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Tips on Getting the Family/Blogging Balance Right

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of April 2010 Video Posts 0 Comments

One of the things that attracted me to blogging as a way to earn an income was the flexibility that it gave me and the opportunity it gives me to work from home and be involved in the lives of my young family. While my wife is the primary care giver and I’m full time as a blogger I am pretty hands on where I can be and there are days (like today) where I look after the boys.

Of course working at home – whether the work is blogging or something else – is not only a great opportunity but also a challenge. The line behind work and family can sometimes blur.

By no means have I worked it all out – but this video is a bit of an attempt to record a few of the lessons I’ve learned working at home and an invitation to others who work/blog from home to share what they’ve learned also.

See the full sized video at YouTube at Family/Blogging Balance.

PS: this video was recorded on a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Digital Camera (love it).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Striking the balance is always an issue for me. I fear too much time has been taken from them already, but I just keep going in hopes that the financial freedom I’m trying to achieve will give me more time with them in the future.

    I’ve been trying to plan ahead and keep good track of time. Some days I do much better than others, but it’s important that I try harder every day to get more focused.

    As always, thanks for sharing your lessons with us.

  2. My kids are grown up and work themselves. Now my time is my own really. By blogging, I get plenty of time to go to the gym or cook or simply spend time with my wife.


  3. Hey Darren,

    Working at home I had to really learn on how prioritize my time. This was a challenge at the beginning.

    I like how you said, set up a specific place somewhere it keeps the distraction away. You provided a lot of great little tips on how to work at home with having the family.

    Here is one tip: When working minimize the time you spend in emails or social sites. Thanks!

    Chat with you later…

  4. It’s one thing to be a parent, it’s another thing to be a the kid :p

    My family/blogging balance isn’t balance at all, it’s more of separation and complete isolation with each other (though at times it’s truly a challenge).

    Right now, that’s what’s working it. Because it’s honestly hard to explain these things to my parents. So I hope their’s a version 2 to this video darren… something that would tackle the perspective of the younger bloggers.

  5. Thanks for saying this! I’m a huge zealot on work/life balance. I do the same as you with my own business, full-time job, and my marriage. (no kids yet) I love each of these components of my life, but…my marriage comes first.

    It’s even in the little things like coming to the dinner table when the food is ready…and not finishing up an email for the next 5 minutes.

    As for flexibility, it gives a TON of freedom. But we owe it to ourselves and our families to not take too much liberty with our freedoms. We still need to get our stuff done!

  6. spot on Darren. Juggling time on the internet and time spent doing other creative tasks for me has recently become an issue especially since I didn’t have a pc for over 2 weeks due to faulty motherboard (I was finally given a new pc!) Not having access to the internet caused me to shift my focus and prioritize my tasks. In fact I wrote a post about it just today! The key to most everything I have realized is knowing how and what to prioritize. It’s just not physically possible to do everything if we also want to have some real quality in our lives.
    Funny how your posts frequently tune in to current issues in my blogging life!
    BTW your little pirate is adorable!
    all the best

  7. I’m still a student myself atm, but I grew up with a homeworking dad and I always loved it. He shopped for groceries, picked us up from school and cooked us dinner between his crazy long working days.
    I do believe he could have used your system of the work space with obvious boundaries, since it kinda escalated and the whole house became his hallway.
    One sure tell-sign to know if you could disturb or not was if he was humming. If he was humming he wasn’t stressed and everything was going to plan, so he would have time to talk or help you. If he wasn’t humming he was probably stressed like crazy and very, very do not disturb.
    In general he was a merry man though.

    One thing we did when we were older and his shedule was busy was developing a kitchen system (which always seemed very complicated to non family members), for groceries, cleaning and preparing meals where everyone would take turns, so we could make sure we also had time to spend quality time together. Because working at home people sometimes forget to lay down the work, because they never leave their workspace. So make sure you don’t do this

    I loved how available my father was, and really think that working at home has some huge advantages.

