By Ally Loprete
Thirteen years ago, I came to Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Film degree, stars in my eyes and a certainty that I was exactly what Hollywood was looking for. I had ten 2 minute monolgues, a mixture of classic, contemporary, comedic and dramatic, ready to go at any given time, and 12 new dialects perfected. I had 4 songs prepared for all of my musical theatre auditions, 16 bars each and the sheet music to hand to any accompanist, 2 sets of character shoes, and an attitude that wouldn’t quit. I knew I was meant for something great.
I worked hard, took classes, auditioned for as many things as I could and got rejected and rejected and rejected. I kept going, only to get rejected some more.
I met and fell in love with other artists, some struggling like me, others on their way to the top. I booked some work on a soap opera, a pilot that was made but never seen, did some theatre, some student films, and a showcase or two.
I temped during the day, rehearsed for plays at night, hung out with the cast after rehearsals and crawled into bed by 1am each night. I was hired and fired from more day jobs than I could count, sent out headshots and postcards every week, and searched for inexpensive ways to see theatre on the weekends.
Looking back, those times were…romantic. I loved and hated that time. There was so much uncertainty. I didn’t work as much as many of my friends did, and I remember thinking- well, now, I can’t be THAT BAD.
Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, concerned about wellness checks, potty training and creative ways to cook vegetables, the life of an actor that I vaguely remember seems to have belonged to someone else. Somewhere along the way I lost the desire to perform and found a passion for giving as much of myself as I can to my children.
I did my first radio broadcast last week, This Little Parent Stayed Home, but afterwards I sat there and critiqued my own “work” the way I had done after one of my shows, or one of my auditions. Did I speak in my lower register, and use my full range? Did I push too hard or fail to miss my beats? Did my show have a beginning, middle and end, with a dramatic arc 2/3 in?
Was I funny? Interesting? Did I leave my audience wanting more?
Then the realization came that I am no longer a performer, or an actor. That life was left far behind, and thank goodness. The performance that I gave on Friday was no act. It was the realist thing I’ve ever done, and no theatre critique will be able to tear it apart. The truth is, I am glad that I had the chance to experience the life of a struggling actor, but I am even more grateful that it led me down a new path.
I am no longer on a mission to entertain. I am on a mission to inspire.
If just one mom or dad listening to my show felt like a good parent in that hour, or decided to go for that second child, I did my job. If one person was inspired to use the OMM directory to search for a product or service and give their hard earned dollars to a family, then I succeeded in what I set out to do.
When I think about that young girl 13 years ago who believed her special purpose in life was to be a television star on a situation comedy, and what that little girl didn’t know, I can’t help but smile. That young and naive girl never would have aspired for where she would ultimately land. But she also had no way of knowing the amount of happiness and joy that would fill her life, and the passion that she would embody to create a better world for families everywhere, ten times greater than the passion to see her name on her own dressing room door.
I am grateful for this new path, and the unexpected turns up ahead in my journey.
Ally Loprete is a stay-at-home mother of 2 boys, a former television, theatre and film actress, singer, performer, storyteller, and teacher. An advocate of parents, Ally founded OurMilkMoney.com, an online business directory of self-employed parents and an organization dedicated to helping parents find financial opportunities and support. She is also the host of This Little Parent Stayed Home weekly radio show available on Toginet.com, and the playwright & performer for her one-woman show about the journey of dealing with unexpected drama in life, Chasing Ally.
Ally’s passion to help others transitioned from full time working parent to successful entrepreneur has grown from her own experiences. She is determined to help other’s deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still running a household, and is resolute about creating a haven in which we can continue to thrive and support each other in our personal journeys. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ally currently resides with her husband and her two little boys, Braden and Henry, in the beautiful suburbs of Stevenson Ranch, California, just north of Los Angeles.
Ally Loprete, Community
Work-at-home parents become a growing trend
Posted using ShareThis
Ally Loprete, Community, Family
Start by embracing “change” as our only hope to a brighter future, and see the rainbow at the end of the storm.
Written by Ally Loprete
Have you noticed that there is no longer a basic definition of what a typical American Family entails? These days, families are being redefined by what works for them as a means of survival. There are those that oppose the unfamiliar, which is certainly understandable, and those that embrace it, which is what I believe is THE ANSWER.
