Friday, February 28, 2014

What are my child care options?

Childcare is a hot topic in the news of late with the Government’s Productivity Commission inquiry into early learning services. For those new parents embarking on childcare for the first time or those who are simply finding their current arrangement isn’t working for them we’ve put together a list and run down of the most common types of childcare available in Australia to choose from.

Private Arrangements

This includes care by family and friends, for fees or otherwise, as well as people who have some children in their home under private arrangements.

For people who have this option available, it can be a good starting point for child care as both parents and child find it more familiar. Depending on the arrangements, this can also be the cheapest option.

This is often a flexible arrangement and generally no paperwork needs to be completed. However, unless the carer registers, you will not be entitled to any Child Care Benefit (CCB) on any fees charged.

Family Day Care

Family Day Care is a government regulated and accredited service that provides care for children up to the age of 12 years within the registered carer’s home. Carers are offered support through an established network, either local government, church or a similar community body, but are not required to have any formal training. Registered carers are selected and monitored by professional Child Care Coordination Unit staff. The Family Day Care Coordination Unit provides ongoing personal and professional development to carers to assist them in maintaining quality child care.

The age of the children in care will determine the number of children a Family Day Carer can accept. The maximum number of pre-school aged children is 5. This small number allows for more individual care in a home environment.

A benefit of Family Day Care, depending on your particular carer, is you can arrange flexible hours including overnight stays, weekend care, after school hours, part-time and holiday care. This is useful for those mums and dads who work shift work.

In most Family Day Care situations you will need to provide all of your child’s food and drinks for the day.

You can receive the Child Care Benefit while using Family Day Care. One disadvantage of Family Day Care is that if your carer is ill you will need to make alternative arrangements for your child’s care. Also you should be aware that as there is only one carer on duty at any time, there is no daily monitoring of performance and standards and there may be periods of time when your child may be unsupervised while the carer is attending to the needs of the other children.

Centre Based Child Care or Long Day Care

Long Day Care centres are facilities that are operated by either private or government bodies and provide care that covers the normal working day for parents. Hours of operation broadly fall into 7.30 am to around 6 pm (of course each centre will have its own business hours) and most are open 10 hours per day Monday to Friday. They must be licensed by the Department of Community Services to operate.

Child care places can be few and far between and you may need to place your name on a number of waiting lists (which can be quite long) and this will normally incur a waitlist fee.

Daily fees will vary a great deal between each centre and you will need to establish what is being provided as part of the service. For example:
  • Will all meals be provided?
  • Are nappies included in the fee or will I need to provide my own?
  • Do I need to provide a sheet set for rest time?
Be aware, in the event that you are running late at the end of the day, most centres will charge a late pick-up fee. Find out what their policy is in advance.

Australian parents should be able to receive the Child Care Benefit through your child care centre. This can be as a reduced daily amount or as a lump sum at the end of the financial year. For more information about the Child Care Benefit visit the Family Assistance Office website at or phone 13 61 50.

Occasional Care

Occasional Care is exactly that, it’s for occasional use and available for 0-6 year olds. Many parents use this care for casual appointments, study, and casual work or for an occasional break from the kids. It is often provided by community groups, churches, or local councils. The staff at an Occasional Care centre are not necessarily trained in child care and some may be volunteers. Despite the term ‘occasional’, many such centres require bookings and regular usage whilst some require a booking for up to a week in advance. All centres with booking systems are likely to expect payment whether or not the child attended a booked session.


Pre-school is a preparation for your child before commencing school. There are quite large variations between the states as to the format and timing of starting pre-school so for more information you will need to seek clarification from your local government.

In general, pre-school is available to children between the ages of 3-5 and the hours of operation are either a morning or afternoon session, 5 days per week or a couple of days a week between 9 am-3 pm.

If your pre-school / private kindergarten is a Registered Carer with the Family Assistance office you may be able to claim Child Care Benefit.

Nanny, Au pair or Babysitter

The arrangements that you make with a nanny or babysitter are a private transaction between you and your chosen carer. They do not have to be licensed or approved by the government and as a result no Child Care Benefit is claimable.

