The words "working" and "mother" are redundant. Parenting is a tough job;   tougher still for working mothers juggling responsibilities at home and work. The US Department of Labor says, "Nearly three-quarters of all mothers are in the labor force." Read on for five tips for how working mothers manage careers and motherhood.

1. Be consistent. Everything runs smoother when kids are cooperative and happy. It helps when children know what to expect from their day-to-day life. An article published by the Public Broadcasting System's The Whole Child series, says, "Children thrive in a well-ordered and predictable environment, where daily routines such as arrivals and departures, mealtimes, nap times and toileting are dealt with consistently by all caregivers.

Establish consistent bedtime, morning and "after work" routines. Get kids in the habit of helping with chores, doing homework and cleaning up their toys at the same time each day.  Make dinner a family event they can count on. 

Minimize the number of caretakers you and your children have to adjust to and ask them to follow the same routines and rules. Consistency gives kids a sense of security and gives working mothers peace of mind. 

2. Be prepared. Working mothers agree, it's the morning that'll get you. If everyone's organized and on schedule, all's right with the world.  If not, the whole day's a mess. Get backpacks, gym equipment; school supplies and clothes ready the night before.  Get up early to exercise, shower, dress and prepare for your day before you wake up kids. 

Evenings are challenging too with kids to feed and homework to supervise.  Stock-up on groceries on your days off.  Plan simple menus for workday evenings and eliminate "what's for dinner?" dilemmas. Leave non-mandatory chores and errands for weekends.

Leave some wiggle room in your schedule for the occasional lost notebook, dawdling toddler or extra snuggle.

3. Get help. No mother can do everything. That's why parents usually come in sets of two.  Team up with your partner and establish who's responsible for specific duties, schedules and activities. Single parents should enlist help from friends and family. Make time for yourself too.

4. Talk to your boss. Many employees are willing to be flexible with working mothers (and fathers) if it means retaining a valued employee. If you need to miss work for a sick child, field trip, or other child-related responsibility, try talking with your boss in advance. Discuss flexible schedules, telecommuting or make-up hours to cover missed days. 

5. Ditch the guilt. It's every working mother's dilemma:  when you're at work you feel like you should be home.  When you're at home, you feel like you should be at work. Don't tear yourself up.  When you're with your child, be present and keep work distractions to a minimum. When you're at work, focus on being a top-notch employee. Feeling bad won't make you a better mother or employee.  Knowing you're doing your best, however, goes a long way.