How do you set boundaries to prioritize your family?

One of the benefits of bootstrapping is that we can work whenever we want. Well, that can actually be a bad thing, because I have been known to skip time with family to respond to an email, stay glued to my phone at the playground, and go missing for entire Saturdays.

I recall hearing someone mention that their family practices “Screen-Free Sundays”, which I think is a pretty neat idea. What other boundaries have you set up, or thought about to help you “put the business away”?


During weekends I don’t do any work during the day unless it is urgent (really urgent such as server crash) until night when kids are in bed. I do always have my phone on me though to monitor incoming emails and make sure everything is running, but problems are pretty rare.

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Im about where @craig​vn is. But I do tend to get a couple hours of work in on the weekend. But the weekends are reserved for family and I only do work if we are doing nothing.

Same here!

And two hours (22:00-24:00) in a silent house are way more productive than whatever time you can find when you constantly interrupted by the day life.

I still have a day job, so evenings and weekends are the only time I get to work on my own stuff.

That said, I try to work on my own stuff when the wife is busy with other stuff, or after she’s gone to sleep. I rarely watch TV, read books(though I write both fiction and non fiction), or do anything else for fun. Though working on my own stuff is more fun than being a passive consumer.

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This book is relevant to the family side of the entrepreneurial life:

It’s tough though… It gets frustrating to never have a good chunk of non-night time to work. But I hate not spending that time with my wife and children, too!

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I taught myself Perl when my daughter was a baby quite literally in my arms and I was a single mum when I started my business. She was 4 and at school only in the mornings so I’ve always combined work and spending time with her.

I’ve talked about the business and where money comes from with her from her being tiny. The fact I ran my own business meant I could pick her up from school; attend her performances; spend 2 days a week for 5 months working from a table in Starbucks when she landed a child part in Les Mis. The flip side of that is we hardly ever have a proper holiday (whatever that is), I often work weekends, and she had to learn early on to check if I was on the phone before starting to tell me something at top volume.

If you are able to reserve weekends for family, that’s great, but I don’t think it is a bad thing for kids to see work and business as part of life. My daughter is now almost 17, and pretty useful in the business (she’s a great video editor, they teach them this stuff in school now :slight_smile: ). She also values the money spent on her college fees because she knows we work hard to be able to do that for her.


I tend to throw myself into big projects that I don’t have time for, and so always work long days. But I work from home, and don’t want my family to suffer.

So nowadays I start work early (6:45 am) so that I still have some time with them before they go to school, and I always have time to say hi when they come home. We always eat in the evening together (without fail) and if I have to work at the weekend (I usually manage to avoid it) then I only do so during the down-time eg: the limited amount of TV time they get and when they’re in bed.

Oh and I never go near my PC or phone when I’m not working. Those things can be horrible if you allow them to gain control. (Phones, not children)

It’s really hard getting the balance right, but it’s vital to do so. Never let your family suffer because of your work setup.

I’m the same - I work early in the mornings (6am) before my day job. I go to sleep the same time as my son does. I would never get to sleep if I worked after he went to bed. I do it 7 days a week. If I took the weekend off I would struggle to get back into the routine on Monday.

Everyone has their own ‘balance’. I think @rachelandrew’s comments about work/life integration versus ‘balance’ are worth thinking about.

Since I work from home, I try to get some work done in the morning. Then I take the time to step away and have breakfast with my family.

Kids are often good at calling me out on distractions. We don’t allow phones or reading while eating. Sometimes you need to take a call or do whatever, but try to error on the side of being disconnected when with family.

We do eat together every evening, which we used to not do, and it has made a major impact not only on our relationships, but at my children’s ability to eat healthier, use manners, to ask questions, and actively listen.

I think for me shifting sleep earlier so I spend less time watching Netflix in the evening and am able to get up earlier to start the day has made another big impact. Those two hours that used to be spent consuming media are now spent producing.

As far as weekends go, all four of my children are young enough to nap still, so there is a 2-hour window that I get to check email, do something small, etc. However, I notice my patience is about nil if they interrupt this time with anything, so I’m thinking it wise to set my expectations even lower on the weekends.

Even though I often do, I think an important thing for me to avoid is work in the evenings after kids’ bedtime. If I am not fitting it into my daily routine, I should look first into being more efficient with my day, rather than add more hours to my workday in the evening. Even though the kids are in bed, my wife and I can have more conversations, and I can help out with more around the house when I’m not at my computer.

I have a similar balance that @scojo mentions where I work early in the morning before the kids wake up and then take a break and eat breakfast with the family.