Robin's Blog

Working Your Side Hustle While Raising Your Kids

Are You a Young Mom Building a Career at Home?

Hyatt Maui 1990

It really is possible to do it all!   Pace yourself.   Stay courageous.

As promised on my RobinGunn Instagram, here are my notes from the talk I gave at Maui MOPS on January 18, 2019. 

Many of you know that I’ve been a published author for over 30 years and have written 100 books. When our kids were little I had to figure out how to work at home and still be the wife and mom I wanted to be in the fullest way possible.

May I share with you some tips of what helped me along the way? Now that our two children are grown and married and have children of their own I look back at this career I’ve loved and I feel content. Very content. I want you to look back decades from now and feel the same contentment of a job well done in both the home arena and the career arena.

Start With Truth

All the best truth comes from God’s Word so that where I always start by having a foundational verse for whatever I do. Each book I write has a different verse that inspired or challenged me as I was writing. Today’s verse for you is from Galatians 6:4-5 MGS

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given,

and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”


Let’s break it down and see what needs some attention in your life right now.

 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given

How well do you know your own strengths and abilities? Be brave. Be attentive. Make a careful exploration by asking those who know you best. What talents do they see in you? Follow the trail of compliments over the recent years. What do you do well that others comment on?

It’s all a gift. The work has been given to you. Only do what only you can do.

and then sink yourself into that

You will need to go deep and work hard and be focused if you hope to succeed. Sink yourself into “that”. Not “this and that and maybe a little of whatever”. Sink yourself into one thing. If you go all in and it’s a disaster, decide ahead of time that it’s okay. You gave it your best. The reward is that you won’t always wonder if you could’ve done something. You will know that you went after it and that wasn’t it for you. Why?

The next part of the verse might help explain the why.

Don’t be impressed with yourself.

Develop a realistic view of your abilities, understand that the unique thing you can do is a gift. Be grateful. Humble yourself. Be teachable. Don’t swing the other direction and put yourself down or underestimate the way God has created you. He made you just the way your are and the possibilities of how He might use those gifts in you will only be discovered when you have a healthy confidence growing in your heart. Let your expectations become realistic but always leave room to dream a bigger dream.

Don’t compare yourself with others.

There will always be someone ahead of you and someone behind you in all areas. Have you let jealousy sleaze its way into your heart and derail you because someone else is doing what you’re trying to do and is wildly successful in terms of numbers or dollars?

Take a step back and look to the Author and Finisher of your faith. What is God asking you to do? It will always be different than what He asks anyone else to do. Comparing yourself with others robs your joy. Don’t compare. Tend your own garden and stop looking over the fence. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 If you let the enemy rob you of your joy, all your strength to keep going will seep out your pores and you’ll be trying to figure out why you’re so depressed.

Here’s why you should keep going. Learn, grow, fine tune, take heart, pay attention to what does work and go back at it because …

Each of you must take responsibility

Yep. This is big girl stuff. You’ve been given this gift and this opportunity to develop it and see how it might be useful to provide income or a blessing to others or maybe just so you can initiate something useful or create art for art’s sake.

You must be the one who takes responsibility for it. Don’t expect someone else in your field of interest to help you out or provide training or promote you. If you need something like education or mentoring or advice, be willing to pay for it. 

We have a beautiful word in Hawaiian that we’re familiar with here on Maui – kuleana. It embodies the power and beauty that comes from being pono (doing what is right) and being a good steward of your gifts and talents and skills. Everyone gives and does what they can do from a place of strength and we don’t try to find short cuts by expecting someone else to do the preparation work  or inside connection that is our responsibility to work on.

And what is it that we are to take this sacred responsibility for?

doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I find so much joy in this! Doing the creative best. Yes! There is such freedom in that. When we are creative we aren’t copying others or trying to make our foot prints fit into theirs in the sand. We are moving forward at our own pace in our own way and doing it creatively.  Oh, the possibilities!


Three Essentials 

Now may I give you some ideas of what I think you need as an entrepreneur working out of your own haven?  You’ll probably think of others that are important to your particular area of interest but this will get the conversation started.


A Corner  –  You need your corner of the house to create your art and know that your work space is waiting for you. When I started writing many years ago in our tiny rental house I bought a narrow folding table and my husband wedged it into the only open space we had. I had a typewriter, a coaster for my tea cup and a notebook and pen. The typing paper was in a box under the table. I wrote my first 20 books with those simple tools.

A Chair – My other essential space is a snuggle chair and it’s still with me.I bought it new over 25 years ago and had it recovered when we moved to Maui. This is where I have spent thousands of hours dreaming, thinking, writing, praying, reading. When our two kids were in grade school they knew that if mom was in her snuggle chair and if I’d lit the votive candle on the end table next to me it meant I was not there. My imagination had flown to the other side of the world and I was scribbling in my journal. Or I was sitting there typing away on the laptop. When the candle was blown out I was back and fully available to them.

