Off-to-school or back-to-preschool? Win these useful goodies

We’ve assembled a few things we love for a fun giveaway, just in time for some of you to put your kids in a toddler program or preschool for the first time. Or even back-to-school for those whose preschools take a summer break.

Here’s what we’ve got.

Win these cute preschool items!

  1. Everyday Bento – An adorable book full of lunchbox inspiration by one of our favorite bloggers and friends, Wendy Copley
  2. Zoo Pack of your choice – Sized just right for the preschool body, these high-quality backpacks from skip*hop come in many adorable animal themes
  3. Zoo Lunchie of your choice – Match this insulated lunchbox with your pack or use it as a chance to own another of the loveable looks from skip*hop
  4. $50 to spend on Little Pim – Fun foreign language videos for your child which can be in DVD format or downloadable. We couldn’t choose that for you and we couldn’t decide if you’d prefer French, Spanish, Hebrew, Mandarin, so the winner will be able to decide for herself.

Enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How I saved Scarlett’s rainbow birthday cake from dying a terrible death

My daughter had her 7th birthday party at Pump It Up, a colorful warehouse outfitted with numerous inflatable jumpy things. This operation is a birthday party machine. Parents need not lift a finger during the party; the children’s shoes and the parents purses are even carted along on a shelf with wheels as the party moves through the facility.

While any sane parent would have simply checked the box next to “ice cream cake” when signing up for the party, I have a tradition of making my children’s birthday treats, though I’m beginning to question why. I don’t have a special aptitude for it. I’ve just always thought it’s not that hard. I make cupcakes from a box and use store-bought frosting, and everyone’s happy and the whole thing costs about $10.

Here are Julian’s birthday cupcakes from a year or so ago.


(Find these adorable googly candy eyes on Amazon.)

Scarlett and I saw this tie-dye cake mix on the shelf at the store and bought it.


After adjusting Scarlett’s expectations that our cake would not resemble the picture on the box because a) I did not buy three packages of mix to make three circle cakes that need to be frosted together and b) I am not doing frosting and then fondant and then coloring fondant and then cutting fondant into circles and then poking my eyes out with a frosting knife. I’m just not doing that.

I thought it would be fun to cook it in a Bundt cake pan and then frost it with white and then each slice would be it’s own amazing little rainbow.

We made the mix, and followed the instructions to separate the batter into six bowls, one for each primary color and one for each secondary color. The package guided us to use the enclosed food coloring to turn each segment of batter to its assigned hue on the tie-dye spectrum. To our delight, the color mixing went off without a hitch and we actually made purple from red and blue. Or close enough.



Next we poured the batter, one color at a time into the non-stick bundt pan.

How to make a rainbow or tie-dye cake

Hmm. It filled only a fraction of the pan. I hoped that it would rise or else I only had enough cake to feed about six kids. We were expecting 15, plus siblings who sometimes show up in time for cake.

After the prescribed baking session, I let the cake cool, but perhaps not enough. When I attempted to flip the the cake over, it completely fell apart. Half the cake was glued to the top of the pan. Oh. Shit.

Tie-Dye Birthday Cake: What to do when it falls apart

I had embarked on this project the day before the party for just-in-case reasons, and now I had to consider my Plan Bs.

  • Do this same project over again and hope for better results. I realize that is the definition of insanity, but I suspected that more cooking and more cooling might produce a more sturdy cake.
  • Revert to my usual cupcake offering, taking comfort in the reliability of it.
  • Dig into my creative brain and upcycle this crumbled rainbow cake.

One of the key benefits of Good Ol’ Cupcakes is that you don’t have to cut and plate cake in front of a crowd of children. No one likes that parent-of-the-party-kid job, do they? After some hand-wringing and swearing and giving myself a pep talk in the kitchen, I came up with a new plan. I sent my husband to the store for whipping cream and clear plastic cups and I shut down Operation Rainbow Cake for the day.

