Heather Comparetto - The Penny Hoarder

Many moms want to work from home and be “mompreneurs.”

It would make things so much easier, right? Hanging out in your PJs all day while answering emails, putting in a load of laundry when you need to, running after your little one while they take a Sharpie to the walls…

Let’s get real -- working from home is harder than we think, especially when you add a kid to the mix.

4 Work-From-Home Moms Share Their Secrets

We talked to four boss moms who run their own businesses from home while being the primary caretaker of their children. They told us how they got where they are now, what their struggles are and their most useful survival tips.

Denielle Kennett

Everyone I talked to painted this picture of motherhood like it was a gift given to me by nature, like it was my God-given right to have children and it’s going to be beautiful and life-changing. To be honest, it’s all those things, but before it’s that, it’s very, very hard.”

[caption id="attachment_55699" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Denielle helps daughter, Lennon walk in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Denielle is mom to 1-year-old Lennon. She runs her company It Takes a Village from home while she cares for Lennon.

She founded her company based on the principle that no one tells you what you really need for your newborn. She realized if she and her husband didn’t know what products can help them handle common problems, other first-time parents most likely didn’t know, either.

[caption id="attachment_55701" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Denielle gets Lennon dressed in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

In Lennon’s first year, Denielle had to learn how to take care of a newborn, develop a new company, deal with what’s called “night-time depression” and balance the rest of her life.

Starting a new company while caring for a newborn seems pretty hard, right? Here are Denielle’s tips for survival:

1. Have No Expectations

“You can read every book you want, but it doesn’t matter because every baby is different. It sounds simple, but it’s so true.”

2. Be Prepared for Change

”Everything changes like the wind -- like the seasons, and you have to be prepared for that. Don’t hold yourself to storybook expectations or examples because they aren’t true.”

3. Keep Your Partner Involved

“Keep your husband involved, and don’t leave him out. It’s so easy to make a personal unit with just you and your kid, especially because you’re the mom and they want you more -- especially if they’re a breastfed baby -- they only want the mom. You have to remember your husband made her too. You’re still married, he’s still your best friend and partner.”  

4. It Gets Better

“Power through. It’s hard, but it gets better. I wish I would have talked to more people because I found out later on that almost every mom has dealt with a lot of the same issues (I did).”

Ellie Hirsch

“One day you’re a mommy master, one day you’re a mommy disaster.”

[caption id="attachment_55704" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Ellie helps her son pick out a snack in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Ellie is mom to Harrison, 10; Julian, 8; and Spencer, 4. She’s the founder of a blog called Mommy Masters. Ellie started Mommy Masters upon retiring from a career in sales after her second child was born.

After working to get sponsorship for a moms’ groups she organized,  Ellie had an idea to start the blog, which encourages mothers to unite in “mastering motherhood.”

Mommy Masters was founded on the basis that mastering motherhood requires admitting you can fail. Ellie says, once you fail and you’re OK with that, that’s mastering motherhood.

[caption id="attachment_55705" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Ellie sits with her son in her home office in Tampa, Fla. Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Ellie refers to herself as a “single married mother” because her partner travels for work while she balances raising her three kids and running her company.

Here are Ellie’s tips on how to be a present mother while working at home:

1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Anyone Else

“There’s not one way to parent.”

2. Be Really Organized

It’s hard, but just do it, Ellie says

3. Set Goals and Deadlines for Yourself

“Know what you’re trying to accomplish -- If you go through the week and say, ‘whenever I’ll get to it, I’ll get to it,’ you will mostly likely not get to it.”

4. Be Flexible

“When you’re balancing so many plates in the air, some days they will come crashing down and that’s fine. You have to realize that’s OK,” she says. “If you’re trying to do it all and be perfect, you’re lying to yourself.”

Colleen McGrath Lilley

“There are a lot of wonderful things about being a mom in my 40s. I really know who I am. I have had time to have one career over with already and start a second career and really stabilize it to make it successful before I had a child.”

