Hey friend. Today I’m going to take a minute to talk about something I’m quite passionate about: daring to be an entrepreneur as an at-home parent. Perhaps taking on the risk of starting and growing a business while home with the kids feels a bit like a “modern” idea, but it really isn’t. It’s old, quite old.
Let me explain.
The struggles of an at-home parent are real, but not for the obvious reasons. Yes it is isolating and yes it is difficult to deal with the societal pressure to see family as an inconvenience. But, even once we’ve dealt with these things, there’s something left, something that we struggle to get our arms around. A sense of getting lost in it all. A sense of monotony. A sense of guilt over the fact that we aren’t 100% fulfilled by the work of raising kids and running a home. I mean, women have been mothering from the beginning of time.
Why can’t I just be home and be happy?
Well, here’s the truth. We face challenges today never before faced by at-home parents. I realized this while reading, of all things, The Little House on the Prairie series to my kids this winter.
The Little House series takes place in the 1870’s and 80’s and depicts the adventures of a young family living in Wisconsin, Kansas, Minnesota and South Dakota. The mother, referred to as Ma Ingalls, is isolated beyond anything we could possibly experience as modern mothers. Her life is infinitely more labor intensive and she often faces real dangers, including bears and wolves and starvation. Yet, she never seems to wrestle with issues of purpose and self and value, that all too often plague modern at home parents.
Why? Well, I’ve thought about this for a good bit of time. It just doesn’t make any sense, right? I mean, life is so much easier for us–we have washing machines, and drive through restaurants, and Netflix.
And yet, it seems that Ma Ingalls had something that, amid all of our conveniences, we seem to have lost track of.
I think this thing that Ma Ingalls had, that we don’t, is best understood through a simple comparison. Let’s consider, for a moment, the act of keeping our families clothed and fed.
For us the quest to feed and clothe our families brings us to…Target…or if we are really up for an excursion, Costco. Yup, an hour spent in a store, while we sip a frothy latte, would accomplish both of these goals. Easy, with plenty of time to circle the aisles and find a cart-load of things we didn’t know we needed, and will likely regret buying later.
For Ma Ingalls? The clothes were hand stitched from bolts of fabric purchased in a general store miles away, as were the bed sheets, curtains and everything else. There was no pattern, no sewing machine, no shortcuts. Just lots and lots of tiny stitches. The food she put on her table was gathered from the garden she carefully planted, weeded, watered and harvested. Or from animals she had helped raise, butcher, and preserve. And her family’s meals were prepared on a wood burning stove that she tended, literally, all day.
Now, I love modern conveniences as much as, if not more than, anyone, but who do you think felt more pride and joy seeing her family fed and clothed? And, what is more, who’s work as a mother, do you think, forced her to strive for personal growth and mastery of skills? Us or Ma Ingalls?
Until this modern age, motherhood has always been more than just wiping butts and folding laundry. For generations, when nearly every family lived on a small farm, mothers raised their families while playing an active role in a complex business. They didn’t derive purpose exclusively from the work of babies and dishes, so why do we expect that we should?
And therefore, the solution to the struggles of a modern mother is actually quite simple. Yes, continue to stay home with those babies, love them and take care of them, but use those in between moments, those naptimes and evenings and early mornings, to create a passion-based business for yourself. A project, turned business that is just for you. A business that grows out of what you love, what you are, and in the end turns out to be just what you need.
A passion project has the power to change your life. It has the power to make you a better mother and wife and woman. A true passion project, one that keeps you engaged and energized even on the most monotonous, tedious days at home, is very likely exactly what you need.
I know because a passion project is exactly what I needed.
What this passion project will look like is completely up to you. Maybe it will be homeschooling and developing curriculum for your children. Maybe it will be developing a community to support and nurture other mothers in your area.
A business. Does that seem crazy? It’s not.
If you honestly assess your passions and skills and strive to create something valuable–whether that something is a physical product, a digital product or a service–it is only logical that someone else would want to purchase what you have created. You just have to give them the opportunity.
The internet has radically changed what a business can look like. You can start a business with just 30 minutes a day and a tiny financial investment. And even the busiest at home parent can usually find 30 minutes a day.
The businesses we create aren’t likely to land us a feature in Forbes or even replace our husband’s income, but they do have the power to impact our grocery budget or help fund a family vacation. But, most importantly, these micro businesses have the power to give us a sense of mission, value and accomplishment. Being a Naptime Entrepreneur, as I call it, has the power to transform your life.
I know because this is my story. When the first baby came 6 years ago I quit my job and stayed home, but I struggled with happiness and often wondered who I even was without my work. It is only through my own Naptime Entrepreneurial project that I was able to find happiness at home and love my family as I should. Over the last 5 years not only have I earned money for my family while at home full-time with my children, I have become a better mother and wife.
It takes focus, time, a few practical skills, often a small financial investment, and passion, but it is possible. If you believe in this possibility I’d love nothing more than to show you how.
Because fulfillment as a mother is not a thing of the past, it is not a thing only for Ma Ingalls and other mothers of long ago. It is for us as well.
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