In the morning, with a couple hours to go before the party, I made the whipped cream and put it in a tupperware in the fridge so that we could transport it to the party. I scooped a serving of tye-die cake pieces and crumbs into each plastic cup. We packed those in the car and went to the party. A few moments before the pizza was served, I topped each cup with fresh whipped cream.  Suddenly my kitchen fail was a Pinterest-worthy dessert.


Wait, I said Pinterest-worthy, right? Here you go.


Bonus: I achieved the easy-to-pass-out dessert status I was afraid I’d miss. No public cake cutting for this party. Each child got a cup handed to him or her.

Next time, I’ll plan for cake cups (like cupcakes but accidental?) from the beginning so I don’t waste time crying over spilled crumbs.

Two kids in a room. Or not.

We are at a conference for the rest of the weekend, so I am re-posting this one from a couple years ago.

Baby and Toddler Room Sharing

Heather and I both live in Berkeley where houses are small, and expensive nonetheless. Our neighboring city Oakland is pretty much the same.  If you’ve seen the show Parenthood, which is set here, well, let’s just say that the houses in which those characters live would be in the top 5% for spaciousness.

The other day I went over to my friend Karin’s house for the first time since she’s been married and had two sons. When she opened the front door, the first thing I saw was a queen-sized air mattress taking up her entire living room floor. I asked if she had weekend guests, and she sheepishly explained that she and her husband actually sleep on the air mattress and let their baby sleep in their room while their toddler hogs the room that is intended to be shared by the brothers. Eventually.

They were struggling to figure out how to put two kids in the same room such that they would allow each other to take their naps and sleep at night.

I had no advice for her, although since my kids are older and have been sharing a room for a long while now, I could hardly register the situation as a problem.  I remember letting Scarlett cry it out and Julian, age 3, just slept right through it.  I now realize every toddler does not sleep as soundly as Julian, who could be carried into a playdate if he had fallen asleep in the car, plopped on the host’s couch, and be jumped on by his excited little friend, and sleep through the whole thing. As I drove home from Karin’s, however, I suddenly remembered a few scenarios that may have comforted her.

Documenting a lost battle: Scarlett naps on the floor in my room

When Heather’s baby #2 Milo was born, she worried that his night wakings would disrupt Holden’s sleep, yet she and Alec had learned from their rookie parenting stint that they prefer not to sleep in the same room as the baby. Therefore, baby Milo slept in his infant “bucket” carseat in the office area just outside their room. Every night. For four months.

When my own second child was born, we made half of our bedroom into a babycentric space, expecting her to stay with us for a couple months.  She tricked us by being a good sleeper for about a month, but then lost her knack for staying asleep past midnight. Taking a cue from our good friends who called their children “swing babies”, we set up the automatic swing in our bedroom, and there she slept, swinging at full speed, all night long. For three months.

And Julian? He slept swaddled and strapped to a changing table pad on the floor when we visited our parents for the first few months.

My point is that we do a lot of crazy shit as new parents. We sing potty songs, attach electric pumps to our breasts, and read books to kids who can barely hold their heads up. Sleeping in your own living room is the least of it. (That reminds me…  my second cousin’s husband used to sleep on the porch.)

If you’ve got two children who share a room, tell us more.  How did you do it?

What Not To Wear: Baby Edition

Poor Winnie the Pooh. Such a nice guy, but moms are not into him these days.

We asked our Facebook page about what types of clothing they refuse to put on their children. While this is a very subjective topic, and I don’t imagine we all share the same opinions on these styles, here are the things some moms named as styles they don’t want their babies to wear.

1. Camoflague. It’s too early in life to draft our little ones into battle, I gather. Though it’s been a recent trend, many of you don’t want your kids sporting camo.


2. Bikinis. No “likes” on Facebook for the teeny weeny swimsuits.

10 things moms don't want their children wearing


3. References to Mommy and Daddy. Mommy’s Little Sailor above a picture of a boat? Wild About Daddy with a cheetah print? You guys say, “No thank you.” Especially not this exceptionally graphic tribute to Daddy’s relationship to the baby. Umm.


