1000 Hours Outside Challenge

child holding basket walking through nature
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Have you heard of the 1000 hours outside challenge?

No, this isn’t 1000 hours outside during childhood or during your lifetime.

We are talking 1000 hours outside in a YEAR!

Some of you might be thinking “WHOA! I could never do that!”.

But before you click the back button, let me encourage you, first off, by saying that this isn’t all or nothing.

My goal for our first year was just to track our hours to teach my preschooler how to count to a 100!

I never dreamed that we would be 600 hours into this and loving finding new ways to play and explore outside.

But let me back up a minute before I get too excited here.

If you have never heard of the 1000 hours outside challenge, let me explain how this challenge started and why you might be interested in embarking on this journey with your family!

family walking down path holding hands
Photo by Alberto Casetta on Unsplash

What is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?

So as I mentioned above, the 1000 hours outside challenge is to spend 1000 hours outside in a year.

Now it might sound crazy to you to spend 1000 hours outside in a year.

But did you know that this challenge stems from research that shows that kids spend an average of 1200 hours in front of screens in a year?

DOES THAT BLOW YOUR MIND LIKE IT DID MINE?!

That’s approximately 3 hours a day on a screen.

Now compare that to the average amount of outdoor time the average kid gets.

What’s your guess for how much time kids spend on average outside in a year?

200 hours?

100 hours?

What if I told you it’s just 4-7 minutes a day or just 42.5 hours a year!!

WHOA!

That makes me so sad for our kiddos today!

So the 1000 hours outside challenge is to replace screen time with time outside.

Replace iPads with swing sets.

Replace TV shows with hiking.

There are COUNTLESS research studies and articles that show nothing but BENEFITS to letting our kids spend more time outside, and I will share some of that information with you in a minute.

But I don’t want the intimidation of *having* to reach 1000 hours to keep you from starting.

So let me tell you about how our 1000 hours outside challenge has gone for us (spoiler alert – we didn’t reach 1000 hours this past year!).

average amount of time kids spend doing green time vs screen time was the motivation to the 1000 hours outside movement

Our Journey on the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge

Now I know first hand that 1000 hours outside is a lot!

With two little ones and trying to figure out nap time and getting housework done, 1000 hours outside just didn’t happen for us this past year.

WHAT?!

You mean, you’re writing a post to encourage me to do something that you weren’t able to do yourself?!

YES!

Why??

Because ANY time outside is better than NONE!

Sure we didn’t reach 1000 hours outside in a year and that might sound like failure to you, but we still reaped so many benefits from being outside!

Do I regret trying and “failing”?

No, because I didn’t see it as failure.

My kiddos have gained so many things from being outside (again, will list some of the benefits in a minute).

And all that sunshine and fresh air have been so good for my physical and mental health too!

Once you see how your kids thrive and enjoy being outside, it makes it easier to want to be outside!

table full of art supplies and rocks for outside fun

The Bathtub Conundrum

But is it easy to get kids to spend time outside?

Not necessarily.

If you have kiddos that are used to having screen time – expect to be met with resistance!!

Just being honest, our kids get ZERO screen time and they still fight me some days to go outside!

We still have days where one of my kiddos will complain about “having” to go outside.

Do I let that stop us?

NO!

Why?

Because going outside is like the bathtub conundrum.

Does this happen in your house? – Your kids complain about getting a bath but then once they get in the warm water and start playing with their toys, they don’t want to get out.

The same thing is true of your outdoor time.

Even if my kids are whining about going outside, once we get outside, they don’t want to stop!

But why go to the trouble to get your kids outside, especially if 1000 hours outside isn’t attainable for your family?

You might be thinking “why even try”.

Let me share with you a few of the benefits your family will enjoy from increasing your time outside.

mom and child walking through forest
Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

Benefits of Spending More Time Outside

There are SO many benefits for your whole family to get outside more often.

This list contains some of the mental, emotional, and of course physical health benefits of spending time outside.

Why wouldn’t we want this for our kids?!

Let me share some of the top reasons why I prioritize outside time:

  • Breathing Cleaner Air
  • Increased Vitamin D
  • Better Immune System
  • More Diverse Microbiome (Better Gut!)
  • Better Sleep
  • Improved Eyesight
  • Increased Strength
  • Better Coordination
  • Improved Balance
  • Greater Willingness to Take Risks
  • Increased Creativity
  • Better Critical Thinking Skills
  • Increased Resilience (or GRIT!)
  • Improved Confidence
  • Better Responsibility
  • Better Mental Health
  • Lower Stress
  • Enhanced Concentration
  • Decreased Behavior Issues
  • More Agility
  • Ability to Bust their Own Boredom

And keep in mind that this list is NOT exhaustive!

