How Starting To Freelance Is Like Learning To Riding A Bike

The other day I was at the park with my oldest daughter Daphne, who is 5 (and a half…if you were to ask her).

A bunch of kids had brought their bikes, but Daphne doesn’t really ride hers much these days.

She used to love riding her bike and would always do laps around the playground, giggling and super confident.

She still uses training wheels, and a lot of her Kindergarten peers are starting to ride without them.

I can see it’s starting to knock her confidence a bit. And now, she hardly wants to ride at all.

As I was watching her that day at the park, bike-less, I wondered what my husband and I could do to get her to learn to ride the bike without the training wheels?

  • Take her shopping to buy a new big girl bike
  • Read a book all about bicycles and riding trails
  • Watch YouTube videos about the cool things she can do once she ditches the training wheels
  • Expose her to other kids at the park riding bikes without training wheels

We could totally do all of those things, but realistically I know she’s going to have to actually get on the training wheel free bike and practice.

Easier said than done, I know.

We’ve taken her around the cul-de-sac by our house and up and down the driveway to practice before without the training wheels, and it pretty much always goes the same.

“I can’t do it.”

“It’s too hard.”

“I’m never going to be able to figure this out.”

Wow!

That’s when it clicked: this had nothing to do with Daphne’s capability at all.

It had to do with her mindset.

The funny thing is, I see this over and over again with the mamas who are considering a freelancing business.

You see the other mamas doing it, and it looks fun and amazing and like an amazing path towards financial freedom and flexibility (it is).

And yet, you tell yourself that you can’t do it.

You watch videos about freelancing.

You may even invest in a course about freelancing.

But you never actually take what you’ve learned and get on the bike, so to speak.

You cannot learn how to ride a bike without actually riding, and you cannot become a freelancer without actually freelancing.

You’re afraid to start freelancing.

The last time Daphne told me she couldn’t ride her bike, I told her “you’re right. If you keep telling yourself that you can’t ride the bike without training wheels you’re right, you won’t be able to.”

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Henry Ford. He said, “whether you think you can, or think you cannot, you’re right.”

We’ve been working on Daphne’s mindset about riding a bike. We talk about what the worst thing that could happen is (possibly falling and ending up with a band-aid-worthy scrape).

You have a reason why you are starting to freelance, whether it’s because you want to quit your job or help financially to ease pressure off your spouse or find professional fulfillment.

Let me tell you – nothing is holding you back, but you!

What is the worst thing that could happen if you took the plunge?

You go back to a 9-5? You’re probably already there!

If you tried to get a client?

They say no? That’s not the end of the world.

If you tell a less-than-supportive family member?

Now…if you took your training wheels off and really launched your freelancing business…what’s the best that could happen?

Are you going to continue to tell yourself you can’t do it.

Or are you going to ride the bike?

 

New To Freelancing? Here’s What You Need To Know

A few weeks ago I did something totally wild in The Free Mama community.

(If you’re new to freelancing, you’re going to want to listen up.)

I asked what you mamas wanted to know about freelancing…

What if I don’t know what I’m good at?

How do I find clients?

How much do I charge them when I do get them?!

And then…

I answered your questions live….while holding a baby.

Told you it was wild.

In case you missed all of the excitement and awesomeness, or if you just want to see how I respond under pressure, here’s your link to the replay.

If you’re reading this while nursing or just need to keep the noise down (ya know, so your boss doesn’t know you’re planning your sweet escape into a work from home life you love) than read on, mama.

You asked, I answered.

New to freelancing? Here’s what you need to know.

Should you choose a niche as a freelancer?

YES, you should decide on a niche! It’s just plain smart. Here’s why: many of entrepreneurs and businesses in the same industry will utilize a lot of the same software and speak the same lingo. What does that mean for you? Fewer systems to adopt and a shorter learning curve. (Side note: choosing a niche does not mean you shouldn’t continue to learn new skills!)

How do I decide on my niche if I’m just starting out?

How you decide on a niche is a little trickier. I really didn’t have a niche when I started freelancing, which was a BIG mistake. A great place to start is by looking into what you are passionate about or what you have experience in. This could include things like Health, Nutrition, Education, Real Estate, Accounting…etc. By choosing something that you are passionate about or interested in, you are going to be much more excited about the work that you get to do – promise.

What’s your niche?

Alright, I’m giving it all away. If I had to suggest a niche/industry that NEEDS your help and WANTS to pay you to solve their problems, it’s the world of coaches, course makers and solopreneurs. This industry is growing because anyone that is getting successful by working for themselves is getting too busy and need help because they can’t do everything by themselves.

Where is the best place to find clients and/or opportunities?

Find out where they HANG OUT! This is one of those obvious/not-so-obvious answers. Once you have decided on your niche and industry that you want to pursue, start by doing some market research and then find out where you can find them. This could include everything from local conventions in person to specific Facebook groups (There is a Facebook group for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING). LinkedIn is another great resource that is overlooked so often. The first step in getting clients is to build relationships. LinkedIn is a great platform for creating these relationships.