4. Pastel animals. Also, neon animals. Also, neon cars. Ok, this one is pretty subjective. I think what we’re getting at here is general cheesiness. Or maybe just ugliness? I feel bad selecting a product to illustrate.

5. Turtlenecks. We don’t need to say more. But we will. San Francisco mom Val says, “Because a baby shouldn’t look like Steve Jobs in a tiny black mock turtleneck onesie.”

Styles for babies that moms hate

6. Announcements that this baby just might be a jerk.  I Heart Boobies, Little Monster, Call Me Princess, Lady Killer, and other faux arrogant claims are rejected.

11 baby clothing styles moms hate.

7. Writing on the butt. What’s worse than a onesie that brags “Little Diva”? One that says it on the tush.


8. Skulls. Many moms find them creepy. Enough disagree that Honest Co makes diapers with skulls, and I bought them for my nephew because I knew his mom would dig ‘em. Oh well. Find these at Target. Or don’t if you hate skulls.

11 styles for babies that moms are wary of


9. NFL, NASCAR, NBA licensed gear. Some parents are uncomfortable with their child acting as a billboard for multi-million dollar businesses. That includes Disney. Fair enough.

11 styles for babies that no mom is excited about

Bonus discussion topic: Overalls. Wait, overalls are cute, aren’t they? Or you guys hate overalls? I can’t tell.

No matter how much you agree or disagree with the picks above, I can guarantee that by the time our kids are grown, we’ll think it was all adorable — even NASCAR turtlenecks with neon animal-themed overalls.

Related activity: Host an ugly baby clothes contest

What I wish I could do over: Introducing my kid to food

My nine-year old son is a very picky eater. I was the same way. The world will not end over this, and he is certainly not lacking in the nutrition department — red bell pepper, raw spinach leaves, and hummus are on his limited list of approved foods. More than anything, it’s inconvenient.

Going to a barbecue stresses him out because he doesn’t care for anything on a bun. Taco Night, a crowdpleaser at most multi-family dinners, means that he approaches the DIY food station and selects a tortilla and shredded cheese. No meat, no beans. Tomato? Fugeddaboutit. At that point, I usually open my friend’s fridge and pour him a huge glass of milk to be sure he won’t be hungry.

No sauce on his pasta; no fruit salad. He would prefer a pile of strawberries next to wedges of apple and nectarine slices, lined up, but not leaning into one another. He will not eat sweet potato fries or French fries, or anything else served at a baseball game concession stand.

This is my fault.

If there is an opposite of Baby-Led Weaning — that’s how I introduced baby Julian to food. I prepared individual bowls of homogeneous foods that lacked texture. A cup of apple sauce. A bowl of mashed avocado. No seasonings. No meat.

Those plastic children’s dinner plates with divided cubbies? That’s how my brain works. I set up his meals that way even without cubby-plates, because that’s what I liked when I was little. And by the way, my picky eating was an inconvenience as well. I never ate a casserole or lasagna before age 20 because, eewww, textures.

A divided plate for a toddler caused me years of food-related angst

My second child was eating lentils and tomato soup with chunks of sweet potato with her fingers at ten months old. Scarlett’s a little picky, as most children are, but not as much so as Julian (she tries new foods regularly and will not starve at a campout).

I tell myself it’s okay. When he travels in Latin America, as I did in my early 20s, he’ll eat whatever’s on hand: beans and meat included. When he gets invited to his girlfriend’s house for Easter dinner, he’ll put food on his plate and force it down. Peer pressure in his teens will introduce him not just to beer, but also to pasta salad and turkey sandwiches. God, would my life be easier if the kid would eat a turkey sandwich.

If I could do it over again, I would feed him curried chicken and vegetables from a Thai restaurant before his first birthday. I would let his applesauce ooze over and touch, just barely, the carrots, and tell him that it’s okay. I would pack tortellini with pesto in his daycare lunchbox when he was 24 months old. And I would not make different dinners for the kids and adults in our family.

