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Why Grant Writing is The Best Job For Stay-at-Home-Moms

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by Alexis Swenson, Grant Writer
April 20th
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Best Job For Moms

I have been working remotely as a writer for three years from the nooks and crannies of my apartment. One of the reasons I started a business was to set myself up with a flexible schedule as I prepared to grow my family. I’m still a new mom by all counts and figures. At the time of this writing, I have a six month old baby girl. She’s just starting solids and I am not prepared for the changes this food will have on her digestive system. I digress.

Watch this video for more about how I made the transition to grant writing.

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When my daughter was about three months old, I started working again…in addition to caring for her nearly 100% of the time during the standard “work week”. Read: I haven’t slept five hours straight since before my daughter was born. Read: thank goodness for mute on Zoom calls. Read: praise hands for email scheduling when I’m up at 2:00 a.m.

Any of this relatable? Are you a stay-at-home mom interested in re-joining the workforce? Or, maybe you’re trying to find a flexible at-home career that will allow you to scale up and down as you grow your family? Well, as the title of this post suggests, we think grant writing consulting is a wonderful career for stay-at-home moms! It’s the best job because grant writing consulting is flexible, profitable, and life-giving. These three things are non-negotiables for stay-at-home moms who want to work.

You’re in for a treat as a host of other mothers (veteran moms, in my opinion!) in the Collective have agreed to share their perspective in this blog post as well. One of the best parts of the Global Grant Writers Collective is the incredible community!

Challenges of Being a Work-at-Home and Stay-at-Home Mom

Just because grant writing consulting is the best job for stay-at-home moms, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work. Working from home and raising a child (or children) isn’t easy…neither is working outside the home and raising a child or focusing all your efforts on raising a child. It’s all challenging and I have nothing but respect for anyone doing their very best to love and raise their children well. Plain and simple, it’s hard, good work all around.

For Emma Kramer, grant writer by profession and mother of a high school senior and college freshman, it can be frustrating to figure out how to split your time. “Some days it feels like I never get down to my own business, too much house cleaning, cooking, pet needs, gardening, chicken chores, wood to split & stack etc! I live off-grid in Alaska so there’s tons of chores to be done. I am pretty good at breaking up computer work with physical work but some days it’s all one or the other.”

I knew when I started working 15-20 hours a week from home with a three month old it would be difficult. What I didn’t expect was the utter chaos, stress, and constant overwhelm that were waiting to greet me the first two weeks back to work. I also didn’t expect an eight minute workout to take 30 minutes while sung to the tune of “Old McDonald Had a Farm”.

When I went back to work, my family was on the heels of celebrating Christmas and being sick with no schedule to speak of. My baby wasn’t sleeping due to an early case of the “4 month sleep regression/leap” which meant that I wasn’t sleeping. It was rough. It still is hard, frankly. Especially when my baby has a cold or is teething and the only thing that gets her to fall back asleep at 3:30 a.m. is a 40 minute drive around the neighborhood.

As tempting as it is to say “If I just try harder or get up earlier, then I can get some work done”, it isn’t fair or realistic. Getting up earlier wasn’t (and still isn’t) the problem - I was already awake at 10 p.m., 12:20 a.m., 2:45 a.m., and 4:30 a.m. Forgive me, but I just couldn’t figure out how to “get up early” after a mere four hours of broken sleep.

I tried to joke about it as a way of explaining to people and clients I’m close with that I was doing my best - I mean, who doesn’t love a wholesome self-deprecating joke? And I’m just so good at them! Eventually, I started wondering how many times I could use my sleep-deprivation as a joke to my clients before they stop trusting me with their very serious, non-jokey grant writing pursuits? I mean, I’m a professional, right?

No doubt, there are a lot of challenges to being a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. For my family, grant writing consulting is one of the main things allowing me to stay home with my daughter. I’ve found that the work has a lot of great perks for the stay-at-home mom. Yes, even on the really tough days of mommin’. So, let’s get into it.

Grant Writing Consulting is Flexible

The profession by design is flexible, at least more than the average job. You can choose your hours and even set aside certain days for meetings. You can also choose a niche. You can opt to become an expert in a specific field where grant deadlines are at the same time each year. Then, plan around that. For example, if you’re a fan of elk hunting, maybe don’t pick a field with lots of September deadlines. If you only get sunshine three months of the year (hello, my home state of Minnesota!), choose a field with winter deadlines.