How do I figure out what skills I have if I have no experience in marketing or business?

You do NOT need to have experience in marketing or business to be successful at freelancing. Skills such as organizing, scheduling, and basic administrative tasks are perfect for clients who are looking for an extra hand in getting everyday tasks done. If you are still struggling to find out what skills you are best at, I urge you to reach out to your network. Turn to your friends, family, co-workers or even past employers and ask them: What skills am I good at? If I could show or teach you something what would it be? What do I do that I am good at? Sometimes it’s hard to see these things in ourselves but is seen easily by the people closest to us.

What pay is realistic for someone just getting into freelancing?

How much you make depends on how much time you are willing to invest. There is a module in my program where I will give you a formula that will help you figure out what your rate should be. I also encourage going with project based pricing vs hourly rate. Your value and the problems that you solve are worth more than what you can accomplish in 60 minutes.

When setting your pay rate there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • What are my financial goals?
  • Do I want to leave a 9-5 job and if so, how much money will I need to be made to compensate that?
  • How much time do I have to work my freelancing business each week?

Do hourly jobs vs. Fixed pay jobs make a difference in your overall long-term success?

In my opinion, trying to find a smaller number of long-term clients is more beneficial. If you are only serving clients once or twice and then moving on, you will have to spend a lot more time marketing yourself and finding more clients. By making yourself part of your client’s team, you create a relationship with them so that they will WANT to continue paying you over and over.

How do you know you are ready to be a VA? I can manage emails and I’m ok with social media, but am I good enough? My biggest fear is rejection and failure.

YES, you are absolutely good enough! You can start honing your skills now. Start by working on things that you ARE naturally good at and work on becoming an expert in them. If emails are your jam, start researching email management systems such as MailChimp or Constant Contact for example. The most important part is get started! To keep building your confidence, continue learning and while finding small successes quickly.

Does your training cover the administrative side of the business?

As overwhelming as it may sound, the program covers EVERYTHING. I literally cover all the software that I currently use for all my clients. While it is comprehensive, there is a balance of hitting the high points to cover everything in the 12 weeks. For example: One module will touch on Social Media, but will not go through full tutorials on how to become a full-time social media manager and strategist. My program does cover all areas for how to set up your freelancing business from a logistical and organizational standpoint. Furthermore, I also teach you how to apply these skills to your client’s businesses as well.

As a freelancer, how do you manage to stay organized and make sure that your taxes each year are done correctly considering overhead costs, taxes, receipts, supplies, travel etc.?

During the program, I will cover a home-based tax tracker that will help you take a percentage of your dedicated work space so that you benefit from that on your taxes. As far as expenses, this is up to you on how much you want to invest in items such as software, hardware, supplies. Computer and Internet are really the ONLY necessities that you need to get started as a freelancer.  Another great tool that I will introduce is Quickbooks Self-Employed. This will assist you with your taxes and help you to do them properly. This software is inexpensive and helps to manage both income and expenses and connects easily with my bank account, credit card and PayPal. When freelancing you have two options, you can become a sole proprietor or an LLC. I chose to create an LLC to help protect myself and my family from being sued. I have never been nor plan on being sued, this is just what I was most comfortable with.

Do you have any other questions about what it takes to start your freelancing career so that you can quit your 9-5 and spend more time doing what you enjoy with clients you choose and your babies? Head over to the FB group and maybe I’ll just pop in to answer it Live!

What I’ve learned a year after moving my family cross country

It’s almost impossible to believe that it’s been a whole year since my family loaded up in the Yukon and drove the 12 hours south to our new home in Texas.

I was in my first trimester, super sick and exhausted. My husband had already made the move the month before and started his new job, and my mom drove with me and our two kiddos.

I still remember the relief I felt when climbing out of the car and being reunited with my husband.

The guilt as my mom unpacked boxes and watched the kids as I lay nauseated on the couch.

I remember how much I appreciated my dad driving down by himself to deliver our pets and help hang pictures and turn our house into a home.

I can feel the angst in my stomach that I felt as my mom and dad drove away and left us in an unfamiliar place, no longer surrounded by friends and family.

One thought kept circulating back to the front of my mind…

Did we make the right choice?

The summer of 2016 was one of the hardest times in my entire life.

My pregnant body was fatigued and barely functioning in the Houston heat.

There was no down time between finding new doctors, new schools and new clients for my business.

The cross country move left us with credit card debt for the first time in our marriage. Home and car repairs added insult to injury.

I locked my keys in the car on more than one occasion. The AAA service man knew our address.

Most days, my mind struggled to reconcile hormonal stresses with real life ones as I sat alone in my office while the kids were at preschool.

Even with the hardships we faced, this is a happy story.

In one year, I went from one of the lowest points in my life, to the highest.

Our kids have flourished over the past year. They’ve learned to swim! They’ve grown so big they needed new bicycles to ride to the neighborhood park.

Daphne will enter Kindergarten with basic reading, writing and mathematics skills, a memorized address, an eagerness to learn, and loads of confidence.

