Amylee runs the site ProductiveMama.com and lives with her husband and three girls in New Mexico. I met Amylee online and we have one major thing in common – the goal of making life easier and better for mommas out there! Amylee wrote today’s blog and explains her 21 year journey as a work-at-home momma. Be sure and check out her blog for lots of helpful tools and information!
Eighteen years ago I was laid off during the dot bomb implosion. I very soon after that realized I was expecting and had extreme nausea and vomiting. There was no way I could find another job. I let my 3 year business partner in a web design business know I was ready to take on more contract work. I began to investigate other work-at-home options. Thus began my Work-at-Home MOM (WAHM) status. Over the years, my business choices have reflected my interests and stages of parenting. I’ve adapted what I’ve done and how I’ve done it to my family’s needs.
Looking back I am glad I let my friend and business partner push me into starting a business. I was very young and made pretty “safe” choices. This business was a risk in some ways, but it taught me a lot about myself and it showed me that there are other options than traditional employment. I helped with overflow tasks for that business for several more years, until we sold the business after about nine years together.
My first solo small business was a wedding related business. I sold name brand gowns at a discount, as well as other wedding accessories and did some wedding planning. I had this business for almost five years, but closed up shop after my dress supplier did the same. These early years as a WAHM involved using mother’s helpers, trading babysitting and making efficient use of naptimes and evenings. At the time I was also teaching infant/child sign language. I did this for about eleven years, eventually adding other parenting classes and then taking over management and purchasing a childbirth and parenting resource center. I did this with a partner and then needed to fly solo after an unexpected tragedy pulled her away from the business.
As you can imagine, those eleven years corresponded to when I was having babies and had young children. I had interest in these topics and clients appreciated my real-world experience and understanding of their stage of life. I typically scheduled classes when Grandma came down to playI had one day when Grandma came down to play. For any evening classes, Daddy was “On Duty.” And most admin tasks were done during nap-time and other evenings. I was also able to bring my kids to some business events and even worked them into the events. After five years as the business manager/owner, I sold that business and passed the torch.
Business ownership has rewards and challenges. One of the challenges is you don’t always get clear cut income for hours invested. I was ready for that! I began working for a local nonprofit doing important and rewarding work. I had to track my time, did a little traveling, went to some meetings and appointments, organized and ran trainings and participated in a state level task force. It was small enough where I knew I was making an impact and allowed me the flexibility to homeschool. After about three years, I sensed a shift in my kids’ needs. As they got older, my chauffeur services were much more in demand. It was getting more difficult to schedule meetings and phone calls during traditional business hours. We had also been able to hire a full time staff person who was doing a wonderful job. So, with much gratitude, I stepped away.
Blogging became my next phase. For YEARS I had been writing articles for my business emails. I should have been blogging this entire time, but now I was ready to embrace the extreme flexibility blogging offers. ProductiveMama.com has been a labor of love. I’ve had phases of more or less focus on various blogging projects, depending on life. Yes, you write blog posts, but you CAN do so much more: write ebooks, record videos, podcast, develop partnerships, etc. I’m still blogging and my biggest challenge is finding time for all my ideas. I HAVE SO MANY. But it turns out teens and tweens, while more independent, take a lot of time, too. So I really have to narrow down what projects and tasks provide the return I want and need in the time blocks I actually have. I’m constantly evaluating that.
A year and a half ago, on somewhat of a whim, I decided to apply to teach Chinese kids English with VIPKid. While early mornings do NOT appeal to me, I decided teaching in my PJ pants had enough advantages. First, I love China. Next, I am an English major and have always had an interest and curiosity about linguistics. Third, early mornings are when my kids are sleeping. So I’m not missing out on time with them. Classes do not interfere with games or performances. Fourth, it looked FUN. It was a good fit.
With VIPKid, you can’t just sign up. There is an application process that includes interviews and “mock” classes. Then once you’re hired it can take awhile before you get booked. For most people, this can be frustrating. For me it was perfect. I booked slowly and gradually built up my student following. This allowed ME to get used to teaching and allowed my family to get used to my schedule (early mornings for hubby and scattered evenings for the kids). Right now I book to my max (just 10-15ish hours per week). If my life changes again, as life does, I can see teaching even a few classes a month, to keep my contracts with them. Having this in my back pocket will provide me with options down the road.
One thing that working for VIPKid helped me with is being more comfortable on camera. Not my “thing,” but teaching online classes helped me get over some of those hangups. I started incorporating more videos in my blogging and marketing. And my kids would even help sometimes.
My newest endeavor is something I’ll be adding to my “brand” in order to add it to my life: a travel club. I recently realized I’d like to do a bit more personal travel and researched HOW I could make that a reality. I’ll add travel to my blog in order to share ways for other real families on real budgets to take fun vacations AND those trips that may not be just for pleasure (college visits, anyone?). This most recent addition has been enlightening in that I’ve really had to evaluate my online presence and branding. As such, I have prioritized my Work-At-Home site, http://workathomewith.
Whether you work at home, in an office, outside, are employed or contracted, everyone thrives doing work that is interesting and challenging. My work-at-home jobs keep me learning! If you are looking at work-at-home options, make them work FOR YOU and YOUR FAMILY. There is no standard for your family. You get to set the standard!