Nowadays, anything goes. Men are staying at home with the kids while the women go to work. Women are becoming business owners while staying home and running the household. Families are working together to bring in extra revenue with small side businesses. Men are playing bigger roles in their children’s lives, contributing more with what used to be considered the women’s responsibility: cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, grocery shopping, helping with homework, etc. Gay men and women are getting married and having children together. Women are running for office, and winning.
If this isn’t a revolution, I don’t know what is.
Standing ovation and Bravo!
I honestly love all of it! I am so impressed with the way American families are coming together and making it work. I know it’s been a struggle for so many of us, but I think it’s important that we are all aware of how much we have achieved already just by surviving… and all the glorious places we can go to from here. If you are a parent, pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished and the innovations that are activating a brighter future for all of us, especially for our children.
You don’t see it yet?
Okay, suppose for a moment that you deserve the difficult time that you are living in. It doesn’t matter where you think you went wrong, the truth is, you probably didn’t. We all remember the basic things our parents and teachers told us growing up, and the simple keys to happiness.
Get good grades, stay in school, get a degree, marry the right person, save 10% of your paycheck, work your way up the ladder and earn your increase every year, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Okay, so maybe we deviated from the advice just a tad, but so what? We were promised a pretty secure and stable life with 2 cars, a house, some pets, stuff to play with, family vacations, college for our kids and a pension for early retirement. So what went wrong? Why are so many of us left scratching our heads after doing what we were told?
We’re broken down, beaten up, stressed out, over-weight, over-medicated, under cared for, jobless and hopeless, short-saled, repo-ed, and drowning in debt. We have blamed every president, politician, pushy boss, parent, partner and professor. We are fighting with our spouses, yelling at our kids and blaming ourselves. Sheeeeesh!
Let’s all just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and decompress.
Did it ever occur to you that this is all just part of our journey? This may not be a punishment. This “challenging” time may very well be an opportunity to rebuild an even better tomorrow for ourselves and for our children. We are living in a radical time of ground-breaking technology, new forms of mass communication, insurgent medical discoveries, and we live in a country where no one can REALLY tell us “no”. Sure, society might discourage us from trying something new or to taking risks, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. We need to re-program our minds to see the benefits of CHANGE, and how we are already in the middle of a spectacular revolution.
In the words of the late, talented and insurrectionary Michael Jackson, “Make that change.” Look in the mirror and start with yourself. Stop fighting with your spouse, your business partner, your boss or your neighbor. Look for the commonalities of what we are all trying to achieve, and realize the power we have in togetherness.
We are a new collaboration of men and women, alike. We are a partnership of moms and dads, of CEOs, COOs, and CFOs in our lives and in all that is important to us. We are united and we celebrate our differences. We are unapologetic for who we are, and accepting of those that have different viewpoints. We are each other’s teachers. We embrace each other’s special qualities, exceptional idiosyncrasies and unique characteristics because it is our only hope to solve this puzzle. We have only just begun to realize that by coming together we may all have a necessary contribution to the answer we have been seeking. This is a very distinctive time for us all, and we have the power to make a difference.
A rainbow cannot exist without first the presence of a storm. We deserve that rainbow.
Ally Loprete, Community
Written by Ally Loprete
The thought of actually sitting down and scheduling some lazy “do absolutely nothing” time probably seems very stupid as well as a waste of time. Entrepreneurs, especially parents who are constantly on the go between their company and their families, really need to schedule some time to where they just sit back, relax and decompress.
When you are constantly on the go and running all over the place, attempting to work 7 days a week, in between playdates, naps, mealtime, laundry and grocery shopping, not only do you get overly exhausted by the 4th week, you run the risk of beginning to resent your company, the company that you started out loving. You may even begin to resent your children, the ones who you fell so madly in love with, you decided to work from home to be closer to them. Both responsibilites will soon seem like a ball and chain that you can’t get away from. This is not why you decided to work from home.
A written schedule can fix all of your problems. This is something that you should do every day of the week, whether you schedule your down time for the Saturday and Sunday weekend, take Monday off of work, take an extra long weekend, or just cut out of work early on one day a week. Your job as a parent continues all week long, so it’s important to account for ALL of your time.
1. Schedule in Realistic times to work, remaining flexible. For me, I am able to work Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons when my oldest son is at preschool and my youngest in napping. Every once in awhile my schedule is blown by an early riser, but it’s a time I can count on for the most part. I can also work for a few hours in the evening when my husband comes home, and Sunday nights when the weekend festivities are over and my husband can take over.
