How to Set Work At Home Boundaries

by Dena-Lynn

in Entrepreneurship

How to Set Work At Home Boundaries

One of my favorite benefits of working from home is that I don’t have an office outside of my house to go to. That’s also one of the most challenging aspects of working from home.

While I have the luxury of working when I choose – looking how I choose – and doing what I choose, working from home can become stressful when my family doesn’t realize that I’m not available for them when I’m engaged in my work. They see me on the computer or on the telephone – seeming to be having fun (which I am), so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that they don’t understand why I’m not available to ______ …. (you fill in the blank). I know that you can if you find yourself in this situation too.

I’ve discovered, though, that with proper training, my family will happily (most of the time) respect my work at home schedule. Yours will too if you follow these suggestions:

Show and tell…

Set specific guidelines. If you are consistently treating your business like a business, they will too. The old adage applies: “You teach people how to treat you.” Have consistent business hours and ideally set up a dedicated workspace. And then, tell your family your specific working times. You’d do the same if you were employed outside of your home, wouldn’t you? It also helps if you have a visible sign that indicates that you are in the work mode. A business partner recently shared that a friend puts on a cap when he’s working – everyone in the family, and neighbors too, know not to disturb him when he’s wearing the “work cap”. Use your creativity and create a fun sign of your own. The more specific and clear your rules, the more readily everyone will abide by them.

Ethical bribery…

Let’s face it – family is family, and despite the best laid plans – they can still be somewhat demanding of your attention. Bribery works! I have no problem with agreeing to a quid pro quo situation. At the end of the day – that’s what life is all about anyway, compromise and give and take. Reward your family for a job well done. And, if you have a specific project that you need to get done, remind your family of the rules, and let them know that you appreciate their understanding by giving them something now or something to look forward to later. Help them be successful, too!

Be strong…

No means no, not maybe. If you give in to whining or pleading, or guilt, you’re only training your family to whine and plead. Not a good thing. Before you give in, ask yourself what you’re training your family to believe about the importance of your work. Then act accordingly. Teaching your family to respect your work rules is really the only way you’ll be able to comfortably work at home.

Since work at home boundaries may be entirely new for your family – and you – expect resistance and an adjustment period. However, don’t be discouraged. Be consistent. Maintain a clear vision and purpose. And, be sure to share your vision and purpose with your family. Before you know it – they’ll all be on board and you may eventually be surprised at their unexpected gestures of support and input towards your business success.

To Your Success,


The challenge of balance between work and family life never seems to go away, it seems. If you’ve found yourself struggling with this – now or in the past – please tell me how you’re managing it all. What kind of boundaries have you set?

If your friends and partners who work from home would find this helpful, pass it on 🙂

© 2011 – 2015, Dena-Lynn. All rights reserved.

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+Dena-Lynn is a Mom, Grammie, Author, MS Warrior, IM Consultant & Professionally Trained Life Coach. Inspiring The Warrior Within to TRIUMPH in a home based business and in life!

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Well said Dena!
I know myself that working from home can take some real self descipline if we are to get through a day and feel successful in what we have accomplished. Friends who make phone calls for “chats” thinking you’re available can also disrupt your flow. So it’s a good idea to set guide lines with them too.
Here’s to your successful work day!
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Chris McCargar

Hey Dena,

It can be a difficult thing to balance, but if you can do it…the rewards far outstrip the challenges! Sounds like you’ve got it down pat!

I find that for me, oddly enough it’s the freedom and often times … the distractions that I allow myself to indulge in… that are my biggest impediment to overcome. So, like Sandra said it’s self discipline that’s required too!

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Working from home has it good sides, but can be challenging. It can be challenging without having others interrupt you. The fact that you can easily walk away from your desk and do other things, makes it hard sometimes to stay concentrated. Your advice to treat your business as a business is a sound one. By defining your hours at work, it should help you stay more on target.
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Miss Leslie

Loved this post, Dena-Lynn. It is challenging to work at home. I do have a building where I teach music lessons, but I have a home office as well. I never get at much done when the retired husband is home because he likes to come in and read things to me or talk to me. I’m not inclined to ask him to leave, although he would willingly do so. We’re in the September of our years, and I’m glad to have him still interested in talking to me and sharing with me :). If I had kids at home still, I don’t know what I’d do.

Wishing you a song in your heart,
Miss Leslie @ Music with Miss
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Carla McNeil, Social Media Coach & Speaker

Ethical bribes I like them too. Although mine are a lot easier as I have no children just 2 dogs and a cat. Today the dogs had to spend time by themselves out in the back yard. Cookies and treats were my ethical bribe today. Worked well.