Henry is finally potty trained and enjoys showing off his days of the week and months of the year songs, usually accompanied with a silly dance.

Our sweet Audrey, our only “true” Texan, was born in this new home of ours and has brought a fresh burst of happiness to fill our lives in ways we didn’t know we needed.

Justin is around more than he ever was able to be before. He has flexibility, hobbies, home projects and time for exercise that all got stuck on pause as a hustling entrepreneur managing various stores and employees in Kansas City.

My business has been growing steadily and transformed in natural ways that highlight what I love and what I’m good at. I am excited about every project I’m working on and the women entrepreneurs I get to work with.

I have friends I cannot imagine my life without – people I’d never met if we didn’t make the move.

Not everyday is roses, believe me. But at this moment, a year after our move, I am perfectly fulfilled.

It certainly wasn’t a walk in the park, but moving with small children, an ambitious husband and a new business taught me a lot about what we’re capable of as a family. Here are my big takeaways a year after moving my family cross country.

moving my family cross country

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

No one said it’s easy to put yourself out there. In fact, even when you’re an extrovert like I am it can be pretty awkward to show up somewhere unfamiliar and insert yourself in a conversation. However, if you sit at home waiting for a dozen new friends to show up at your door you will be sorely disappointed. I knew I’d need socialization immediately, so I joined a mom’s group, chatted it up with other parents at the pool and participated in a professional women’s organization. Also, I figured the quicker I learn my way around, the less unfamiliar this new place would feel. I looked at maps online, spent weekends exploring parks with the family and drove around memorizing street names to get acquainted with the city.

People are kind.

I have to confess something that may sound silly now: when we first moved here I had nightmares that by the time my kids’ birthdays rolled around we wouldn’t have any friends to invite to their birthday party! I laugh now, because the outpouring of genuine friendship toward my family over the last year was abundant. Friends from my moms’ group would text me randomly or swing by unexpectedly {with gifts!} to see how I was adjusting. When I was on bedrest, neighbors would offer to have the kids over for a playdate. After the baby was born, we had food for weeks. And yes, even my kids had plenty of friends to help them celebrate turning a year older. We are eternally grateful for all of the kindness people showed us this past year.

Family is everything.

Not many couples with young children decide to move away from family. Truth be told, I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you have a phenomenal reason. We left more than just my parents, cousins, aunt and uncles, and friends when we left Kansas City. We left a support system, built in babysitters and emergency contacts. While we’ve built relationships with neighbors and friends who can fill some of these gaps, there are still many {many!} times I wish my parents were just down the street.

Kids are people, too.

I knew that my family’s happiness rested greatly on my shoulders. It was a pressure that oftentimes felt like a burden when I was feeling anything but happy. Overwhelmed? Yes. Frustrated? At times. Lonely? You bet ya. Yet I was always keenly aware that our children would look to me to see how I was adjusting, before coming to their own conclusions about this new community. I did this quite imperfectly, but even if I had I think our children would have struggled a bit. Our kids’ behavior was pretty rough the first few months after the move until they settled into a new routine at school. I’m sure the news of the new baby didn’t help. Kids are resilient, but they are also people who deserve time and space and a little bit of grace to adjust to change.

Life is what you make it.

I think the number one reason we’ve embraced our new home is because we came in to this new chapter with a positive attitude. No body forced my husband to accept the job opportunity. There were times when it was extremely stressful, lonely, and even scary. But when we decided to move we also decided to make it a fun adventure. For the most part we’ve really stuck to that, and when we waiver it’s a good reminder to set our perspective straight again.

Our story isn’t over.

We went back to Kansas City last month for a whole week. Our family of 5 stayed with my aunt and uncle and their family of 7. Every night was a slumber party! It was so great to spend quality time with family, our old neighbors, and friends. We got asked by almost everyone when we’d be moving back. It’s funny, because when we left, we always said we could always just move back if we weren’t happy. So it was almost hard to break it to them that we weren’t. Not anytime soon anyway. Texas may end up being just one chapter in our lives or a few, or maybe it will finish the whole book. Either way, we know it will turn out great.

 

How my husband became a short order cook {In his words}

With Father’s Day approaching, I was brainstorming ways that I could incorporate my husband into this blog. I already talk about him, so I asked him if he’d have any interest in contributing his thoughts on my blog. He agreed.

I thought he may write about what it’s like to be married to a working mom, but what he came up with is so much better. It shows the love he has for his children, and the selfless spirit with which he entered our marriage and still shows me today {almost 8 years later}. I rely heavily on him to help with the kids and the house so that I have the time to pursue my own career, too. We are a team and I literally could not do it without him. I loved seeing what “help” looks like through his eyes, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the amazing dads out there!


In relationships we’ve all had moments where we admit we need help. As a husband, sometimes getting off the couch for a beer during a football game seems insurmountable. Going hungry seems justified considering the effort it would take to rise, hunt, and capture the appropriate snack, if it even exists. I thank my wife for her vigilance during these times.

