Face it, you are not the person that you used to be.
Ever since you became a parent, you have a hard time recognizing yourself. Perhaps there is a bit of sadness because you’ve lost your own childishness, but there is no denying that you’ve developed a maturity that has absorbed itself into every fiber of your being.
You’d been in love before, but when you children came along, this love encompassed you in a way that you never could have predicted. This metamorphosis might have even been painful for you, but only because the intensity of this love was so vast and unanticipated, perhaps even astonishing.
Becoming a parent has driven you in ways you never thought possible. Parenthood has made you more devoted, more committed and more determined to succeed in providing for your family.
For some of you going back to work was never an option. For others, working for someone else to get that steady paycheck seemed like the only option. It doesn’t matter what kind of parent you became.
We understand your devotion to your children and the intense fervor you feel to provide for them.
Our Milk Money is an Organization that was built for parents like you.
But we are much more than just another business directory. We are an organization that provides a support network for parents who have chosen to stay home with their children, and we do what we can to encourage each of our members to make their purchases from each other- keep the money we are already spending “in house” because it’s more valuable to families than it is to large corporations.
We believe that we have a chance to make a difference, but we must all work together.
Our concept will succeed if everyone does their part. No other group has taken on a task so great, and the reason WE WILL SUCCEED is because we all have one thing in common: Our devotion to our children. We must not fail them.
You don’t have to be a member, or even a parent to participate in this concept. If there are children in your life and you want to make a difference, we welcome you to take part in Our Milk Money. Link your site to us.
We are not just another business trying to move up the ranks. We are an organization dedicated to parents who need support their children. If we all commit to this concept, we all have a better chance of rising up TOGETHER.
Imagine the possibilities.
We’ve started a campaign that will educate consumers on the value of purchasing from a mom or a dad. We believe that in time we will have created a mini-economy, and a better means of survival- especially during this recession where every dollar counts. We want parents to feel that they can make their own choices in how to raise their children, provide for them, and how much time they spend with them. Not be a slave to a job that promises a paycheck, or a boss that represents keeping that job.
Join the Our Milk Money Organization, and you will know immediately that you are contributing to a good cause, because it’s your own.
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.
Written by Ally Loprete
As the owner of OMM and a representative of so many members, I’ve had to do something I’ve never done before, and that is to swallow my political opinions and keep them to myself for the sake of everyone. This is because I care about all of our members, the parents who are working hard to support their children and are doing so by running their own businesses. I did not want anyone to think for a moment that I if my opinions differed from theirs in the political arena, that I was not FOR them, when I certainly am.
But I feel the time has come to open my mouth a little. There is so much happening in our country right now that I feel it almost ridiculous not to talk about it, especially when so much of it affects us directly and what we are trying to achieve as an organization dedicated to working moms and dads. So I’ll just say it. I love President Obama. I believe in what he is trying to accomplish, and I think for the first time ever, our voices are being heard.
According to a recent letter I received from Momsrising.org, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama, both the House and Senate passed an expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and now the Senate is getting ready to vote on an economic recovery package that has a number of key provisions that would directly help moms and their families.
Whether you like Barack Obama as a candidate or not, I think we can all agree that we have been fearful of anyone to step into the white house and take on the mess that has been left for him. Therefore, we are fearful of any new maneuvers that the new president will take on to help the situation. But the reason I am so impressed with Obama is because he is not afraid to take risks. He did not take office to sit quietly and second guess every move that might rock the boat. He is diving in and making something happen. I think if we all follow suit, something WILL happen.
When Our Milk Money was just a blip of an idea, the economy was not in the state that it is today, yet it was created for this exact time. Let me tell you a quick story, that you may or may not have already heard. Before OMM was conceived, I was trying to price a piece of jewelry that I had made, and wondered how it would compare to the prices in the department stores. I guessed $50 would be a good price. And then I imagined all that I could do with an extra $50; a tank of gas, a small trip to the grocery store for milk, bread, eggs, cheese and some fruit, a month of Gymboree classes for my toddler, date night with my husband…
It wasn’t difficult to conclude that $50 was more valuable to me and my family than a large corporation or department store. I wondered if anyone else would care about that value enough to make an effort to change their spending habits and buy my product over someone elses. Yes. Other parents would feel the same way, I just had to find them. I made a decision right then and there that I would make an effort to search for a parent who might possibly be selling whatever it is I needed each time I made a purchase. With the internet, and the master search guru I had become, I should be able to find anything online, right? Wrong. I searched and searched. Nowhere could I find the answers I was looking for.