  8. @Josh: Liked your million $ tip: “When working minimize the time you spend in emails or social sites”

  9. Hey Darren! Great tips! I started my blog about a year ago, but it’s been a couple of months since I’m dedicated to it full time, and probably the thing that’s been bothering me the most is setting up ‘bloggin-time’. I get so caught up and I just love it so much, not just blogging, but commenting, being on twitter, linkedin and Facebook, that sometimes I just realize I’ve been doing it for hours. We don’t have kids yet, but I think it’s time I start having some discipline!

    Thanks again… and greetings from Mexico!
    Marco Ayuso

  10. Darren,
    Thanks for the YouTube which is inspiring. It’s nice to know that we parents who blog have so much in common. I have triplets plus one more that I am homeschooling whilst working at home as a professional mommy blogger. I’ve learned that frequent breaks from my work to ride bikes with my kids is good for me as a writer, good for us all because it’s exercise, and most important: it’s quality time spent with my children. After all, that’s the real reason why I don’t work outside the home…I want to spend as much time with my kids as possible. Your video emphasizes what’s REALLY IMPORTANT.

  11. Oddly enough I just did a post about this exact same thing yesterday! :)

    I was telling my readers about using an egg timer. But not just any old egg timer….Check it out?

  12. Your house is so gorgeous!! What a darling little pirate boy.

    hmmn, I think I’ll get a sign made saying Funsterment HQ.

    Nah, I’m very lucky that I have only one child and while she is at school and my husband at work, I have plenty of time for my creative endeavors. I guess you could call that spoiled!

    I would add a tip… have say, a daily 30 minute family-only time, where you talk, play or whatever, with no distractions (put the phone on answering machine mode, no tv, or electronics,) or 60 even better. It’s amazing the great fun bonding you can all share.

  13. THANK YOU Darren! As an expecting father who works from home, it’s nice to hear tips from you and proof that it CAN work, if you are flexible. Hope all is well.

  14. I’ve found that I get distracted with email or Google or Facebook or whatever when I’m trying to write a post, so now I write the first draft of a post in a notebook. That way it’s all about the writing and not about distractions popping up. And there’s just something about putting pen to paper… Typing up the draft into WordPress then helps with the editing process.

  15. Because my blogs are about trips I’ve taken with my wife we’re able to share the workload by writing together. It feels less like a separation between family/blogging when you can make blogging part of the family routine.

  16. I’m a single parent, so this issue is a tricky one.

    I actually blog on the side of my job, so it appears to my son like I’m ‘always working’ at times. So I simply attempt to do my blogging stuff when he’s in bed if possible.

    If impossible, I set aside ‘my time’ in short bursts to gitter done while he does something that is equally interesting to him. But with frequent breaks so we are also interacting.

    I use to watch TV as a hobby. These days… what’s that?!? :)


  17. While I’ve not find a magic solution, I have definitely learned that you can find ways to carve out more time. It’s just about priorities. I watch only a fraction of the amount of TV I used to and I don’t go shopping for recreation anymore. You can create the life you want to live!

  18. Your little boy is adorable! I love that you included him in your video…so appropriate for the topic.

    My main blogging/work hours are from 9pm-2am, but I also have 2 days a week where grandma comes to play with my little girls in the afternoon. They love it and she loves it – it’s a win/win scenario! :)

  19. The Junior ProBlogger looks cute.
    When is he taking over this blog?
    and what degree is he going to grab at college?

  20. Left my job to take take of my 2yr old.
    Still figuring out my system and schedules.
    Learning and living completely everyday.
    Life is great.

    And trying to make my blog better too :-)

  21. Your kids are adorable Darren. I have to admit, I’ve been an SEO Reseller for 3 years now and a dad for 2 years, and I still have a few kinks to work on in juggling my work and family. I congratulate you for finding the balance in your life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this matter, this is equally important as the blogging techniques that you’ve been posting.

  22. David says: 04/21/2010 at 5:24 am

    Tip: Try to sit in a corner or against a wall facing out to the room. It totally changes the vibe if your kids are playing or hanging out with you. And they don’t have to act out to get your eye or attention – to a large extent they already have it.

    Less important but still helps: Use a laptop. You’re not hidden behind a large screen. You’re more clearly visible and a part of the social environment.

