Gronthe's guide to balance family and WoW life:
Step 1 - Get a family.
Step 2 - Get a life.
Step 3 - Get a scale. You can rob your local High School chemistry lab, but you'll get caught and go to court, at which point you can "borrow" the scales of justice for this exercise. Or you can use your brain power, if your IQ is sufficient.
I will base this guide off of a couple simple parameters: A) That people are either in a state of marriage or unmarraige. I really don't want to get involved in a political, moral, religious debate here, that's not the goal, but I need to define boundaries for this article. B) Within A, people either have kids or do not (by natural birth, adoption, or if you just found a stray kid on the street and brought it home to feed and decided to keep it). So, guided by these simple parameters, let's continue.
Unmarried, No Children:
If you live by yourself and are not attached to anyone, you clearly have the freedom to play as much as you like when you're not at work or at school. I warn you, however, that by doing so in excess may prevent you from ever being attached to anyone at any time in your life, so refer back to Step 2 above.
If you live by yourself but are attached, your time is your own only when you are alone, which may be a lot or a little depending on many life and relationship factors. Bottom line here is that when your significant other wants attention, you give it. Don't try and compromise, don't try and make excuses, just spend time with them and have tons of fun. If you act like you did when you were unattached, you will find yourself returning to said situation.
Unmarried, with children:
I both applaud and feel for you. I have never experienced it personally, but I watched my sister do it for many years. What can I say? Child first, WoW second. Period. If you have a partner in life to help out, great, use the guidance previously provided with this added caveat: it's your child and don't ever put WoW ahead of it for any reason. If they are old enough, include them with your WoW time, sometimes. Not all the time, there are other things that are important for a parent to do than sit their kid by their side as they raid ICC. Anyway, enough of that, let's move on.
Married, No Children:
I've been there, a long time ago, and from what I remember there really wouldn't have been much time to play wow, if ya know what I mean.
Married, With Children:
This is one where I have the most experience, and therefore anything I say is law and absolute truth!!! Or, if you're less willing to believe in my omniscience, let's just assume that I do have one or two useful things to impart to the masses who may be one day in my shoes.
First, settle things with your spouse. I come from the belief that spouse = 1st, children = 2nd. I know that may sound cruel, as in practice I love my children as much as my wife, but let's be honest, it's a different kind of attachment and we need to approach the two relationships differently. But for the purposes of this guide, I am suggesting that it is far more important to please your spouse if you wish to have quality WoW time than it is to please your children. Children always make life hard, that's how kids are made, but your spouse actually has the power to do something about your WoW time where your kids are powerless. Therefore, spouse comes first, children second.
Communicate with your love, let them know who you are and what you love about life (including games). Understanding of character will go a long way in freeing up your own personal time and provide a means whereby you and spouse can balance things. Communication needs to be proactive and lead time needs to be a lot more than you think it should be. Let's assume that you will be raiding with your guild on Friday night, what day of the week should you tell your spouse that you will be indisposed for 3-4 hours on what may usually be a premier date night?
If you said Friday morning, you're an idiot. If you said Thursday, again I say that you are not as smart as you think you are. It is best if you tell your spouse about your raiding schedule approximately 5 days in advance, so in this case it would fall either on Sunday or Monday night. Sunday and Monday nights are good family planning nights, and what better time to claim those raid hours than during a weekly family planning meeting? Express your desire to be with the family, but at the same time your desire to enjoy quality time with "friends" online. Be prepared to make deals with your spouse, you will find the word "capitulation" to be a close friend as you seek 'me time' for your play.
In any relationship, whether you are single or married, compromise is an art form, devised of well timed and well place compliments, carasses, and selfless acts of service. Imagine your bargaining position if you took out the garbage, cleaned the kitched, and changed the baby's diapers WITHOUT BEING ASKED. You don't have to bring up these selfless acts in your negotiations, just make sure they are noticed so that you don't have to lie if asked if you have done anything for the betterment of the family that week.
I am not suggesting to compliment without being genuine, I am saying that you can do it to serve two purposes simultaneously. So be you single or married and attached, with or without children, your demonstrations of good will and caring will go a long way in getting what you want, and finding that balance that you also need in your family.
Added to good communication and acts of good will I will add one more thing. Family first. Yeah, it probably doesn't need to be said to you fine folk reading this guide, but balance can't happen if you don't put a lot onto the family side of the scale. I love to play WoW, I really do. I give to my family and they know it. It's because they see and appreciate what I give to them that they are willing to give back to me, and give me the time that I like to play a game I love. So this simple and obvious rule is actually the one great thing that will give you balance. Call it a law of restoration, what you give will be returned to you. So the more you give selflessly to your family, the more they will be willing to give to you. It makes for a nicely balanced family/gamer life...at least it has for me.
So in conlusion let me say this, remember to talk, remember to touch, remember to live, and remember that your play is made better with people who support you, not fight you. Give time to others and you'll get time in return. Try it, seriously, it'll work. I realize that there are many variations and situation that could not be discussed here, just know that I am aware of those and you need to use whatever pertinent advice you may find in this guide to lead you.
If your significant other plays wow as well, then most of my advice is useless, sort of. Just have fun and good luck!