But I cannot go back in time, so I’m laying in the bed I made. Sometimes fretting, sometimes feeling embarrassed, and trying to tell myself that in the scheme of things, there are worse problems to have.

Have you ever reminded yourself, when your child is a late bloomer in some arena, that everyone learns to walk eventually? No one brings their bottle with them to Kindergarten. And for the most part, daily tantrumming dies out before adulthood. I’m trying to have faith that ability to order without stress in a restaurant, identify food one likes at a potluck, and be flexible enough to enjoy dinner at someone else’s home will also be milestones we arrive at one day.

Related: 3 parenting tips that have completely failed me

Activity #23: Build muscles at bootcamp

By the time my first baby was 10 weeks old, I had not exercised for about 6 months. Baby Bootcamp was my re-introduction to sweating and I loved it. I was not a gym-goer in my normal life, and Baby Bootcamp was perfect for me. Here’s why:

  1. Exercising in the company of other sleep-deprived, temporarily overweight, leaky-breasted women is more fun.
  2. It was no problem that I walked the course rather than ran it much of the time. I had many excuses lined up for not running (all of which are somewhat valid and mostly shared by other participants).
  3. Stopping to deal with my fussy baby was totally expected. Everyone had to stop at some point.
  4. It got me out of the house to do something good for myself and enjoy the outdoors.

All about Baby Bootcamp classes

This is our 23rd Rookie Mom challenge. Not ready for it? Go back and pick an easier one.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can invite your partner and show him or her how awesome and athletic you are. The other parent and grandparents can tag along for free.

Check and a similar organization for locations and schedules.

Did you complete this challenge? Share your story.

  • Comment below and spill the details.
  • Share a picture with us on Facebook.
  • Tag a tweet or instagram of your experience with #rookiemoms

[photo: Whitney Mattocks]

Water toys and gear that make swimming more fun for rookie moms

Puddle jumper swim floaties for kids getting more comfortable in the water
{Photo by Kate Marzo}

When your children can swim independently, the word vacation takes on a whole new meaning. Relaxing at the pool while my kids wear themselves out with cannonballs is my happy place. Here are some fun items that I keep seeing at the swimming spots we’ve hit so far this summer.

1. Puddle Jumpers. Sold at Amazon, Target, Costco, and even Bed Bath and Beyond, this new-fangled life jacket allows kids to have the mobility their arms need to get used to swimming. If you’re looking to get your child more comfortable in the water, this is the swim-aid for you. For kids 30-50 lbs. Runs about $25; click to see all the color and design choices.

Products that make swimming more fun

2. Sunsuits. In my house we called this the “super suit”. You may find it dorky, but I found the peace of mind in having my child’s body nearly covered with SPF 50 fabric invaluable. A swim diaper under one of these babies from One Step Ahead (pictured) is our beach uniform. Infant sizes come with snap up crotches for diaper changes. I also dig this striped one from Columbia Sportswear.

Sunsuits make a day at the beach more relaxing

3. Water toys for babies. For babies and toddlers, plastic cups and bowls from wherever you are visiting will suffice as water toys. Scooping and pouring is the work they’ll do. In the sand, those same cups can be used as sandcastle molds. Want to get fancier? One of these spinning wheels toys is a lot of fun. Pour water or sand to make it move.

Sand toys to make beach time with a toddler fun

4. Floatsuits. These swimsuits from Konfidence USA have foam inserts that keep children safe, like a life jacket, while allowing complete motility for arms and legs. As children gain confidence in the water, the floats can be removed one-by-one. I have not used this brand, but a few million years ago when I was a nanny during college, the girls I watched, ages 18 months and 3 years old, had bathing suits like this, and they were great. Also comes in many colors/styles for about $25-$35 (boys’ versions too).

