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Tips for a seamless maternity leave return

By Kim Gillan | Presented by Aptamil Toddler|

The end of parental leave can spark a length of to-do list like few other life experiences.

And on top of the practical logistics of childcare forms, bag packing and drop-off timetables, there's the emotional minefield of trying to ensure everyone in the family is transitioning to the "new normal" well.

To help smooth out the process, we spoke to motherhood health specialist Dr Ali Young, author of Work Mama Life, to get her tips on making a positive transition back to work after entering parenthood.

1.????? Get it all on paper

In the weeks or months leading up to work, Dr Young says there's a lot of value in jotting down what's on your mind.

"Spending some time thinking about what ideally will happen before you start doing it, is a really great place to start," she says.

"Try and map it out a bit so you can [allow time] to fill your cup and fill your toddlers' cup and decrease the stress of trying to do everything. It might be, 'In an ideal world, I'll go to work earlier and finish earlier so I get the afternoon'."

2.????? Find the right daycare

When it comes to finding the best daycare option for your little one, Dr Young suggests following your gut.

"Consider location and price, ideally finding somewhere that's convenient for you and your partner for drop-off and pick-up," she says.

"For my two children, I chose daycare closer to work than home because if something happened, we would be closer."

Finding a centre that provides nappies and meals might help reduce your mental load, as will finding a place that suits your toddler's temperament.

"Think about your values as a family," Dr Young suggests. "You might want somewhere where kids get more outdoor nature play, it might be about arts and crafts or maybe a hyper clean environment is important to you."

3.????? Start your day the night before

Mornings can be frantic trying to get everyone out the door, so Dr Young suggests knocking over any jobs you and your partner can the night before.

"It might be getting lunchboxes packed and daycare bags ready to go," she says.

"I'm a big fan of cooking an extra meal and freezing one so that on afternoons when things go pear-shaped, you've got a meal prepared and don't have to rely on takeaway."

4.????? Have a sickness contingency

The early days of childcare can go hand-in-hand with sickness, so you can save yourself some future stress if you've made a game plan in advance.

"My husband and I share who stays at home, which is really helpful," Dr Young says.

"Have some other back-up options too C I've given my sick kids to friends who had the day off before."

5.????? Book in "me" time

Socialising can slide for many parents returning to work, but Dr Young says it's arguably one of the most important things for working parents.

"Even though you might have moments when you feel like you haven't seen your toddler enough, maintain your connection with 'your people' because that is what is going to be your saviour in the long run," she says.

"Our brain is wired to connect with other people so if we lose the connection with our inner circle, we are more likely to get more stressed. Whereas if we have that connection, neurologically our brain sort of takes a deep breath."

6.????? Lap up the small moments

Life as a working parent can be busy, so Dr Young suggests celebrating moments of connection in the mundane.

"Find those joy points in your day, where it's just you and your child C it might be driving in the car playing carpool karaoke together," she says.

Above all, Dr Young wants to reassure working parents that once the dust settles, there's a lot of joy to be had in being a breadwinner.

"It can be one of the greatest feelings in the world," she says. "You are filling your cup through work and your kids are getting to hang out with their mates and your family gets to find a good rhythm to it."

Preparing to return to work? Aptamil Toddler contains key nutrients to help support your child's immune system*, so you can return to work feeling confident. Visit Aptanutrition for advice on Returning Ready. *Vitamin B6 & B12 to support the immune system, when prepared as directed & consumed as part of a healthy varied diet. When diet may not be adequate. General advice only.