I hope this list gives you some motivation to increase your time outside.

Will 1000 hours outside happen overnight?

Of course not!

But small baby steps is how we work towards getting our kids outside more and more.

The list above is a good reason “why” the battle to get your kids outside is WORTH IT!

So how can you make this happen?

Where do you even start if you have kids that just want to be inside or on tech devices all the time?

health and mental benefits to 1000 hours outside challenge

Practical Ideas of How to Get Started on Your Journey to 1000 Hours Outside

So say you want to try to get outside more this next year, but you aren’t sure how to do it.

Let me share how increasing our outside time has happened for our family.

This past year has been a big experiment on finding out what our family likes doing outside.

And what happened was a subtle journey in a mindset change.

A mindset change to “how can we take this outside” or “how can we get outside today?”

There are a lot of things that we do inside that are SO EASY to do outside like reading books, playing with cars, playing board games, eating meals, and even doing homeschool learning!

All it takes is seeing things with a new set of eyes and having a few tools to make it easy to take things outside.

I highly recommend a small table for your kiddos to eat, color, and work at.

Other good options are a picnic table, fort, picnic blanket, or thick blankets.

This makes it easy to have a working and playing surface.

We have a small kids folding table and also a concrete patio that provide the foundation for a lot of what we do outside.

One of the best things we have to enable outside time is a playset, but don’t worry if you don’t have one!

There are still PLENTY of outside things you can do without a playset!

We also have lots of yard toys that are cheaper to buy such as chalk, bubbles, buckets, construction trucks, shovels, balls, and frisbees.

And for the HOT summer, we have a splash pad, inflatable pool, water table, and spray bottles!

So what are some ideas of what you can do outside?

From simple to complex, here’s a list of ideas to get you started!

Outside Activity Ideas

  • Play at a playground
  • Go on a walk or hike
  • Take a bike ride
  • Ride a scooter
  • Create sidewalk chalk art
  • Throw a frisbee
  • Jump rope
  • Blow bubbles
  • Plant flowers
  • Start a small garden or a few potted vegetables
  • Color with crayons, colored pencils, or markers (use something heavy to keep the paper from blowing away)
  • Set up an easel outside to paint – less mess inside!
  • Sandbox
  • Construction trucks with a pile of dirt
  • Nature scavenger hunt
  • Hide and seek
  • Skip rocks in a creek
  • Build a snowman
  • Go sledding
  • Make mud pies
  • Play with ice cubes
  • Experiment with shadows
  • Make up obstacle courses
  • Read books
  • Make a fort
  • Make art from things found in nature
  • Study clouds
  • Go bird watching
  • Visit the zoo
  • Make DIY bird feeders
  • Grab a kitchen bowl and make “stew”
  • Eat a snack
  • Pack a picnic
  • Visit a farm
  • Go berry picking

I also have a post of 32 easy backyard water activities if it’s a warm enough day to get wet!

And these are just a few of the many, MANY things you can do outside!!

list of ideas for activities for how to spend 1000 hours outside

Start Your Journey Today to 1000 Hours Outside

I hope this post has inspired you to pursue spending more time outside.

Even if your goal isn’t 1000 hours, just increasing your family’s time outside will provide many benefits for everyone!

If 1000 hours outside still sounds daunting, then how about this – try to hit 100 hours outside.

That’s where our family started and that’s where you can start too!

I would challenge everyone to download one of my free 100 hour charts below and just try to spend 100 hours outside.

You might be surprised at how quickly you make it through the first 100 hours.

You also might be surprised at how much you and your kids enjoy being outside once you find the activities you love and the rhythm that works best for your family.

So click below to download your free 100 hours chart and start reaping the benefits of spending more time outside for your family today!

 

100 hours outside charts freebie download

Use the form below to get your free 100 hour trackers! There are 10 trackers total if you want to work towards 1000 hours outside!

1 comment
  1. Tabatha
    Tabatha
    March 16, 2023 at 2:47 pm

    Thank you for all of the wonderful ideas! I agree that it’s so important for our children to be outdoors exercising, breathing in that fresh air, and enjoying God’s beautiful creation!

    Reply
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