Questions for my stay-at-home moms: Do you find yourself exhausted? Do you have trouble saying what you did today, despite the fact that you were moving nonstop to keep the house running? Are the days starting to blend into each other, and you can't help but feel like you're flailing for no reason?
If you answered yes to any of these questions (I did for all of them, once upon a time), now answer this: Do you have a side hustle? If your answer is no, then you better get one—quick.
Yeah, I'm the same chick who just wrote that piece encouraging new moms to quit their jobs. I still stand by it. But I also stand right by anything that feeds our souls when the going gets rough. Because it will continue to get rough.
In my eight years of parenthood, side hustles have single-handedly made my stay-at-home-mom days easier, better, faster and stronger. For me, the hustle first emerged from pure fear—fear of forgetting who I was before babies, fear of my previous butt-busting career all going to waste, fear of never returning to a job that tapped into my skills and talents again. Right along with the delivery of my very first baby, my side hustle (my blog to keep myself creatively working in media and to stay focused separate from being a mother) was born.
I never wanted to be a traditional, full-time working mom who left the house every morning and came back around dinnertime. But I also knew early on that I needed something else, some kind of goal-oriented work to keep my spirit engaged with the hard work I was doing every day for our home and family.
Did I know what I was doing at the time I started? Nope. Did I make tons of mistakes? Yes. But, I figured it out for the sake of saving my sense of self, you know? I knew nothing about business, but I was determined to develop some kind of business that used the media industry skills I'd worked so hard to earn years before becoming a mom.
A side hustle doesn't have to be a big, change-the-world deal, but it can surprise you by unleashing so much of what you thought went dormant.
So, what's my side hustle got to do with your potential side hustle?
Here's the upsell:
Side hustles can make our minds stronger.
Meditation—or, concentrating in short spurts—improves our brain function. Reading to educating myself and developing goals and projects totally separate from standard new-mom activities (twice daily, during my baby's naps) reminded my brain that it was creative and capable. My deliberate efforts toward my side hustle made my home duties seem so much easier to handle.
Side hustles keep us feeling independent and productive.
Motivational experts constantly talk about the powerful value of setting and accomplishing small, attainable goals every day. (If you've read my book, you know how much committing to fixing my own bed pulled me out of a new mom funk years ago.) Accomplishing just one goal per day, even if it's emailing a question to a former colleague to gain insight about something, lifts us up.
Side hustles can bring in extra cash that can add up.
Let's just say, I've been saving my "lunch money" from my side hustle over the last seven years, and now we're building a pool at our house.
Side hustles center us.
Plainly put, the time we put into our side hustles is a distraction (that ultimately turns into a refreshment) from all the mundane mom-ing that makes some of us feel a little brain-dead. And feeling brain-dead does not a happy mother make.
So, how to start?
Remember you're happy.
What do you like? Whether it's making bracelets or planting flowers, start with something that authentically brings you joy.
Resurrect your skills.
We all have longtime traits that served us before parenthood, even if we feel like we lost them once we delivered our babies. Remember what you were genuinely good at and use it.
Learn something new.
The world is changing, baby. Digital marketing and social media have infiltrated and amplified any and all business opportunities and ideas. What feels like playing on Facebook and Instagram can get you actual customers.
Take it up a notch.
Say that you start painting vases as a creative release during toddler's preschool time and suddenly find yourself with 27 of them stashed in your garage. Slap some prices on those babies and offer to sell them at your little one's school holiday boutique.
A side hustle doesn't have to be a big, change-the-world deal, but it can surprise you by unleashing so much of what you thought went dormant while raising kids.
Here's the big secret about the side hustle: You're doing it for YOU, to make YOU happy. Not anyone else.
And isn't that what makes a family healthy?