The rest, you probably know. Our Milk Money, and the first parent only business directory was born.
Why am I talking about this now, almost a year later? Because while I am thrilled to see that our directory is growing, I am concerned about how little it is being used. I imagine that the excuse is that our country is in a state of crisis and people are just not spending money. Wrong. If there was ever a time to use the directory, its now. What better time to rebuild the economy in a way that supports small businesses than right now? The slate is practically clean at this point. And while the excuse is that people aren’t spending money right now, I beg to differ. We are all spending it. That hasn’t stopped. It can’t stop, because in this country we need to spend money to survive. We need to buy things to live, even if they are just necessities. Well, guess what! Those “necessities” are available for purchase by a parent somewhere in your local community, and may even be listed in the Our Milk Money business directory. If you are a parent, you have even more reason to support the directory, because it benefits you as well. We are an organization and a community of parents that need to stick together. What are YOU doing to support others like you?
I was a working parent, and struggling with one of the most difficult years of my life. As much as I dreamed of winning the lottery and being able to spend time with my beautiful new baby boy, only 5 months old when I returned to my day job, I did not believe that I had a choice. I searched online often for the perfect opportunity that would make me stand up and go, “this is it! This is what I’ve been looking for! This is the perfect way to make money from home. Now I can quit!” But I never found it. It felt almost paradoxical that I was getting a decent middle income salary but I really only worked 10% of the time I was actually at my office- the other 90% just did my best to make myself look busy so that I wouldn’t be “found out.”
I needed the stable paycheck to pay for daycare. I grew to rely on that income, and not because I needed extra indulgences. Once we became parents, we cut out a lot of extras – going out to eat, we commuted in one car to save on gas, we gave up morning starbucks when the office coffee was just fine and free, and we stayed above water, but barely. So, believe me, it’s not as if I didn’t want to give up a posh lifestyle. With the cost of daycare, we were paycheck to paycheck and our incomes were the only stability we knew.
I was pretty convinced, even with all that internet searching that there was no alternative to this life. Although I found ads for millions of companies promising to give me EXACTLY what I needed, ironically, it was the very reason I didn’t feel that I could trust any of them. I wasn’t trying to be difficult and talk myself out of a good opportunity just because I was afraid. As a reasonably intelligent person, I know nothing was a guarantee, but there were just too many gray areas…the fine print that one doesn’t discover until AFTER you’ve already made the leap and are knee deep in your new “woops” career that will go nowhere and will eventually be shrugged off as, “well, I wanted to try.”
As a new parent, I couldn’t take that risk. Not when I had to think of my family. I’d made mistakes falling for the wrong get rich quick schemes before, and although it stung a bit, I would eventually get over it.
But this was different. I couldn’t afford a mistake this time. Not when I had a son, a mortgage, and job that gave me group health insurance.
It wasn’t until I was suddenly laid off and was forced into finding a new alternative that I saw things differently. With the severance I received, a bit of unemployment, and the daycare expense now non existent, I now had time to stay home with my son, at least for a little while – until I discovered what my next move would be. I had time to breath, even if only for a moment, and I wanted to take advantage of every second that I was able to stay with my son until the day I had to go back to a new job. I knew that day would come fast, but for the time being, I was just going to hug my son and breathe…just for a moment.
6 months later, I had a new viewpoint. After seeing my son flourish, my husband and I both feeling less stressed, time to actually spend weekends together rather than a frantic rush to finish laundry and grocery shop for the week, I called a family meeting and made a very important announcement.
“I am not going back to work.”
I didn’t care if I had to live in a cardboard box. I would never work for anyone else again, and leave my son. When I told my husband this, he stood there quietly staring at me, as if he was waiting for the punch line at the end of the joke.
Finally, he said, “Um, okay. That’s a nice thought, but…you can’t just DECIDE not to work again…”
Yes, I could. Every fiber in my being told me that I belonged at home with my son, and that if there was any way to make it work, I wanted to find it.
As a recent mother, I became intensely aware of the “maternal instinct” which fascinated me to no end. I had watched myself transform into everything a mother is supposed to be- even though a year later I was sure that there were things I wouldn’t be able to adapt to. I also learned in all my prenatal classes, how important our instincts really are when caring for a child, and how listening to them will almost always guarantee your best parental performance.
