Balancing Work and Family as a Home-Based Entrepreneur

Unscheduled AppointmentBalance…

Every entrepreneur comes to realize how important that word is. As a home-based entrepreneur, it’s even more crucial — especially for the “home” part.

When Your Home Is Your Office and Your Office Is Your Home

Anthony Baggett asked:

How do you separate “work time” from “family time”? How do you find time to concentrate on “work” with kids around?

Often, the answer is “I don’t.” It’s actually very hard keeping them separate, since my work is so much of a part of who I am, and so is my family.

Even as I’m writing this post, my 2-year old opened the door and walked into my office to show me her pig-tails. How can you say no to that?

Little interruptions are fine — even nice sometimes. But you have to have some limits. Otherwise I’d be playing Dora the Explorer games right now instead of finishing this.

Each Home-Based Business and Family Is a Little Different

I’ve been self-employed and working from home since before my kids were born. So it’s all they know. I go to work by walking up the stairs.

When it’s new, it’s much harder. Initially your kids think you’re home on some sort of vacation — like spring break from school. It’s important to set some boundaries. Each family is different, so the boundaries will be different. But here are some guidelines I recommend:

Think of your family as your board of directors. They have as much of a stake in your venture as you do. Make sure they know what’s going on, even the little ones (appropriate for their age of course — a balance sheet is scary even to adults). Your spouse or partner is your Chairperson, so they need to be kept apprised of your plans, schedule, and operations. Things go much smoother if everyone is involved.

Use a shared calendar. Using a big whiteboard calendar or sharing Google calendars is a great way to make sure everyone is aware of what is going on. Communication is essential. If you have a big meeting or conference call, it’s known ahead of time. If you need to take off to see your son’s play, you can schedule around it.

Make signs for your door. Use pictures if your kids are too young to read, and have one for “I’m on the phone,” “I’m writing,” etc. As a bonus, use a big envelope for the sign, and encourage your kids to leave notes or drawings in it for you to find when you’re done or on a break.

Be flexible. One of the main reasons people go to work for themselves is freedom. A big perk of being a home-based entrepreneur is the time you have for your family. Chances are, you’ll be working more (trust me, you will). But the time is your own, and you set your schedule. Make sure it fits your home life, as well as your work style.

This brings us back to the word that started this post — balance. We all have a built in plumb bob that tells us when we’re off balance. As a home-based entrepreneur it’s imperative to let that be your guide. If work begins to take on too much, you lose balance. If you’re not working enough, you lose balance.

Learn to be aware of the signs and find your own flow — a flow that fits you and your family.


  1. Your cartoon today could be a picture of my youngest creative partner! Each of my kids brings some inspiration to my business. Even the youngest one wants to know when she can have Skype on her computer so we can have a meeting.

    Keeping the balance can be a challenge, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  2. Thanks! You made several excellent points. I especially took notice of the signs on the door. That’s a great idea, if you can get everyone on the same page. Thanks again.

  3. Char – My youngest doesn’t know about Skype, yet, but she knows I wouldn’t change it either. It sounds crazy, but I’m actually more productive when the house is full. I guess I’m used to working with background noise. πŸ™‚

    Anthony – Glad to help. It was a great question.

  4. Wow…you hit the nail on the head. I’ve been working from home for over two years with my web-based business and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Not only do I set my own hours but I can watch Dora with my two year old daughter if she needs me to or I can sit and talk with my three teen boys.

    I find it a very rewarding way to be productive.

  5. As someone who would like to eventually use my talents at home, I am still slack-jawed in amazement over the simple brilliance of your envelope sign. I’m going to tell my small group leader about that, as they will be home-schooling next year and he telecommutes.

  6. Sara – A rewarding way to be productive. That’s a terrific way of putting it.

    Priscilla – If you can balance everything, you naturally are in the right flow for the right task.

    Jesse – Thanks! It sure beats them pounding on the door and yelling πŸ™‚

  7. Those are excellent points. I think that communication is by far the most important factor to be considered. Even with kids that don’t know how to talk yet, it’s still important that they understand your work.

  8. Those tips are really helpful.
    A home-based work is indeed a challenging scenario. Having an easy access to the office will surely increase the time of work.

  9. excellent points, “my work is so much of a part of who I am, and so is my family.” i so feel that way too, sometimes it’s kinda hard to keep focus, but it’s doable, just have to make it clear that you have to work, or else you’ll get distracted and won’t get as much done as you would’ve liked to. Balancing between the 2 is not “that” hard. But as “home-workers” we kinda have to put as much enegery into our work as we put energy and focus on our family.

    Great post! I enjoyed the read a lot.

  10. John – That’s, true — even really young kids can learn the work rules (although they wonÒ€ℒt always follow them. Which to me is a good thing πŸ™‚ )

    Pamela – You do tend to sneak in work even after hours, but you also get to sneak in play during regular work hours.

    Jonathan – I agree. The balance usually finds itself, otherwise you have upset clients or upset family members. πŸ˜‰

  11. You hit the nail right on the head! It was an adjustment when I started working from home, but eventually we made it a family effort so I could work. Now, my 2 and half year old sits at his own desk to draw when I am working and tells me, “Shhhh…Momma I am working”.

    Your blog is just fabulous!!!

    With Empowering Regards,
    Tonya Ramsey

  12. I am not an entrepreneur, yet… im thinking of it though but for now, not yet. Still working under someone’s else. πŸ™

    Anyway, i agree with u about the balance thing. As hard i try, my son is always there to tag along… he even wanna sit in between me and the laptop.. he’s 3 yrs old. so what did i do then? I wait until he asleep… now, thats usually end up late for me to do my work… LOL.

    great post again from you. I’m glad i stumbled your blog. πŸ™‚ More please…

  13. Thanks for a great article. I appreciate your flexible attitude, and I think that is important. Too often people get focused on tasks to the point where they shut out people. People need to always come before tasks!

    Of course, some of those tasks are done so that the people will benefit later. That is why you may not be able to play Dora The Explore at any time your daughter wants. Some of your tasks are designed to create a better future for her.

    Thanks again for the great article.

    Danny Gamache

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