How to balance working with family life when running a home-based business

When you share your home with your business, it's vital to take into account those you live with

Family issues usually boil down to one problem – sharing your home lifestyle with your business. No matter who shares your home – or who doesn’t – there has to be a balance between work and play. It is vital that you do not shut people out of your new world.

It is equally vital that they respect your space when you are working and do not sprinkle the day with interruptions about the faulty washing machine, ask you to pick up some shopping or collect the dry cleaning.

You need to set aside certain days or hours for work, and insist that they are respected. But that goes for you too. It is no good insisting the office is a no-go zone all day and then, when it’s time for family in the evening, spend your time popping into the office to finish something off.

If work spills into playtime, apologise to those around you and try to minimise its impact. This is the kind of issue that soon grows out of all proportion and can cause real family resentment.

Partners need to be part of the deal. Discussing business is easy for some and difficult for others but is often essential as a way of blowing off steam at the end of a hard day – this goes for homeworkers too. Without the office banter to provide light relief, working alone can build up pressure.

Use your partner as a safety valve but, of course, in moderation. They may have had a tough day too.

Also think about where your office is in relation to the rest of your living space. Can you shut the door behind you and leave work behind? Do you want views of the neighbours’ garden and the sounds of their screaming kids? Does your office space impact on the family by depriving them of another bedroom, or a playroom? Make sure they are happy with where you work and are able to respect your need for peace and quiet during office hours. You cannot expect to work in isolation if you do the paperwork at the kitchen table.

If work spills into playtime, apologise to those around you and try to minimise its impact.

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