This type of care means that your child can be cared for in their own home environment and allows for greater flexibility in the hours you select, although this usually comes at a price with nanny and babysitting services charging quite a high premium.

Many people find using a nanny agency to help select their child’s carer useful. Agencies will have ensured that all of their candidates comply with the conditions of the ‘Working with Children Check’ (WWC), have a current first aid certificate and will have checked their references. They will also attempt to match all of your requested criteria to a suitable candidate which may possibly reduce the number of people you will have to interview.

Some issues you will need to consider when engaging a nanny:
  • Are you happy to allow your child to travel in a car with the carer?
  • Will you provide a car and what are their driving skills like? Go for a drive yourself with them as part of the interview.
  • Will the nanny be prepared to do light housework, meal preparation etc.
  • What activities and programs will they engage in with your child?

In Home Care

There is an In Home Care scheme available throughout Australia that is coordinated and monitored by a government agency that assists with finding, and monitoring the care for some members of the community. The service was introduced in 2001 and access is still quite limited.

To be eligible for this assistance you must fall within one of the following categories:
  • You are unable to meet your child care needs with an existing service.
  • A shift worker or rural family who cannot access normal child care services.
  • You are a breastfeeding mother working from home and unable to use regular child care services.
  • You are a working mother after a multiple birth (3 babies or more) and unable to access suitable child care.
  • A family where the parent/s or child has an illness / disability.
Child Care Benefit is available for this service and is income-tested. The income test is based on your total household income.

For more information, contact The Child Care Access Hotline 1800 670 305.

Extract from the Working Parents Toolkit.
Kate Sykes, Rebecca Harper, Karen Miles, Emma Walsh 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Women in leadership who have had employer-sponsored coaching… we want to hear from you!

Just 26% or organisations in Australia and New Zealand have a clearly defined strategy to attract and retain women long enough to reach senior leadership positions, according to women’s leadership research conducted by Mercer in 2010. What’s more women in leadership positions identified insufficient career development, promotion pathways, mentoring provision, childcare cost and childcare availability as primary barriers to equality in the workplace (Committee for Economic Development of Australia, 2013).

If you are a woman in a leadership role this is your chance to contribute to the growing evidence that is helping lead to change cultural norms and organizational policies to support gender equality in the workplace.

I am collaborating with Jen North on a research study to explore what impacts the success of employer-sponsored coaching for women in leadership positions returning to work after a career break. The topic has been selected as an area of growing importance and we hope it will contribute to the academic literature available in the coaching arena.

To complete her research Jen will be interviewing a number of women who have received coaching to assist them with their return to work.

The interviews will take approximately 30 minutes and may be conducted face-to-face or over the phone. The interviews will take place between Thursday 20 March and Friday 28 March 2014 (with some flexibility available).

The research process is carefully managed through the University of Wollongong and specific requirements around ethics, participant information sheets and consent forms must be adhered to.

To ensure honest and accurate results confidentiality is paramount so your identity and the organisation you work for will not be revealed nor referred to in the final research paper.

If you would like to participate or have any questions please contact me on 0404 093 082 or Jen on 0400 466 014 as soon as possible to book a time for your interview.



Sunday, February 23, 2014

Is negative language holding women back at work?

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Last year, The Australian Financial Review published a study that highlighted gender gaps in earnings by country. According to the newspaper, "Countries in Asia have some of the worst gender pay gaps in the world and while Australia's not the worst-performing western economy, New Zealand puts it to shame."

Bloomberg (a privately held financial software, data and media company headquartered in New York City) pooled the data into a list of 36 countries, indicating the biggest pay gaps by gender. Australia, Canada and the USA performed badly, Australia coming in at number 17 with a gap of 16.4 per cent between what men and women earn for the same position.

Women Don't Ask, a book by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, lists many quotes from women who simply don't feel that they deserve the same pay as men. Emma, a social science researcher says, "I realised that I could have really negotiated for much more but I didn't. Because I accepted, 'Oh, I want to tie in with the range. I should feel lucky I have this job'."

