It’s a new year and a lot of people are making resolutions. Let’s resolve to spend less time on devices, more time interacting, and let’s do it outside. In fact, I have the perfect challenge for you…1,000 hours outside in 2022! I know you are thinking I sound crazy but hear me out first—many families are taking the 1,000 hours outside challenge.
I am definitely the mom in my neighborhood who is outside all the time. We go outside if it’s raining, below freezing or even 100 degrees and humid. Did my kids complain at first? YES! But now that going outside has become a habit we built, there are no arguments (well, almost, we are still human).
Building the Habit of Getting Outside
My family loves this challenge and our lives have changed for the better. The shift from being forced outside to my kids begging to go outside is monumental. The benefits of being outside are amazing! Don’t believe me? There is so much science to back it up! Just search for scientific studies that back me up (here I’ll help with these Google results).
One of the hardest steps we encountered was getting outside. Yes, getting not going. Because let’s face it, getting littles out the door is the challenge. I am begging you, in the spirit of Nike, just do it. As you build the habit and instill outside time in your kids, it will become easier.
These tips will help you be successful once you make it out the door.
1,000 Hours Outside Challenge Tips
1. Know your season!
Outdoor activities for kids vary by season, but so does what they need. Take a look below for some of our favorite essentials and activities.
- Winter: We have very warm jackets, hats and gloves. We also have gloves with rubber grips on the palm side so they can wear it on the playground when it’s super cold without slipping.
- Spring: All the rain gear! My kids love when it rains. Yup, it’s true. It means they get to go puddle jumping! We have rainboots, rain jackets and umbrellas just for them. It makes rainy days one of their favorites. Plus, I add the bonus of a movie after puddle jumping.
- Summer: Here in Maryland it gets HOT. Go early and bring a squirt bottle. Our favorite ones? The $1 bottles from Ikea, they love it! Squirting the sidewalk, each other, the trees and honestly Mama doesn’t mind a cold squirt of water on hot days either.
- Fall: I’d say in fall it’s a combination of all the above depending on the weather but the joy of fall is in our outside bucket. Fall has the magic of hunting for acorns, pinecones, the perfect color leaf and whatever else they find outside. We place a bucket outside our front door and they store their ‘treasures’ there.
2. Just go outside!
Don’t think about it. Seriously. Just get the kids ready and get out the door.
Be the example. Put on an excited face. This is going to be a big change for some kids but after they are outside for a few minutes they will forget why they were arguing. Try some of these outdoor activities for kids if you’re looking for ideas!
3. Track your hours outside challenge progress visually
Let the kids track their hours!
It’s super easy to print these on large papers at places like Staples. Just select to print it as Black and White Engineering Prints and it will cost about $4.
If you are a digital person, get a time tracking app and start it whenever you go outside.
TIP: If this challenge seems too much to take on, start with the 100 hour trackers and set your own goal!
Better Than Before
I know now it might seem insane to spend 1,000 hours outside but I promise it will be worth it. Start somewhere. Just try to hit one milestone at a time. Maybe your first goal is just 100 hours by March. Or try to get fifty hours a month if you are starting with little to no current outside time. More time outside is the goal. Be better than last year. Perfection is not the goal.
Nature is healing. The benefits of fresh air are with it! It doesn’t fix everything, but the fresh air sure does soothe the soul. Now head out with your family and begin your 1,000 hours outside challenge.
What are your favorite outdoor activities for kids?
Tiffany Verhoosel is currently a Computer Science teacher in the Baltimore City School District. Coming from a background of business she joined the Baltimore City Teaching Residency over ten years ago to make the career change into education and has never looked back. Her degree from Johns Hopkins, a Master of Science in Digital Age Learning and Educational Technology, helped propel her from Special Educator to her current teaching position where she teaches Kindergarten to eighth grade students how to code.