The Salt River

As I watch my boys grow before me, I’ve adopted – in my mind, anyway – a more hands-off approach to parenting. Not to be mistaken for lack of care or concern, but instead intentional space made available for my boys to interact with the world on their own terms.
More and more, we’ve been spending our afternoons at a creek, river, beach, open field, or desert. It’s important, for me, that my boys build a relationship with nature, use their imagination, and play – more or less – independently.
Time carved out of our busy everyday lives, intentionally, to let them be kids; to encourage dirty clothes and soggy shoes. Because sometimes saying “no, don’t throw that rock” or “no, don’t get your clothes wet” gets tiresome and feels wrong as it rolls off my tongue. There’s a time and a place and I want them to know that.
And when they fall in the water or scrape their knees on the rocks, I don’t come running. I watch. And if I need to, I encourage them to work through it. More than that, I trust that they will get back up and when they do, I remind myself that a little coin just got added to their confidence jar.
We spent a few days at the Salt River during our stay in Arizona. The boys embraced the water, played with another couple’s dogs, threw rocks, looked at dead fish on the shore, fished with a stick and some string found on the bank, watched a wild horse graze in the field, and splashed around until the water practically turned to glass and the sun set over the cactus sprinkled mountains.
Where are some of your favorite places to take your kids exploring?
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7 Responses

  • Completely agree! So important in them gaining confidence and learning to use their imagination to play independently. I hear so many mothers in play parks saying ‘No, don’t do that’ – even some not letting their children playing in a sandpit as it makes their clothes dirty! It really bugs me – Let them play!
    We’re not so blessed with the weather over here in the UK, but rivers and beaches are where it’s at for us – throwing rocks, searching for crabs in rock pools……etc..
    On a separate note, your photos constantly blow me away! There is something so special/amazing about how you capture the light 🙂 x

  • Love everything about this post. Every spring we head out into the desert to climb around and search for rocks (before the snakes come out.) In the summer, we camp in the Idaho Sawtooths, or make visits to the Oregon coast or the Willamette National Forest. We spend every moment we can outdoors. I’m thankful that my littles are nature lovers already.

  • Love this. I try to be hands off as much as possible with my son, and it is beautiful to watch him explore everything around him. Absolutely beautiful.

  • I LOVE your photos. Seriously. I wish you were here in Massachusetts so you could snap away at my daughter & I. Le sigh, a girl can dream. I also follow you on instagram (I am @lexybilz) and I always look forward to updates! Beautiful, just beautiful.

  • oh man I just want to run away to America so much sometimes! I am with you there 100% with your approach, I would much rather let Theo off and explore and test his own boundaries than constantly try and impose so many on him myself. We try and get out in the open space to explore as much as possible and that usually involves us at a distance.

  • I am in complete agreement with your approach. And i think that sometimes people don’t realize that it takes courage to let kids be– that it isn’t laziness (although i have my fair share of that too). I honestly believe that we have to let them try out the world, bumps, bruises, and scares.


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