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Survival Guide for Work-at-Home Moms

Photograph by Twenty20

Recently, a friend who works in an office said she envied me because I work-from-home. "You don't even have to get dressed if you don't want to," she said after lamenting her morning commute and annoying office colleagues.

Truthfully, she's right. I have to walk 10 feet to the office in my home to get to work, I don't have to deal with annoying colleagues, and no one would ever know if I'm wearing my pajamas or a ball gown while I work.

Some of that is by design. Quickly into my life post-college, I realized I wasn't an office person. While others seemed to flourish in an office environment, I found it constraining and monotonous. I felt itchy and antsy going to the same place every day and I never seemed to get the knack for dealing with water cooler politics.

But working from a home office isn't always perfect . There's no separation between work-life and home-life, and the kids are just about always getting into my work space. So over the years, I've found a way to make peace with my process and make the most of the opportunity to work-from-home.

RELATED: Working From Home: Right or Privilege?

If your home is your office or you're thinking of working from home, you'll need a few tips to help you survive. Here you go!

1. Have a designated space that is your work space.

Even if your work space is a table in your living room on which your computer sits, have a sacred space that is your work place. That means the kids don't dump their toys there and the hubs doesn't adopt your space as his. If your home is your office, you need an office. So make it special and make sure everyone in the house does, too.

And unless you're desperate to meet a deadline and need the kids to be nearby with a toy or iPad, don't let the kids use your office as a play area. You'll find your files will get used for scissors practice and those office supplies you were counting on got used to make a My Little Pony hair salon.

2. Don't expect to get your work done in the same room as the kids.

Work when it's your work time and be on kid duty when your kids are home. Don't try to do both at once.

If the logistics of your house allow, have your work space be somewhere the kids aren't. And unless you're desperate, or your kids are old enough to be temporarily self-sufficient, don't expect to get your work done when your little ones are underfoot. Work when it's your work time and be on kid duty when your kids are home. Don't try to do both at once. Everyone will be a lot less frustrated and you'll actually be more productive.

3. If your kids are home while you're working, make sure they—and their caretaker—understand you're working.

In my experience, babysitters have a tendency to think you're not working simply because you're home. The same goes for the kids who love to come in and out of Mom's office with a whole host of emergencies. My rule is unless there's a real emergency I'm not to be bothered while I'm working. The kids don't' go to Dad's office and ask him for a snack, so there's no reason they have to go to mine just because my office is at home.

4. Plan your time so you don't have to come in and out of the kid's area too often.

If you have little ones at home with a babysitter while you're working, try to plan your run to the kitchen or other trips around the house for when they've left for the park or when the big ones are busy doing homework. Everyone will respect your time and space more if they don't see you popping in and out throughout your entire work day.

5. Make your work area pleasant and comfortable.

Your home office shouldn't feel like a jail cell. So make it comfortable. Give yourself the best view possible and make sure your desk and work space make you feel like working. Just because your home is your office doesn't mean you have to be stuck with that old office chair the hubs didn't want and didn't like. You're a professional! You get to have a nice space to work.

6. Change your location throughout the day.

Sometimes I'll take my laptop and go sit in another room in the house just for a change of scenery. Working from home is amazing, but it's also monotonous because your home and office are the same place. Give yourself mental and physical breaks to shake things up. You can. I know this breaks rule No. 1, but just for this moment, the whole house is your office!

7. Take breaks, working from home can be lonely.

Take a break during the day for a walk around the neighborhood or a dash over to the nearby coffee shop so you can have some grown-up human contact. Working from home is fabulous, but one thing you don't have are colleagues. So give yourself human interactions—but not for too long, because you've got work to do!

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8. Make a schedule and stick to it.

One of the hardest things about working from home is that your whole job is self-motivated. That means all those things on your Mom To-Do List can take priority and your work can easily get neglected. So value your work time and stick to your schedule. Knock the more tedious things off your To-Do List later when you might not be as alert or focused.

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