In honour of Mental Health Awareness Week this year, Bachy Soletanche Project Manager, Ba Dan Nguyen, shares his advice for managing stress and finding balance as a working parent.

As a working parent, especially of younger children, you can often feel guilty as you want to be at home to spend time with them or look after them if they get ill. Sometimes it can feel impossible to strike the right balance between work and family life. If you’re not careful, this can easily lead to stress and burnout. With this in mind, I’d like to share some techniques that have helped me to manage my stress and find more balance in all areas of my life.

Ba Dan Nguyen Project Manager portrait photo
1. Expect the unexpected

The most challenging part of finding balance as a working parent is definitely the logistics – working out timings, fitting it all in and getting your work and family lives to exist in harmony.

To achieve this, I’ve found that I have to be really organised and manage my time well. Having a family and work calendar is essential to make sure I don’t forget anything important. I also find it’s important to plan well ahead and to not overfill my schedule to leave space for those unforeseen tasks that often crop up.

As a parent, there will always be something unexpected thrown your way, so learning to prioritise and delegate tasks where necessary is vital. This really helps to make sure I’m not overburdening and placing too much unnecessary stress on myself.

2. Transparency is key

It’s important to communicate honestly and consistently with your team about your current parental responsibilities, and what this means for your availability and capacity at work.

This will help build trust, therefore, improving your relationship with your team and helping them to be more understanding of your situation. As long as you’re transparent and open to compromise, then you should be able to find a way of working that allows you to achieve more balance. I appreciate this approach may not work for every role but there are options available once the discussion has started.

3. Let go of guilt

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself as this can negatively impact your mental health, as well as your ability to perform at work and at home. Accept that you can’t be perfect and do everything exactly as you did before having children. You’ll have to make some adjustments and compromises. If you need to, don’t be afraid to ask to rearrange a meeting or extend a deadline a couple of days if you have too much on your plate.

Also, try to let go of any guilt around having to divide your attention between your work and family. Remember that your job is an important and necessary part of you supporting your family, so give yourself a break.

Additionally, you won’t always be able to split your time equally and strike an even balance. Different things will take priority at different moments – and that’s okay. Try to remain flexible and readjust your focus to see which parts of your life need more attention.

4. Look after yourself, as well as your family

Take some time for yourself whenever you can, whether that’s on your lunch break or in the evenings – even if it’s just 15 minutes a day doing something that you enjoy and that helps you to de-stress.

Make sure you’re not neglecting your basic needs – that includes taking care of your mental and physical health. Although this can be difficult when you have a million and one things on your to-do list that feel more important, taking time to care for yourself will only allow you to be a better parent and employee.

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5. Ask for help and reach out to other parents

Communicate with your colleagues, especially those with children. There are so many parents of young children but a lot of them are probably not communicating with each other. Try to build relationships with them so you can support each other.

You could even set up a parenting network with your colleagues to share advice and help each other find solutions. You could also reach out to friends, family and neighbours for support with childcare or to set up a car-pooling system.

Along with this, try to open up if you’re struggling. Looking after our mental health and stress levels are so important, especially when you’re a working parent. Talking to someone is the best place to start – whether that’s a trusted colleague, your manager, a mental health first aider or someone in your HR team.

6. Establish clear boundaries

Making sure you disconnect from work as much as possible when you’re at home is hugely important for looking after your wellbeing and managing your stress. This means sticking to your set working hours and turning off your email notifications when you’re not working.

Although it often doesn’t feel enjoyable, commuting to and from work can actually help you to separate your work and personal lives. It gives you some much needed time to switch off from work so by the time you get home, you’ll be ready to give your family your undivided attention.

If you work from home, it can be a bit more difficult to create that separation. However, you could try to go for a walk before and after work or pack your work items away at the end of each day to help delineate the boundaries between home and work life.

Most importantly, for successful work-life balance, give whatever you’re doing your full attention. When you lead a busy life, remember that the quality of the time you spend in a specific area is much more important than the quantity. When you’re at home, try to be present with your children and make the most of the time you get with your family.


More information on Mental Health Awareness Week can be found here.

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