[caption id="attachment_55706" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Colleen and her daughter, Marlow, play in her bedroom in St. Petersburgh, Fla. Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Colleen, mother to Marlow, 2, owns a music company called Music and Me, which offers music classes aimed at mothers and their young children.

Before opening up Music and Me, Colleen had a successful career as a professional opera singer. She made the transition to music instruction after moving to St. Petersburg, Florida, from Germany and spending time with friends who were involved with teaching.

Colleen thought she could seamlessly transition from being a performer to teaching music, and she says she’s thriving in her business.

[caption id="attachment_55708" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Colleen reads to Marlow in their home in St. Petersburg, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Owning a music company with employees while taking care of a toddler is a big undertaking, especially when you’re doing it from home.

Here are Colleen’s tips for other moms who work from home:

1. Practice Organized Flexibility

“Have a plan. Know what you need to get done and when you’re going to do that, and understand that that’s going to change. Someone’s going to get sick or fall down and they will need you.”

2. Choose the Right Life Partner

“Your success hugely depends on who you choose to spend your life with.”

3. Lean on Friends and Family

Ask for help and trade babysitting services. Sometimes it’s necessary to get in those few hours of uninterrupted time to get work done, Colleen says.

Amanda Singleton

“I asked myself, ‘Do I have the energy and strength to be a business owner?’ It takes a lot. I didn’t know if after all those stresses and traumas if I had it in me.”

[caption id="attachment_55710" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Amanda with daughter, Jane in their home on Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Amanda runs her law practice from home while caring for her daughter, 2-year-old Jane. Her practice focuses on helping caregivers to people with Alzheimer’s, special needs or life-limiting illnesses. She was inspired by her own experiences caring for her mother, who had Alzheimer’s.

Amanda didn’t have the easiest time getting her practice going. She experienced multiple deaths in her family, which slowed down her progress, so she put her practice on hold and went to work for a nonprofit.

After she’d been with the nonprofit for a while, Amanda gave birth to Jane. While she was home with Jane, she received several inquiries about her legal work. She turned them down, saying she hadn’t run her own practice for a while.

But, in a “aha!” moment, she asked herself why she was turning down paying clients. She decided to attend a caregiver accelerator course at AARP that set her in the right direction.

Towards the end of the AARP program, Amanda was asked to speak on the panel at the closing conference. She knew the time was right to get her website up, to have her business cards made and to put her dream of owning her practice back into motion.

The AARP course, coupled with her desire to provide for Jane, motivated Amanda to get her practice fully up and running. She’s now is the proud owner of her own law practice, Singleton Legal.

[caption id="attachment_55711" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Amanda with her daughter, Jane, in their home on Indian Rocks Beach, Fla. Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Amanda is the primary parent at home, so how does she operate a law practice while caring for a small child? These are her tips:

1. Decide What’s Imperative

“What's the most important thing that for this specified day and what can be dropped?”

2. Be Gentle with Yourself

“You want to be all things to all people, and sometimes that’s not a possibility.”

3. Trade Babysitting Services with Other Parents

Having a group of parents with kids in a similar age group is a great way to get free-babysitting because you can do trades, Amanda says.

4. Do the Best You Can

“If it’s not a great day, you get tomorrow. You can try again.”

Your Turn: How do you balance working from home with being a parent?

Heather Comparetto (IG: heatheretto) is a photographer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s exhibited her photographs internationally, loves the ocean, and enjoys coffee and tacos (but not together).

We recently celebrated Purple Friday, a new holiday where we encouraged you to spend time -- rather than money -- on the day after Thanksgiving.

To help, we gave away 50 prizes to deserving readers around the country.

One such winner was Susan, who wanted to take her daughter to NYC for the “Kleinfeld experience.” (In case you’re not familiar, that’s the famous wedding dress store from TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress.”)

“I really WANT to be there when she tries that first dress on,” she wrote. “It would mean so much to me. I really miss her!”

We wanted to be there, too, so we asked Susan if we could help surprise Samantha with a trip to Kleinfeld Bridal on Purple Friday itself.

