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Nine tips for work-at-home parents

Whether you're a mom or dad, juggling a home-based business and kids takes some know-how. Here are some pointers from those who've been there:

1. Carve out blocks of time. If your kids nap or go to school, make the most of this uninterrupted time to get things done.

2. Don't do everything yourself. Women feel guilt over not being able to "do it all," while men quickly realize it's impossible. Split up the chores. Hire someone to come in and clean once a week or watch the kids. Or use a parent's morning-out program to provide time to meet with clients, see friends or catch up on work.

3. Put your preschoolers on a schedule. If meals, naps and play all come at regular times, they will learn to expect them.

4. Sleep. You need to be fresh for the kids and the business. A quick nap in the afternoon will pick you up better than a caffeine or chocolate fix.

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5. Exercise. Whether it's riding bikes with the kids, running in the park or working out at the gym, you need to keep yourself in good shape. And exercise will give you the extra energy you're going to need to balance your life.

6. Learn to do the job in pieces. With kids it's nearly impossible to complete a project from start to finish. Break the job into manageable bits.

7. Make time for yourself. Keep up with your hobbies and friends. Remember there is more to your life than parenthood and work.

8. Network. Carry business cards with you, and get your name out there. When you meet people, talk about your business. For work-at-homes, word-of-mouth is critical.

9. Learn to say no, especially to clients. Accept the fact that you're not going to get as much done as when you were in an office. You also don't have to put up with the hassles and the commute. Enjoy your kids and your new lifestyle. Schedule only as much work as you can do comfortably, and learn to negotiate with clients.

-- Updated: April 16, 2003

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