"In many small ways, it's as if men have little plus signs next to their names and women have little minus signs," says Virginia Valian, a psychology professor who wrote Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women.
Valian speaks about a term she calls 'cognitive errors'. She suggests that both men and women attach traits and language to each sex often without being consciously aware that they are doing this.

"Once you learn about how (these biases) work, you tend to be more thoughtful about how you make your own decisions," says Shelley Correll, Director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and a professor of Sociology at Stanford University. "We're not being biased because we're bad people. We're often biased because we're in a rush."

In an age when we have so much information to assess, these cognitive shortcuts are common. "When we process a lot of information in decision-making, such as evaluating candidates for a position, we unconsciously use cognitive shortcuts, including gender stereotypes, to speed the process," Correll explains.
"Men tend to be evaluated more positively than if we didn't know their gender and women tend to be evaluated more negatively than they would be if we didn't know their gender. Our standards tend to shift whether we're evaluating a woman or a man...he gets what we call a leniency bias."

One study from Women Don't Ask revealed that eight times as many men as women graduating with master's degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. When it was a man negotiating, they were able to start on a salary of 7.4 per cent (or about $4000) more. The book suggests that "the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries."

Recently, The Huffington Post came out with a list of words that are only ever used to describe women. Among them: mousy, sultry, hormonal and bitchy.

"I first started thinking about (the language used for women) when Girl With A Dragon Tattoo came out," says Shawna Hein, 28, a user experience designer from Berkeley. "It's a whole action series where the main character is a bad ass, and yet she's called a girl. You never see an action hero with boy in his name."

So, what is holding women back? According to the Global Leadership Forecast 'leadership report' compiled by international research company DDI, "In all major global regions, women were more likely than men to fall off the management ladder before reaching the top," and, "At all management levels women were less likely than men to be named high-potentials."

Sara Laschever says that women need to get better at asking the tough questions, including pitching for a better salary. "With women's progress toward full economic and social equality stalled, women's lives becoming increasingly complex, and the structures of businesses changing, the ability to negotiate is no longer a luxury but a necessity," she says.

By Yvette Maurice
February 24 2014
Source: Women's Agenda

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Letter From a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home Mother (and Vice Versa)

You may have seen these letters by Dr Carolyn Ee go viral this week. Once read it's easy to see why so many women can relate to and have compassion for 'the other woman' (or in this case 'the other mum'!).

We'd love to hear what you would add to these letters?

Dear Stay-At-Home Mum

Some people have been questioning what you do at home all day. I know what you do. I know because I'm a mum and for a while I did it too.

I know you do unpaid work, often thankless work, which starts the moment you wake up, and doesn't even end when you go to sleep. I know you work weekends and nights, with no discernible end to your day or working week. I know the rewards are joyous but few.

I know that you seldom have a hot cup of coffee or tea. I know that your attention is always divided, often diverted from a moment to moment basis, and you cannot ever count on completing a task in the one go. I know that you probably don't get any down time when you're on your own at home, unless you have a single child who still naps in the daytime.

I know the challenges you deal with daily, usually with no peer support or backup. The toddler tantrums, the toilet training accidents, the food battles, the food on the floor, the crayons on the wall, the sibling rivalry, the baby that never seems to stop crying. I know how the work seems incessant, like an endless cycle - you shop for food, prepare it, cook it, attempt to feed it to your children, clean it off the floor, wash the dishes, and repeat in three hours.

I know you fantasize about having an hour to yourself to eat your lunch in peace, or about having an afternoon nap. I know you sometimes wonder if it's all worth it, and feel envious of your friends who are having coffee breaks at work. I know that sometimes when your partner gets home in the evening after his work is done, he wants to put his feet up exactly when you need a break the most, and this can bring you to tears.

I know that you are misunderstood by so many who do not appreciate the difficulties of caring for small children on your own, all day, and refer to you as joining the "latte set." They imagine you spend your day sipping coffee while your children play quietly. I know you miss your financial independence. I know you feel amused and sometimes annoyed when others proclaim "TGIF!" because to you every day is the same - there is no Friday, no break from your job. I know that many people do not understand that you work - you simply work an unpaid job at home.