~ Carla


Beth Allen
Twitter: bethnelsonallen

Oh yes, with little ones at home this is especially challenging because it’s hard for them to understand why mommy’s right in the other room but not accessible! But as they get older, it is definitely important to be clear and consistent about your rules and boundaries, and I’d say equally as important to be able to turn work off and be present with the family…something that can be not so easy when working from home! 🙂

Thanks for a great post, Dena-Lynn.
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John Gaydon

Hi Dena,

After spending many hours on a major project, working from home with a 4 year old, I can relate to this post!

Finding balance between family needs and getting the job done is quite a balancing act, especially when additional projects are thrown into the mix.

Still, it has taught me to focus on one thing at a time. That has definitely helped!
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I think the biggest thing is that when you set boundaries you need to communicate them to your clients, not picking up the phone when you are having family time is great, but not having the phone ringing during family time is golden!


Dave and Dawn Cook

Hi Dena-Lynn,
I like the way you have addressed this subject that is so key to having a happy work life when you have the privilege of being able to work from home. It is pretty tough to manage. I can say that it gets a bit easier as your children get older, but your ideas still apply.

My favorite idea I liked from your post was the wearing of a cap to let family members know that you are in work mode and can’t currently be disturbed. I don’t always like myself in a cap so I may come up with something similar, but I really like the idea of something obvious that can’t be missed…ok, maybe the hat is the best idea.

Thanks so much, Dena-Lynn for your great insight on this issue that so many of us deal with.

Dawn and (Dave)
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Deb Augur
Twitter: mywebgal

Hi Dena,

Those are excellent tips. While I don’t have kids at home I used to have difficulties when trying to set boundaries with friends and neighbors. I think sometimes when people think about those of us that work from home, they often think we’re not really working. Especially when they don’t see us at our computers all day long! For the most part my friends and neighbors now get it… after 6 1/2 years of living here and 10 years of working online but I know others have the same issue. Well written post with great ideas on how to set boundaries. Great work!
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Well you have to set your home office like a work office to be more focues and organized it just makes sense. This is a great post Dena. I have not been here in a while will come back soon


Alexander Paul runs MeetAlexanderPaul
Twitter: AlexanderPaul

Hi Dena-Lynn,

First of all I like your blog setup and the layout. Nice piece of Internet real estate you put together. Myself I’m still full time employed (9-5) and can fully relate to above post. I’m a dad of two and the time after the JOB is very precious during work days not to miss out. But my longing to build my own business keeps me often up long after midnight to get daily tasks done. So to set boundaries works for me only over the weekends and these needs to be balanced as well due to that are the only days I’m free for them. Good suggestion you added here to make it visible for the family when your ‘working hours’ are… Thx again for this post!

All the best,

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Sigal Zoldan

Very well put Dena. I work from home and have trained myself (to some degree) to set boundaries. Even though I don’t have children yet that ask for my attention, I am finding that silent things like dishes, vacuum cleaner (that is pretty silent until you press the button), the plans that would really like to get more water, lunch and dinner can call me while I am on the phone or reading an email.

Of course I am exaggerating, yet as much as I wanted to work from home I have moved partially to work in coffee shops and the local library whenever is possible.

This is a great post. I’ll be sharing it with others. Thanks.

Sigal Zoldan
Still Single?
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Kyle Nelson

Hey Dena-Lynn!
What an amazing post you have. It has really helped me re evaluate the way my work at home is. I really enjoyed your tips on making sure everyone knows your in Work Mode 🙂 That is an awesome idea! All of our dreams to work at home but the key is to keep that dream alive and don’t turn it in to a “job”. The way I look at it is getting paid for my hobby, Helping people 🙂
God Bless,
Kyle Nelsson
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Beth Hewitt

Hi Dena,

You are so true! It is great working from home but it has it’s draw backs too. There is always something else that could be done…but I love the sense of satisfaction when you get a good days work done at home. Nothing beats that feeling.

Beth 🙂
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Willena Flewelling

Very good post, Dena-Lynn! Simple but effective.

My biggest distraction is not my family, but myself! I am a mom of 7, and homeschooled all of my children till three years ago. I always thought it was the kids who had me going in a hundred directions at once. But when the older ones moved away and I sent the younger ones to school, I discovered how undisciplined I was!

Having a set time for working is the best way to go even if I am alone much of the day.

