For years, I was part of the hustle culture. I did gigs and what most people deemed to be “side work” so that I could stay home and support my kids in their education and development. Hell, I even have a page dedicated to it on this blog.
And I did a post about the Side Hustles seen frequently on Tik Tok too. The research time it took for that was about 6 months, and it was awful. The return on investment (ROI) was not there.
Childcare here in Southern California (and the entire US) is costly and I wouldn’t be able to work full-time and bring home enough money to contribute to the family, beyond paying for daycare. Once we discovered Bubs was on the spectrum, my work outside the house was thrown out the window. There were a lot of appointments, therapies, and special help that were required. So I hustled- I spent hours each day doing surveys online, research studies online and in person, product reviews, teaching coupon classes, and doing app-based work for Field Agent and other similar apps (mostly secret shops and store/product placement audits). And of course, blogging and posting deals and affiliate links when I could make it work and not sound like I was shilling for some company. Because I have a small following, I didn’t have access to a lot of opportunities and sponsorships, in fact, after the pandemic, a lot of programs and companies changed their content creator programs to only larger (10k+ followers) audiences, leaving us little guys out. That meant, once again, it was back to the drawing board, finding new ways to make the same amount of money as before.
My original plan was to go to still blog Part-Time, as well as work Part-Time outside the home after the littlest was in school and work during school hours, however, COVID happened and plans were changed. In late 2021, I started looking for a small, part-time job, and I found one at a local school, in the district where my kids attend. It was a few hours a day, and it was a great way to ease back into working outside the house.
This fall I was offered an opportunity to become a paraeducator, assisting in a special education classroom. After discussing it with my family, and making sure there would be coverage from school pick-ups, I applied for and accepted the job. I work while my kids are at school, and I pick them up from my mom’s house right after school/work, and we have enough time for whatever appointments and shenanigans each afternoon. I have the same weekends and holidays off that they do, and I can work summer school for 6-ish weeks if I want to.
Why am I telling you all of this? The rise in popularity of hustle culture has made it harder for most of us to rely on it to get along. There is the same number of opportunities, but more of us trying to get by and scramble for all of those gigs. If you find yourself struggling with gig work and you have a set schedule that you need to abide by (for example, if you have school-age kids that you are responsible for dropping off and picking up each day), think about working jobs that support kids.
Many school districts are hiring kitchen and cafeteria workers, lunch and playground aides, and even paraprofessionals. There are few prerequisites for these jobs, and a lot of the training and guidance you get on the job. Full-time in most districts is only 30 hours a week, and full-time work comes with benefits. Most districts use EdJoin for job postings, and there are postings from teaching to classified staff. And if you aren’t available every day, you can join the substitute pool (even for classified jobs, like mine), and work per diem as you are needed.
Working in a public school isn’t going to make me rich, but the steady salary helps my family, and the consistent schedule is helpful for making appointments and doctor’s care.
Bottom line- I was tired of busting my ass to make pennies. I spent most of my 30’s working every day, trying to juggle motherhood and making money, trying to give my kids awesome experiences and fun every day while doing surveys from my phone at the park, staying up late to write reviews (a 500-word review about tampons? Come on!), and I was making less than minimum wage, but I had “Time Freedom” and I was “Able to Work Where Ever I Wanted!” and all of the other lies that hustle culture has fed us (Not to mention MLM culture, but I’ll leave that to Roberta Blevins). Now I’m happier and healthier, and I feel like I’m a better mom because I’m able to worry less about making the ends meet, and I can spend time playing with legos with the kids without having to stop every 5 minutes to post something or pack us all up to go do a secret shop or audit.
That being said, one of the few things I still do that’s posted on my Side Hustle page is Small Business Knowledge Center. It’s easy, quick, and I get paid for sending them my junk mail. It’s free Starbucks/Pizza money (Kid’s choice).