Other Chaos

It’s okay not to have a successful side hustle

Seriously, a successful side hustle does not define your worth!

By Chrissy Falkenham

One year into being a Stay-at-Home Mom, I’ve learned about a toxic culture among us called “side hustles”… I also learned just how stressful it can be to make a business happen at home with your kids, and do everything else.

I’m going to be talking about all of the side hustles I fell victim to trying to be “enough”. Enough for myself, my husband, and my kids and why it all flopped. I tried so hard to find my “something” Outside of motherhood with capital gain to make me happy. It turned out all to be a ball of stress and time wasted. This societal norm that’s evolved for SAHMS to have a successful side hustle is toxic. If we can/want to stay home with our kids, we should be worshipped and praised, just as much as the father who goes to work and allows us to do so. Working or not, being a mother is a 24/7 thankless job with minimal recognition.

January 2020, I left my dream job in the workforce indefinitely. After my daughter contracted 3 life-threatening illnesses in a month, my husband and I decided to pull her from daycare and I would stay home. Then came March 2020 and the world shut down. 2 months into my “official” SAHM journey the world was suddenly in a state of pure chaos and lockdown. I was forced to raise a baby alone in quarantine cut off from my village.

I was stuck at home with an infant, two dogs, and a cat, and I was BORED! I felt an incredible sense of guilt being unable to help with any expenses, so I decided to start a side hustle. First I started an innocent motherhood blog, I would document my struggles of motherhood and parenting in a pandemic alone without my village. I learned all about website building, branding, SEO, etc..and then here’s where it gets crazy…

I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse

Like most Stay-at-Home Moms, I was approached by an MLM for a product I thought would market well and sell fast. 30 dollars for everything I needed to start my own business that only required 4-6 hours worth of work a week sounded like a dream.

Well it turned out 4-6 hours was the minimum it would take for this fruitful success, and before I knew it I was 200 dollars in, no one wanted my product, and my friends and family were annoyed.. and not to mention everyone else was selling it!

Then I tried to start a t-shirt company…

September came and I realized COVID wasn’t going anywhere, so I discovered this machine called a “Cricut”. I decided I would use my motherhood blog to sell my awesome t-shirts that everyone would want to buy! 

Unfortunately, it turned out, everyone also had a cutting machine and was selling custom t-shirts. Everything went awry when I was always having to buy new materials, inventory, and I could never stay ahead to make a profit. At Christmas, it turned into trying to make all these orders at nap time and when my daughter was sleeping… if I tried working while she was awake she would hang on my leg and scream to leave my tiny home office, after only 10 minutes of watching coco melón… Not my proudest days.

It turned out I was losing more money than I was making, and I still couldn’t really get people to order from me.10 months later, I became pregnant with my second. My energy was zapped, I was having terrible morning sickness, couldn’t keep up with housework, and I often contemplated how I could chase my toddler from bed. I breathed a sigh of relief as I closed my e-commerce store this spring and went back to crafting as a hobby. 

Then I decided I wanted to try making cards…

Last year (May 2020) was my first Mother’s Day, to brighten the crappy day it was (we were all struggling), he made a beautiful little homemade card with a coupon for a weekend away. On the back, he wrote a fake company called “Pandemic Card Products, LLC”…I thought this was hilarious! This year on a pregnant hormonal whim, I tried to open an Etsy shop and run with the name “Pandemic Card Products”. So I made a pretty logo, designed all kinds of planning printables, launched an Etsy shop, and got 0 sales.

I cried, how was I ever going to be enough for my family if I didn’t have a job? I HAVE A BACHELORS DEGREE, I USED TO WRITE THE WORDS, “BSW” NEXT TO MY SIGNATURE!!.. I CAN’T LET THIS BE WASTED!… And then my husband told me the words I never knew I needed to hear “your job is stressful enough, you don’t need another one” and I realized he was right.. I have a job, it just looks a little different than my old one. 

The societal norm that SAHMS should help ‘bring in the bacon’ is ridiculous and leaves us to feel guilty and inferior when we can’t… it’s toxic and needs to stop. Raising children is hard work, even if you’re not “working”. And let’s not forget that to make a side business work in an oversaturated market is nearly impossible.

How do you beat the internet algorithm to get you and your products noticed by more than the usual 10 people?.. when dogs need to be walked, meals need to be cooked, toddlers need attention, and playdates, oh and the laundry is piling up! and then after you manage the chaos you have to find the time to make said product, it’s nearly impossible.

The expectations mothers have placed upon them can be cruel and unrealistic. We should stay home to raise our children and be grateful that we can, but then we are letting our degrees go to waste and “what do you do all day?” Then if we work we are letting someone else raise our children and missing out on the best years of their lives. 

So a year later I realized I cannot win. As much as I miss working, a side hustle is not going to replace my yearning for dress pants, heals, coffee, adult conversations, and beautiful ballpoint pens. My degree isn’t wasted and I did not throw my career away, I put it all on pause to be with my children..without a side hustle, and it’s okay.

So I say this to my fellow SAHMS.. ask yourself, “are my kids happy, usually clean, and fed as much as they will eat?” If the answer is yes, you are doing enough. There is nothing wrong with staying home, raising our children, and as hard as this one is.. not having a successful side hustle. We are enough.

-Chrissy Falkenham

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