My transition into motherhood was not a well-planned endeavor. It unfolded before me as I made a series of decisions that have altered my life significantly. First of all, Aaron and I always knew we wanted to be parents, we just weren’t so sure about when. There was always a wedding, a trip, a fun festival, a concert or some other fun event that pushed our timeline further ahead. When it did actually happen, it was right in the middle of one of those major events and getting pregnant was not part of the plan.
We had just moved across the country from upstate NY to Denver, CO. I had recently graduated from my master’s program and was busy applying for jobs and setting up interviews (and scheduling happy hours, brewery tours and finding all sorts of fun ways to drink my way around this new city). I found out I was pregnant the morning of a really really important interview. I was shocked when I saw the results on the stick. Two lines. Wait, did that really mean I was pregnant?? I took three more just to be sure. Two lines. I let the knowledge that there was a growing being inside me sink in. I didn’t even call Aaron, he found out when he got home from work that day. I brought him into the bathroom and showed him the four positive pregnancy tests and said, “what do you think this means”? It wasn’t until he said, “Babe, it means we’re pregnant” that the news really hit me and I was able to let the emotions flow out. I laughed. I cried. I jumped on our bed then stopped to wonder if I was still allowed to jump while pregnant? I was overwhelmed, unprepared and so freakin’ excited. I realized that wine and coffee (my best buddies) were off limits for awhile. I was ecstatic and terrified and not sure what to think about what was happening in my body.
I continued interviewing and going out for happy hours (making Aaron order me club soda and lime so no one would know I wasn’t drinking). I got a job in October. In November when I was 16 weeks along I could feel my belly getting ready to betray me so I told my HR dept that I was expecting a baby. That conversation was terrifying, I felt like I was doing something wrong. I continued doing my job and worked up to the day I started having pre-labor cramps. I didn’t come in the next day and Everly was born the day after that (my 40hr labor story is one I’ll share at a later time!)
I didn’t have a plan for leaving work, returning to work or lining up daycare. Part of the reason for that was lack of communication from my company. I had proposed an alternative work schedule and asked for some flexibility in taking my leave but no one responded to my proposal until a few weeks before I was due. Talk about lack of planning. I’m sure this isn’t how most companies operate but still, it was under these circumstances that I made my decision to not come back to work. I didn’t even know what that really meant, I just had this big unknown ahead of me and a brand new human being to care for.
Transitioning to motherhood was challenging but also really fun. The harder part for me was feeling like I lost part of my identity when I left my career. That was and still is the tough part. Before I started building New Mama Wellness and my coaching practice I was existing in a weird void. I was a well educated, smart, business savvy chick with no “job” (my choice) and felt like I had no outlet for creativity and more importantly- no ownership of my money making ability. I decided to exercise my self-proclaimed savvy-ness and figure out some ways to generate more income for the family. Some of these activities may not be realistic for your lifestyle but they worked for us!
Here’s some of the ways we made extra money:
1. Find another baby or two to watch
I decided the best way for me to make money without paying for childcare was to offer childcare myself. I took on two nannying gigs that accumulated to 3 days per week. It was a great opportunity to make cash and let Everly learn to socialize with other babies. I started these gigs when Everly was about 8 months old. I was finally in the groove of taking care of her and I felt up to the challenge of watching another baby. I made about $1,200 a month between the two gigs.
I channeled my inner Kris Kardashian for this one. I happen to have a hunky husband and I kept seeing advertisements with mediocre looking men and it got my wheels turning. I did some googling and discovered there was an agency for commercial modeling right here in Denver. I figured the market for 30 year old wholesome, outdoorsy, “Dad” figures must be pretty lucrative, especially in Colorado. I was right. I also knew that men in their 30’s were probably not pursuing a modeling career as vehemently as their 20 something female counterparts. I sent Aaron on an open casting call and they signed him on the spot. Since then he has gotten gigs with Rudi’s Bread, a children’s educational DVD and Audi USA. These gigs usually pay $1000 a day.
Resource: Whilamena.com or other reputable modeling agency
3. Pimp your husband out for handyman tasks
We belong to a neighborhood listserv and I noticed alot of neighbors asking for recommendations for small household jobs like painting, staining, and refinishing. Once again, I happen to have a husband who knows how to fix stuff. Since Aaron is a teacher, we decided that our summer was better spent having him do some contracting jobs around the hood instead of me trying to find a temporary gig. The pay was better and it was work he enjoyed doing. He made close to $6,000 that summer. Plus he was close by and we enjoyed lunch together many days and I even jumped in to help him finish a few jobs.
Resource: Nextdoor.com neighborhood community resource listserv
4. Contact your old company and offer consulting services
The company I left didn’t find a replacement for me right away. I figured they wouldn’t so I offered to work as a temporary contractor to bridge the gap. Although that didn’t pan out, they did hire me to meet with the new manager to discuss the marketing strategy that I was using before I left and fill her in on some other institutional knowledge. I made $30.00 / hr.
Don’t discount established relationships, especially if you have some value to offer. There is no hurt in asking!
5. Sell your car and walk more
We decided having two cars was unnecessary and figured out how to use the public transportation so Aaron could get to and from work. It added about an hour total to his commute. We traded days with the car. There was at least 2 days a week that I had access to the car and two days that he had the car. To avoid feeling housebound I took advantage of the lightrail system and also learned to love walking the mile to our grocery store. At times I did trudge trough piles of snow to get to story-time at the library or got caught in a rainstorm enroute back to our house from a grocery run, but it wasn’t awful. We sold our car for $6,500 and put that dough into savings.
Resource: try craigslist or autotrader.com.
6. Trade homegrown produce for services
We happen to have a thriving garden with lots of delicious organic produce. We found some opportunities to trade garden goods for services like tree trimming, tickets to a baseball game or for dog-sitting services. Boom! No money even necessary. Just good old fashioned bartering. You would be surprised how many people are interested and open to bartering. Think about what you have of value whether its a skill, an item or the willingness to do some manual labor and trade it up!
Resource: craigslist baby!!
What unconventional things have you done to make some extra money?