    Last one: Involve them in what you’re doing. Actually, actively encourage it. Hey! Do you want to come help Papa pick some photos for his new post? will pretty quickly get old. Uhmm, no thanks dad, I’m just gonna play Lego’s.

    David Hogg
    My Little Nomads
    (The Travel with Kids site)

  23. My 15 month old liked the part with your kids.

    I have 3 kids – one in second grade, the other two still at home. Scheduling is pretty tricky around here. Like you said in the video, naptime is a great time to work. I also do a lot of work when the kids are in bed at night, and don’t watch much television.

    Only one of my kids still naps at all regularly. The one who is going into kindergarten next year has learned to be fairly self sufficient during his little sister’s naptimes. He knows what snacks he’s allowed to have, plays well on his own much of the time, but still comes to me freely if he needs anything.

    When my toddler is awake but somewhat busy playing is when I read blog posts, visit Facebook, read email and so forth. All things where I don’t mind being interrupted. Some days I get very little time for those things, but it’s better to do them when I’m distracted than to lose my best work time to them.

  24. Nice post. It is good to see inside the life of a blogger and good to see real people explaining how it is done. Thanks Darren!
    The Social Tech Guy – http://www.christopheradams.com/blog

  25. I just wanna say that your kid is really cute with the pirate hat. If only he could fully understand that he’s talking to the world…
    And congratulations on being able to balance your life so well and to keep a sense of priorities inside all of that.

  26. Great post!! I don’t have kids, worse I with my brothers own our house. It’s great because I do have an official office space but it gets tough when friends and family visit, as they do constantly, and don’t understand that I am actually working. I try to keep some semblance of a schedule so that I’m not wracking my brain all day and because I don’t want to get sick of working at home, for the most part I’ve acclimated well. Great lessons though I’ll definitely be rethinking how I attack things..and family members :)

  27. Your son is adorable!

    Just today I posted about a very inventive childcare solution for work at home moms and dads, which can help when putting work aside just won’t do. For other times, I avoid distractions by following my own advice: http://www.workathomemomcenter.com/avoiding-interruptions-distractions/

    While I don’t have young children (anymore!), I do find that a home office with a door, as well as a set work schedule works best for me. Although, even college-age kids seem to find their way through the door during working hours, they know that they are entering at their own risk, lol.

    It also helps to squeeze in work hours early in the a.m. while everyone is sleeping, which allows more time during the day for family, errands and housekeeping.

    As for other distractions, I recently read an old post by Steve Pavlina on 30 Days to Success (http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/04/30-days-to-success/). In my personal trial, I’ve committed to avoid hanging out at forums and social networking sites. Of course, I still share what’s going on at my site, but it’s a hit it and quit it deal for 30 days, which keeps me from lingering too long to read and reply to random updates. For me it’s been a HUGE time saver!

    You have a fabulous blog and thanks so much for everything that you offer here!

  28. First off Darren, your son is awfully cute, and I appreciate these tips. I still haven’t quit my day job as it were so my work/work/family balance is probably still a bit out of kilter. Add in that the focus of what I do (with my website) revolves around some travel, and it really can be difficult to find enough hours.

    I think you’re right that the primary key is communication. Letting your family know that daddy is working for the next x period of time. It also means sticking to that schedule, which can be difficult when you have a 2 year old. For one, you may not completely finish what you’re working on (and they remember that you said you would go to the park at whatever time), or because little ones can’t help but to spill over those boundaries just in the nature of being the precocious tykes that they are.

    Most of my secret to getting work done is about working late, after bedtime, and trying to churn out of my to do list as I can. You’re right that family has to be the priority. Unfortunately, my sleep suffers for it.

  29. Great video and tips thanks! I use a digital timer and have learnt the power of a just a few minutes! I wear it on a string round my neck and I can set it to beep or vibrate. Today for example I set it for 10 mins for facebook, 10 mins for twitter and 10 mins for my email. If you know you have the timer counting down and you are prepared to OBEY the timer when it beeps and then move on to the next task you will accomplish a lot and not get side-tracked. It’s really helped me because I have 2 babies to look after so I can spend 5 or 10 mins on a task then go and change a nappy or help to do a jigsaw puzzle and then come back to my task list. The list has to be mini tasks so instead of “write an award winning blog post” allowing 3 hours you break it up into small tasks such as take a photo, upload a photo, watermark a photo, write the content, proofread, publish, promote, socialize. All mini tasks that are easily manageable if you can concentrate for 5-10 mins at a time!

