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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Please welcome Carol with some wisdom for parenting while working from home AND keeping your sanity. Thanks, Carol!

When you work and you have kids, what you really have is two full-time jobs. Throw in a daily commute and it’s no wonder you’re lacking sleep and you can’t find a minute to yourself. While having a family certainly necessitates having two incomes these days, it may not require you to leave the house and head out into the corporate world each day. Many parents are finding ways to work from home so that they can realize a more flexible schedule and virtually manage two aspects of their life simultaneously.

However, working from home is no day at the beach. Juggling kids and clients is no easy feat, and you may find yourself torn between spending time with your family and devoting yourself to your job. You can do both, though, and rather successfully, if you develop a few traits common to effective work-at-home parents.

  1. 1.Motivation. This can be the biggest challenge when you’re working from home because you’d probably rather play with the kids all day than work. And without the restrictions of an office (regular hours, a supervisor keeping tabs, and so on) it’s all too easy to get into the bad habit of putting things off until the last minute. Your family life will slowly and surely eat away at your work time if you let it. But keep in mind that the reason you’re working is to provide for your children, and the fact that you’re at home gives them easy access to you all day, even if you’re working on a project.
  2. 2. Dedication. You might think this is similar to motivation, but there’s an important difference. Motivation is the reason you do something; dedication is what keeps you going when your motivation wanes (and it will, over time). Part of being dedicated to making your role as a work-at-home parent work for you is setting professional goals and creating plans to reach them. While you certainly don’t want your work to take over your life, you also don’t want to earn a bad reputation because you simply can’t muster up the willpower to meet your deadlines. In short, you must find ways to keep yourself going.
  3. 3. Separation. One of the best things you can do to make work-at-home parenting a sustainable venture is to create clear boundaries between work and family. These should be both physical and temporal. This means you should confine work activities to your home office space and to specific hours. Obviously, schedules are going to change when you’ve got kids underfoot, but at least map out a schedule and try to stick to it as much as possible.
  4. 4. Organization. When you’re running a home and an office out of the same space, you must be organized in order to keep the two from intermingling. So designate spaces for everything (from kids toys and craft supplies to separate work supplies), set up fixed shelving that is tamper proof label the shelves so that you can find items quickly and easily, and add stackable bins to keep everything neat and tidy. It may sound like overkill, but the alternative is chaotic clutter.
  5. 5. Good attitude. This is essential to any difficult undertaking. A little levity can get you through a lot of tough situations and help you to deal with the stresses of balancing your family and your work. So try to keep a positive outlook in everything you do and you’ll be a lot happier and more relaxed in the long run.

Carol Montrose writes for SeaReach, a manufacturer of labels, tags, and security documents.

Earnest Parenting: helping work at home parents maintain sanity.