We are thrilled to feature Ashley Koshimizu and her family for the last post of the Play Outdoors series. Ashley writes the wonderful blog Woodlark which is all about exploring nature, learning to be more mindful, and working towards a simple and more sustainable lifestyle so she knows a thing or two about outdoor play! Ashley shared some thoughts on parenthood and how to instill a strong sense of adventure in children.
What city do you call home?
Orange County, CA
Who's in your family?
What are some of your favorite qualities in Elliot?
I love his curiosity and gentle nature. He’s always asking why things are a certain way, or wants to know how things work and how they relate to one another. He’s free-spirited, yet cautious- you’ll see him fearlessly climbing big rocks and trees but each move is calculated and intentional. He’s just the sweetest and is always mindful of others. I really got lucky with him.
How has life changed for you since becoming a parent, both the good and the bad?
m a do-er and like to pack as much as I can into my day, but becoming a parent has really forced me to slow down and enjoy the moment. I used to worry about giving up things that I loved, and life did change but my priorities changed as well. Things that were a part of my daily life before, like grabbing a quick cup of coffee, hiking or building things - take twice as long to do now but are way more rewarding to do with Elliot. It’s exciting seeing him experience things that I already love but in his own way.
What excites you most about parenthood?
I just love watching him grow and develop his own personality. I try to expose him to as much as I can and it’s so interesting seeing his interests emerge. I also love that the relationship is truly a mutual one where we are constantly learning things from one another.
What piece of advice would you offer a new parent?
Your children are only little once and each season will pass so quickly, good and bad. Cherish every moment- hold them if they need to be held, comfort them, sleep with them and nurse them as long as it is beneficial for your family. There is no “correct” way to parent and all children are different. At the end of the day you are the only one who knows your child best, so don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad for or second guess the decisions that you make. Trust your instincts and do what works for YOUR family.
What are your favorite outdoor activities with your kids?
We do nature studies every week, either outdoors on our nature walks or while exploring different nature centers. Elliot loves identifying different plants and animals, so we spend a lot of time doing that. Lately Elliot has been asking to go to the beach to collect shells and to explore tide pools, so we’ll definitely be doing more of that this summer!
What are some of your favorite things about your city?
The weather is great year round so we’re rarely stuck inside. We’re close to a lot of great nature preserves, local parks, national parks and the beach. We often do day trips to the desert, mountains and forest, so we have a pretty nice variety within an arm’s reach.
What are your kid's favorite adventures?
Elliot loves collecting things, so pretty much anywhere that he can do that. We’re strongly influenced by the seasons and look forward to doing the same traditions each year (like collecting acorns in autumn, and seeing wildflowers in spring). Elliot also loves to climb, so he loves anywhere with big rocks or trees.
What's your best piece of advice to instill a strong sense of adventure in children?
Give them freedom to explore and play in unstructured settings without distractions, even if it’s just in your yard or at a local park. Read about different nature subjects at home to expose them to as much as you can, and teach them to care for and to respect nature. When they show interest in specific subjects- build off of them and then show them examples when you are out in nature. At the end of the day, just give them space to do their thing can do wonders!