2. Make a list of weekly tasks and dedicate a day to each task. Mondays are for blogging and posting, Wednesdays are for social networking, Fridays are for PR. Evenings are for responding to emails and getting organized for the following day.Weekends are for catching up, but never more than 5 hours in a single weekend.
3. Schedule in “Mommy” or “Daddy” time. I had made a promise to myself and both my sons that each morning until lunchtime I would not work at all. I could schedule playtime, take them to a park, arrange a playdate, or even do some mommy chores, but my laptop was to remain closed. I also used this time to do mommy chores such as go grocery shopping or folding laundry. Because I was able to find ways to include them in these mindless tasks, they did not appear to resent this time as it did not seem like “work” to them.
4. Schedule in time for you. Just as the body needs food to stay nourished and sleep to stay refreshed, taking time to relax and clear your mind will work wonders for your health and your productivity.
5. Schedule time with friends and family. Date night with your spouse, with another couple, game night with neighbors, a visit with relatives, or out with your friends for a social gathering. It’s as important to your sanity as a good night’s sleep. Commit to 1-2 nights a month, if that is all you can squeeze in, but make that minimum a priority. It should give you just enough of a break from your work that you can go back with the same appreciation for your company that you started out having.
Ally Loprete, Community
There is Much Power in Numbers, So Let’s Commit to Supporting One Another.
By Ally Loprete
Lately, I’ve really been fascinated with numbers.
This fascination has grown recently, I imagine, from creating my own internet-based company. The infinite numbers to be comprehended are literally incomprehensible — and fascinating at the same time. These numbers give me enormous amounts of optimism and frighten me at the same time. In fact, this number game is what ultimately what led me to create the concept for my business, OurMilkMoney.com.
It must have been about seven months ago that I was lying awake one evening after my family had gone to bed. I imagined that there must be zillions of parents across the country who were thinking the same things that I was. Perhaps zillions had also left their corporate day jobs to discover that staying home was by far the better way to go. Maybe zillions of new moms also took that leap of faith, spoke to a zillion husbands and said, “I am going to start my own company and work from home so that I can stay home with the kids,” which prompted a zillion panicked faces on a zillion different men. These zillions also were soon to learn that it would be twice as much work as they’d ever expected, but would vow to make it work for the sake of their families.
If there really were zillions that lay awake the same way I was, going through the numbers over and over again like it was some kind of riddle to be solved, then that was at least a zillion connections I wanted to make. Were zillions of us really choosing to take but a fraction of our previous income for double the amount of work? Yes, this was THANKLESS work, with no sick pay, no paid vacation time, no group health benefits, and no company lunches paid for — and yet, we’d chosen this new role as if it was the greatest opportunity we’ve ever had for ourselves, and it made us feel a zillion more times at home. Were we all just insane?
It was thoughts like these that made me realize the power in numbers. If there truly were large numbers of parents out there just like me, I could certainly use their friendship and their support. In exchange, I’d be happy to lend mine. More than that, I wanted to make a pact with all of these parents: “I’ll buy your stuff if you’ll buy mine.”
Easy enough. Now where would I find these parents? It shouldn’t have been difficult to find them with zillions of pages of information available at my internet fingertips, so I decided to begin looking each time I made a new online purchase. I searched. And searched. And searched. Every time I made any purchase online, I put in an extra keyword “parent” to narrow my search and pull up a vendor who was working from home to afford the opportunity to stay home with their children. I became more and more shocked at how difficult this was, and it frustrated me. I KNEW there were parents out there who would love to sell me their shampoo, just as much as I’d love to buy it from them! It shouldn’t be so hard to find them!
That is when it hit me like a ton of bricks. If there was no such search directory, I was going to create one.
So that is what I did. I have created a way for a zillion parents to support one another, and I feel a zillion times better. One day we’ll all be zillionaires! Or at least we’ll have made a zillion new friends in the process.
Ally Loprete is the Co-Founder of OurMilkMoney.com, an online directory of self-employed parents across the country. Ally’s focus is to help expose parents working to create a better life for their families and her mission is to educate consumers on the value of purchasing from the small business owner. Ally is passionate about inspiring parents to connect with one another, and will often write about the brilliant ideas that seem to come to her only in the shower or while blowing her hair dry.
