How to balance family and work when working from home

Content provided by a guest contributor.

In today’s world, one of the biggest challenges that we women face is how to balance family and work without doing a “half-job” on either. Running a home-based business presents its own unique issues, as entrepreneur Colette Symanowitz knows only too well. With some experience under her belt, Colette explains how she manages this balancing act.

As a workaholic who puts 120% into everything I do, I’m no expert at getting this 100% right. However, I’ve picked up a few tips along the way that I hope can help those of you who work from home to manage this.

Choose a business model that is conducive to working from home

If you can, choose a business model that can be run easily from home. Then within this framework, identify a business idea that you’re passionate about, that meets an unmet market need and that can make money. I used to run, a social networking website for MBA alumni and current students from all business schools.

Although the business is now sold, I chose this for numerous reasons: my husband and I wanted a flexi-time business that I could run from home while looking after our 2 toddlers; I was passionate about connecting people with positive opportunities; and after completing my MBA, I recognised an unmet, monetisable need for a social network to serve this attractive target market.

A website is easy to run from home because it doesn’t keep office hours and you can run it at any time of the day. This means you can work around your kids’ school routine, and you can work at night when they’re asleep. Other businesses that require a lot of office-hours face-to-face time with clients, e.g. consulting or sales, are harder to run from home.

Compartmentalise your work location and hours

Children need routine and structure to give them security. You help give them this by keeping set hours and a set location when you work on your business. After getting the kids off to nursery school in the morning, I worked on my business and met with clients. I then collected the kids from school at lunchtime and allocated the afternoon to them.

When my husband came home in the evening, we spent time together with each other and the kids. Once they went to bed, my husband and I both worked on our businesses until our bedtime. Even if the kids were off sick or on holiday, we kept to this routine. We also built a study at home, so I could close the door in the mornings to work on my business.

Establish a work routine based on set times and location

Training your children to respect this work routine is critical: our kids knew that in the mornings Mommy was off limits in the study, unless there was an emergency. This enables you to improve the quality of your family and work time during their respective time slots.

There will be times when you don’t manage to keep to the routine, in my case if a client couldn't meet in the mornings or if I had an urgent task that needed to be done that afternoon. This is OK, provided it is the exception rather than the rule, otherwise you don’t really have a routine for your family or yourself.

Build strong support systems and have time off for you

To make your business-family routine work, you need strong support systems and your own time to unwind. We had a fantastic helper who looked after our kids in the mornings if needed, e.g. during school holidays or if a client meeting could only be held in the afternoon. Their only-too-willing grandparents helped too.

My incredibly supportive husband took over the kids when he came home from work, so I could take off an hour to exercise and he’d go to gym once they were asleep.

There is no one routine that works for everyone - you have to find one that works best for you. Once you do find your routine, sticking to it helps your kids find structure and security, and gives you balance, while enhancing the quality of your family- and work-from-home time.

The content in this article was provided by Colette Symanowitz, founder of and (now sold). Colette comes from a project management and sales background spanning close to 10 years in the pharmaceutical and clinical research industries. She completed her Wits BSc Honours in Pharmacology, and then followed this up with a PDBA and MBA from GIBS. Colette is currently the Director of Marketing, Digital, and Business Development at

For more information, contact:



Twitter: @ColSymanowitz

No votes yet