For the busy mom that works at home, the balancing act can be a constant struggle. For the most part you’re simply attempting to get a little work done while your kids wreak havoc on the house, or you’re trying not to let your mind wander back to a problematic project while your toddler waxes poetic about a ladybug he found in the garden. Separating your personal and professional spheres can be a difficult undertaking when you work at home, there’s no doubt about it. But many work-at-home moms find a way to strike a balance that allows them to devote equal time to kids and an occupation, reaping the benefits of both. Of course, there will be times when life throws a wrench in the works to disrupt your finely-tuned system. And the hectic holiday season presents a pretty big wrench. So how does one woman manage everything? Here are a few tips to help you get through.

The first thing you’ll want to do is start adding holiday items to your calendar, including events for the kids (school plays, visits to Santa, etc.), family gatherings, trips, parties, and pretty much anything you know about ahead of time. Don’t RSVP right away as you’ll probably continue to get invitations up until the last minute, but pencil everything in so you can make decisions as more events pop up. And if you’re going to be hosting any events, now is the time to start planning. It may be a little early to buy the turkey, unless you happen to have a big freezer, but you can at least put it on your radar. And you can start preparations early by sending out Evites, stocking up on non-perishable items, creating a playlist of holiday music, unpacking and rinsing extra dishware, and washing all the seasonal linens, including not only tablecloths and napkins, but also sheets and towels for guests. Plus, if you need to order anything online, now is the time to do it so it arrives in plenty of time for the holidays.

But of course, the festivities aren’t all about events. If you’re like most people you also have to undertake holiday gift shopping. Your goal here should be to complete the bulk of your shopping before Thanksgiving. You might be drawn to holiday sales, but so is everyone else. These events will leave you waiting in long lines, wasting time that could better be spent with the family or finishing up projects that will cover your holiday expenses. But you’ll also see your stress levels go through the roof. Sometimes saving money simply isn’t worth it. And in truth, you are probably only purchasing a couple of big ticket items. So try to get most of the small stuff out of the way before the shopping blitz begins. That way when you hit the sales you can easily pick up one or two expensive items at massive discounts without having to dash around like a madwoman just to save a couple bucks here and there on the small stuff. Gift cards are another great option that help you to save time and stick to a budget.

And don’t forget about the glorious world of online shopping, which allows you to compare this site and that one to find the best possible prices throughout the year. A little planning can go a long way towards making the average work-at-home mom’s holiday situation a little more tenable. So don’t put things off until the last minute. Your family and your work are your top priorities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time for all the fun festivities that the holidays bring. If you’re smart about how you manage your time and you plan ahead you’ll find that you can accomplish everything you want to.

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