It’s ok to ask for help, we all need it. Sometimes the help is for big things, and sometimes it’s for small things (football snacks may fall under the latter). Relationships, especially marriage, rely on honesty and admitting when you need something.

It wasn’t until we bought our first house that Lauren and I really took notice of each other’s habits and rituals. (Enter cliche remark about my toilet water magically turning blue here.) Early in our careers, no time was more stressful than the morning routine: hitting snooze on the alarm, showering, grooming, coffee, news, and breakfast all while trying to get out of the door on time. So when my wife asked for help in the morning, after pointing out she took more time to get ready for work than I did, I decided to tackle breakfast. What started as a bowl of cereal here, a fried egg and toast there, became something much bigger.

After eight years, three houses, three cities, three kids, two cats and many burnt waffles later, I’ve become known around the house as “Chef”. It’s a title I’ve earned, and I hope it sticks around for a long, long time.

Making my family breakfast has become one of the greatest experiences I’ve had as a father. (And it all started with my wife asking for help!) What’s especially great is that I get to recreate  the experience every morning. It’s starting the day with one small accomplishment before I set out for the rest of a hectic day full of unknowns. Plus, there’s something selfishly satisfying about curing hunger in the morning.

I love making biscuits and gravy from scratch, with scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes. The entire house fills with smells of breakfast and the family gathers around our kitchen island to share a meal, be silly and discuss our day. It’s thirty minutes of family time.

The Chef doesn’t always get to cook what he wants. (I’d pick grits and corn beef hash, a true Okie at heart. I just can’t help myself!) Lately pancakes have been at the top of the menu and I’m happy to oblige. Henry and Daphne love fried cinnamon apples on top, something my Mom used to make for me growing up. Lauren may want protein instead of carbs, so I’ll scramble some eggs. On a busy morning the kids may want cereal when I have oatmeal out. Hard boiled eggs go over better than fried, and omelets get me extra brownie points from the wife.

It’s the first meal of the day, why not let them have a say!

A simple rule in our kitchen: if you have the freedom of choice, it starts with a healthy one. Our kids have grown to love bell peppers, carrots, snap peas, apples, grapes and oranges. There’s always an exception to the rule, and ours sits adjacent to the coffee pot (a container holding mint chocolate chip cookies and, as of this writing, notably low. Something the family tends to be on edge about.)

Despite countless authors and celebrities advising parents not be short order cooks – I say do it. At least for breakfast.

With all the routines kids have these days offering them a little freedom in the morning can be refreshing. Eating habits shouldn’t be controlled, they should be influenced. I have a short menu of breakfast meals my wife and kids know they can order from. When they come into the kitchen for breakfast I’m not just a cook, I become a teacher, a counselor, a friend, and a father. (Life’s not perfect, sometimes I go full dictator. Like if yogurt starts flying like shrapnel in a Michael Bay film.)

There’s so much focus on family time at dinner, which is enjoyed in my home, as well. But there’s something special about breakfast. A new day, a fresh meal, and a time for me to connect with my family. My wife asked me for help, but she ended up giving me the best job I’ve ever had. Put that on your toast and eat it.

How to build confidence as a working mom

Last weekend my family went to San Antonio. My husband had to go for work, so we all decided to pile in the car and tag along.

The trip itself could be several blog posts, covering everything from how to survive in a theme park by yourself with 3 kids {what was I thinking?} to what to pack for a road trip.

But one thing that stood out to me during this whirlwind vacation was how much I’ve changed over the last few years.

When I first became a mom, I was terrified to nurse in public. I was one of the lucky ones who never struggled with breastfeeding. Yet, whenever I left the house I would typically excuse myself to go somewhere private to nurse. Because of my insecurity, I fed my baby anywhere from a parked car to a public restroom and many places in between.

By the time number two came along, my confidence improved. While I still preferred privacy, if I absolutely had to I would get out a cover and work through it with a wiggling baby.

Fast forward to baby number three, and I’m nursing on the park bench at Sea World San Antonio without thinking twice.

So what’s changed? Well for one thing, I’ve learned how to build confidence as a working mom.

I have also decided not to let what other people think affect my choices.

We were on the go all weekend, and while I still prefer to be modest, and use a cover {when she’ll let me} I feed her wherever and whenever it’s time. I no longer let the potential discomfort of onlookers get in the way of me feeding my child.

The truth is, most of them could probably care less what I’m doing or how I’m doing it anyway. I have no doubt that much of my insecurity was just that – mine!

Sure, there’s always going to be a critic, but I’ve grown to realize they are the exception and not the rule. And I’m definitely not going to let these guys get in the way of me feeding my baby… or anything else for that matter.

As a blogger, many of the same insecurities pop up. Will anyone care what I have to say? What will people think? Will they disapprove? Or will I be accepted?

These are the mental roadblocks we will all encounter at some point in our lives. It’s up to us to decide if we will drive through them, or turn back.

Would you make the same choices if no one else was around to judge you?

In other words, how much are you allowing what other people think about you impact your life as a working mom?