SAHM, I don't know how you do it. I admire your infinite patience, your ability to face each day cheerfully and bring joy into your children's lives even when they wear you down. I admire your dedication to being a constant presence in your children's lives even if it isn't always easy. I admire the way you work without expecting any reward - no promotions, no fame, no salary. I know you want your children to feel important and loved, and SAHM, you do this the best.

I just wanted you to know that I understand. We're both mothers. And I know.

Love from the trenches

Working Mum


Dear Working Mum

I know you sometimes get judged by others for leaving your children in the care of others to work. Some people imply that you don't love your children as much as us SAHMs do, and that it's best for children to be at home with their mothers.

How can they say this about you? I know you love your children just as much as any other mother. I know that going back to work was no easy decision. You weighed up the pros and cons, long before you conceived a baby. It has always been one of the most important decisions of your life. You thought about this even while you were in high school and were choosing subjects for Grade 11.

I see you everywhere. You are the doctor I take my children to when they are sick. You're my child's allergist, the one who diagnosed her peanut allergy. You're the physiotherapist who treated my husband's back. You're the accountant who does our tax returns. My son's primary school teacher. The director of our childcare centre. My daughter's gymnastics teacher. The real estate agent who sold our house. What sort of world would it be if you hadn't been there for us? If you had succumbed to the pressures of those who insisted a mother's place had to be in the home?

I know you weigh up every job to see if it will suit your family. I know you wake up an hour before everyone else does, just so you can get some exercise done or some quiet time. I know that you have attended meetings after being up all night with your toddler. I know that when you come home in the evening, your "second shift" begins. The nay-sayers don't understand that you run a household AND hold a job. You come home, cook dinner, bath your children and read them stories. You tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. You pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dishes, just like every other mother does.

I know that you often feel guilty about having any more time away from your children so you sacrifice your leisure time. I know you can't bring yourself to take a "day off" for yourself when your children are at daycare. I know you accept that work is your "time off" for now. I know that when you are at work you don't waste a single minute. I know you eat your lunch at your desk, you don't go out for coffee, and you show complete dedication and concentration to your job. You chose to be there after all. You want to be there.

I know how discerning you are about who is looking after your children, and that many long daycare centres offer excellent care. I know you only leave your children in a place where you confident they are loved and well looked after. I know that you spend many days caring for your children at home when they are sick, and sacrifice your pay. I know that you secretly enjoy these days, and revel in being able to be with your children.

I know that sometimes you feel guilty about not being there all the time. But WM, I know this. You are setting a wonderful example to your children. You are showing them that a woman can have a career, contribute in some way outside the home, and still be a loving mother. You are showing your daughters that they can do anything they want to do in life. You are displaying strength, endurance, dedication, tenacity, and you do it with so much joy and love.

I just wanted you to know I understand. Because we're both mothers.

Love from the trenches

Stay-At-Home Mum

By Dr Carolyn Ee
8 February 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Women's (Impossible) Quest for Perfection - Interview with Debora Spar

This is a great interview with working mum Debora Spar who has written book Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection. As the title suggests the book explores how far women have come in the struggle for power but also how we now face the tyranny of hyper-perfect images of working mothers and romantic notions of “having it all.”

Spar speaks about the unlikely moment when she realized she had it all, why we need to speak more openly about the tradeoffs of being in a position of prominence and why it’s time to stop telling women, “I don’t know how you do it all.

A thought provoking quote we plucked from the interview...

"It’s very important for women who are in positions of some prominence to be more honest about the trade-offs they have made, about the mistakes they have made, about the hard times they have had. If we’re all out there selling our perfect lives, we’re really just perpetuating a myth, for the next generation of women."

For the interview transcript click here. Otherwise enjoy the video interview below.

Originally posted 14.1.14 by the Wharton School, Knowledge@Wharton, University of Pennsylvania.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Five top tips for launching a business with a new baby

Image courtesy of 

Launching a business is always hard work but it's even more of a whirlwind when you have a new baby. Despite the extra challenge, entrepreneur Chloe Brookman says new mums should seize the opportunity of flexible time and a period of change and just go for it.

