Carys Evans sure doesn’t do things by halves.
Soon after returning from nine months parental leave following the birth of her daughter, Tegan, Carys was promoted into the role of Acting Director of Land, Information and Spatial Services in the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) for the Victorian State Government. She is currently acting in this role while her Director, Amelia Chapman, is on parental leave.
This meant learning the ropes of a completely new role and managing a large team of experts.
If that wasn’t enough of a logistical challenge for the new family, her partner, Michael, also got promoted around the same time.
Sharing the caring
Carys says the pair have managed their increased workloads by sharing the parenting duties 50/50.
The couple take turns with the childcare drop offs and pick-ups. And if one of them finds themselves in a position where they have to be in the office late or are snowed under with work, the other one picks up the slack.
It’s never assumed that it will always be Carys who has to stay home on the odd occasion that Tegan is sick. Or that she will be the one who has to do the lion share of the housework.
“Mike really encouraged me,” she says.
“He said, straight away, if you want to do this, we will make it work. And we have.”
How Carys manages the juggle
One of the reasons that Carys has been able to juggle her increased responsibilities is thanks to her daughter.
“We have been really lucky because she has slept through the night since she was six weeks old,” she says of her now 15-month-old.
“I keep waiting for that to change because that’s what everyone has warned me would happen. But she’s just a very good sleeper. There’s no way I could have taken on this job if I was sleep deprived and dealing with baby brain.”
In the end, the biggest hurdle Carys faced upon returning to work was managing her own expectations for herself.
“I’ve had to become more comfortable with the idea that I don’t have to do everything perfectly all the time,” she says.
“My boss (Melissa Harris, Executive Director, Strategic Land Assessment and Information) has been very supportive through this as well. Melissa has made it really clear that I need to stay strong on the boundaries between my home and work life. Her support has been incredible.”
Interestingly, when Carys first went off on parental leave she thought it would mean she had to give up her professional ambitions, at least in the short term.
Of course, she couldn’t have been more wrong.
“I really worried about what would happen to my career, at least for the next couple of years,” she says.
“I thought, well I will have been away for a year and then it will take some time to get back into the swing of things, then I would have to wait for the right opportunity to come up. Plus, I would have been out of sight and out of mind.”
“If I could go back and talk to myself about all that, I would say that parental leave isn’t a full stop in a career.”
Carys says there have been great benefits in taking on such a big job now that she is a mother.
“I think if we had become directors before we had Tegan, we would have ended up spending all our time at the office,” she says.
“Mike and I are both ambitious; we want to challenge ourselves and do everything to the best of our ability.
“But because I have to get home to Tegan it means that I can’t stay at the office until all hours. I have to let some things go or delegate them. Being a parent has forced us to have better work life balance.”
Check out Carys Evans’ tips for a smooth handover below.
Tips for a smooth transition
In the many coaching sessions we’ve conducted over the years, women transitioning out of the workplace tell us one of two things, either they want the person who is replacing them to be good…but not quite as good as them. Or, they tell us their manager is redistributing their workload amongst the whole team…so are they technically redundant?
“How long are you taking off?” “How many days are you returning?” “Who is looking after your child?” “Are you sure you’ll be able to handle all that?” “But what about his career?”
Grace Papers is here to help you answer all these questions and more. We support you to know what you need, and get what you want. To manage the transitions whilst still realising your full professional potential and staying true to your parenting legacy.
There are many external factors influencing your return to work decisions, from finances to accessible childcare, but there are also many internal factors you can control. By properly preparing yourself and those around you, and by considering who you are and what you want, you will be successful in transitioning in and out of the workforce while starting a family.
Here are some tips from Carys Evans for a smooth handover.
Carys Evans’ Guide to a Smooth Handover:
1. Spend time together: try to get some overlap with the person you are filling in for to make the transition easier. If that’s not possible even a few key meetings can provide great context.
2. References are key: Having access to some good notes that discuss the status and next key steps in the job are a great reference.
3. Get to know each other: make sure you find out about your team, what motivates them and their most valuable skills. You’re likely to have to lean on them a bit in the first few months.
4. Keeping in touch: if the other person is happy to exchange contact details it can be helpful to reach out to them for those tricky questions or just to keep them in the loop.
5. Give yourself some time: you’ll never think of everything, so don’t worry if you don’t know everything day one.
Jump back into the Grace Papers program and get support for your handover.