Stay-at-home moms are no longer just the co-stars from
Leave It To Beaver, the Brady Bunch, and other television
shows from a bygone era. Taking care of the kids has become
the cool thing to do again for women in their 20s and 30s.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are at least
5.4 million stay-at-home parents in the United States
alone. These are a dynamic bunch of women, and men,
who see opportunities in their domestic role, especially
the opportunities presented by the Internet.
Sure, many of these parents gave up exciting careers and
important roles in their community to take up the
time-honored tradition of rearing their children.
You yourself may have put goals and dreams on the back
burner when you accepted the commitment and responsibility
of raising your little ones. You understand the importance
of a parent being there for those firsts: the first crawl,
the first step, the first “momma” and “dadda.”
At the same time, though, you may feel like you have taken
on too much. Not only do you have the pressures of bringing
up a smart, well-behaved child. You worry about being able
to make ends meet to provide everything your child needs.
If this sounds all too familiar, take a deep breath, turn
off the television, and log online. No, don’t think you’re
going to surf the Web to just pass the time. The Internet
is your portal to transforming your stay-at-home life. In
between the diaper changes and feedings, bedtimes and
burpings, you can reach beyond the walls of your home and
access the outside world as never before. The benefits are
as close to limitless as the millions of sites on the Web,
o E-support system. Whether you’re searching for other
stay-at-home moms to lean on, folks with the same health ailment as yourself, or even just other Oprah fanatics, the Internet is like one big community center where you can find them.
o Friends and fun. Through e-mail, chat rooms, and instant
messaging, the Internet is one of the easiest ways to keep
in touch with old friends and family members, as well as
to meet new acquaintances.
o Cyber community. Look for your neighborhood’s Web site for information on shopping, festivals, town hall
meetings, and other local interests. If you can’t find your
town’s home on the Internet, take a leadership role in
creating it with the help of your neighbors.
o Cap and gown. Many community colleges and universities offer e-courses. You never need to step foot on the campus to earn degrees in finance, English, accounting, or
whatever else suit your fancy.
o Steals and deals. If you’re looking for some of the
biggest discounts and best selection for anything from
electronics to groceries, books to automobiles, the Web
is your marketplace.
o Cash flow. The Internet can work for you, as well, if you
are on the other end of the cash register. The Web
provides an unparalleled avenue to sell goods. It can link
you to interested buyers if you’re only looking to unload a
few knickknacks to unclutter your home. If you have enough
stuff to open a garage sale, you can do that, too, without
time or space constraints. Or try your hand at a full-time
online business if you get bit by the entrepreneurial bug.
The Internet can open up the outside world to you for all
of these benefits, but you need the right set of keys to
open the door. Your first “key” is the type of Internet
access you use. You’ll need to weigh your budget versus
how fast you want to navigate on the Web. Cable and DSL
hook ups provide zippy access but can cut into your profit
margins. Dial up, on the other, can be cheap or even free,
but can slow down your productivity.
Once you have your hook up established, you’ll need to
get your feet wet before you do heavy surfing. Find trusted
sites for your activities. Look for certified schools to
take courses at and secure shopping zones to purchase at.
When selling or starting your own business, do your
research to find the most trusted and thrifty auction and
classified sites. The right classified sites can be like
your neighborhood paper, except they reach millions of
people around the globe. In many cases, the best classified
sites will also charge no start up or transaction fees and
offer safe ways to communicate and do business with clients.
Settle these basics, and you can be virtually ensured to
become a true M.O.M, a master of multitasking. In the time
it takes your child to take a nap or watch an episode of
Blues Clues, you will be able to earn 4 more credits to
your finance degree, buy a new mp3 player, and sell a
closet’s worth of stuff.