You don’t need a lot of space or equipment but what you acquire must be designated as yours and it must not be played with or used like any other chair or table. Your children will learn lovely lessons in honoring boundaries when you are firm about this.

Time – I had to find space in the day to work so I started getting up at 3am three days a week. I got so much done in those early, cobwebby hours of the morning. My career was fairly invisible to our kids for many years. Whenever I could, I took them with me when I traveled. I found ways to create the space I needed without taking away from the space and time my family needed.


You must learn how to evaluate everything in an objective way so that you can be wise about business decisions, opportunities, colleagues, clients, expenses – everything. Learn to separate your feelings from the process. Step back and look at what you’re doing, what you’re creating, selling, promoting and evaluate it unemotionally. Ask yourself the hard questions. Ask others who have proven to be wise along the way to give you their insights and not hold back. Learn to take criticism and be flexible.

My husband is a counselor and he always says that flexibility is a sign of good mental health. I have certainly found that to be true, especially when I have been stuck on an idea or a project and have closed myself off from taking any advice. When I step back and listen without getting crushed in spirit, I always see options, openings, alternatives. I see brand new possibilities I couldn’t see when I was so fixated on what I thought was right.

Figure out the voices you can trust and listen to their wisdom. Be honest with yourself and if something isn’t working, call it what it is and step away. No shame. Be brave. Learn and go on.

3. Relationships 

At the end of your days all that will matter, truly, will be the eternal souls that surround your life. Your spouse, children, extended family and friends — these are the people that can fill your inner circle or what I call the garden of your heart. Tend your garden first. Always.

Be careful! Whenever you start collecting humans simply for the purpose of selling them something or hoping to glean something from being attached to their success, you will dilute your own worth as a friend. Understand the deeper value that must always be given to those in your inner circle. Open your arms wide to all those in the outer circles but don’t ever put their needs, wants or demands ahead of those in your own garden.

Cultivate sweet, non-competitive, supportive relationships with those who are in the same field of interest. Be generous. When you know how to discern you’ll have no trouble giving extravagantly to the right people and you’ll feel no guilt about turning down requests from others.

The need is not the call, as Oswald Chambers said. You already know how to order your priorities. You just need to do it. Put into practice what your gut is already telling you.

Mama Art

I’d like to close with an excerpt from my gift book for moms, “A Pocketful of Hope For Mothers”. I had the fun of narrating the audio version of this book. It’s made my heart happy to hear from so many young moms who got the audio book just so they could hear me give them some encouragement on days when they wanted to sit down and cry. 

So, take a deep breath and let me give you this bit of encouragement from my piece called “Mama Art”.


Every mother is an artist.

She is a co-creator.

A receiver and a giver of life.

On drab days when all the colors on your motherhood pallet seem gray, and your imagination seems to have evaporated, remember this:

You are infused with the resurrection power of the Master Craftsman, who knit together your molecules with such ingenuity that no one else in all the universe is exactly like you—nor will there ever be.

You are empowered with the vast resourcefulness of the One who scooped out the oceans with His hands and formed the delicate wings of the hummingbird with those same fingers. He spoke, and all the stars took their places in the heavens, ready for their celestial dance, playing to a full house every night for thousands of years.

You are rich in possibilities.

The Great Gardener has planted rows and rows of tiny inspirations in your heart. When you feel the nudge to try a new recipe, capture a sacred moment in a photo, or make up a silly song with your little one, it is because His Spirit is alive in you, stirring up your ingenuity and encouraging you to harvest the abundance of inspirations He planted there.

You are His workmanship–His poem–His creative expression.

In your lifetime, in your singular way, with your gifting, you are perfectly positioned and abundantly equipped to express life in an art form that is distinct only to you.

What is your form of Mama Art? Do you create…

art on a plate with vegetables from your own garden?

a haven with paint and furniture, window coverings, and pillows?

words, music, and stories under indoor tents on rainy days?

clothing and beanies, cuddly quilts and bows?

love notes in lunch boxes or colorful charts on the kitchen wall?

with silence, the gift of listening, the tenderness of a soothing touch?

laughter, silly songs, and funny faces that make the tears go away?

Only you, unique you, can create the beautiful art you do in the way that you do.

Don’t hold back. Go be a co-creator today.

Explore the endless possibilities of your Mama Art.

Express the beauty fully with love, confidence, and sweet abandon.

Copyright 2018 Robin Jones Gunn, “A Pocketful of Hope For Mothers” published by Tyndale House Publishers

Please note: You are welcome to share the link to this blog post but permission cannot be given for excerpts to be taken without crediting the original source.