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Melissa McCloud

thank you dena lynn, this is an important conversation to have with your family if you work from home! i encourage my new team members to sit down and explain with their families WHY they are building their business. even though it may cut into family time in the beginning, when the kids know you’re working for THEIR future, they are pushing mommy into the office and telling her to get to work! sometimes we assume that our family knows why we’re working so hard, but unless we lay it out for them and constantly remind them of our “whys” it can get frustrating.
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jodi lee
Twitter: theecoblogger

Great post. It does take discipline to work at home!!
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Allegra Sinclair
Twitter: AllegrasTweets

Hey there! Ethical bribery?! I am stealing that and can’t wait to use it in a sentence!
I think one of the strengths of your post is that you need to do whatever you do and not be divided. So, if it’s time to work, you work and you don’t feel guilty about that. And when it’s time to spend time with your family, you do that with a clear conscience as well. So much of the distractions we have when working from home come from the emotional baggage. Your ideas on successfully navigating through the challenges are thoughtful and easy to implement. Thanks! Allegra
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Heather Taskovics

You nailed it right on the head, Dena! Setting boundaries for your home business will definitely enable you to be more efficient and productive. I especially love the “bribery” recommendation and am more than willing to go that route with my daughter! 😉

Thanks so much for sharing this!

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Rick Salas

Hi Dana, wish I had it all figured out like you do. Time management could be a hard thing to grasp on to but I do my best. I’ll surely pass some rules and how important my work is. What a great way to spend more time with the family.

Rick Salas
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Andy Nathan

Bribery is generally a good policy with family! My wife and I negotiate like pros when discussing work hours and other work-home boundary challenges. 1 more hour of work in exchange for going out to XYZ.


peter chapman

Hi Dena,
Yes working from home has its challenges.
I remember when I used to have a “proper” job I used to dream of being able to sit at home and work when I wanted…no more working to someone elses pace.
What I found though, is that I am a worse boss to myself than any work based boss has been. So I am finding out that I need to cut down my hours and get things in balance.
The internet can be invasive, addictive and sometimes it is difficult to concentrate on focussed action.
So your post is full of wisdom and insight that will definitely help the online marketer and full time bloggers

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This is sooooo true! I had a virtual breakdown today over this very issue. You can only be pulled on so much before you just snap. People do not seem to understand that when you are working at home you are actually working. This is a great topic.


Teach Jim
Twitter: teachjim

Managing your work is always a challenge. Balancing the demands of family and work can result in battle lines drawn. So good you give us each a way to balance the expectations to all are fully aware of the goals, dreams and unified efforts required.

Good to see you have such a great way of putting it out there for us to engage in the important family discussion as we grow into the balance we each need.
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Maggie Lancy

Excellent post.

Treat it like a business, it will pay you like a business.
Work ethics still go at home.
Thanks for sharing


Rick Salas

I’m glad I found your post Dena. I’ve always had a problem with this but never even thought of how to handle it. Thanks you so much for these great tips on how to set up work at home boundaries. Can’t wait to get started.
Rick Salas
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Hi Dena

You really talk about something that not every one
think about if they work from home.

It all make sens to me, If you work from home it mean you work from home
for your self and you are the boss so if you do not act like a boss towards your
self and every one at home then you mite just go and work for a BOSS.

Yes your time is yours and you need to explain it to your family how you
plan your time for them and for your business teach them that time = Money
and that they need to respect you money time as joy respect the time you dedicate
to them.

Great post 🙂 100 out of 10 for this post.

Make it a great week.

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Lesly Federici

Hey Dena,
Luckily I do everything during the day, then have time with family in the evening. I only have one child but I admire those families with more than one. Being strong is a big part of it too. Great post, made me appreciate family life even more because it’s what matters most, and you only get one. 🙂


Lesly Federici

Great Seth Godin video. He is so right. I am starting a movement “Be a Birth Leader” you can read about it on my blog. 🙂
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Marquita Herald

Very nice article, and I completely agree with setting boundaries – for both you and your family. It’s so important to shut that door at some point so they are getting your full attention. I’m single, but my adorable little dog Lucy keeps me centered. She has a great knack for forcing me into periodic breaks – for us that means getting outside for walks and enjoying the sunshine.
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William Earl Amis, Jr. III

Family, time and balance is this a perfect subject you have harnessed! I love it…

That creating a place to work, is so true. I have an office in my home, with an open door policy, being only me and my wife, of 17 years. She is understandable, up to the time, when I don’t want lunch or dinner. She reminds me of, health first! You need your energy if to share the love!

There are only those times, when company for my wife, will pop-over. Well, that is when I must so patients and self-control. I just enjoy people and will lose momentum. I have been at this for over 30 years. So, I am at the point where, free time is more now! That is not the case for many, of your readers.

I agree, with every detail, set time and keep to it. If not, this will seem not to be enjoyable, and that is when that doubt, will set in. You will get family telling you it was better, when you were not home, working. Don’t believe that, for one moment. You are still loved. Just remember, when you reach that level of having more time, to give back to the family. They will appreciate that, determination and self-discipline, you have demonstrated. Keep on being you!