  30. I can relate to what you said about how working at home can blur the line between family and work. I personally set the entire Sunday as family day, and this has worked well for me.

  31. Darren, you keep things in perspective. Thanks for that.

    The Family-Work Balance (in that order) is something we value immensely.

    Look forward to more good stuff.

  32. WOW Daren. Just when I think that you couldn’t get any more awesome… you pull this one on me??

    As a wife, mother and business owner who gives entrepreneur advice and web marketing services to mompreneurs online and small business owners, it can be so hard.

    I have 4 children (2 in school during the day and 2 at home). My youngest is 4 month today!

    Here are my top 3 “key” tips for how to be a “pro mom blogger”:

    1.) Map out your strategy with the family: a lot of times we plan and design our vision without thinking or even including our partners and children. So, what I did was draw or map out a visual diagram for my husband and children as well as a timeline of when and what was necessary to achieve a healthy work/life balance.

    2.) Social Media Confusion and Distraction: much to your point Darren, when I am working, the kids are napping and I need to get things done in that time frame I’m allowed (much like Olympic track and field… gotta get it done fast), I turn everything off! This can be so hard when you’ve got pings, dings, and pop-ups in the way of finishing what you started. This affects consistency and ultimately profitability if your are a business blogging for profit.

    3.) Find things for the kids to do: while you are working is VITAL in order to avoid “human distractions” that will happen if you are not ready to close that door and take on those projects. I have so many educational games, and there are some wonderful websites that my 2 year old finds entertaining from PBS to Noggin to Disney.

    I hope that this helps Darren and to your wonderful readers I would just say this, blogging is a privilege but to the readers, clients and followers, its a gift. We provide solutions, entertainment, education, and ideas that allow consumers to make better more informed decisions and so, always remember to give it your all. Approach it like you would “Call of Duty”. I’m sorry, I’m a gamer… oooopppsss!

    Strategy, Persistence, and a place to “kick-butt” and do “your thing”.

    blog on people!

  33. I have a pretty simple system. When the kids are asleep and we’ve finished tidying up for the night etc I can sit down and work on my stuff. I have a PC upstairs in the living area so I can be near their bedrooms when the wife is out for coffee or at the gym. For when I really need silence (eg recording a screencast) I can go downstairs into the study and use my laptop there.

    Its hard and means progress on projects is slow, but I can live with that. It also means I watch next to no television. I actually have to deliberately plan out a time to watch a basketball game or movie and make sure I’m on top of all my work before then. I do miss being able to enjoy more entertainment but 2010 needs to be a year of big progress :-)

  34. Hey Darren,

    I can relate to your situation. I don’t personally have any kids (yet) but my good friend does… he has a 13 month old…

    ….we usually get together once a week and we’ve got to really prioritize and focus our 1-2 hours together (while his babe sleeps) so that we can be productive and make some progress with our own new project: Blogging for Coaches.

    Thank for sharing your experience,


  35. Darren,

    Your kids are unbelievably cute!

    I don’t have any more tips. Just like you, I close the door to the office when working on something important — or at night. I am one of the rare people that only require 5-6 hours sleep to function fully.



