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Since becoming a work-at-home mom, I have become a master at squeezing work into the margins of my life as a mom.
As I type this, I keep catching myself staring at the clock. I have a four-hour block of childcare this week and I am feeling the pressure to make the most of my time. This morning, I replied to emails while I made scrambled eggs and last week I wrote 1,200 words on the floor of my toddler's room at 10 p.m. while she wailed, "I'm not tired!"
How's that for work-life balance?
Working from home with two toddlers around isn't easy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. When I work this way, I get the best of both worlds. When my children are awake, I am home with them the majority of the time. Plus, I have a job I love and I am able to make a significant contribution to my family's income.
But succeeding at the work-at-home thing depends largely on my ability to run on very little sleep and making sure I get these 12 essential things every work-at-home mom needs.
If I can't get eight hours of sleep, I want the next best thing: lots and lots of coffee.
When you work from home, you don't stop needing help with the kids. Every work-at-home mom needs a reliable babysitter who can help out when you've got too much on your plate.
3. A call recording app
Sometimes taking notes for an interview or conference call simply isn't happening (because you are cooking dinner and bouncing a fussy baby at the same time).
4. A night out
When your office is at home and you are surrounded by your little people all day, you crave adult interaction.
5. People who get it
I owe everything to a small group of ladies who get what it is like to work from home and take care of small children. A support group, or even just one friend, who understands juggling deadlines and sick kids at the same time is invaluable when you need some advice or an ear when you need to rant.
6. A comfortable pair of sweatpants, or maybe three or four.
When you work from home, your work bleeds over into every other area of your life. Sooner or later, you will disappoint someone you care about because a work deadline interferes. Family and friends who are understanding and gracious are crucial to survival in the working mom world.
8. A reliable Internet connection
Nothing induces a panic attack as quickly as a city-wide Internet outage paired with a midnight deadline.
9. A home office, with a lock
OK, most days I will settle for a dining room table that isn't littered with lunch dishes and jumbo crayons.
People who appreciate your hard work and validate that what you are doing is important are just what a work-at-home mom needs when she is suddenly feeling like nothing is going right.