(Or What to Expect When You Are Expecting to Work from Home)
Written by Ally Loprete
First, let me say that I realize that the title to this piece may seem a bit partial, and while I supposed that it probably is, my intention is not to be inequitable against those who don’t have children and wish to be self-employed. However, this article is not really about becoming a wealthy entrepreneur. It’s about earning legitimate revenue to contribute to the survival of your household while balancing parenthood.
If you are a parent looking to be self-employed, my guess is that you are willing to make sacrifices. You would like the option of spending the majority of the time that you are awake with your children, and would prefer that your child not see a nanny, or the inside of a daycare more than they see you. This is not about how you may or may not feel judged by society. It is about what you innately desire as a parent, which is not in the least bit selfish. It’s a parental instinct, and there should never be any shame in that.
You are not alone in wanting more for yourself and your children. If you are like most parents you would give up your job in a heart beat to stay home with your children, but you probably believe that you cannot afford to do so. Or maybe you have already decided to stay home with your children, but you promised your spouse you’d find a way to earn an income, and it has yet to happen. Maybe it’s harder than you thought, and the research that you’ve done online has given you an overload of work-at-home “schemes” that has succeeded only in information overload. Well, I am here to give you some good news: Becoming a self-employed parent is a possibility….yes…even for you.
It’s a scary leap to make, yes. But you are no slacker, and you are willing to work hard…if only you had some sort of inkling how to go about it, knew for sure that quitting your job to start over wouldn’t be the worst mistake you ever made in your life. If all that you are missing is some necessary information to help you make that leap, than you’ve come to the right place.
To be clear, this list will not make you self-employed, but it will open your eyes to the possibility. It requires is diligence, focus, and some risk.
Here is the truth about what to expect:
- Stop looking online for the perfect work-at-home job. It doesn’t exist. There are a million companies that will tell you otherwise because they want you to buy into one of their programs, take their courses, or purchase a franchise. They promise all sorts of things, and make their programs sound really good…too good. Your instinct is to stay away from them, and there is a good reason for that. You know it can’t be that easy, and you don’t have the luxury of wasting any amount of time or money on something that won’t pan out in the end. Time and money are more precious now than ever. The key here is to find a legitimate way to bring in an income….it may not be a substantial amount, but it will be enough to contribute to the survival of your family while you are staying at home.
- Multi-level marketing opportunities are not scams, but recognize them for what they are before investing in one. There are millions of people who have found success in MLMs, and if they help to provide an income for a family, terrific! We support them, and we do not judge. However, don’t jump into the business of one without realizing what it is going to take to be successful. If your business relies solely on recruiting your family and friends, they may start to feel the need to avoid you because they are afraid of being “sold.” Unless you come from a sales background and you are already surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends who has no problem buying all of your MLM products, this may not be the best choice for you and your family. If you DO choose to go this route, don’t blame your relatives for not investing in your products. It’s not fair to them, nor is it their responsibility to grow your business.
- Realize that you already have what it takes to become self-employed. You don’t need to invent a new product, or come up with a new concept that has never been tried before. You have skills and the ability to do exactly what it is you have already been
doing. You don’t have to have a business degree to be a CEO, you just have to know how to offer a service. The question you need to ask yourself is this: “What am I currently doing for someone else that I can be doing for myself?” You are skilled at something. Accounting, marketing, graphic design, administrative support, dog grooming, hair cutting…Just to be clear, this is not a question of what you’ve always wanted to do, it’s what you are ALREADY doing. Chances are, you know how to do it well, and you know what it takes to keep doing it. Remember that this is a REALISTC approach to becoming self-employed. This is most likely NOT going to make you millions. It is simply going to allow you to survive doing exactly what you want to do- earn a bit of revenue while raising your children.
- Take a look at your finances. Don’t just ponder it for a moment and try to add up things in your head. Really, take out a piece of paper and write out what you are currently spending on things, paying special attention to the categories that will shrink once you are working from home: business attire, dry-cleaning, gas mileage and car maintenance, car insurance (yes, it will go down if you no longer have a long commute each day), daily lunches eaten out, daycare, etc…) Don’t judge the situation just yet, just do the task. You can also take into account that if your spouse becomes the sole provider, The family will get a significant tax reduction. Letting go of your stable paycheck will be the scariest thing of all, but if being at home is truly where you want to be, you’ll be able to make the sacrifice.