Floatsuits make swimming safer

5. Portable shade. We own this “Sportsbrella” and so should you. It offers about 1 Million SPF because the fabric is coated and the sides can roll down further than I did in this photograph for more protection. Find it >


6. I-can-totally swim toys. My kids love to hunt for things to rescue in the pool, so we usually have a set of dive rings or sinking balls, and I’ve just discovered these Avengers dive characters. (Test any of your rubber action figures at home to see if they sink. Maybe you already own “dive characters”!)

Toys for the pool - you might already own some of these!

7. I-don’t-like-to-put-my-face-in-the-water goggles. Before my kids would willingly put their faces in the water, they wore these mega goggles by Aqua Sphere. Now, their inability to enter a pool without goggles baffles me, as I never wore goggles as a child, but they have graduated to normal smaller goggles. The bigger goggles come in many colors, including a 2-pack where one pair offers a tinted lens for the sun.

Gear to make swimming fun: huge goggles

8. I can, like, totally swim, so like, don’t even talk to me. My daughter and I watched with great interest as some older girls donned mermaid fins to swim in a pool. Unfortunately these only fit kids who wear shoe sizes 1 and up, so it’s quite a few years away for my little girl who has her Mama’s very small feet. But I’m tempted to try a mermaid monofin myself.

Gear to make swimming fun: mermaid monofin

{photo via}

99 balloons and 99 poops (Yet, another potty training experiment)

Like many new toilet trainees, my son mastered the art of #2 a few months after he mastered #1. Even though my rational mind told me that more patience is required, my eager-to-stop-cleaning-poopy-pull-ups mind determined that MORE BRIBING is the answer. At the time, I believed that I hit the jackpot in terms of bribery.

Potty training bribes

I purchased blik wall decals for both of my kids rooms, and they are totally adorable. Julian’s bedroom took a long time to finish, even though applying the decals is as easy as putting stickers on a flat surface. And that is because the set of stickers I bought for him was made up of 99 red balloons and we applied one balloon every time he successfully, er, makes a deposit in the toilet. At the time, he was thrilled with his balloon wall and showed it to everyone who comes to our house. All eight apple-red balloons, each one representing a victory in the life of a preschooler.

The balloon set comes in seven different candy colors and comes with grey strings. They look totally adorable on his sky blue walls, and now, years after his potty habits were cemented, they are still fitting for a 9-year old’s room.

Blik also makes robot stickers that Heather used in her boys’ robot-themed bedroom.

How to behave: a Mom’s Group toolbox

Years ago, I went to my first mom’s group meeting, lugging my 5-week old in his bucket carseat. My c-section scar was still hurting when I lifted the seat and my breasts were so large from nursing that I felt unlike myself. Normally petite, abeit with C-cups passed down through many generations of voluptuous Russian Jews, I was newly sporting G-cups and had only lost a few pounds besides the initial 8-lb baby that had been extracted. I was not feeling anything like my old confident self, never mind my quirky and honest self.

I was however, very enthusiastic about meeting the group, bonding with them, and finding one or two women with whom I could really connect, who would be open to spending time together during our maternity leaves.

So, what did I say when it was my turn to talk? Not much of substance. We were asked to check in and share our highs and lows. I think I probably used the words “fine”, “great”, “fun”, and maybe “cute”. I probably said that my nipples hurt, too.

When I left the meeting, I realized that I was the only one who had given birth via C-section, and I didn’t share how terrible that made me feel. I had also endured a very difficult situation that prevented me from breastfeeding my baby for the first 10 days of his life. When I saw all those other mothers, somehow I had squashed that experience in the back of my mind, ignoring the fact that it had made me feel like I wasn’t a real mom, that I had somehow failed.

Since then, I have always held that meeting in my mind as an experience during which I wished I had been braver.

Last month, I read The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be and Be Who You Are. In this guide to “wholehearted” living, the author Brene Brown explains that keeping up a façade of perfection prevents others from being able to connect with us.

