Meet Clare. Fabulous Clare who just says it how it is. A realist when it comes to her career and what’s actually achievable in those early years. Clare has two children (four and 19 months) and is only now just starting to think about how she can progress her career. Up until now, it hasn’t been a priority. We sat down with Clare to find out a little more.
Did you career change after becoming a mama? Were you more or less ambitious?
Definitely less ambitious. I had sort of made the decision when starting parental leave that I had climbed as far as I really wanted to go in terms of leadership and that my next role was going to be more about working directly with those at an operational level, and not so much about leadership.
In returning to the same company I benefited from already having credibility with my key stakeholders so I never felt as though people resented me for not being available every day. They trusted I would still get the work done, so I could focus on my job and not the management stuff. I enjoyed my work a lot more.
Having said that, after now having my second—and final—child I am keen to find a new role in the short term where I can have more influence and leadership. This decision has been made as my babies grow older, become a bit more independent and I move away from the sleepless nights. I now feel mentally that I would be able to take on a more demanding role and possibly increase my working days from three to four.
If you could go back and change anything about how you managed your career through parental leave, it would be…
Nothing really about my parental leave journey. I probably would have liked to have been kept in the loop a little bit more while I was on leave and invited to a few events, even if I couldn’t have gone. But it wasn’t anything significant and I didn’t feel totally disconnected when I returned.
What are your top tips for managing your career through parental leave?
Make your intentions known before and during your parental leave about how involved you want to be. Do you want to have regular catch ups? Communications? Do work if applicable? Be upfront about this and how you want to be communicated with and make sure if your intentions change that you also communicate this.
We don’t believe in work life balance …. we like to call it work life harmony! What are your views and how do you manage the juggle?
It’s important your partner understands what’s important to you and how that will impact balancing work and family. My partner knew that working was important to my well-being and I wouldn’t be satisfied being the only primary carer once I returned to work. He is very involved and also works part time. This meant that we were both sharing working, parenting and domestic work. Because he also had a full day at home with our daughter, he understood the day-to-day issues and joys of looking after a baby. This was invaluable in understanding what it was like to be the one who stayed at home. It also meant he didn’t have to be told how to look after our daughter and I could just walk out the door without having to prepare him. We also get help with shopping and meals using online deliveries. It takes the time pressure off but also the thinking pressure. Whatever you can afford to outsource, I recommend getting the help. Cleaning, ironing, dog walking, whatever makes it easier. You may only need it for 12 months or until you get yourself back into the routine. But it could be worth the short term investment in your sanity!
Lastly, at the end of a busy week, how do you positively re-energise?
Wine, wine and wine and also exercise, going for a walk outside, with or without bubs.
- Favourite time of the day is … work days—when I sit down with that first cup of coffee and turn on my email to start the day in silence without kids. Home days—when kids are either eating dinner or in the bath as husband arrives home and I pour a glass of wine. Phew, solo shift over and a pat on the back for getting through another day.
- Instagram sites that inspire you … Rebecca Judd, she has a glamorous life, yes, but she is still obviously managing a young family, the early wake ups, homework, lots of different work and she showcases the help she gets too.
- I’m happiest when … I have a glass of wine and my kids are playing happily together and not requiring my intervention. Or if I was on a beach in a tropical location.
- Favourite wardrobe staple for work … stretchy dresses, comfy clothes that I don’t have to think about coordinating tops and bottoms.
- Favourite wardrobe staple for weekend …long cardigans.
- Heels or flats? Flats all the way or in between with a wedge.
Clare is mama to Olivia, four, and Freddie, 18 months, and works as a business partner for a professional services firm in Melbourne.