By: Martianne Stanger
Long ago, I heard about a 1000 Hours Outside challenge in one of the online groups I am in and laughed at it.
Who needs a formal challenge to spend time outside? I thought. My children get 1000 hours outside a year and then some.
As homeschoolers, we were blessed to spend ample time outdoors on our own, with our local homeschool group, and on field trips. As active community members, we often found ourselves at outdoor playgrounds, local hiking spots, community pools and wading areas, concerts, festivals and fairs, summer fun spots, etc.
Summer, fall, winter, or spring. Rain, snow, or sunshine. It didn’t matter the season or the weather. We embraced our outdoor time!
Then, my children began to grow. So did their connection to screens for learning and fun. So did their scheduled commitments. So did occasional protests about heading outside.
Life balance also seemed to get more out of whack.
And, before I knew it, our outdoor time dwindled over time–—a little less here, a little less there–—so I didn’t notice at first.
But, now I have.
And I am doing something about it: the very 1000 Hours Outside Challenge I had heard about years ago in an online group, which now seems to have its own website.
What I laughed at, I now live!
I began keeping track of my children’s time spent outside on July 2, after seeing a friend posting regularly about her own 1000 Hours Outside and, as of when I am writing this, the children have already spent over 30 hours outside.
Playing catch with Daddy; swim lessons; Beaches, ponds, and pools; water balloon fights; walks; outdoor chores; bouncing on trampolines; Outdoor cooking; catching frogs; time with friends…
Ideally, I would be counting only unstructured time, but in our real life right now, any time outside is an improvement. So, I am counting all the time that all three of my children are definitely outside.
Sometimes they spend more time than I account for, and, often, one of them spends a lot more time outside than the others. So, I set my personal parameters at counting only time all three are definitely outside.
I also decided NOT to tell my children about this challenge.
Now, I know that may seem odd, but, reality is reality and my reality is that I have one child who is quite contrary these days and will purposely balk against the challenge if told about it.
So, I quietly and intentionally make time for sunset walks, outdoor fun, chores, and classes and count the hours all three of my children partake in it, knowing we may not get to 1000 hours by July 1, 2020, but also knowing that every hour spent outside is a win anyway, and, should we succeed, I will tell my children then and find a way to celebrate.
By then, outdoor time will be more of a way of life again and my children may even want to consciously join me in a round two of the challenge.
How about you and yours? Do you spend a lot of time outside already? Would the #1000hoursoutside challenge motivate you to spend even more?
There’s no time like the present to start. Just grab your children and get outside!