It wasn’t until this moment that I realized that extreme pain and turmoil I was in when I first dropped my son off at daycare to return to work after my maternity leave. This pain was unlike anything I’d ever known- and yet, I did my best to ignore it just to get through my work day. NOW, I was seeing in clearly- my instinct was shouting and pleading with me – “NO! Don’t leave your son. You aren’t ready and neither is he!” As much as I tried to avoid it, it followed me every where for an entire year. Once I went back to work, I couldn’t stand any “down time”. Infact, it made me crazy…so crazy that I’d walk in and out of every office asking if anyone needed any help with anything. I was afraid that if I stopped for a spilt second to think, my mind would take me to the one roomed home daycare where my child was growing up without me. So I kept myself as busy as I could to avoid that reality.
Yes, being at home with my son and living off of an unemployment check may have seemed irresponsible, but I was certainly earning that paycheck. And the more I thought about the kind of work that was involved in being a stay-at-home parent, the more it angered me that I wasn’t going to be able to keep that income flowing in. Didn’t I deserve it as much as anyone? Especially when I’d spent the last 5 years at my day job doing approximately 75% personal stuff, anyway?
NO! I wasn’t leaving my son again. I didn’t care what it took, I’d find a way to stay home. I’d even be willing to sell our house, our 2nd car, shop at thrift stores and garage sales. Nothing else mattered. I would not leave my son again. I knew, beyond any doubt that I would find the answer I so desperately tried to find on all my internet searches 6 months before. Because this time I HAD TO.
Literally keeping me up at night, I couldn’t shake the idea that there had to be others who were just like me, not knowing that it was possible to make a change and have a better life. It made me horribly sad to think that had I not been laid off, I’d still be working, surfing the internet and praying that the miracle answer would come save me. Ironically, my lay off was the answer to my prayers- even if only temporary. It brought me home to my son and showed me that I clearly didn’t belong anywhere but here. I began jotting down some ideas.
Although it’s easy to blame others, for the situation I was in- Bosses who should have promoted me, or been more flexible, allowing me to telecommute, better and more affordable daycares, politicians who didn’t spend our tax money in areas that would have helped better our situations, our government for not making paid maternity leave longer, my parents and inlaws for not being able to retire, move in from out of state and become permanent babysitters… the fact was, I didn’t know who to blame.
We live in a democracy, and what that means to me is that no one is allowed to tell me what career to have, or what role to have in my life. Although they may not be easy to find, there is always an opportunity to work, to make money, to seek a better education. We all know we can do anything we want if we put our mind to it, so then why aren’t we doing it? Why are so many of us struggling? What are we missing? These are the questions that kept me up at night.
I also couldn’t shake the feeling that others out there, just like me, even less fortunate than I- who weren’t lucky enough to be laid off, and might never have the chance to experience what I had- and be given the answer that I had. I wanted others to know that they did have a choice and despite their fears in leaving their stable cor
porate jobs, they had no idea that it was seriously necessary. Thinking that I might never have been given the gift of knowing what it was like to stay at home would bring me to tears.
I had to do something. Now that I was seeing things so much more clear than the year before, I knew I had to find a legitimate way to bring in a supplemental income, at least as much as unemployment would pay. I had to use my passion to help others.
But, what could I do? Somehow get everyone fired from their day jobs so that they could collect unemployment, too? No- obviously not the answer.
I want to not only help other parents have the opportunity to stay home with their children, but to help them realize that they are not wrong in wanting to do so. I want for other parents to be able to stop denying themselves the truth in what they deserved. I want them to know that they do belong at home with their children and their families deserve to flourish.
We have listened to politicians from every group talk about family values as if it was the one thing that was ripping our country apart, and yet there doesn’t seem to be any concern for the fact that the average educated family with two parents and at least one child need 2 incomes to survive. If family values are really what our country needs to get itself into a healthier place, then why isn’t there more focus on keeping children at home with their parents rather than at a daycare?
In my frantic search for some answers, I found that there were many people who felt the way that I did, and some very smart groups had already formed movements to get themselves heard. I encourage you to check out some of these groups: www.momsrising.org and www.moveon.org
That is a good place to start.
Welcome to my brain. It keeps going and going and going- like the energizer bunny. I am anxious to see if OurMilkMoney helps the situation the way I believe it will. But if it doesn’t… you can bet I will keep on tweaking until it does make some sort of impact. I won’t give up trying. None of us should. Our families are counting on us to save the world.