National Work Life Week is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on well-being at work and a work-life balance.

The week, which is run by Working Families, the UK’s work life balance charity, is an opportunity for organisations to showcase how they support employees’ work life balance and encourage healthy and sustainable ways of working and how organisations strive for a family friendly and flexible working culture.

The effects of trying to balance a career with caring for a family can often leave parents feeling exhausted, deflated and that they are underachieving both in work and as parents.

There are 13 million working mothers and fathers in the UK, making up more than a third of the workforce, but often they feel work can stop people with parental or carer responsibilities from reaching their full potential.

More than one in ten parents have refused a new job and one in ten have said no to a promotion because of a lack of good work life balance opportunities.

Parents are working far beyond their contracted hours, fuelled by burgeoning workloads and an unsupportive organisational culture.

For half of parents and carers, work affects their ability to spend time together as a family often or all the time; and more than a quarter of parents (29 per cent) feel their wellbeing is poor most or all of the time.

Eighty-six per cent of parents in the UK want to work flexibly – but currently under one in five jobs is advertised flexibly. Excessive working hours leads to reductions in productivity, but flexibility pays dividends in terms of employee engagement, motivation and loyalty.

Law firm Watkins & Gunn, which has offices in Newport and Pontypool, prides itself on getting this balance right for its staff.

Elizabeth Meyrick-Marshall, a conveyancing assistant at the firm, has three children under the age of five and has struggled with getting her work life balance right in the past but found that work gave her back her sense of identity.

She said: “I find it difficult sometimes to wear two hats at the same time. Even when I am wearing my 'work hat' my 'mum brain' is ticking away in the background.

“However, I do enjoy being at work and getting to be somebody other than 'Mummy' for part of the day, which is quite important to me because I definitely went through a period after becoming a Mum where I felt I'd lost a bit of my identity, and being at work has helped to regain that a bit.

“I try to keep myself organised as much as possible, at home and in work. There is a whole infrastructure of apps, diaries, calendars and notebooks behind me that keep everything going!

“My head of department is a working mum too, so she understands the realities of juggling both roles and is very supportive.

“I feel that this is more of an issue today as more and more families need a dual income to stay afloat so childcare issues and sickness probably do impact the workplace, and not necessarily just for working mums but for working dads too.

“The hardest thing for me is the feeling of guilt for being away from my children or that I'm not giving 100 per cent to either of my roles.

“Having spoken to other working mums it seems this is a very common feeling and while it's easy to say, 'don't feel bad', just know that it's completely normal and a lot of other working mums feel the same way you do.”

Leah Rhydderch, an associate solicitor, said: “As a working mum I think I manage to get the work-life balance pretty well, although there are days where I feel that I’m not doing either job to my full potential. I have a four-year-old daughter, and so reminding myself that she won’t be a little girl forever and so that focuses my mind in ensuring that I have the balance right.

“My work is demanding as a family solicitor but having a family sometimes forces the issue of having a work life balance for example, having to finish at 5pm to pick up my daughter from nursery. I do feel guilty some days that I can’t take my daughter to school every day and pick her up every day, but I also have a career and I think it’s important that my daughter sees that.

“There are nights where perhaps I am very tired, and I have to work, but that’s the nature of the job.”

“My advice to other mums would probably be take every day as it comes. You are doing an amazing job and don’t compare yourself to other mums.”

Watkins & Gunn runs an in-house programme for staff called Wellness & Gunn which promotes the health and wellbeing of staff. This is achieved by providing internal support via mentoring and peer support, and externally via an Employee Assist Programme.

The firm also supports national events designed to raise awareness about mental health and staff receive mental health awareness training.