Updated: Oct 15
4 areas to explore for making extra money
around your children’s schedules
According to a recent study, 2/3 of parents, post-pandemic, would quit their jobs without work-from-home flexibility. The study may have a slight bias (it was conducted by FlexJob, a site that specializes in remote/flexible work), but we get it. We’re all scanning our hearts, minds, and the environment now for what’s next — how we fit new awareness of our priorities, desires, and preferred ways of living into the back-to-normal that’s slowly opening up for us.
Having observed and cheered for entrepreneurial types for most of my life, I’ve noticed at least four areas where work can be done in the pockets of time available around the scheduling challenges of the parenting years. If a new sense of prioritizing has you wondering about meshing income needs with more time with your family, see if any of these categories spark an inspired fit for your life. These are all real examples from real people I’ve met. There are opportunities for all kinds of work here — creative work, care work, blue-collar, white-collar, no-collar, professional.
Rides In my ample Uber and Lyft travels, I’ve met dozens of parents with their own distinctive use of rideshare aps for income generation. Several had quit good jobs with benefits because of the flexibility and autonomy it offered. Others used it in a I-don’t-waste-a-single-opportunity way: The minute they dropped their kids off at school, the ap/s went on. And they continued going on and off all day as the driver took care of their own errands. If they happened to get a couple rides here and there, bonus. One parent I met worked in the suburbs and lived in the city. He didn’t make the long drive home until he got a paying fare headed his way. Beyond these platforms, people around you need rides. Seniors in your neighborhood need rides to doctor appointments, social events, grocery shopping. There are likely several parents at your school who need kids ferried to and from school and activities on a consistent basis (meaning, rides beyond the normal give-and-take of splitting responsibilities with friends and neighbors).
Shopping and Delivery Similar to the above — this is shopping and delivery for others both through and independent of established arrangements with Instacart, DoorDash, Grubhub, and the likes. You probably know people who got hooked on grocery delivery during the pandemic and say they’re never going back in a store again. These options will remain and expand in the marketplace. Many who drive full-time around their other scheduling priorities are connected with a couple of rideshare apps and a couple shopping/delivery apps. They take advantage of the best opportunity available at any given moment to maximize their income and/or suit their time constraints.
Hauling One dad I know added a money-making venture to a weekly visit to his son who lived with his ex a couple hours away. Before heading home, he’d load up his truck with firewood (they lived in a rural area where it was plentiful and inexpensive), which he re-sold at a nice markup to city dwellers in gentrified neighborhoods when he got home.
Seniors, busy professionals, car-less urbanites, those not as strong and hardworking as you — lots of people need stuff moved from one place to another. Work to home. Home to storage unit. Business to scrapyard. Condo to vacation home.
Phone Calls There are cars in the pickup queue at my son’s school 20 minutes early. The line itself extends 3/4 of the way around a city block. That represents a lot of waiting time…time that can easily be put to use for phone work. Anyone whose work for self or others requires cold calls, sales calls, check-in calls, appointment-making, etc. may find opportunity in these lines.
Words While Waiting
Modern-day parenting can come with a lot of waiting. Not just waiting to pick a kid up at school or after music, sports, or clubs, but waiting through some of those things (guitar lessons, soccer practice, math tutoring) because it’s impractical to leave and come back for 30-, 45-, 60-, 90-minute sessions. These can be ideal chunks of time for those of us who work with words. Writing
Blog posts for self or others. Freelance writing for publications or clients. Medium articles. Ebooks. Novels.
Shannon Ashley has written about writing Medium articles on her phone with a kid on her lap. As freelancers and self-employed people, we know our options in this area and about squeezing in wordsmithing when and where we can; so I’ll just add two particulars here.
One, if you can’t concentrate well in these waiting situations, use them to brainstorm article ideas or work up detailed outlines. Two, while it may be quieter to buzz away at your laptop in the parking lot, there are benefits to doing so from bleachers, lobby, or a hallway now and again. That is, people will ask what you’re up to, giving the prepared a chance to easily self-promote without being weird. Size up the opportunity and tailor your comeback:
“I write blog posts for small businesses, so if you know anyone who needs something like that…”
“I write marketing copy and newsletter articles for corporations when their staff is overworked or someone’s on maternity leave…”
The trailing off is casual and non-threatening and can be followed up by asking about them.
Editing and proofreading Similar to the above, work on editing and proofreading for your clients from your car or in a more public waiting area. What are you doing? Working?
“Yes, I proofread things like menus, brochures, and websites for different types of clients on an as-needed basis…”
“I edit books for first-time authors who are self-publishing…”
“I write/edit/polish résumés for parents re-entering the workforce. Do you know any such people?…”
Too blatant? Maybe or maybe not. You get the idea though.
Coaching Your Cohort
Finding new clients is one of the toughest elements for most professional coaches. What works best are curiosity-driven, one-on-one conversations rather than the mish-mash of marketing that can work for other businesses. Hanging around waiting with other parents — often other busy parents who never have the luxury of being listened to — can often lead to such curiosity-driven conversations.
You’re a coach, so you’re a terrific listener on multiple levels and keenly capable of reading people and situations. In any single conversation, it may not be suitable to discuss what you do for a living or offer your services. Still, use these blocks of time to have and practice meaningful (and situation-appropriate) one-on-one conversations and let what you do for a living and any opportunities to work together emerge naturally.
Real-life coaches I’ve met who thrive in the world of parents? One mom I met coaches other parents of elite athletes like herself, parents whose lives become devoted in part to their kids’ athletic talent, the kind of talent that makes them candidates for college scholarships, pro offers, and Olympic teams. Another mom coaches military spouses like herself. Yet another coaches professional moms, also like herself, who have left the corporate world to be SAHMs. Philosopher Danielle LaSusa PhD coaches moms on the meaning of motherhood. Who do you naturally connect with and who can you serve in your community? Stay-at-home dads? Bicultural families? Parents with home-based businesses? Religious or non-religious homeschooling parents?
This is a catchall category to remind you of all the ways you’re able to help others you meet in the contexts of waiting and watching as parents. Is it taxes, websites, errands, party planning, pet care? As a parent juggling multiple obligations and priorities yourself, you have a sense of where you’d love help and what you’d be willing to pay (or even barter) for. You also have a sense of how these things come up easily and naturally in parent-to-parent conversations. Take the openings when you have them, don’t be pushy, and focus on maintaining relationships over securing business. Over time, you may just be helping build a network of parents helping each other and themselves.
A Quick Review
Meshing of priorities — If you want to make more time for parenting but need to maximize your time for making a living, consider these four clusters of activities for income generation that fits with the scheduling constraints of an involved parent.
Double-duty driving — driving, shopping, delivery, hauling, phone calls. Optimize aps and all the driving to-and-fro. Serve those around you without a vehicle or time to do stuff.
Words while waiting — Common blocks of parental waiting time are ideal for those who work with words — writing, editing, proofreading, marketing.
Coaching your cohort — Parents waiting together can lead to the kind of meaningful conversations often needed to secure new coaching clients. Give other parents the luxury of being listened to.
Cohort support — Be a useful community member by easing the crazy for others. How can what you do for a living make life easier for those you encounter?
Work from the bleachers — When you’re attacking your keyboard purposefully in public, it may open up easy conversations about what you do for a living. Be prepared with casual replies that make it easy for others to understand who they know that could use your services. Then, ask about them, so it’s not construed as a sales conversation.
Relationships first — Keep any talk of work appropriate for the situation and err on the side of non-marketing. Let the opportunities emerge naturally, which is better for neighborly relationships and for referrals down the road.