If there’s one thing that working moms have mastered, it’s the art of productivity. We know how to focus and complete a long list of must-dos during business hours before heading home to sign forms, help with homework and get the kids bathed/fed/off to bed. But what happens if you find yourself in need of extra cash yet are wary of taking on another commitment? It’s possible to fit in extra work without feeling stretched too thin. It’s why I wrote The Ultimate Side Hustle Book: 450 Moneymaking Ideas for the Gig Economy. There are plenty of side hustles that offer working moms a great amount of flexibility within their limited amount of extra time. A 2019 survey by Bankrate found the average side hustler puts in 12 hours per week, making these gigs ideal for working moms because you choose when and how much you work. Here are five of my favorite options.
Give rides or make deliveries. Sign up as a driver for a ridesharing or delivery service (like Uber, Amazon Flex or GrubHub). One mom featured in my book covered her monthly car payments this way.
In general, these services let drivers choose their own schedules, although beware that some might require specific shifts or a minimum number of hours per week. And driving gigs typically won’t cover your gas or other vehicle expenses.
Teach. Tutor students in school subjects you excel in such as math or reading. Or, if you’re skilled in music, cooking or dance, offer private lessons. Health clubs hire part-time instructors to lead group exercise classes (and might throw in a gym membership as part of your compensation); and adults learning another language, including non-native English speakers, benefit by hiring a conversation partner.
Depending on the gig, you might need to build in extra time for making lesson plans, grading or giving feedback. But a perk of tutoring or foreign language conversation is some students might opt to meet via video conference.
Rent or sell your unused assets. Renting your belongings, such as a car, tools or a spare room in your house, can involve minimal effort. Sharing platforms like Airbnb will even manage all the transactions for you. One family I interviewed rented out one of their two parking spaces, and all they had to do was shovel snow in the winter.
If you want to sell items you no longer use, such as clothes or toys, consignment shops (online and in real life), social media marketplaces (such as on Facebook or NextDoor) and classified listings (such as Craigslist) can help you turn those belongings into cash with very little of your time needed.
Sell your handiwork. Get a booth at local farmers’ markets or craft fairs, set up an online store, or find a shop to sell your crafts, artwork, photography, personal care products and other handmade items.
It’s worth noting that hobby-based side hustles often take time to bring in money because of the investment in supplies. Trial and error might be part of the process too as you build up inventory and find the best places to sell products. But if you’re willing to stick with it and put the effort, you’ll find that doing something you already enjoy can provide a regular income stream.
Go digital. Virtual side hustles, such as filling out market research surveys, providing user feedback on websites or software, writing reviews or contributing to crowdsourcing projects (such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform), offer a great office space—your couch—at unconventional hours.
The downsides to some of these, however, are you might earn only a few cents per task and some sites pay in gift cards rather than cash. Others might require working a minimum number of hours or accumulating a certain amount of earnings before you get paid.
Make Your Side Hustle Manageable
Finding the right side hustle depends on whether the demands fit into your full-time work schedule plus your financial goals. The key is making sure it’s manageable so the extra work won’t burn you out. Here are a few things to consider:
Be realistic about how much time you really have once your regular work day is done, and how much money you can expect from your extra gig. If you have a concrete goal, such as paying for your car or vacation, it’s easier to stay motivated.
Consider whether your children can help. Depending on their ages, they might enjoy helping you organize materials, package items for mailing or staff a craft fair booth. One side hustler I met teaches cooking with wild plants and takes her kids on hikes to forage for ingredients.
Keep accurate records of your earnings and expenditures so you know how much to report on your tax returns and how much you can deduct as business expenses. A full accounting of your side hustle enables you to know whether you’re profiting from your efforts—or it’s time to try something else. Don’t be discouraged if one opportunity doesn’t pan out—there are lots of options to try until the right one sticks.
Elana Varon is author of The Ultimate Side Hustle Book: 450 Moneymaking Ideas for the Gig Economy and a mom of two. Her company, Cochituate Media LLC, provides writing, editing and content strategy services to corporate and nonprofit clients. Follow her on LinkedIn and Facebook.