If you had a particularly rough night, like the kind where you didn’t sleep, being a grant writer means you can adjust your schedule. You don’t have to clock into the office if you’re struggling. Or, maybe you choose to do a more mindless task instead of some major narrative writing. The point is: your schedule is flexible.

In this day and age it can feel like schools or daycares are closing down constantly due to COVID. Grant writing consulting while being home with your kids means you’re not at the mercy of those closures.

“Being home with my kids meant that I didn’t have to stress about paying for summer camps or daycare during the summer,” said Abby Gromlich, mother of four elementary-aged kids. “If someone woke up sick, I didn’t have to worry about getting a babysitter; I could just snuggle with my sick kid. Kids with fevers are the best snugglers and nappers. They’re every at-home mom’s dream!”

The physical act of grant writing appeals to many as well. Grant writing is a fun blend of storytelling and technical writing. Depending on the types of grants you’re pursuing, the application narrative can lean more one way than the other. A favorite part about grant writing for Imani Ackerman, homeschooling mother of a kindergartner and toddler, is “not having to think too hard about writing creatively. I just use what the nonprofit gives me to write exactly what the grant application requires.”

I think it’s safe to say that a sleep deprived mom (or any person, kids or no kids!) can appreciate a clear set of instructions and expectations. Can I get a hallelujah for funding guidelines?! Especially, dare I say, Federal funding guidelines - *gasp*!

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You Can Make Money as a Grant Writer

Can you actually make money as a grant writer? Yes, you can. It is reasonable for a grant writer to earn $5,000 a month. Say what?! The average salary is $69,000. Plus, you don't have to get a master's degree to get this technical training! So, as a grant writer, you can make money without having to go into debt to get started. Also, you don’t even need to work full-time hours to pull in a decent paycheck.

Want more details on how much you can make as a grant writer? Check out this video.

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I won’t lie. It feels good to make money and contribute financially to my family’s income. Beyond that, I have enjoyed working hard and watching my business grow over the years. With grant writing, the sky truly is the limit for how much revenue you can generate.

Aside from the money, having a side hustle as a grant writer has other benefits. Knowing how to successfully operate a side hustle is a critical skill to thrive in today's economy. Did you know that over 50% of the workers in the US will be freelancing by 2027?

Other pros to a side hustle:

  • Continuing education including how to market yourself and basic business skills.
  • Knowing how to make money (no matter what happens!).
  • Strategically leveraging your side hustle to create freelance experience that you can use to land a job down the road.
  • Adjusting your side hustle to reach your lifestyle goals.
Check out this video on why you should start a side hustle.

As you grow and build out a team (grant writing is the perfect job to build out a team with), you can choose your role in the grant writing process and play even further to your strengths, capacity, and interests. Are you more interested in writing? Consider hiring a Project Manager or someone to help with your email inbox. Not a fan of research? Hire a subcontractor to take that initial research off your plate.

Grant Writing is Life-Giving

As a mom, your time is precious. There’s just not as much time to mess around or hem and haw over decisions. The last thing I want to do is spend my precious time working on something or for someone that doesn’t make me feel excited or valued!

When you choose to work for organizations with missions you’re passionate about, you can rest easy knowing that you’re literally making a positive difference in real lives. And, you’re feeding your soul. This is deeply important to Emily Dodge, mother of three boys ages 7, 9, and 14, and a baby girl, almost 1.

“The work translates well to the kind of parent I want to be,” said Emily. “I want to teach my kids kindness, compassion, sharing, equity, empathy. These are all things that really are at the root of most grant applications – helping other people obtain funding for projects that will have a positive impact for their communities. It’s work that feels good and helps start a lot of important conversations with my kids.”

Another mom in the Collective invites the whole family into her grant writing work. “I don’t have co-workers, so we celebrate wins as a family. We’ve had breakfast dance parties when something exciting happens for my business. These are fun moments I think we all enjoy.”

Celebrating wins is a huge part of Learn Grant Writing and the Unicorn lifestyle! It’s one of our core values. Listen in on this podcast episode for more about what the Unicorn lifestyle is.



The work itself is life-giving, but perhaps equally important is the way the work allows moms to cultivate joy and encourage their own personal growth. “I do think that the adventure of being an ‘at home working mom’ has proven to be a matter of feeling like your authentic self,” said Emma. “As a 45 year old, I’m now fully comfortable with who I am. This allows me to not build some constructed image of myself that would be stressful to uphold. I have learned to embrace all my quirky differences in lifestyle and personality, and when I can work with folks that are open and accepting, we can have great times and success!”

