Men and women who choose to work from home are presented with an enormous number of challenges, especially if they are also parents of young children. It takes tremendous effort to juggle a career while providing care for children. Just when you map out a great plan for the day, you find yourself veering off course to tackle more pressing issues. No parent who works from home wants to do a bad job at either post. Because both jobs require a certain amount of focus and attention, parents must learn to strike a balance between work and parenting. Planning and organization are absolutely the keys to success in this endeavor.

Concentrate on Priorities

When working from home, it is difficult to overlook household chores that need to be done. It’s hard to ignore a sink full of dirty dishes or that pile of laundry that needs to be folded. With practice, this outlook can change. It is important to realize that there are only a few things that really matter and deserve prompt attention. The top priorities must be making sure children are safe and still having enough energy to complete other tasks that the jobs require. Giving in to distractions can sabotage any effort to be successful working from home.

Handling Interruptions

Preparing in advance for possible interruptions makes handling them easier. Anticipate children’s physical needs and understand that they do not always follow a clear pattern. Be prepared to fix quick snacks and meals by planning in advance so that it does not interfere with a project in progress. Consider making phone calls when children take naps and work on emails or simpler projects while supervising their playtime. Use an answering machine to avoid having to take calls. As a mom who writes from experience, I’m a big proponent of the “bag of tricks”. Keep a special box or bag filled with your child’s favorite, special activities. This can be a handy trick to entertain children if they become restless and demanding, or if you find yourself pulled into an emergency call at work.

Take Advantage of Free Help

Sometimes it may be necessary to call on a family member or neighbor to help out with children when a deadline nears or an important project requires more focus. Other parents who telecommute may be willing to swap out child-care duties sometimes. Getting a little outside help occasionally makes it easier to cope with both jobs.

Pros and Cons

Being able to enjoy parenting and pursue a career at the same time are very rewarding. Those who work from home can accomplish two tasks at one time and be successful at both. Flexibility is key to success for a working parent.

Are you a parent who works from home? What are your tips and tricks to staying motivated while working in such a challenging environment?