Children Need Free Time


As parents, it is easy to worry about providing children with resources, but free time is the best possible resource you can provide for your child – and it is free! Children need free time to explore their world, develop ideas, and understand things that they observe. Giving kids free time is a wonderful way […]

Celebrating the Outdoors with Kids


Getting outside is one of my April goals, and we spent most of our free time outdoors this week – mostly on after dinner walks. We also (finally!) tried out our local pool, and were surprised to find that it is heated to surprisingly warm temperatures. So we spent a few afternoons there. Hopefully the […]

Saving Money: Teaching Kids Money Management


This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and All You Magazine, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #lifeforless Teaching Kids Money Management Money management is an important life skill, but credit cards and online billing can make teaching kids to save money a bit […]

Family Time: After Dinner Walks


Now that daylight savings time has extended daylight hours into the evening, we’ve been taking the kids on walks after dinner. It was something we did occasionally before – with flashlights – but it’s nice to have the daylight to see where we are going and since it allows more flexibility in terms of where […]

Raising Kids Who Think


One of my primary parenting goals is to raise children who can think for themselves – about how the world works, and about the choices they want to make and why they want to make those choices. Kids who can think for themselves are more resistant to peer pressure, have better impulse control, and are […]

Parenting Resources for Raising Children Aged 0-5 (sponsored post)


As parents, we want what is best for our children – and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start! There is so much for a baby to learn, and it’s easy to worry about getting everything right. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources available to help parents today – from independent parenting blogs […]

Kid Quotes


I love the fun things my kids say that make me laugh and give me a glimpse into the way their world works. Here are a few favorite recent kid quotes – hope you enjoy them as much as Mike and I do!   During winter break: Mike (dad): Do you miss school? Johnny (6 […]

Getting Organized for the New Year

We spent this past week getting organized! I downloaded this wonderful planner (affiliate link) from Mama Miss, and the pretty designs caught both Emma and Lily’s attention! I was planning to print out copies of the calendar pages for them, but as it turns out they didn’t need me! They promptly set to work making […]

Most Popular Posts of 2013 at Mama Smiles – Joyful Parenting

2013 was a big year for this blog, bringing in well over 1 million pageviews! A blog is only a great as its readers, and I truly appreciate the insightful comments (particularly apparent in my two most popular posts from the year), as well as your sharing my posts. Thank you!!! Now, let’s count down […]

Five Literacy Tips for Parents

My approach to early literacy is inspired by the way I learned to read – and reinforced by the way my first three children have learned to read. It’s somewhat unconventional, but we have found it to be a very low-stress way for a child to learn to read – one that has worked very […]