Furthermore, when we choose to say no to “mom guilt”, we are open to seeing the incredible impact we have on our little ones. “This is a rewarding career and a great example for the kids,” said Imani. “I used to feel like maybe my kids just thought I was on the computer all day and could not understand what I was doing, but my older daughter sometimes pretends to work on the computer and says she’s ‘grant working.’”

Does it really get any sweeter than that?

Other Free Grant Writing Resources

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Free Grant Writing Trainings

These how-to videos offer a smattering of webinar replays from our online grant writing training and feature topics such as working remotely, project management, fundraising, and how to utilize the Freedom of Information Act for federal funding.

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Our Top Tips to Make it Work

First, always start with the basics. Have I been fed? Have I been watered? Do I need to be taken for a walk? Then, troubleshoot. Our Collective moms have tons of great real-world advice. This isn’t a random list on the internet. These are real moms who are totally rocking their grant writing businesses! They’re doing it with the help of others, with grace, and with hard-won tenacity.

Keep “Hours” in Your “Office”

Have a dedicated workspace in your home. Bonus if this place has a door! Then, make the space your own. Fill it with things that inspire you: colors, sounds, smells, chocolate! As Shanna said, “no kids toys allowed!”

Clocking in and out of work is crucial to your sanity as well. “It took months of irritability and Nutella to figure out that I had to work while the kids were in school or sleeping,” said Abby. If I tried to run into my home office while the kids were home, to check email or sneak in some narrative drafting, I’d get swept up in work. Inevitably, the kids would fight to get my attention – either with me or with each other. I was setting myself up to get angry at my family for my poor boundaries.”

Boundaries with your clients are just as important. “If you don’t want to work past 5 p.m. because you reserve evenings for your kids, then don’t answer emails or pick up the phone past 5 p.m.,” said Shanna. “For your own sanity, take this seriously!”

Finally, do your absolute best to get enough sleep. When you’re well rested, you work better and you’re a kinder mom. “Either give yourself permission to stop working and go to bed at a decent time, or make up for the late nights by sleeping in and letting the kids watch extra TV in the morning,” said Imani.

Remember Your Why

Being a stay-at-home and work-at-home mom can be extremely trying at times. Like, what happened to me and how is it possible to have this much emotion in my body?! When things get tough, Emma recommends you “remind yourself why you chose this lifestyle/occupation and check in with those intentions to see if they still resonate.”

What are your values and is your current course of action in alignment with them? If applicable, are those values and actions also in alignment with your partners’ and your family as a whole?

Furthermore, find your cheerleaders. When you’re questioning if you should stick with your choices, find folks that support you. “Let them share why they believe in you and this career choice,” said Emma. If they don’t believe in you, listen and consider what they say, but look for other people (maybe more adventurous or independent friends/mentors) that do support you.”

Consider joining the Global Grant Writers Collective for a virtual community with like-minded professionals. The Collective also invites and encourages you to continually invest in your development. You’re a mom, but that’s not your entire identity. You’re a whole person and investing in yourself matters! Check out this awesome FAQ page for more info.

For another mom in the Collective, having a supportive partner who believes her professional success and satisfaction is no less important than his is a requirement. She said that “people think of the SAHM as the “supporter” of the main breadwinner. But, when you’re in a working role that also has more childcare hours, you have to have a partner who understands your work needs are going to be sporadic because of that. When a deadline is approaching, and I need all evening or part of a weekend to work, it’s understood and together we work out a plan.”

Adjust Your Expectations

If I’m being honest, I’m constantly lowering my expectations of what I can achieve in one day. Yes, I wish I could work for 5 or 6 or just a regular 4 hours every day. But, some days, most days, it’s just not possible. Having a daily three helps me keep my expectations in check. By simply setting three goals at a time, we can avoid burnout, make time for rest, and commit to meaningful work. How are the daily three objectives determined? In the Unicorn Way, of course!

This video talks all about how to step away from stress, quarterly plan, and implement the daily three.

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I’ve also learned that there are certain things I can only do when the baby naps. When the baby is awake, I can usually get in a 15 minute workout (*usually), go for a walk, run a load of laundry, and even cook a meal. On the flip side, I reserve her nap times for my computer work. I try to really get focused and do deep work during those times.