Now, I’m not saying that our choices don’t affect other people. In fact, I actually think it is important to consider other people in our decision making. But when it comes down to it, no one knows what’s best for you than YOU!

Maybe you’re considering heading back to work after staying home with your kiddos, and you’re worried you’ll get criticized for putting them in childcare.

Perhaps you have a fabulous new job opportunity, but you feel nervous to tell your current boss whom you love.

Whatever the situation, here’s how you to get what you want and build confidence as a working mom.

Stop trying to please others.

You really want to start working from home to ditch the long commute, but you can’t stop thinking about what your co-workers will think about the arrangement. It’s human nature to care what others think about us, but it also holds us back, which isn’t great for our happiness. {Or in my case, the happiness of my hungry baby!} It’s likely that you’re overestimating how much they’ll actually care in the first place. But if they really are upset, you can address their concerns by clarifying the details around your new flex position or encouraging them to request the same. In the end, however, we have to let go of the expectation that we can make everyone happy.

Take control of your life.

It’s time to get into the driver seat, mama. Just as much as you cannot control what other people think, you cannot expect great things to happen in your life if you aren’t willing to go after them. Do you think you deserve a raise, but aren’t sure if your company will go for it? You need to do your research, build your argument and get your tush into your boss’s office ASAP. Start by identifying what it is you want and the first step towards making it a reality. You’ll improve your confidence by being assertive and following through. Plus, that confidence and prepared argument may be just the thing that gets your boss to say yes!

Celebrate your accomplishments with others.

Women in particular tend to have a difficult time celebrating our wins. No one wants to be labeled a bragger… Well, toot toot! While not everyone will be happy for you, you cannot reach big goals without celebrating small wins. By celebrating your accomplishments with a support system that wants you to succeed, you gain momentum and positive energy to tackle whatever’s next for you. Be sure to return the favor to your friends who are killin’ it, and watch your confidence soar!

Joining an MLM isn’t the easiest path to becoming a Work From Home Mom

I know a ton of women who would jump at the chance to be a work from home mom.

In fact, I have someone reaching out to me about once a week to pick my brain about how I’ve been able to do it over the last year and a half.

As someone who made the leap from working full time outside of the home, to part time from home for myself, and was able to supplement my previous income in less than a year, I totally get it!

I was there not long ago. Craving more time with my children during the day. Needing something that was just mine. Having to feed my desire to create and produce.

It doesn’t always feel like there are a ton of options for working moms to have it all.

Luckily, many companies are finally starting to embrace the importance of family benefits, such as flexible schedules and better parental leave policies. The sense of balance it provides to employees, moms in particular, has kept more women in the workplace, which leads to more women in senior roles, which leads to more female decision makers, which leads to better family advocates…you see where I’m going.

Some women become mothers and their sense of fulfillment comes from staying at home. This is wonderful, and a privilege for those who are able to do so!

The truth is, more and more couples are relying on a dual income to support their families. Women often feel torn when they have to choose between staying home with their children and avoiding high childcare costs, or heading back to work and spending less time raising their kiddos.

If they’re at a job they don’t love with zero flexibility, they understandably would be seeking out other options.

Enter a flood of groups invitations and private messages and friend requests on your Facebook page.

Everyone from your best friend in 3rd grade to your husband’s coworker’s sister-in-law is probably trying to get you to buy leggings, jewelry, cookware, or fill-in-the-blank from them.

It’s no surprise that multi-level marketing companies have become incredibly popular.

A lot of the products are terrific! I have supported dozens of women in my community over the years and will continue to do so.

It’s also no wonder that when you’re Facebook “friend”sends you an offer to start your own business, and make money throwing parties with your girlfriends, your interest is peeked.

You can become your own boss, set your own hours and get away from the job that’s making you miserable.

Score, right?!

I know that’s how I felt when I was struggling to balance my career and my family and was asked to join an MLM. I quickly jumped at the opportunity! If I’m honest, I’m still signed up as a consultant so that I can take advantage of the discount myself. I stopped “working my business” years ago.

If you’re considering becoming a new business owner through an MLM, it’s important that you understand how it will actually work: you will be selling the company’s product on its behalf {they profit} and your recruiter will be earning a commission on your sales {she profits}.

That isn’t to say that you won’t profit.

But in my personal experience, they know they won’t get you to sign up if you understand just how small your margins will be.

They don’t explain that while you will get a great discount on products, you will need to buy a website, purchase supplies to help you sell, and possibly even invest in product up front {all from the same company you now work for}. Not to mention the “starter” fee and taxes.

Instead, they will hook you with every woman’s dream: to create a better life for your family financially, find fulfillment personally, and have a blast while doing it!

Who doesn’t want that?

Then, she reels you in with the success stories of the few and far between.

She isn’t doing it to be misleading. These success stories do exist. And it’s exactly what she wants for herself and her family. Maybe even for you, too! But she also knows she won’t become one of them without you on her team.

Just like other entrepreneurs, MLM business owners work hard for their accomplishments.

