive. Extra laundry like towels, rugs, sheets etc. I do during my biweekly cleans.
Create your own Cleaning Schedule
The biweekly cleans I’m discussing are the deep cleans where the bathrooms get done and floors mopped. Every day, I do the basics like sweep, wipe down counters, etc. But because our home is pretty organized, it is manageable while N is awake. Create your own ideal daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedule to keep it organized.
For your kids
My guess is that you already have a bedtime routine in place for your kids. It is beneficial to add this to your morning with the kids as well. If getting out the door is something that has to happen every morning at a certain time for drop-offs or activities, you can streamline this.
One thing that I cannot stress enough, is getting up before your kids. As a morning person, this has become the source of nearly 20 hours a week that I put towards earning money. Then, by the time N wakes, or I’m “on” to parent, I am awake and happy. I’ve already been up and doing something just for me.
If you think nights are going to be better for working in your home, I still encourage you to wake up even 30-60 minutes before you kids. This me-time will go a long way. Create the perfect evening and morning routines for yourself by figuring out how much time you’ll need to get what you want to done.
Your morning and evening routines can allow you to do things just for you. My times fall into one of three categories:
Me-Time: this is when I might exercise, do a craft project, or just relax.
Work-Time: These are my mornings alone before N wakes and I have to slip into parent-mode.
Date Time: Patrick and I schedule date nights on Friday and/or Saturday nights. They are usually at home dates, but we try to pick an intentional activity or meal to make it special.
What do my morning and evening routines look like?
Like I mentioned, my mornings are my work times, so my evening routine includes de-cluttering/resetting the house before I go to bed every night. This is important because otherwise my morning is spent doing this instead of working. Waking up to a clean and organized home makes me motivated to work.
My office space is in N’s playroom, but I always make sure to light a candle and I have a plant to help it feel relaxing. Three mornings a week I blog in the mornings and it is relaxing to sip coffee and write. The other four mornings is when I teach online, and this is fun and energizing. I’ve found a perfect balance!
Because my mornings are spent working, my evenings are my relaxing times. I am also strict about going to bed early, because I need sleep to succeed at all that I do.
How to create a routine that works for you?
If you feel like your mornings and evening are all over the place, take some time to write down exactly what you want to get out of these child-free times of the day. Start with the time your kids go to sleep until when you should be in bed. Fill in the times intentionally so that they don’t sucked into Facebook or Pinterest oblivion (guilty!) Certainly, schedule time for this, but think about what is important to you.
Crystal Paine’s morning and evening routine course really helped me prioritize and make the most of these times in my life. This alone made staying home possible.
How does an organized home help me make money from home?
By having strong organization systems set up in your home, you will be able to easily keep up with daily cleaning and decluttering. You won’t spend your free-time picking up messes and cleaning up toys and meals.
With older kids, if you create organization systems that are user-friendly to them, they can even get in on this! Even my nearly 2-year-old will (sometimes…) put her shoes and coat away because I’ve created a spot that’s accessible to her.
My house is the cluttered-type…where should I prioritize organization to save time?
You’ll want to take an organization inventory of your home. In other words, find the spots in your home that are time sinks. Are you digging through winter-wear to find the shorts you want? Are you constantly dealing with a pile of shoes to get the vacuum out of the closet? Are the brooms stored in the basement and you sweep daily upstairs?
Figure out which rooms, closets, or cabinets need work. Start small and slowly get all the areas of your home streamlined.
The 1-minute rule. Learn it, live it, love it.
I’m a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. So many lessons in this book have helped me keep a happier, organized and stress-free home and life. But the 1-minute rule is by far my favorite.
The idea is that if a chore or task takes less than one minute, do it right then. Hang up your coat, bring the empty coffee mugs to the dishwasher, straighten the pillows, make the bed. You get the idea.
By completing 1-minute tasks here and there throughout your day, your house will have less visual clutter, you will stay on top of the mess, and you won’t be wasting your precious carved out work-time on house chores.
Above all, choosing to work from home means that you must be on the ball at all times. Being exhausted and getting sick seriously throws a wrench in everything. Because of this, it’s essential to be firm with yourself. Some nights I do choose to write in the evenings and stay up way too late. I always regret it.
