Innovative Ways that Stay at Home Parents Make Money

The decision to be a stay-at-home parent, whether by choice or circumstance, is one that doesn’t get the credit and kudos it deserves. There’s an unrelenting perception that parents who stay at home live the good life, and spend hours enjoying leisure time while the kids are at school or off on play dates.

The reality however, is very different and you’d be surprised how quickly the day goes by when you’re battling to get the kids dressed and ready for school, making sure they have all the bits-bobs-and-sport-stuff they’ll need for the day, preparing lunch boxes, driving them to school, doing chores around the house once you get back, sneaking in a quick hour to yourself, and then before-you-know-it-it’s-time to pick the kids up from school, ferrying them to afternoon activities if they have one, finding something to keep them entertained if they don’t, grocery shopping, dinner making, supervising homework, and finally kids bath & bedtime before eventually feeling like you’ve got time to yourself – by which point it’s probably 9pm.

Stay At Home Parent

Not to mention the trade-off that’s been made. Undoubtedly, children benefit from having a parent at home. Not only do they crave the attention, but there’s a need for parental validation that even the best nannies and/or au pairs can’t provide. Yet on the other hand, the operational management of a household often suffers from the income that’s sacrificed by not to having full time employment. So what’s a good parent with the best of intentions to do?

They play the game with the cards they’ve been dealt and find creative ways to make it work.

Case in point is Nikki-Maree Wilson, a single parent and stay-at-home mum in Hermanus, Western Cape. She and a friend, Virginie Saayman, started a small business from home called Bookoo Box, and not only does it generate extra income, but it’s centered around children – so her son can get involved while she’s working and she doesn’t feel like he’s being neglected.

They say that the best ideas are the simple ones, and with Bookoo Box, Nikki and Virginie have hit the nail on the head. They realized the value, and niche market, for a product that would keep children entertained and engaged for long periods of time, and came up with the idea of creating ‘mystery boxes’ filled with games, activities, and toys that get sent out to children across the country as soon as they’re ordered.

Child with Bookoo Box

The boxes themselves are grouped into different categories to suit the age and interests of the child, and include The Crafty Bookoo (mosaic ad beading kits, paints, brushes etc); The Active Bookworm ( activity books, puzzles, cards); Play and Discover ( modelling clay, 3D puzzles, insects & dinosaurs in a tub, mini 10-pin bowling); and The Baking Box ( recipe book, kiddie apron, mini-wooden spoon, baking trays).

It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Better still, is that it can all be done from home, without alienating their kids. Infact, I wouldn’t be surprised if their children have become professional Bookoo Box assemblers and packers!

Nikki and Virginie are a prime example of what stay-at-home parents are doing to earn extra cash, whilst getting their creative juices flowing. The key to their success? Finding what they’re passionate about, and then figuring out a way to make it work.

Some women are passionate about cosmetics and body-care products, but makeup and moisturizers cost a fortune, so they’ve started making their own. The Body Shop, for example, sells mango body butter for R135 – if you moisturise from top-to-toe every day, that will barely last you a month. Creative spenders are making their own using jojoba oil, mango butter, emulsifying wax, cetearyl alcohol, distilled water and essential oils. Just as good as The Body Shop variety, but twice as nice because it costs a fraction of the price.

As more people become aware of the chemicals and preservatives that go into everyday products, a growing number of people are moving towards handmade cosmetics and toiletries to save on costs, but also because it feels more natural and organic. Make your own cosmetics to save money, or take it one step further and make a business out of it – you have options.

Are you passionate about cooking? How about starting a dinner pick up service? Full time employed parents/singletons would probably love the option of having a home cooked meal that’s been made by someone else, as opposed to ordering a takeaway. So if you’re cooking dinner anyways, why not start a service where neighbours or people in your community can call you at midday, see what you’re cooking for supper, and place their order if they like it?

Homemade Chutney

Buying in bulk is cheaper, so you’d save money on the cost of groceries and probably double your money back once you sell it. It might be a bit time intensive, but there isn’t that much difference between cooking for 5 people and cooking for 15, so if it’s something you enjoy doing, why not?

If you’re an eco-warrior and passionate about saving the planet, make your own cleaning products. Chemical based cleaning products are often toxic, increasingly unregulated, and can pose serious health and safety hazards, especially when there are children around.

An all-purpose cleaner like Handy Andy costs around R12, but all you can use it for is as a surface cleaner, and it’s very toxic. But you can make your own cleaner by mixing equal parts salt and vinegar, or dissolving baking soda in water. None of the ingredients are harmful, and all of them have more than 1 use which will definitely save money in the long run.

The long and short of it is that staying at home to put your responsibilities as a parent first doesn’t necessarily need to be seen as a trade off for income. Thousands, if not millions, of home-bound parents are finding creative ways to earn extra cash by simply doing what they love and tapping into what they’re passionate about. What’s your passion?