"If you wait for every element to be in order before you start then you will be waiting a very long time. Get started. Launch right now," she says.

"Launching a new business while being a full-time mum is hard work, I'll be the first to admit it. But it's so very doable as many women have shown, it's just a matter of being passionate, organised and focused."

Brookman founded baby furniture company Olli Ella in 2010. They now distribute across the world to a wide range of retailers and directly.

She shared her top five tips with Women's Agenda sister publicationStartup Smart below.

Don't fret about the perfect business plan

A new business is a lot like a new baby. You may understand what it could entail but it's not until you're dealing with the day-to-day challenges and changes that you get a feel for what you're nurturing.

"A business plan is just that: a plan. We never did one, and I think that this one of the factors that has enabled us to propel our brand; we were completely flexible," Brookman says.

Set goals to stay nimble and sharp

Setting goals in six month batches helps an evolving start-up stay nimble and on target.

"We knew where we wanted to be in the next six months and once we got there, we reassessed and set loose goals for the next year," Brookman says. "A very basic plan with an outline of your business vision, goals and next steps is all you really need, that is unless you are going to be asking for outside investment."

Start small and self-fund if you can

Once you take on investors, your flexibility is limited by external expectations that need to be met.

"If you can, self-fund your business venture without seeking outside investment," Brookman says. "Have a look at your business, a good honest look and you will see that doing it yourself is actually doable."

Olli Ella chose to manufacture their products locally to make it more manageable.

"We had two options: to manufacture overseas in high volumes, low cost but with large profit margins for us. This would involve hefty start-up capital, a warehouse, costly trips overseas – the list goes on. Our other option was to manufacture locally in small volumes, high cost and low profit margins for us. We opted for the latter," she says.

Build the right community around you

For new business owners, surrounding yourself with the right advisers is the most important thing you can do.

"Whether or not you are an expert in your field or, as in our case, are entering a new field in your new business, you will need advisers. Speak to as many people as you can who are experts in their field, write out a list of questions, and sit down with these experts and pick their brains," Brookman says.

Developing a supportive community goes beyond just advisers. It should also include a network of business owners.

"Navigating the launch of a new business is daunting at best; it's unknown waters and can be very lonely, even when working with a business partner. To help combat this start your own network of fellow female entrepreneurs; these can be people that you know, meet at networking events, or find through Gumtree or Facebook," Brookman says.

She adds that keeping the group to fewer than 10 people and meeting monthly creates a sustainable approach.

Learn from your mistakes

"This is the greatest adventure that you are about to embark on. Love the lows as much as the highs, welcome mistakes because you will grow from them."

By Rose Powell
6 February 2014
Source: Startup Smart

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Child care takes the spotlight – speak up now!

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Childcare is expensive and not the most flexible of solutions for many families. Which is why it may come to some relief for those working parents who struggle to make it work when they hear the Federal Government has launched an inquiry into childcare and early childhood learning. The Productivity Commission is undertaking a public inquiry that will focus on finding a system that supports workforce participation whilst addressing children’s learning and development needs.

We are no longer a 9 to 5, 5 day a week workforce. And for those families who are working to a rigid structure many are struggling to make it work for them.

The Assistant Minister for Education, the Honourable Sussan Ley, summed it up nicely to ABC Central Coast last week: “We've all worked with - usually mums - who get nervous around half past five. The boss wants them to stay back but the childcare centre closes at six and sometimes you just feel impossibly tugged in all sorts of different directions.  So we've got to recognise that the policy settings in child care today belong to the last generation and do something for the next generation.”

The commission is set to look at different models that may be able to accommodate the next generation of childcare users – a generation that has moved from babysitting to early learning, a generation that expects quality but at an affordable price.

“We've got to find ways of providing care and early learning outside those hours. The shift workers or people who work weekends, the people where there's only - where there's no extended family support,” said Minister Ley.

