For the past 13 years, Tacoma, Washington-based Tash Haynes and husband Ike’s photography business has enabled the pair to stay home with their three daughters. “Freedom was more important to us than the benefits of a full-time job, away from home,” Haynes said. “We crafted our life on purpose to be with our children, with the flexibility of being able to decide to go somewhere and pursue opportunities.”
Haynes and her husband aren’t the only ones looking for the flexibility to stay at home with their children. According to research from Gallup, flexibility to balance family needs with work is one of the top reasons workers want to work from home.
- Consider an at-home job’s requirements of a distraction-free workplace, scheduling, and flexibility.
- Consider getting help to care for younger children if you need quiet, dependable hours.
- Potential jobs for stay-at-home parents include virtual assistant, customer service support, bookkeeper, or freelance arts or communications.
If you are looking for the freedom to make money as a stay-at-home parent, you have options. According to a 2020 study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, it’s possible to perform 37% of U.S. jobs entirely at home.
Make Money as a Stay-At-Home Parent—Without Getting Fired
“Many parents have a picture of how they'll simultaneously work from home while watching their kiddos,” Holly Reisem Hanna, founder of job leads site TheWorkAtHomeWoman.com, said in an email to The Balance.
Hanna started her site in March 2009 and has continued to operate it while raising her daughter.
“From personal experience, it's challenging to get work done while watching a baby, toddler, or preschooler,” Hanna said.
Parents need to be realistic when thinking about what can be accomplished while caring for kids, especially younger children.
“Many companies require employees to have a quiet workspace free from distractions and noise,” Hanna said.
Look for flexible schedules so you can work when you have a spouse or friend’s support, said Cyndi Thomason, who started her at-home accounting business when her daughter was about 12 years old. Thomason now manages many employees who are stay-at-home parents.
Find three people (other than your spouse) you can rely on if you have a deadline and must work—then reciprocate and show appreciation to those people.
Thomason said she had a team of college and high-school students she called on when her daughter was younger.
Create a reliable routine, then align work with when you feel most productive and when your kids sleep or can entertain themselves.
“Don’t lose patience when they have a fussy day and you have a deadline,” Thomason said in an email to The Balance. “Just reach out to your support network.”
Money-Making Ideas for Stay-At-Home Parents
Parents may find the highest remote-work potential in finance, management, information, and professional services.
Many of these jobs for stay-at-home parents are just a few clicks away—but consider whether you have help on hand if your toddler needs a snack immediately or comes down with a fever. Juggling a crying baby and an upset client can be challenging.
“This remote job is available to anyone with a computer and internet connection—which makes it ideal for many parents,” Forrest McCall, owner of the site DontWorkAnotherDay.com, said in an email to The Balance.
McCall said virtual assistants are often tasked with small assignments ranging from posting on social media to updating website content and more. “For most virtual assistants, your employer will have detailed explanations of what needs to be completed, making it an easy job even for beginners,” he said. However, if you have more advanced skills such as basic web development, you can make more, he added.
- Typical pay: $55,598 per year, according to Glassdoor
Due to the labor crunch, there’s an immense demand for customer service representatives, according to Hanna. “If you're interested in working from home but lack experience, customer service is an excellent entry-level way to start working remotely,” she said.
For example, Hanna’s site lists numerous remote hotel, cruise, and airline customer service and reservation agent opportunities. Customer service representatives work with customers to handle complaints, process orders, book travel, solve problems, and answer questions.
- Median pay: $36,920 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Avoid multilevel marketing jobs. Ensure any job’s legitimacy by checking out the company's reviews on sites such as Glassdoor or Indeed. For smaller companies, try connecting with employees to learn more.
Freelance Arts and Communications Work
If you still have young children underfoot, a home workplace can be anything but quiet or routine, Hanna said. Writing, transcription, proofreading, graphic design, and social media management options often offer naptime-friendly flexible schedules and work that can get accomplished while a toddler babbles in the background.
“The great thing about freelancing is you can use your existing skillset to make money, and with sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and Legiit, it's never been easier to connect with clients who need your services,” Hanna said.
- Median pay: Varies. A sampling: $46,010 per year for proofreaders, $50,710 per year for graphic designers, and $69,510 per year for writers, according to the BLS.
Paper and Essay Scorer
Scoring student essays and test papers is an interesting, flexible, and excellent way to make money from home for parents with a bachelor's degree, Hanna said.
“These gigs are generally seasonal, with most projects taking place between March and June, so you must apply between December and April,” Hanna said.
She added that companies hiring for these positions include Measurement Incorporated, Pearson, and Write Score.
- Median pay: Varies, but Hanna said Measurement Incorporated pays a starting rate of $15 per hour for a W-2 position, with overtime and incentive pay opportunities.
A recruiter position may be suitable for those who need to drop off and pick up kids at school and can work during business hours, said John Herd, a Seattle-based recruiter.
"I hire a lot of moms. They're great," he said. “They don’t need to know anything about employment law. They should have a good work ethic, enjoy talking to people and have thick skin. Recruiting is a lot of rejection.”
But he cautioned that recruiting can be like real estate–some people make hundreds of thousands while others make only a little.
- Average salary: $54,656/year, according to job site Payscale
Many of Thomason’s 25 accounting business employees are at home taking care of young children, grandchildren, or elderly parents.
“I want my employees to have the same flexibility I had when I started the business,” she said.
Many accounting firms provide training, as do nontraditional online and community college programs.
“A good facility with numbers and a willingness to learn is all that’s needed to become a bookkeeper or accountant,” she said.
- Median pay: $45,560 per year, according to the BLS
Haynes taught herself photography skills, then started her business—and has now branched out into influencing. Haynes and her husband tag-teamed on photography jobs at weddings and other big events—sometimes even bringing their children with them on shoots.
To maintain family and professional boundaries, they’ve established a rhythm of working on shoots on Friday and Saturday, family time on Sunday and Monday, and in the office, including editing photos and administrative work on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
According to the BLS, a photographer’s job prospects are growing much faster than average, at 17%.
- Median pay: $38,950 per year, according to the BLS
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much can a stay-at-home parent get paid?
Stay-at-home-parent pay will depend on various factors:
- Hours worked per week—whether part-time or full time
- Position demands
- Any education required
- Your experience
- Job market or competition for the position