What practical advice is there for progressing in the game while being a player with RL obligations?
First off, I'd like to tell you that you're not an outlier, there are many of players in similar situations. Nearly all WoW players have real life obligations including work, school, and families. The two most important things to work on are balance and realistic expectations.
It's easy to get suckered into playing too much WoW. To balance WoW with life, you need to determine how much time you can spend in game, while leaving plenty to meet your other responsibilities. If you can, try to schedule WoW at regular times, that way you build relationships with folks you play with often.