This post is in no way to diminish their efforts. However, none of them made a million dollars selling products for a company. They made a million dollars convincing you to sell them.

For you to be successful in a MLM business, you too will only be extremely profitable by pitching the dream to others. That’s literally how these businesses work!

It’s also the reason that 50% of women who join one of these companies leaves within the first year, and 90% have quit by year 5. I fall in the latter, myself.

Now, if you love the product and the idea of growing a team, by all means go for it! Or, if you’re after some extra spending money at the end of each month, you can accomplish that by selling product alone. You will likely have a costumer in me.

However, if you are looking to enrich your life and your bank account, I encourage you to explore other options before buying “a business in a box”.

Create your own work from home mom business!

Chances are you have a unique talent – a product or service – that you can market and sell on your own. There will still be business costs and taxes. There will also be a ton of hard work and some risk.

On the bright side, 80% of new businesses make it past their first year and 50% are still kicking after 5 years. I like my odds.

Have you ever started an MLM business? What was your experience? Tell me in the comments!

How working moms find childcare that works for them

This week will be my kids’ last day of preschool.

Of course, Henry will return this fall, probably with his baby sister Audrey in tow. Daphne will head off to Kindergarten.

For the first time in their lives, they will be home for summer.

find childcare

The funny thing is, neither of them are exactly sure what this means. They don’t understand what taking a break from school is, because they’ve been in childcare for as long as they can remember.

As a working mom, I’ve always had to drop my kids off in someone else’s care so that I could go to work. Even when I made the decision to go out on my own a few years ago, I still relied on part time care in order to build my business with some kid-free time.

Since we’re counting down the months until Daphne starts “real deal” school, I thought it was about time my kids experienced a “real deal” summer. I want their skin to wrinkle from so much pool time. For them to lose track of what day of the week it is. And to {hopefully} sleep in, wear pajamas at lunchtime, and feel what it’s like to be bored from time to time.

That’s not to say that I won’t still need help.

This summer, we’ve hired a nanny who will come over every day so that I can keep consistent office hours. I’m thankful that we found a sweet college girl who can offer my kids a fun summer, while allowing me to get my work done and spend more time with them. After all, that with my motivation for working from home in the first place!

Over the years we’ve used daycare centers, in-home care, traditional preschools, grandparents, and now a nanny. Each of them have had their benefits and challenges, ranging from affordability, stimulation and personal attention. I’ve learned that childcare is hardly one size fits all!

Finding help with my first was one of the most stressful parenting decisions I’ve ever had to make. But over the years, I’ve uncovered several resources and tips that make choosing a childcare solution much simpler.

I’m going to share some of my best ideas on how to find childcare that works for you now.

The hybrid

When you begin your childcare search, you may think that a Monday through Friday option is the only way to go. But when we first had Daphne, we were super fortunate to find some part time care at an in-home facility that we loved.

To fill some of the gaps in our full-time work schedules, we had help from family, which was wonderful. My mom watched both Daphne and Henry at least one day a week for the first several years of their lives. Not only were we able to save a little bit of money by relying on family, but the bonding that my mom was able to do with her grandchildren was invaluable to them all!

This left us with one additional day to find help. I turned to care.com where I was able to research people online, look at their references, and narrow down the search pool. I got several candidates on the phone and luckily we found someone that we felt like would be a wonderful fit for our family.

By using a variety of resources to meet our childcare needs, we could save money, spend additional time with family, and know our children were in trusted hands getting one on one attention. It did take extra attention to detail to remember the different daily routines.

Ask for exactly what you want

We’re living in the age of influence marketing, and what better way to review testimonials than from other moms we know and trust!

I found my kids’ latest preschool from word of mouth. After touring, I felt like it would become a good fit for our children. I told them that full time care Monday through Friday was simply too much for us. By telling them what would work for us, we were able to negotiate a schedule that met our needs.

If you don’t have anyone to ask in person, there’s tremendous support to be found in local Facebook groups. When we moved to Texas, I immediately joined several neighborhood Facebook groups so that I could ask for recommendations on everything from pediatricians to repair man to things to do when it’s raining. If you aren’t already a part of some, try searching for the name of your neighborhood or city in the search bar and set the results to groups only.

When we decided to pull our kids out of preschool for the summer, this was just where I turned to find our summer nanny. In a local Facebook group, I posted an “ad” for exactly what our family was looking for – I listed our pay range, the hours needed, and even described our family and what I’d like the nanny to be doing with my kids this summer. In a matter of hours I had over a dozen people interested. I was able to narrow the inquiries by requesting that they follow up with resumes and referrals to my email. From there I interviewed a handful in person until we found the best fit for our family.

By setting the expectations up front, I only interacted with serious candidates who were willing to go above and beyond our family’s needs for a predetermined pay. While we are shelling out a little more cash per hour, I no longer have to worry about getting my kids ready for school or preparing meals in the morning. Plus, I know they’re having a blast doing fun activities planned just for them!

