Friday, April 20, 2007

Being At Home

The life of an at home parent.

I have been an at home parent for fifteen years. I made the choice with my husband when our daughter was just one year old. It was the best decision we ever made. While it does not work for everyone, it did for us. I quickly found though that it was much harder than I could have ever imagined. At home parents have to learn to become creative with their finances. As an at home parent we were down to one income and that was an adjustment. We needed to be able to cut corners or find other sources of income.
In home daycare was an option and I did that on and off for several years, eleven to be exact. When my children were young they enjoyed it, however as they became older they did not want “other peoples children” taking their personal space and their families time. It was then that I decided that as an at home parent I would need to come up with other ways to help my families income without sacrificing my children’s time with me and my husband.
I became very creative, saving money by hanging out the wash to dry. I would wash larger dish items by hand after finishing meals, rather than in the dishwasher. Buying in bulk at stores like Costco. I became an expert on pricing; I could tell you what was on sale, where it was on sale, and whether or not the sale price was a good sale price. I studied the weekly ads and found ways to feed a family of six on a monthly food budget of $400.00. This was hard to do, but not impossible. Menu planning was key in this and I would love to help anyone with this that would want help.
Eventually I decided to turn to the internet. There are literally millions of ways to earn an income from home through use of the internet. It is a perfect place for an at home parent to either make ends meet or even earn more than their spouse or partner. I looked into several opportunities; unfortunately I also lost plenty of money. However I found several that were not frogs, and make our life comfortable.
At home parents need to be careful about where they choose to spend their budget and that it will be profitable for them in the end. One of the things I can not stress enough is diversification. It is the best way to secure your finances. Like our grandparents used to say, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I used to roll my eyes and scoff when I was younger, now I know how true that is. Please do not misunderstand. No one should go out and work 25 programs and then be in the same boat of not having time for their family. I personally have four programs that I use to make a living as an at home parent and they collectively take 30 hours a month of my time. Just a few hours a week and I am back to full time at home parent.
Being an at home parent can be a lonely job. Many feel as if they have lost their friends and minds on most days. I can say without reservation though that I would not trade my worst day at home for my best day I ever had at work. I enjoy being an at home parent, and as far as I am concerned it is my full time job. I love it! What I am looking to do is offer support and ideas to other at home parents. A community if you will, where we can help each other, laugh, love and evolve in our journey as at home parents.