We were honored to capture this special moment between the mother and daughter -- and we’re sure the photos will show you what a beautiful day it was.

[caption id="attachment_43257" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Samantha and Susan anxiously await their Kleinfeld appointment. Since Samantha lives in Florida and Susan in New Jersey, they only get to see each other twice a year. They’re radiantly happy to be in each other’s company.

[caption id="attachment_43259" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Samantha planned to cash in a $1,000 savings bond to pay for her wedding dress… just look at her reaction when we reveal Kleinfeld’s paying for the whole thing! She’s speechless.

[caption id="attachment_43260" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Susan’s Purple Friday wish was to see her daughter try on her first wedding dress -- a wish she didn’t think was possible because they live so far apart. “It’s just a dream come true,” she says. “Every minute with her is precious.”

[caption id="attachment_43261" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

The first dress of the appointment -- and the first time Samantha ever tries on a wedding dress! Debbie, a veteran sales consultant at Kleinfeld, guides them through this magical experience.

[caption id="attachment_43262" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

While Samantha tries on her next dress, Debbie offers some excellent tips for finding a beautiful (and affordable!) gown.

[caption id="attachment_43268" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Dress number two is swoon-worthy -- with wows all across the room. Just look at Samantha; she’s glowing! “This is unbelievable,” she says.

[caption id="attachment_43269" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Samantha surprises herself; she never thought she’d like a dress like this. Will it be the one?

[caption id="attachment_43264" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Dress number three is also a stunner -- especially after Debbie jazzes it up with a sparkly beaded belt.

[caption id="attachment_43265" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Which dress do you think Samantha chose? We know, but we’ll never tell!

[caption id="attachment_43258" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

A huge thanks to Kleinfeld for covering the cost of Samantha’s dress, and also for hosting The Penny Hoarder. We had a blast!

“We can’t thank you and your team enough for giving us such a special day,” said Susan.

“It was a truly unforgettable day,” added Samantha.

Heather Comparetto (IG: heatheretto) is a photographer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s exhibited her photographs internationally, loves the ocean and enjoys coffee and tacos (but not together).

Did you hear about our new holiday Purple Friday?

We encouraged you to spend time -- rather than money -- on the day after Thanksgiving. And to help you, we gave away 50 prizes.

One of our winners was Nadine, who requested a “spa day with all my moms.”

“Spending the day at the spa with all my moms would be very meaningful to me,” she wrote. “My mom, my mother-in law and my stepmom are all getting older, and I want to spend as much time as I can with each of them.”

Families come in all shapes and sizes, so we loved this entry -- and asked Nadine if we could help her surprise one of her moms in person.

“My mother-in-law is a saint and does so much for others in need,” she said, and promised we’d enjoy meeting her.

She was right. During the surprise, Zondra immediately warmed our hearts -- and afterwards, we all wanted her to adopt us as grandkids.

We hope the photos below show you just how special (and deserving) this grandmother is.

[caption id="attachment_43230" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

We talk with Nadine about her three mothers and how much they mean to her.

When asked why her mother-in-law is special, Nadine replies: “She’s just a wonderful, wonderful person and a wonderful mom. She does everything for everyone else and not much for herself. When she does have extra money, she spends it on everybody else.”

[caption id="attachment_43231" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Shh! About to surprise Zondra in snowy Cicero, New York.

[caption id="attachment_43232" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Zondra is so surprised! “Oh my gosh what do I say? I’m so happy.”

Zondra says she can’t remember the last time she had a massage, but is most excited to simply spend time with her daughter-in-law.

[caption id="attachment_43233" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Look at those smiles! You can really feel the love between Nadine and Zondra.

[caption id="attachment_43234" align="aligncenter" width="1200"]Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder Heather Comparetto / The Penny Hoarder[/caption]

Zondra is so sweet, taking the time to tell us about all of her kids and grandkids, whom she loves so much. We’re pretty sure no one deserves a spa day more!

Heather Comparetto (IG: heatheretto) is a photographer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s exhibited her photographs internationally, loves the ocean, enjoys coffee and tacos (but not together).