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To work or not to work? It’s a question that bears greatly on the minds of new mothers. Many are torn between the obligation of providing financial support for their family, and the emotional responsibility of being a nurturing, supportive full time mom. In many cases, there is no choice but for the mother to return to work. Then, there are those who are fortunate enough to stay at home with their children, without any financial worries.

When the answer is neither black nor white, it’s time to weigh the options. It is this gray area that usually causes much stress and anxiety for a new mom. This is the mother who determines it does not make financial sense to continue working outside the home, as day care costs eat into income. So, she scales back her spending to stay at home. She no longer incurs work-related costs such as wardrobe, dry cleaning, transportation and expensive lunches, but then she also might be financially limited in her daily activities and in providing those little “extras” for her child.

The answer? Generate an income while staying at home. A contemporary fantasy? Hardly. It can be done. With determination, time management and a little creativity, moms can make money without ever leaving their little ones.

Before venturing out into the work-at-home jungle, remember a few simple rules: stay away from so-called “businesses” that promise great wealth over night, and never, ever pay a fee for a start-up kit. There are enough legitimate alternatives from which to choose. Explore the local classified advertisements, surf the Internet or register with an employment or temporary agency to find the right opportunity. With today’s shortage of labor, many employers are willing to be flexible and allow telecommuting. Check out the following suggestions, too:

Telephone Soliciting

This job can range from selling newspaper subscriptions, contracting for snow removal or lawn care, or arranging pick-ups of discards for a local charity. It might be a campaign to sell a theater or symphony series, to set appointments for salespersons, or to prospect new customers for home mortgage companies. There are even marketing research companies that conduct telephone surveys.

While this type of work is the most prevalent in the marketplace, its downfall is that it is often purely commission based. It may be difficult for a mother to maintain professionalism on the telephone when the baby is awake and active. However, once a regular nap schedule is established, this is a great way to make money. Mom can sneak in a few telephone calls when the house is quiet.

Freelance Writing

Though it’s unlikely that mom will become a best-selling author, if she polishes her writing skills she can actually be paid for doing something that is a lot of fun. Many newspapers and magazines solicit stories from their readers in the form of small blurbs. There might be a monetary reward for submitting helpful household hints, embarrassing moments or craft projects. Though sometimes small, these payments can add up. And, acceptance is more likely if more than one submission is sent. Check out writing contests, also. These include poetry, song writing or even a testimonial article (“My Dad is the Best Because…”).

If mom has copywriting experience, an employment agency that specializes in the media is a great option. They have access to clients who are willing to hire a freelancer who works solely from her home. Though this is often on a per project basis, the work is exciting and challenging, and it usually pays well.

The Internet offers a multitude of writing opportunities. There are web sites designed for the at-home mom, and they sometimes pay for written submissions. In addition, some web sites need writers to provide content on a regular basis.

No matter which avenue, freelance writing offers something that no other job can. Mom has the flexibility of writing at any time of the day or night. Which, for the mother of a toddler, can prove to be invaluable!

Mystery Shopping

Finally, when mom and the kids are more mobile, making money as a Mystery Shopper is a viable option. Companies want their products, as well as their employees’ level of service, evaluated by a “typical” customer. And, who exemplifies the average customer more than a mom pushing a stroller?

Whatever the job, it’s nice to know that there are ways for a mother to financially contribute and at the same time, maintain a full time presence with her children. And, it’s an added plus to be able to do so from the comfort of her own home.