  36. Hi Darren,
    my husband and I both work from home and we have two toddlers running around the house. We have created a schedule of baby days for each of us: one day my husband is in charge of the babies when they are awake, next day – it’s me. This way we feel that both of us can get something done without taking the precious time away from our kids.
    Another huge help that we get is a babysitter. We have a great girl come over to our house twice a week to play with the kids while both of us are working. The kids are happy, we get some sane time to work and it’s much cheaper and safer than sending the girls to the daycare.
    Of course productivity and prioritizing of tasks play a huge role in my schedule too. There is always a balance between what needs to be done right away and what can wait (I guess this is the reason i don;t spend much time on social media :-))
    Anyway, thanks for a great post. I could relate to it and I am sure that there are many more bloggers/ home business owners who can use your tips. (BTW, the video is superb and your little pirate is absolutely adorable :-))

  37. Great video and post Darren. I have not made it to the full time blogging realm yet, but I have to strike a balance between working, school, blogging and all that goes with it, my wife, and all the rest of life. I wouldn’t change any of that though, anything worth having is worth having to work hard at having. I believe whole-heartedly that I can have a successful blog, finish school, have a great relationship, and a great career. Thanks again for a great post!

  38. Great post Darren. I find myself having to balance work, blogging, a wife, school, the gym, and my own personal development. But in the end, I think anything worth having is worth working hard to post. I know whole-heartedly I can make it all work. Again, great post.

  39. Organization and Communication are the main themes here. I know for me it’s been an evolving system as my business grows and my kids grow. But I’m loving being able to be home for my Autistic Son and taking mid-day “brain break” walks with my Daughter. It’s All Good!

  40. Great article/video Darren :) Time management is the key for me. Setting aside time to complete certain tasks. By no means am I that great at it though. I’m constantly reevaluating my time table. Thanks again!

  41. Cute video. I loved seeing your son.

    My kids are grown, but it’s still important to make enough time for yourself that you have a life and some entertainment. I could work long hours blogging, and sometimes I do. However, you don’t want to work so hard that you impact your health.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  42. Great video and advice Darren. I have been working from home for a number of years and it can be quite a juggling act, especially when the kids are home from school. I totally agree that having a dedicated work area helps the whole family (including me) recognise and understand the difference between work and family time.

  43. When my daughter turned 2 she stopped napping altogether, so my 2 – 3 hours of work time in the afternoon disappeared. Some things that helped me out, is I enrolled her in a mom’s day out program 2 days a week which gave me a good chunk of time to work uninterrupted. I also rearranged my schedule to where I would work in the mornings before she woke up and I recruited some guest bloggers to help me out.

    Working at home is definitely a juggling act, I think the key is remain flexible and to be creative…

  44. Darren,

    Thanks so much for making this video post. As a single parent, it’s been very difficult juggling my online escapades with family life and offline work. My child comes first, but sometimes I feel bad that I’m not producing content on a regular basis as I would like.

    This video help me see that our time is precious and that if I can just do one post a week and make it high quality, then I should be happy with that. Later if I get to the point where I can do a post per day, then “yeah”. But until then, I’m content that I can take my child to the bus stop and be standing there when the bus comes home at the end of the day.

    Still finding the balance,

  45. Great post Darren. My work and family often get intermingled. You gave some good advice..

  46. Wish your family happy and healthy always :)

    I learn a lot about blogging from you. Family is the most important part in our life. How to get blogging/ family balance is a great challenge to me. I got some good advice from you here again. Thanks!

  47. Thanks for creating such a poignant example of this ever-increasing situation: bloggers with family obligations. Your son is precious! Wonder if he’ll be blogging soon? :)

  48. Great post! I appreciate how you talk about the importance of being widely accessible in the beginning–one of my biggest pet peeves is when I have to scour blogs to find any kind of contact information. People can be hesitant to put their contact info out on the web out of fear that they will receive unwanted solicitation, but when a blog is properly targeted, I have found that it is only the right people who reach out.

    In terms of balancing communications, I like your “funnel” approach. I agree that after reaching a certain size, it is important to focus communication efforts into a few manageable places.

    I have found that I am more productive overall and spend less time responding when I limit my email checks to three times a day. Limiting email sessions to 10 a.m., 1p.m., and 5 p.m., for example, allows you to work distraction free the rest of the day.

  49. Darren- Hello! Being the sole provider for my family and running my business from my home, I completely understand your status.. (Its a gift!) I think this is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE posts… Best, Brian-

  50. Great video! You have a smashing house :P

    More to the point, I think it’s important to set time aside in the day and have your own little “headquaters” as that will be the place you will be at full concentration and like you said “away from the distractions”.

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