Think outside the childcare center

One of the things that was frustrating for me when we switched to a more traditional childcare facility was the lack of flexibility. I had to pay for the full day and the full week regardless of my intent to use this full time. And any working mom knows, childcare is expensive!

If you’re struggling to find exactly what you need from a preschool or daycare, consider setting up a co-op with friends, family or neighbors. This sort of arrangement is perfect for moms who work from home or work part-time. It’s a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” agreement in which both moms take turns watching each others’ kids while the other one works.

No matter what route you go with your childcare needs, it’s important to remember two things: trust your gut, and you can always change your situation.

Finally, try to remember that your child will be just fine. This is probably the hardest one to get over as a working mom, but it’s true! You are a fabulous mother and you are doing wonderful things for your family by working.

How did you find childcare that worked for you?

The top 7 apps & websites making a working mom’s life easier

Moms are busy. Really busy.

Add a JOB to the mix and it’s a wonder we get anything accomplished each day. {Ignore that pile of laundry in the corner.}

I’m always looking out for the best resources for working moms that make my life just a little bit easier. That means fewer to-dos, and more time back in my day for the things I really care about.

I’ve rounded up the top seven apps and websites that all working moms need to know about to rock it at work and at home all from your smart phone.

theSkimm

online resources for working moms theskimm

As someone with an interest in current events, but very little time to actually stay current, I rely on theSkimm. Their tagline promises to “make it easier to be smarter” and it does just that. In the time it takes me to nurse Audrey in my bed in the morning, I get briefed – and entertained – on the latest happenings around the globe. If time allows, I can dive in deeper to the news stories via the links theSkimm provides. If I have a hungry toddler begging for breakfast or a pressing work issue, I can come back to it later or wait until the next day.

Target

online resources for working moms target

There’s a reason moms are known for loving Target. Affordable prices, cute items, a Starbucks by the front door? Yes, please. But as much as I love the store, going there with all three kids in tow is pretty stressful. So I’ve turned to the Target & Cartwheel app. After I had Audrey, I was feeling a little down about not fitting in my usual clothes. Using the Target app I was able to skip the store, order a variety of items in a variety of sizes and try them on in my own home. Read: without the unforgiving lighting of a department store dressing room! I scored free shipping, and an easy in-store return that I completed with only one baby and no toddlers {and picked up my latte on the way out}.

Amazon

online resources for working moms amazon

When I went on bedrest with Audrey I knew I was going to need help when it came to errands. It was right before the holidays and I needed to do all of the Christmas shopping for our family. I quickly turned to online shopping and fell in love with the convenience of Amazon Prime. I was officially converted into an online shopper.  The real game changer was when my husband gave me the Amazon Echo Dot a few months later. This product tells me the weather so I don’t have to track down my phone, confirms my calendar appointments, adds things to my shopping and to-do lists, and even orders stuff through my Amazon Prime account all with simple voice commands. Plus, Daphne has learned how to ask for some pretty fun family dance parties. “Alexa, play the Trolls soundtrack…”

InstaCart

online resources for working moms instacart

The other thing I had to figure out while I was on bedrest was the groceries. Luckily, I found the InstaCart app. It’s like the Uber of groceries. Pick your local store, select your food items, and schedule a delivery time that works for you. The app even has great features that allows messaging back and forth, like if you have really picky eaters who only eat a certain ripeness of banana {Henry}, or if the store is out of an item. It’s so simple and convenient, that I was able to order groceries for my family while still in the hospital after giving birth. Someone took care of the shopping, and delivered the groceries my husband at home with our older two.

76th & Newbury

We didn’t find out the gender with our last baby, which made setting up a nursery a bit of a challenge. I knew our new bundle would be in our room for the first few months, so I didn’t worry…until she was born! I realized I was crazy to think I would be able to go out and shop for her room with three kids. And I was already feeling badly that she didn’t have a beautiful room to come home to like the others did. Luckily, 76th & Newbury provides completely custom artwork for the home without leaving the house. I was able to create prints just for Audrey that matched her bedding perfectly. I was super impressed with their customer service. Through my many rounds of edits to make sure it was just right, they always made me feel like the project wasn’t done until I was completely happy.

Poshmark

online resources for working moms poshmark

My husband discovered this app after cleaning out his closet and uncovering a bunch of hardly worn clothes and accessories. Poshmark keeps the clutter at bay while earning a few bucks! Since becoming a mom, I’ve always been into shopping at Consignment events like Just Between Friends. But now that I’m on the other side with some of our items, the cleaning, sorting, tagging, dropping off, etc. overwhelms me. In the Poshmark app, you snap a pic from your phone, add a description and price. Once the items sells, you simply print the shipping label and drop it off at a nearby UPS and wait to collect your cash. My husband has sold random things from jerseys to watches, and I’ve already had great luck in the maternity and children’s sections!

