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The idea of working from home is a parent’s dream. You can wear comfy clothes, answer emails with your morning coffee, and take a break whenever you want to walk the dog. Right?

Have you ever actually worked from home? It can really be a nightmare.

The dog is actually annoying the crap out of you, the dishes and laundry are staring you in the face, and if your kids are home…just forget it altogether.

But you don’t have to give up the dream. You just have to tweak the logistics of the dream to make it work. Here’s what you gotta do:

Get Support
First and foremost, you need to have support. Whether that means a partner, family member, childcare swap, or something else. Working from home sort of seems like you’re hanging out on the couch and somehow get work done while you’re watching Gilmore Girls. (Okay, maybe I do that sometimes…) But really you’re sitting at your desk (or the messy dining room table) and WORKING. You need to focus on that entirely. The only way to really balance work and family is to focus on one at a time. Find the support of someone to watch your kid(s) so you can focus on your work. That way, you can be completely present when you are with your little ones again. But this is not possible without support. I know you – you don’t want to ask for help. Listen here, Super Woman: ask for help. It’s the only way.

Carve out the Time
You have to schedule your work time just like you would if you were physically going to work. Consider these “work shifts” and commit to them. Schedule these times with your partner so you’re on the same page. Decide on how many hours a week need to be devoted to your work, and then divide that over the days you have support…math it out and write it down. Like on a calendar. That everyone sees. If you don’t make the time for your work, no one else will. Make the commitment to it with your time.

Keep At It
There will be times when working from home is frustrating. There will be days that it doesn’t work well. But keep doing it. Stick with it and see it through. It’s harder to stay motivated sometimes when you’re just home without a boss or co-workers to keep you going. You’re going to have to motivate yourself at times. Finding a group of people in similar situations can help you stick with it as well. In-person or online support groups can both be beneficial. Look for a general “work from home” support group or something more specific to your line of work. As a writer, the Freelance Writers Den is my go-to.

Be Patient
Even when you are doing all of these things, sometimes it will seem like it’s not working. But patience is a virtue and stuff…people say that, right? But seriously, if you have the support, make the time, keep at it…at that point, all you can do is be patient. If you know this is what is best for you and for your family, keep that in mind always. Life goes through seasons, and if it’s a tough one at the moment, hold on. It will get better soon.