Not sleeping enough will derail me for a few days. I’m someone who needs at least 7 hours of sleep each night. You know your own limits, and you need to be firm with yourself. I take my bedtime just as serious as my little ones because, for me, sleep is the key to making it all work.
Now that you know my top five tips for finding the time to earn money and be a stay at home mom, let me give you some details on what it is I do to earn that money.
My initial ticket to staying home with my daughter, was becoming an Online English Teacher for VIPKID. This is a great opportunity to earn money from home, and because the students are based in China, the peak teaching times in the US are early mornings and evenings. For me, this seamlessly fit my schedule because I could teach every morning and earn money before the rest of my family even woke up! Talk about optimizing your time. I would normally have been sleeping and now I earn money.
Teaching for VIPKID does require a college degree, but you don’t have to have a formal background in teaching to do it. Learn more about this awesome company and application process by creating a free account right now. Teaching for VIPKID is flexible because you set your own hours each week. You can even wait until the night before to decide if you want to work the next day. You are completely in control of when and how much you want to work. There is no minimum or maximum hour requirement making it perfect for SAHMs.
My second flexible income source, and one that I have come to absolutely love, is blogging here at Mom Smart Not Hard. Having a platform to share my stories and help other mamas learn from my mistakes and experiences has been more rewarding than I could have imagined. Blogging challenges me, is stimulating and gives me my own sense of satisfaction and confidence outside of my identity as a mother.
The best part about blogging? With the right strategy, your blog becomes a passive income source. This means that it makes money even while you’re not actively working on it. The sky is literally the limit when it comes to what your blog can earn! With a little motivation and calculated risk, you too can earn money by helping other mothers and sharing your own passion and hobbies with the world. Learn more about how to get your own blog up and running. Why wait to start earning?
My third, and less formal, way of earning money from home is by reselling used items. My husband and I are avid "yard sale-ers". What started as a hobby has become the source of $500+ income every month. While this is seasonal because we live in New England, and never a guarantee, you can learn what sells well in your area and make some serious cash.
We buy at yard sales and resell on Craigslist and eBay. We’ve learned what sells well in our area and becoming parents has opened our eyes to a whole new used market. Baby carriers, baby hiking packs, and electronic swings all sell fast around here. We also refinish furniture and my husband fixes up lawn mowers, chainsaws and grills for a relatively easy flip.
Are you skilled at something like sewing, drawing, or other craft skill? With the tips in this article you can find time in your day to create and sell your special handmade goods on a platform such as Etsy or at local craft fairs.
Know your way around a DSLR camera? With some practice and a few online courses, you can start your own photography business and take photos of other families. Start for free on your friends to build up a portfolio. Get your own website set up and start earning money. Use the new found time in your day to edit photos, respond to email and work on your site.
Watching another little one can be a great way to get to stay home with yours! Advertise yourself as a caregiver on sites like Sittercity.com. Or consider watching a friend or family member’s little one. Just remember to keep it professional and be upfront about your rate and time you will avoid any awkwardness.
You can find a complete round-up of profitable work at home opportunities to get started on the path to being a stay at home mom right away!
I have read a lot about optimizing time in my day in order to make money be a stay at home mom. I’ve compiled all of the advice and found tricks of my own to make it work. One thing a lot of other resources lacked were example schedules.
My hope is that by looking at my week, you will feel inspired and see how it actually all does work and fit. You don’t need to, and in fact, shouldn’t do exactly what I do, but hopefully seeing it all laid out will help.
Tuesday – Friday
Let me add a disclaimer that I am not a robot! This is the rough routine I shoot for every week. The only hard and fast times are teaching, because I am committed to my students during that time. Otherwise, being a work at home mom is awesome because you can be flexible.
If N is up all night, you better believe I take a nap. If Pat and I want to tackle a yard project, I do that during weekend naps. It’s all about balance. But this is what I strive for to get it all done.
Choosing to be a stay at home mom, who also works, is going to result in sacrifices. It takes a lot of dedication and organization to make it all work. But being with your littles every day, especially before they start school, is the best reward. I don’t mind going to bed early and waking up really early to work, because I get to see her laugh and learn all day long.
This season of life is short. And there is no other way I’d want to spend it. The choice to stay at home with your kids is going to require sacrifices and hard work on your part, but it is truly possible for anyone who’s willing to make the effort.
How do you find more time in your day to earn money from home? Leave a comment below! I love to hear from readers.