The Government’s recommendations are set to be released at the end of this year with the intention that the 2015 budget will incorporate new legislation and policies to lead the changes.

We need flexible arrangements and a childcare system that supports our working parents or (as the 2012 AWALI findings found) dissatisfaction among full time working women will continue to rise (it almost doubled in the last 5 years in regards to work-life balance!)

Some changes that have been suggested are:
  • Removing the red tape around schools being qualified to offer after-school-care
  • Re-evaluating zoning restrictions
  • Making after-school-care more affordable
  • Using external organisations for after-school-care on school grounds
  • Greater flexibility concerning qualifications of carers for after-school-care

Minister Ley also said last year that the inquiry will look at the childcare rebate and other subsidies. However, Australian Childcare Alliance spokeswoman, Gwynn Bridge has raised concerns that there will be no additional funding. She told ABC News that "[The concern is] when the Government is intent on providing more flexible child care, that it will cost more money and that it doesn't affect parents' funding at all."

Me and the team at mums@work would love to hear what you think via a comment below or on our facebook page. You could also log on to the Productivity Commission website and tell the Government your thoughts direct. You can either email your suggestions or submit a formal submission. The Productivity Commission is welcoming all feedback so now is your chance to get involved.

To leave a quick 1000 word comment visit the Commission’s website

To make a lengthier submission visit the Commission's website to download the submission form.

Note that the website asks for submissions to be sent in by the 3rd of February 2014 however this is only for inclusion in the draft report. Your suggestions will still be accepted and considered after this date throughout the inquiry.
For more information on the specific matters the Commission has been asked to report and make recommendations on visit the Productivity Commission website.

By Emma Walsh
Founder and Director

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happiness… what not to give up

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We all feel stretched and exhausted from time to time –especially when your life involves juggling work with parenting responsibilities. But sometimes we need to STOP and reflect on the simplest joys in life. It’s one of the best strategies to help keep perspective. It also helps bring us back to our original intentions and desires in pursuing that career and starting a family. 

Here’s a great article to remind us all (not just working mums) of some of the simplest things we can do to feel the joy amongst the daily challenges of balancing work with family.

What’s more, we can look to our kids for reminders of many of the points on this list like ‘don’t give up feeling excited about rainbows’ and ‘don’t give up napping’. Our editorial team particularly liked point 9 and the video attached to it.


30 Things You Should Never Give Up If You Want To Be Happy

On our quest for happiness, there are many things we must give up. But there are many things that you should never give up if you want to be happy. Here are just a few, in no particular order.

1. Don’t give up taking walks in the woods.
Breathe deeply. Listen to wind. Let the trees embrace you. There is something deep inside us that longs for Mother Nature. Go for a visit.

2. Don’t give up doing things that scare you.
A seed only grows by breaking out of the shell and venturing into the unknown. The unknown scares us, but it is where we must go to grow.

3. Don’t give up being kind.
We only achieve true fulfillment when we grow and contribute to a cause greater than ourselves. There is no greater cause than sharing kindness with others.

4. Don’t give up sleeping under the stars.
Every once in a while, get out to a place where the stars shine and fall asleep under their glory. You’ll remember a wonder that humans have known for thousands of years.

5. Don’t give up speaking the truth.
Your truth is a powerful force. It will serve you when you honor it. Each time you let it speak, it grows stronger. Let it guide you.

6. Don’t give up forgiving.
Forgiving is the key to healing. Insisting on remaining hurt is choosing vengeance for the past instead of healing in the future. You cannot have both. Forgive so that you can return to peace.

7. Don’t give up asking for help.
We can get confused and think asking for help is weakness. Asking for help can be a major strength. Include other people in your plans and dreams. You are creating opportunities for others to connect and share their kindness with you.

8. Don’t give up talking to strangers.
All of my best friends were once strangers. Great conversations and possibilities await.

9. Don’t give up lip syncing to your favorite songs.
You’re a rock star.  Happiness is a fist pump away. While you’re at it, maybe you could sing a little, too.

