This article explores how working parents make sense of family and work life through an analysis of the boundaries between these two domains of daily life. It then assesses the meaning of these boundaries, how parents mediate ‘work’ and ‘home’ according to the symbolic and emotional focus they give to one or both of these domains. The mediating position of parents implies a host of different strategies towards the management of family–work boundaries, on a continuum from ‘integrating’ to ‘separating’ positions. The article then offers an in-depth investigation of the integrating and separating approaches to work and family life, concepts which have been used in this field of research, but never systematically explored. The notion of boundary indicates how working parents’ mediation of work and family is linked to their vital sense of symbolic order and the qualitative data show that this mediation is connected to work and household structures, rather than merely to particular lifestyles.