Greetabl

Greetabl calls itself “the total gifting experience made easy.” And I’m totally obsessed. I’ve sent it for every reason you can imagine – babies, birthdays, losses, and just because. I love it for those times when a full blown gift may be a little much, but a card doesn’t seem to say quite enough. With each box I’ve sent, I was able to customize with photos and patterns, and add a small gift -such as chocolate or handmade soap – with just a few clicks from my phone. It’s the perfect gesture for letting friends and family know I’m thinking about them even when life gets in the way.

Best Resources for Working Moms

What are your favorite online resources? How do they help you keep your life organized and simplified as a working mom? Tell me in the comments!


The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Quit trying to do it all

They say “quitters never win, and winners never quit.”

Well…

Today I’ve decided that I quit.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I mean, it stinks. I’ve been doing it for 5 years! But enough is enough. And I’m happier for it.

I’m talking about cloth diapering.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great while it lasted. Many of the cloth diapers were gifted to me at my first baby shower before Daphne was born. The adjustable buttons allowed these green alternatives to grow with each of my first two children. These puppies saved me a fortune on disposables over the years. As long as you don’t hate poop or laundry, cloth diapers are an amazing alternative.

Until you have three children.

I literally cannot wrap my head around something that cannot be thrown in the garbage in the middle of the Houston Rodeo or at the neighborhood playground.

Our busy family is on the go. All. The. Time.

And so after only one week of cloth diapers, I’m calling it quits.

I could look at this as a failure in my efforts to be green and, more importantly for my family, save money. Plus, I did it with my first two children, how could I not just keep it together for my third? Yet…

I see it as a total win.

I’ve won back more time with my family or to work on my business, even if it is just minutes each day – it all adds up! I also ditched one thing from my daily to-do list and freed up our washer/dryer for the mountains of clothes my family of five creates.

Quit trying to do it all.

Seriously. Why are you doing it to yourself?

While I’m a huge advocate of having it all, doing it all is just crazy talk. In fact, even trying to do it all will probably prevent you from feeling fulfilled because you’ll be so dang tired all the time.

The biggest thing moms forget is that in order to truly feel happy – and feel like we have it all – we have to let go sometimes.

Maybe it’s not taking on that volunteer gig. Perhaps it’s knowing when to hire someone to clean your house or mow your lawn. Other times it means knowing when to straight up quit, like I did.

Are you doing something that doesn’t bring you happiness or taking on way too much right now?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or exhausted, I encourage you to find something to cut out.

You’ll be the winner in the long run.

Do you want to try cloth diapers? Target now carries my favorite brand, bumGenius. Comment below if you’re a first time user…I’ve got tons of tips to get you started like a pro!

 

Do you call yourself a working mom?

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I describe myself.

I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, and aunt. I am an entrepreneur, a marketer, a blogger, and an iced coffee enthusiast. Also, I’m a feminist, overly candid, hilarious {if I do say so myself}, passionate, ambitious, and so much more.

And yet 10 times out of 10, I call myself a working mom.

Now, I’m usually not one to jump to labeling people, because as you can see there is a lot more to me than being a working mom. And yet, this is a core part of who I am right now at this stage in my life.

If you’re reading this I bet you can relate.

Becoming a mom is a transformation unlike any other. I’ve truly never known a love like the one I feel for my children. My husband laughs at me because there are times I just look at our three miracles and could make myself cry I just love them so much! I have yet to meet another mom who doesn’t feel the same way about her own.

Now I am blessed with 3 kids five and under. Let me tell you being a mom in itself is a full-time job. An exhausting, often-times thankless, totally rewarding job. I will never work harder at anything in my life than I do at raising them.

Growing up with a stay at home mom {one of the hardest working ones, at that}, I didn’t think much about the different ways motherhood could look for me. But when my husband and I welcomed our first child, it wasn’t a financial possibility for me to stay home.

I soon realized, however, that I enjoy the fulfillment I get from my career. Of course, I miss my babies like crazy when I work, but I also felt like I am a better mom when I was home with them after working. Plus, I was blessed with an incredibly supportive husband.

It didn’t take long for me to embrace my “working” mom title.

I find it empowering that I’m able to care for my family both emotionally and financially. I’ve built a business that works exactly the way I want it to for the work-from-home lifestyle I designed for myself.

Identifying as a working mom has also provided me a sense of community with other working moms who are juggling a family and career.

Those of us who leave our children during the day in the hands of others so that we can provide for our families and do something we love face unique parenting challenges.

Often times we feel like we’re missing out. We can’t attend all of the play dates, Gymboree classes and school parties. We have to choose between the extra dose of snuggles or tending to the household in the few hours we’re home and not working before our own bedtime. Finding time for ourselves and for our spouses can feel almost impossible.

When we’re at work, we think about our family. When we’re at home, we think about our work.

At the end of the day, we just wonder if everyone got everything they needed us.

In spite of the extra challenges of being a working mom, it’s a label I will proudly wear throughout this part of my life.

Whether you’re working because you want to or because you have to, there’s a good chance that if you sat down with another working mom you’d probably have a lot in common. If you’re looking for a group of like-minded mamas, I invite you to join our working moms Facebook group! I can’t wait to meet you!