Taking on the 1000 hours outside challenge

I love getting outside with my children and the importance of having plenty of outdoor time is something that I feel quite strongly about. At the start of the year, we joined in with Thimble and Twig and The Ladybird’s Adventures for their ‘Wild about Winter’ challenge where they shared a different activity to get outdoors each day in January. I decided to start tracking our outdoor time and see how much time we actually spent outside in a year, which soon led to taking on a challenge to spend 1000 hours outside over the year.

 

Sophie and Thomas walking through fallen autumn leaves - "Taking on the 1000 hours challenge"

 

1000 hours outside is a challenge that aims to balance the average amount of screen time children get (1200 hours a year in the US) with time outside in nature. It isn’t a competition – it’s simply a way of encouraging families to get outside with their children more and enjoy the benefits that outdoor play and immersion in nature has to offer.

 

Thomas and Sophie wading through a big puddle in the middle of some heathland

 

For me though, once I set myself a target, I am determined to reach it! I have to admit I found it harder than I expected though. There were times when I found the self-inflicted pressure of a target stressful, especially when I had a long to-do list of things to do at home. That said though, I always felt better for getting outside and it turned out that not all the items on the to-do list were really necessary anyway!

 

Having a target helped encourage me to get outside each day, even when the weather wasn’t very appealing. We’ve enjoyed getting out for walks, spent hours playing in the garden and enjoyed time outdoors in all weathers. Being restricted in our outdoor activities during lockdown did make it harder to get outside for longer periods, especially when the weather wasn’t so good, but we did enjoy having an outdoor classroom during those months of home-schooling! I’m not sure I would have taken quite so much of our learning time outdoors had it not been for the challenge encouraging me to do so.

 

Sophie looking through her magnifying glass at the inside of the tulip

 

One thing I would suggest if you’re planning to reach the target is to try not to fall too far behind in those early winter months. In spite of trying to get outside each day in January and February, we only averaged just over an hour outside during those months.  I thought it would be easy to balance out in summer, but it took most of the summer to regain the ground I’d lost early on.

 

I used the Hours app on my phone to keep track of our outside time but there are some lovely printable trackers on the 1000 hours outside website that you can use if you’d like to join in.

 

Sophie standing in front of a tree with a stream behind her

 

Even if you’re not aiming for 1000 hours outside over the course of the year, there are lots of ways of trying to get a little extra outdoor time. Here are some ideas for ways to get outside:

 

  • Take a flask of hot chocolate or soup to enjoy outdoors. It’s a great way of making a winter walk more appealing.
  • Go hunting for geocaches.
  • Take the toys outside so the kids can play in the garden. Our tuff tray was great for small world play with the toys.
  • Build a den in the woods
  • Go for a walk outside at night and look up at the stars.
  • Throw a little garden party.
  • Go camping in the back garden (this one’s on our list for next year!)
  • Have a scavenger hunt in the garden.
  • Do some shadow drawing or play shadow tag.
  • Have fun doing some nature art.
  • Bring a magnifying glass outside and take a closer look at nature.
  • Grow your own veg.
  • Set up bird feeders and see how many different birds visit your garden.
  • Dance in the rain and splash in puddles.

 

Getting outside has so many benefits. I always feel much less stressed after getting out for a walk and being able to spend so much time in my garden made the first lockdown much more bearable. I’m not sure I’ll be setting myself a specific target this year, but we’ll certainly continue to aim for some quality time outdoors each day.

 

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8 thoughts on “Taking on the 1000 hours outside challenge

  1. 1000 hours outside is a great achievement. I love the idea and you have inspired me to give it a go for 2021. As my kids are so much older, it will be a solo effort by me. Although they do spend more time outside than most teenagers, I don’t think they would manage 1000 hours.

    1. Thank you. Good luck with taking on the challenge for next year. It’s certainly encouraged me to try and get outside more and I’ll be trying to keep that up next year even if we aren’t aiming for 1000 hours.

  2. This is such a good idea. I run outdoors every day and swim outdoors every week so I think that personally I probably spend more time than that outside anyway but I’d be interested to know how much time the kids spend outside with me during the course of a year. I might have to start recording next year too, it would do them good to spend more time outside. I think I’d fall into the trap of it mostly being in the summer months too, although we’re all spending a lot more time outside this winter due to having to meet people outside.
    Nat.x

    1. The winter months are definitely harder – I struggled to keep my average up even when I was aiming for at least two hours each day. I thought it would be easier to catch up in the summer but I still had to be very intentional about getting outdoors even then to manage it. Good luck if you decide to give it a go x

  3. This is a brilliant challenge. When my children were younger they always wanted to be outside, but as they got older it became harder and harder to get them out. Sadly, the youngest is the one missing out now as he really loves being outside. I can’t really go out in bad weather myself which makes things difficult, but I definitely want to spend more time outdoors this year, and I’m going to push my husband to take out the Little Man more often. Good luck with your challenge, I’m sure you’ll make it.

    1. Thank you Anne. It was a good way of encouraging us outside more. I can imagine that it must be harder for you to get outside especially when the weather isn’t great.

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