Emily achieves the much coveted “balance” by setting realistic expectations for herself as a working mother by simply trying to not drop the same ball every day. “It is rarely possible to keep all the balls in the air every single day,” said Emily. “They wake up sick on the morning you told yourself you’d finally get that narrative written and suddenly you’re cleaning up barf instead of working. Or, on a day you planned to be more present with your kids you get a call that this deliverable is needed ASAP, so you commit to focusing your energy on that and they don’t get their bedtime story tonight. Does that mean you failed? No. It means duty called, and you did what needed to be done today.”

I’ve often joked that motherhood is synonymous with flexibility. Consider getting flexible with your work schedule by setting aside time that works in conjunction with your family. “Even if you hate mornings, or can’t focus at night, working while the kids sleep can lead to great productivity and Super Mom status,” said Emma.

Grant template for funding research

Free Grant Matrix Template

To stay organized, we recommend you put your grant findings in a matrix. This way you can systematically filter the top pursuits.

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Ask For Help

I know this is such an annoying cliche, but stick with me. I don’t do this alone. I don’t think I could do this alone. I have hired a 13 year old who is homeschooled to come into my home twice a week to play with my baby. During this time, I have a productive work session and have the ability to schedule important meetings as well.

I also hire out help with some pretty incredible subcontractors I’ve connected with in the Collective! These subcontractors are preserving my sanity (what’s left of it - ha!) and helping me grow my business. At the same time, they’re getting great experience. Win-win-win!

Emily swears by hiring a house cleaner. You had to have known this was going to come up. “Are you perfectly capable of cleaning your own house? Yes you are,” said Emily. “Are you also perfectly capable of earning $80 an hour with your writing talents while paying someone else $30 an hour of that wage to clean your house so when you sit down tonight you can actually relax? Yes you are. It’s a luxury, sure. But it’s one that will literally save your sanity.”

Embrace the Chaos & Try Softer

Again, I don’t mean to sound annoying, but let’s call it what it is. Chaos. Working from home while caring for your child or children is chaos at times. Think about ways you can enjoy the perks of being home. Can you try an exfoliating face mask while taking a call? Imani experimented with that on her quest to find time for self-care in the midst of everything.

Another mom said, “I also get to have a lot of nice moments that I think I’ll remember when I look back on my life one day. I can have a picnic or take a bike ride in the middle of the afternoon with my kiddo on days when there’s no school and the rest of the world is working away.”

I’m still learning and I guess when it comes down to it: I truly think I’m doing about as well as I can. One element to working as a grant writing consultant while caring for my baby girl is not to try harder, but to try softer. (I’m borrowing that phrase from Aundi Kolber.) Pushing myself to constantly clock the hours at the expense of my sanity, my marriage, and my relationship with my daughter isn’t sustainable or fair.

Trying softer looks a lot like asking for help from my husband, from subcontractors, and saying no to any potential client that doesn’t align with my values. Trying softer looks like breathing when I want to yell. Sometimes trying softer actually does look like yelling - to honor that feeling and get it out of my body. Trying softer means less shaming and more grace, less Instagram and more hand-holding with my husband, less time in my inbox and more walks outside.

Motherhood is a long game. Growing a business is a long game. Feeling good while doing those things is an even longer game. I’m convinced that trying softer, not harder, is the way through.

TL;DR

As a stay-at-home mom, you want work that is flexible, profitable, and live-giving. You deserve it. Call me biased, but grant writing consulting checks all the boxes. Grant writing consulting allows you to stay at home with your littles, earn good money, and make a positive impact in your community. By managing your time and expectations along with saying no to guilt, you can be present whole-heartedly - whether that is with your kids or when you’re working. Grant writing is flexible enough to make that possible for you!

Grant Writing Resources

Keep reading our blog articles. Specifically, this one outlines a plan for how to become a freelance grant writer. This post highlights diversity, equity, and inclusion as a grant writer. And, Jess Stack is a mom who has found great success with grant writing.

Also, check out our FREE Class on Writing Grants in just 7 easy steps!

More questions about the Collective? Shoot us an email or DM on Instagram to chat about what a career in grant writing might look like. You can send us an email at info@senworks.org.

Or, shoot us a DM on Instagram! 🦄

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We made this video to answer your questions about how to build a career in grant writing without the fear of where you will find clients or the fear of failure. We cover the top three mistakes that keep people from making the leap from a soul-sucking job to something more meaningful.

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