I’m a successful middle aged man who spends a great deal of time at work to make a secure life for my family. However, my long working hours are causing some tension at home. My wife wants me to spend more time with the kids and finds it hard to understand why I can’t.

Getting the balance right isn’t always easy. The increasing pressure put on people to work long hours is well-documented and causes endless stress, but perhaps we can often get caught in a trap of believing that the more we work, the more productive we are. This isn’t often the case. Relaxing and spending quality time with those you love refuels your spirit and keeps your mind and body healthy, meaning you are often able to perform even better at work. So, consider this: Could you work smarter? Have a really good look at the way you work and ask yourself if you caught in a trap of working long hours because other people do the same. Getting your priorities right is also important. Family life is fundamental to your success just as much as work. So, carving out quality time to spend with your family might not only alleviate the tension, but also increase your sense of well-being.

We had house help for a long time but discontinued her services recently. I made it clear that now we have to all chip in and help around in the house. My children are willing to, but only if I offer some incentive. I detest doing that. Any ideas?

For starters, point out the positives to helping out – they will be learning valuable life skills such as responsibility and organisational skills, and doing this will allow their parents to spend more quality time with them as they aren’t busy cleaning up after them all the time. It’s a good idea to build in a reward system, so they are rewarded each week for achieving everything on the list. For older kids, you can formalise pocket money and for younger children perhaps a regular small weekly treat. Positive expectations and remarks also go a long way in keeping a child motivated and taking away some of their privileges as a punishment if they fail to rise to the challenge. Finally, try and introduce elements of fun into it. Make a game out of tidying up for younger kids and set shorter time limits for older kids to help motivate them.