10. Don’t give up touching your toes.
According to my 75 year-old yoga teacher, “You are as young as your spine is flexible.”  Stretching releases massive energy stores and fuels happy rushes of life. Take it slow and easy.

11. Don’t give up hoping.
Hoping for what? It really doesn’t matter. If you want to be happy, never give up hope that things can change. You can always learn from your mistakes and improve.

12. Don’t give up investing in yourself.
If you’re not investing in yourself, what are you investing in? You are still investing your time, energy, and money into something. Make sure you intentionally choose your investments, or your time, energy, and money will be gone, and you may not be happy with the results.

13. Don’t give up smiling.
If you want to be happy, smile. Smile at yourself in the mirror (it certainly beats scowling and putting yourself down). Smile at people in the grocery store.  Smile at the guy who just cut you off. See what happens.

14. Don’t give up connecting with the people you care about.
When you care about someone, care for the relationship like a precious plant. Keep the weeds out and water it consistently. It will grow with your effort and love.

15. Don’t give up meditating or praying.
Whether you are religious, spiritual or atheist, it doesn’t matter. Developing a practice of awareness and connection to that which is greater than you, however you define it, puts things in perspective. Those who want to be happy go within and listen.

16. Don’t give up moving your body.
Move your body with finesse. Let it sweat. Let it run out of breath and find it again. Let it climb trees and skip and play. It was designed to move. It is happy this way.

17. Don’t give up dreaming improbable dreams.
Improbable is not the same as impossible. Improbable requires innovation, imagination, motivation, facing fears, and busting your butt‒all good things.

18. Don’t give up loving yourself.
Whitney Houston got one thing right. Learning to love and accept yourself is a lifelong pursuit. When you learn to push past shame, judgement, and fear, happiness follows as you see all the wonder that is you.

19. Don’t give up expressing gratitude.
We have a tendency to focus on the things we feel are lacking in our lives, so that is what we see.  If you want to be happy, break this tendency by actively seeking out the blessings in your life.  Then take it a step further: express your gratitude aloud. The more often you express it, the more often you feel it and the happier you will be.

20. Don’t give up making new friends.
It becomes harder to make new friends when you become an adult. That doesn’t mean you should give up. Keep putting yourself out there and stay open to the new people who come along.

21. Don’t give up trying new things.
“Oh, I could never do that!” This is the siren of surrender. Happiness is found on the edge of cliff as frequently as it is found in a hammock. Try to find happiness in things you’ve never done, and it will be there.

22. Don’t give up getting in shape.
How happy do you feel when you give up on your body? Getting back in shape requires one thing: consistency. Happiness comes when you consistently insist that your body is still worth it.

23. Don’t give up looking foolish.
The fear of looking foolish is probably the greatest cause of unhappiness. Most people have no idea how happy they could be because they won’t risk looking foolish. Making peace with looking foolish is a key choice to achieve more and find happiness.

24. Don’t give up feeling excited by rainbows.
If there comes a point in your life when seeing a rainbow doesn’t give you even a little jolt of giddy wonder, expect three ghosts.

25. Don’t give up having something to look forward to.
Set goals and make plans a few months in advance that will give you something to work for and anticipate with joy.

26. Don’t give up napping.
A little afternoon nap can change your entire outlook. Recharging your batteries with a 20 minute nap can boost your productivity for the rest of the day.

27. Don’t give up holding hands.
The need for love & connection is hard-wired into our brains. The act of holding hands is so simple yet so profound. Never give it up if you want to be happy.

28. Don’t give up arts & crafts.
There’s a reason why many of us avoid the arts. Brene Brown found that of the adults in her research who reported experiencing a significant shaming event in their lives, 50% of those events involved creative expression. Don’t give up your creative voice. It still waits for you‒with a box of crayons and some pipe cleaners.

29. Don’t give up dancing.
At a dance in high school, a friend laughed and yelled over the music, “You dance like a duck!” There is something vulnerable about dancing. And yet, happiness is still found on the dance floor.

30. Don’t give up skinny dipping.
I have never gone skinning dipping with a frown on my face. Ever. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

January 24, 2014
By Leslie Frey