That’s exactly what I had done back at my Mom’s Group. In my attempt to be who I wanted to be, I wasn’t myself, and so I didn’t allow my potential friends to make a connection with the real me.

Brene Brown’s book is not about motherhood specifically, but that one lesson from the book spoke loudly to me in the context of moms. It made me think that I would like to have in my toolbox a list of phrases that help me show my vulnerability. Thinking of the Mom’s Group setting, I came up with:

This is hard to talk about…

I feel embarrassed to say this but…

I hope I’m not the only one who…

I might cry if I say this outloud…

Sometimes we need to ask for support from other people. Using a phrase like this is a way to “flag” what we are about to say as something that needs special attention or empathy.

So I resolve to be a little braver. And I encourage you new moms, when you show up to meet with a group of moms, to be yourself. If chit-chatting about strollers and carseats is just what you need, terrific.  But maybe sometime you can borrow a phrase from my toolbox and take a chance.

Stuff moms should consider: keeping a birthday party shelf stocked

Thanks to eBay for sponsoring this post.

Pickup at the store option, easier with no kids

The frequency of birthday parties, once your children are in daycare or school, can be overwhelming. That’s why I maintain a very low price point for gifts (higher for a good friend or a cousin) and try to implement efficiency measures like buying multiples.

We keep a shelf in the garage filled with potential birthday party gifts in an effort to avoid last-minute dashes to the toy store with kids in tow on the way to a party.

If I take my daughter to the toy store with me before a birthday party — and I try not to do that — I often confuse her by buying whatever we pick in triplicate or even quadruplicate.  But I’m thinking that if Sabine will enjoy a headband-making kit, so will Joey (a girl) and Zoe and Chloe. Yes, those are really the names of my daughter’s good friends.

My husband is particularly good at keeping our birthday party stash stocked because whenever he orders online, if he needs to get to a certain shopping cart value to get free shipping, he’ll throw in a couple of extra rubber footballs or packs of Pokemon cards that my son can give as birthday gifts.

Art supplies, puzzles, and outdoor toys like balls and stomp rockets rank very highly on my go-to birthday party gifts.

Tips on affordable birthday gifts

This week I put together a collection of kids’ birthday gift ideas under $10 on the ToysRUs shop on eBay.

My husband is the master of avoiding shipping charges and he described for me a couple of scenarios in which he might order online and pick up in the store.  I tested this trick out a few days ago.

What I ordered online was retrieved at the customer service counter. Two advantages for me this particular time: Now I had a present at the ready for a LEGO-themed slumber party that night (along with one more gift for the bank) – and – I didn’t have to bring my daughter through the aisles of the store.

I try not to stress about buying a unique gift for my kids’ schoolmates. I figure that a child who is having a party with 10 friends is receiving so many gifts, they can hardly deal with it. A book or a new set of markers will be used eventually. Once we gave a birthday boy a headlamp, which I still maintain is one of the coolest things for a kid to own, and my own child felt disappointed by the reaction of the crowd during gift-opening to his headlamp contribution. I’d still argue that this Batman headlamp for $9.99 is a great gift. (Comes in Hello Kitty and Monster High flavors, too.)

Do you have any guidelines or go-to gifts?

This post was sponsored by

Activity #21: Talk about something besides sleep

We know there are those people whose infants start sleeping eleven or twelve hours a night around four months old. These so-called “babies” take three daily naps at 8, 12 and 4.30. And then there are the rest of us.

At one point my moms group’s weekly discussion was so dominated by sleep that we were starting to get sick of each other, even though we needed each other so very badly, because no one else would be willing to listen to us talk with such hysteria about our child’s sleep habits.

Stop talking about sleep!

Because it was a sensitive issue, I emailed the group ahead of time suggesting that at our next gathering, we would censor the subject unless it was a serious mental health situation that someone needed to address. I proposed a list of alternative topics that would help rejuvenate us and make us laugh during our meeting. We did this twice and it was tons of fun.

