A Day in the Life: Mama, Massage Therapist, and Secret Shopper

Dec 01, 2023
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Like many, I have many titles, wife, mama, sister, friend, aspiring individual, massage therapist, and more. In October of 2022, I joined iShop adding secret shopper to that list. 

My husband is currently working as an active-duty soldier as a drill sergeant in the US Army. My joke is that this makes me, most of the time, a single mom with a husband on the side.  We have 2 boys, Deacon is 5 and Luca is a newly minted 2-year-old, and one dog, Athena. 

I learned about secret shopping over 20 years ago. I was always curious about how to get into it, but it seemed to be the best-kept job secret. A friend posted about iShop and I jumped headfirst. I signed up for a free webinar and then the official training class. I made sure to make my money back within the first month and then tell my husband how much I spent and made all at the same time. 

My days and nights were altered as soon as I joined iShop. Over the last year, I have worked to find a balance that works well, and I am starting to enter into a new phase of my journey with video shopping. 

How do I manage it all? I have learned that I need to set boundaries on what I can do. I don’t sign up for more than I can manage. I have finally gotten to a point where I have set child-free shopping days. This is only a recent development and, until this point, I did a lot of phone shops during nap times before my kids were in childcare more full time. Here is a pro tip, if you live on the East Coast as I do, picking up a phone shop on the West Coast means that when your kid is going down for a nap, the West Coast is just getting started with their day. It gives you more time to do the shop! For the West Coast, if you can get up really early, you might be able to get that phone shop in before your child wakes up!

I have found the shops that are pretty regular that I can do with my kids. To name a few, grocery, postals, and car washes are great for this. I aim to do these on Mondays, Fridays, and weekends. Tuesday-Thursday I am kid-free for the day. While Deacon is 5, I am having him do his kindergarten year in a private tutor setting which is also where I send Luca for childcare.  

On any given day, I am looking at my emails as they are sent to me throughout the day. I also randomly check job boards. I bookmark all the mystery shopping companies' web pages on my phone so I can check them during random pockets of free time. Somedays, I find myself with a block of free time where I can really do a good job search and get a great week on the books. Other times it is late in the evening after the kids go to bed.

My days consist of getting my boys up and ready for the day. Speech therapy and gymnastics are always on the docket on Mondays. Breakfast gets made (if I don’t get them to childcare in the eight o'clock hour), pick-up is around 4:30 pm, nearly always a home-cooked meal in the evenings around 6 pm, and followed by kid playtime before bedtime. There are always dishes/cleaning and mystery shopping in between any downtime I think I might have. I have yet to see a house cleaner shop. I keep looking!

My kid-free shopping days are always a mix of personal time, house cleaning, job planning and research, and actual jobs. If I travel outside of my city, I do not travel more than 90 min away from home and these have to be a big dollar day to make it worth my time. As I have learned what shops have longer reports, I make sure to not stack too many of those shops on the same day. I don’t discount those lower-pay shops because they often tend to be short reports and don’t take long on site. When I do have longer shop reports, I tend to get them done after the kids go to sleep as I opt to do more shops during the day and save those reports for later. Lastly, as I mentioned, I am starting to do video shopping. Video shopping is a game changer for me. The reports aren’t extensive with a good payout for your time. As a bonus, they are a lot of fun too!

I can honestly say, I had no idea how extensive mystery shopping was when I signed up. I am really looking forward to how much more I can learn and continue to engage with so many amazing people within iShop. If you're intersted in getting started. Check out the free webinar at www.iShopAGP.com

Meet April Rhodes!

April is originally from Western Washington State. She graduated massage school at the young age of 21 and jumped headfirst into self-employment growing a massage business for 12 years. Her husband’s US Army career moved them to the state of Tennessee where they started to grow their family and she put her massage career on hold. Currently, April lives in Columbia, SC but is expected to move again next year. She hopes to go back into massage therapy and expand her skills by becoming a birth doula at the next duty station, all the while keeping secret shopping at her fingertips.
April loves to work with power tools and enjoys doing home renovations. Her and her husband flipped their last home in Tennessee together and April designed/built from scratch a built-in walk-in closet.