Thank you for sharing, well delivered, and needed, topic. It will help all readers. I will exposed it, to more people. Great Work!
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Jaclyn Castro

How creative…a working hat, huh? Love it! I’m gonna definitely come up with something of my own. It really CAN be challenging when setting boundaries while working at home.

About ethical bribery…I believe that’s fine too, just as long as it’s exactly THAT…ethical. I do believe that you can’t expect something for nothing, right? 🙂

And yes, what will our family learn if we are not consistent with our own set rules? How will that affect them in their life? This is definitely where personal development comes in to play. Life is a lesson…let’s teach the best lessons to those we love…for sure.

I really enjoyed reading your article Dena-Lynn. I can totally relate to everything you talked about.

Now, what creative thing to do besides wearing a hat. It’s hot enough over here in Guam! haha
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Jaclyn Castro

Hey Dena-Lynn,
Just wanted to stop by and tell you that I decided on my show and tell/visual sign. When I am in work mode I clip on a large white flower on my hair. It’s so cute how my 3 1/2 year old son knows even more now not to disrupt me when I am wearing it.

I’m glad you shared this post with us. It has always crossed my mind…”How can I simply but nicely let my family members know not to interrupt my work flow. The sign on the door seemed to harsh for me. The flower on my head follows me where ever I go so they know to treat me as if I was AT WORK no matter where I am in the house.
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Jaden Daniels

I love the part about wearing a work cap. I am going to have to try that. I am in the process of moving, and my wife and I are staying with my mom and step-dad. It has been hard to treat my home based business like a business. Even though this is temporary, I need to get down to business…that is why I like the cap idea.

Thanks for sharing,
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Brandon Wraith
Twitter: BrandonWraith

The “work at home cap” is such a good idea, it lets every one know that you are busy but in a very easy to understand way. It saves you having to interrupt your train of thought to answer their demands. It takes time, but those who surround you will adjust, it’s ingrained in their minds that when you are at home, you can answer to every whim and question they might have, and now that you have your own business you are not always available.

These are great tips for those who have young children especially because it takes longer for them to understand

Thanks Dena Lynn 🙂
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Janette Stoll
Twitter: janettestoll

Hi Dena,

So true what you said! The challenges are never ending when you’re balancing work and home life especially when you have little kids. It’s a lot harder for them to understand boundaries. Now that my kids are a bit older it’s much easier for them to “get it” when mom has to take an important call. I’ve been successful, so far :)), to manage most of my busiest work load in the AM when my kids are in school so the afternoons are devoted to them. Having an iPhone has made a huge difference for checking in with social media or touching base while on the go with my kids. Highly recommend it!

Thanks for sharing!

Janette Stoll


Bryan McHeyzer

Hi Dena,
Excellent topic… something anyone working form home need to realise if they want it to be a success.
People need to realise just cause you are at home does not mean it’s cuppa time.
Used to have visitors all the time until I had to tell them to keep away as I was working.

I don’t work from home full time …. as a result when my car is in the driveway people would drop in.

Most people (family & friends) respond well after being told what you are doing.
As with most things in life ..communication is the key.

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Ross Joyner
Twitter: rossjoyner

Dena, As I am 63 and my children are all grown, I was laughing all the way through your article. I have been in my own business for 40 years and when my 3 children were around I had a little training of my own to do with them. Working at home sometimes is much harder than just going to work. With a little training though you will get through. Dena I really enjoyed your article. It made me smile. Make it a Great Week!
PS Dena are you involve with Video Marketing, I may not have the company name right.
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Shanae Branham

Hi Dena,
This is an excellent article. I had never thought about using a visual sign to tell my children I am working. It is a great idea. Since school is about to get out with summer break upon me, it will be a good idea to stay consistent, use the same workplace, reward my children for being respectful of my business hours and use a visual signal to tell them when I am working. Awesome! I am really glad I stopped by.


Patricia Gozlan

Hi Dena,
very nice post on work-life balance.
I have written a lot on this issue and the shortest tip I give on this issue is to listen to our body before taking action.
Our body “knows” much more than our head.
Our intuition and body when asked where to give priority now, is a great way to start.
I believe it is much easier done than said.
Thanks for sharing and nice meeting you here!



Hi Dena-Lynn, thank you for your tips on how to set boundaries while working from home. I know how hard it is because I have been through this too. They really don’t understand why my attention is at the computer. By this article of yours, it is really helpful for me. I could explain well to them now and I can spend a quality time with my family. Thank you!
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