Our format was to go around in a circle and each answer the proposed alternative-to-how-is-your-baby-sleeping question. This is your 21st rookie mom challenge. Here are some conversation starters for you:

  • What brought you to live here?
  • Where did you go to college and what did you study?
  • What were you going to name the baby if it was the opposite gender?
  • Tell us about the relationship you had before you were with your partner.

These may sound basic, but when you’ve spent all of your bonding time discussing strollers and nipples, you may have left out some basic facts. Try it and let us know how it goes.

Stop talking about sleep and other challenges for new moms of babies

Not ready to make it through a day without talking about sleep? Pick another challenge.

7 flexible jobs for stay-at-home moms

This is a list of flexible jobs for stay-at-home moms, and I’ll acknowledge that for some women, none of them will be a fit. It’s not a list of flexible jobs for women who are lawyers, pilots, pharmacists, or product managers. The idea here is that there are some opportunities to leverage technology to earn a little money, from home, while watching a baby.

I’m a total believer in outsourcing childcare while working, for the record. Hence, my children are at camp as I type this. However, many moms seek at-home work they can do during naptime, or after bedtime, and flexible work does exist.  Some jobs can even be done while pushing a stroller. Seriously.

Work from home jobs for moms

1) Dog watching. matches dog owners who need pet sitting with pet lovers who want to help. Create your profile and set your prices. Must be in a city populated enough to find business, but the potential to earn hundreds of dollars per month is there. (Blogger Heather in Seattle nets $500 to $1000 per month this way.) does the same thing.

2) Running errands and other odd jobs. Users of post any task they need help with, ranging from data entry to delivering balloons from a shop to a home. TaskRabbits bid for the jobs and get paid upon completion. I have hired a “Rabbit” to deliver a truck full of diapers to a charity event. My friend Lynn hired a tech-savvy Rabbit to create a themed playlist for a baby shower. If you can handle doing someone’s grocery shopping while you do your own, this could be for you.

3) Tutoring. My friend Jenny tapped into a high-income community and used her teaching background to earn $40/hour helping with homework. The real money came when she bundled three kids together for group homework sessions, charging each family $25/hr. That’s $75 for an hour of work that can be done while your baby naps. Or, while you pay a teenager $10 to watch the baby in another room. Since Jenny did not pay taxes on this income, I will tell you the truth: Her name is not Jenny.

4) Secret Shopper. Big companies need real consumers to walk into a store and see how their product is displayed on the shelf. A couple of apps — Rewardable and Gigwalk — enable moms to complete those tasks for a few dollars. Yes, really, set your expectations that it’s just a few dollars, but hey, maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Or maybe you were going to Home Depot anyway, so snapping a picture of the Rustoleum display for $4 is no skin off your back. Expect to get paid via PayPal.

5) Office and technical work. Odesk and elance are marketplaces for computer-driven work. If you’re a master of Photoshop, Powerpoint, data entry, or other office skills, you can pick up work as you have time. Note that many of the other workers are overseas which drives down the prices.

6) Not-so-secret shopper, aka Stylist. If you love fashion and love to pick out clothes for other people, StitchFix can use your talents. You’ll use an online system to create boxes for customers based on their fashion profiles.

7) Sales. If you have the type of enthusiastic personality that rubs off on other people, you might be a good candidate to sell something you love. Companies like Stella & Dot (jewelry) enable women to get a business of the ground really fast. (Bonus: if you sign up with Stella & Dot with our affiliate link, you’ll get $450 in free accessories while the offer lasts.)

8) Meaningful work for progressive employers who want to retain moms. Not kidding. MayBrooks is a job board for flexible positions for moms in select cities. Most positions listed do require childcare, ie a Content Producer for a Venture Capital firm is “demanding” and “competitive” but “most of the work can be done remotely”.  MayBrooks also lists some part-time roles, as well as “returnships” for women looking to get back in the workforce after an absence.

image: arrow necklace from Stella + Dot