Last year, about this time, my family decided to try for something pretty bold (especially considering I was entering the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy and would have a newborn soon)! We pledged to try to spend 1000 hours outside in the coming year! And it's not just us - the 1000 Hours Outside organization is encouraging lots of people to try to do the same!
Why 1000 hours? Well, it turns out that the average child today spends about 1200 hours on screens each year! Woah! That number blew my mind! So the idea came from replacing screen-time with outdoor time, but it isn't specifically about decreasing our time with technology, it's about getting outside. However that looks for you.
What are the rules? Whatever you want! For our family, we counted any time that at least one of our children was outside, whether playing, eating, walking, reading, or just sitting. We included tent time, but not campers or cabins. You set your own rules (or your own goals)!
So how did it go? Well.... according to my calculations, we didn't quite make it, but I'm not ashamed of that. We fell about 50 hours short, but we also didn't track super carefully, so it may have been even closer. Bottom line: we got some great hours outside this year!
Honestly, to me, the exact hours aren't what it's about anyway. It was eye-opening to track exactly how much (or how little) time we were spending outside! The first couple of months were a bit depressing... "We've only been out a half hour all week!?" Pregnant with two little boys, one of whom was a bit too small to be comfortable in the snow, getting out last January was hard. We had our occasional specific outdoor playtime with Dad to help, but having the tracker encouraged me to get out for a half-hour here or there - times when I wouldn't have otherwise.
When the nice weather rolled around, we found ourselves having a fair number of 6, 7, or 8-hour days! How awesome to know that almost all of our awake time was spend outside?! This was how I was meant to live! Coloring in 8 dots at the end of the day felt great! Throw in camping, and the hours added up fast!
So what can I pass along to all of you after my year of tracking? Here are some things I learned over the last year:
So do I recommend the 1000 Hours Outside challenge? YES - or some sort of goal that works for your family! Some families go for a certain number of days outside each month, or just 500 hours instead of 1000. As with everything in life, do what works for you and your family. While I won't be tracking again anytime soon, it was an amazing experience and has made me much more aware of the time we get out (and the time we don't)! It has helped me embrace more types of weather, and it has helped me see little spots of time where I can fit in a bit more outside play. Are you up for the challenge? Let me know if your family is adding an outdoor resolution this year! I would love to hear about your experience!