Project Details

Self-employment and Non-standard WorkGo Back

Self-employment and Family Life: Constructing work-life balance when you're always on

By: Margo Hillbrecht, Donna Lero

This study explored how men and women who are self-employed and have children living at home construct work-life balance. Guided by the concept of work-life fit, in-depth interviews were conducted with 22 parents who were self-employed and had at least one dependent child. Using thematic analysis, the first theme, "in control", related primarily to schedule flexibility but also extended to income opportunities and, sometimes, to job security. Feelings of control were experienced and expressed in relation to shortcomings of previous job experiences, business location and preferences for raising children. The second theme, "always on" meant that parents expected to be both readily accessible to children and available to clients, while continually pursuing income opportunities. This contributed to time pressure, although some viewed participation in volunteer and children's activities as a form of business networking. Work-life balance was described in terms of time, activity, or experience. Most participants believed self-employment contributes positively, but some question whether work-life balance is possible. Parents mostly followed traditional gender role patterns. Some fathers resisted this arrangement and saw self-employment as a way to participate more actively in family life.

View a pdf of a conference presentation outlining the findings from this project.

A journal article based on this study is planned for publication in a forthcoming issue of Community, Work and Family.

Hilbrecht, M., Lero D. S. Self-employment and Family Life: Constructing work-life balance when you're "always on". Community Work and Family (in press)