- Make some cuts. This is one of the hardest first steps to becoming a self-employed parent, because it means you are going to let some things go. First, realize that just because you have to cut down on some indulgences does not mean that you are living in poverty. You will survive. Look at your credit card statements, your cell phone bills, your other spending habits. Lower your cell phone plan minutes, brew your own coffee, use the library to borrow books and videos. Consider how often you use your gym membership and if your physical activity can be replaced by taking the kids for a walk, or joining a weekly stroller strides group. You will not be seeing as many movies, so invest in a video service such as Netflix, which is significantly less expensive. Instead of meeting friends out for drinks, (which has suddenly become even MORE costly from the need to hire a babysitter) invite them over for a game night. Let go of your season tickets and watch the games on TV for free, or check your local listings for community events such as free concerts in the park. You must learn to change your lifestyle a bit, but now that you have become a parent, your life has already changed and you may have found that you have said goodbye to a lot of these luxuries anyway. It won’t be long before you may actually prefer a night in with the kids and an animated video. Most likely, you will begin to enjoy the creative activities that you are able to come up with as a family. On the rare occasion that you are able to hire a sitter and get out with your grown-up friends, it will mean more to you than it ever did before.
- Start with the basics. Make a list of the things you need in order to offer your service- even just on a limited basis. Hold off on hiring that webdesigner for just a bit, and ordering those businesses cards. Start with the basic tools you need to
be able to provide your service. You may find that you already have much of what you need. If not, then make a small investment in these basic tools. This is a lot more cost effective than purchasing a franchise, or renting an office space. You can always upgrade later, as your business grows. Once you become self-employed, you will be your own boss, and that means you will be able to create your own rules. You can charge less that your competitors, because you will be working out of your home, and your overhead will be absorbed into what you are already paying for rent. You can choose your own hours, and re-arrange your schedule around naps, playdates, or your spouses work schedule. Remember to get creative. You are the boss, so you call the shots. For example, if you are a hairstylist, you can offer to go to you clients home. This will circumvent paying rent at a salon so you will be able to charge less than your competitors (which your clients will appreciate). You may even be able to bring your kids with you to play with your client’s kids- a playdate while you work! It’s a win-win.
- Start slow. Offer your services for free to family and friends- just in the beginning. This will help you build up a client base, as well as give you a chance to get the hang of things without the added pressure of being perfect. Send out an email to friends and family telling them of the service that you are offering, and tell them that you are willing to waive your fees just so you can gain a bit of necessary experience. In exchange, you may ask for them to support you in another way such as contributing to an email campaign, or watching your kids for a few hours a month. If you have never done anything like this before, give yourself room to grow, and don’t be so hard on yourself if you mess up. You will learn from the mistakes that you make, and this will make you a better entrepreneur.
- Barter your services. This is a great way to minimize those start-up costs that you were worried about. It’s also a great way to network, and get testimonials, not to mention gain experience in your chosen field.
- Use the internet and become a master of online research. You can get just about anything you need to start your business for free. Basic websites, templates, voicemail boxes, advertising opportunities, legal advice, newsletter services, even business cards. Some services are free for only a certain amount of time, so take advantage while you can. Check out the OurMilkMoney.com Resource Page for a list of services that are free or minimal. Talk to other parents and ask them about the resources that they use. Everything else can be bartered – especially with other self-employed parents- and that is who you want to be supporting from now on, anyway. It’s good karma. Trust me, it always comes back to you.
- You are not in this alone. There are currently more than 5 million work-at-home parents and that number grows every single day. These are not your competitors, this is a large support network of people, who are just like you. They need you just as much as you need them. Reach out, ask for help, and be ready to listen and learn. There is an abundance of information out there at your finger tips FOR FREE. This can sometimes feel like information overload, but it can provide you with exactly what you are looking for the moment that you need it.
Remember to pat yourself on the back often. As your own boss, you will need it. Rome was not built in a day. Earning a revenue will take time, so expect to struggle for a few months. Even the most successful businesses take time to become profitable. Finances will be tight, and it may seem like you are working twice as hard for less reward. But keep your eye on the prize, and trust that you are as good as anyone else who has chosen to work from home. Your greatest reward may not be the income, but the abundance of time you can now afford to have with your children, and being able to call the shots in your own life.