Stay-at-home moms who want to keep a foot in the working world have plenty of great job options and are smart to do it, says Kathryn Sollmann, author, speaker and career coach.
“Taking time off to raise kids is a very costly choice,” she says. “The better alternative is to find work that fits your life.”
Of course, deciding whether to work or take time off when you have young children isn’t solely about economics. Some parents choose to ditch their jobs, at least temporarily, because they crave one-on-one time with their offspring and can afford the price.
Jobs for stay-at-home moms
However, those who want or need to work will find that a combination of technological and societal advances and the growth of the freelance economy provide a wealth of options for stay-at-home moms, says Sollmann, author of Ambition Redefined.
The way Sollmann sees it, stay-at-home moms have a multitude of choices — work full-time, ideally in a flexible way; work part-time; consult or freelance. The best way to start depends on what you’re doing now, and where you want to go.
Pitch your current employer
If you’re not yet a stay-at-home mom, but you think you’d like to be — at least part of the time — pitch your current employer on the idea of making your existing job more flexible. This, says Sollmann, requires more than a casual query. Create a formal proposal that spells out what you want and how it would benefit the company, she suggests.
How could your work flexiblity be a benefit to your employer? Let’s say your company is on the West Coast, but has a lot of clients in the east. You could suggest that you work from home starting at 6 a.m. and knocking off at 2 or 3. That would give your company the ability to better accommodate its East Coast clients, while giving you the ability to be finished with work when the kids are out of school.
Job-sharing usually involves two people splitting one job. They may choose to split it in half, or take unequal parts. This arrangement can be an advantage to employers, as well as to workers. Why? You get part-time work, while your employer gets two people thinking about the best way to do the job. Moreover, the employer has two people with experience to tap during busy periods. And, if you work well with your job-sharing colleague, you can also spell each other during vacation times.
Telecommuting is another flexible work option that can serve everyone. It often cuts down on employee absenteeism, since workers don’t need to take sick days when they’ve got a child home sick with a cold.
Of course, it’s important to let employers know how they will communicate with you and check on your performance. The more comfortable you can make your employer about how the job arrangement will fit the company, the more likely you are to get a go-ahead.
If you aren’t currently working or your employer isn’t willing to be flexible, online platforms can help you find better options.
SkipTheDrive, for instance, is a curated job board for professionals. FlexProfessionals also finds flexible and part-time jobs for accountants, lawyers, marketing professionals, project managers and web developers for small business clients, who can’t necessarily afford a full-time staff.
If you are looking in the digital creative space — that means web design, content creation, video and production — Onward Search hires freelancers to work for its clients, providing benefits and even an education stipend to help workers keep their skills up to date. Meanwhile, FreeeUp and Upwork are work platforms that connect freelancers in a wide array of industries with clients who need their services.
If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while and feel that you need coaching, FlexJobs and Apres are currated job boards that also provide coaching and advice. The catch is that both of these sites charge for the service. FlexJobs charges $15 per month or $50 per year; Apres is $99 for the first year.
You spend half of your day doing art and crafts with your kids and wish there was a way to monetize that creativity? Consider signing up with Etsy, Ruby Lane, Society6 or RedBubble.
Etsy and Ruby Lane are online marketplaces for arts and crafts. You set up shop on the platforms for a commision or monthly fee. Society6 and RedBubble invite artists to upload their designs, which the site will print on demand on t-shirts, coffee mugs, iPhone covers and other products that you choose to fit your design. When one of those products sell, Society6 and RebBubble pay the artist a royalty. Each royalty payment is relatively small, but if your design turns into a hot seller, those little payments can really add up.
All you can think about is child care? If you think you could watch a few more kids at your home, Wonderschool may be able to help you start a child care center, leading you through the certification requirements, marketing and billing. Several other sites — RubiRides, HopSkipDrive and Kango — will pay you to pick up kids from school and deliver them home or to their after-school activities.
And, if you have a lot of good-quality baby gear that you’re no longer using, you might want to check out BabyQuip. The site sets you up to rent out your baby gear to travelers with young kids.
“Even if you’re only working part-time, you’re still better off in the long run for having kept yourself in the workforce,” Sollmann maintains. “By working, you are saying current and continuing to position yourself for bigger and better things.”