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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

1,000 Hours Outside

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Have you heard of the 1,000 hours outside movement/project/challenge? Studies show that kids spend an average of 1200 hours a year looking at screens, and the focus should be shifted to spending more time outside. 

The idea is in a year’s time to have your kids spend 1,000 hours being outdoors. That’s the only rule- be outside. Any other rules and constraints can be added that are determined by the individual families but the main idea is outside time, fresh air! 

I heard about this a few years ago and thought it was a great idea, but then doubt started creeping in. When I first heard about it the oldest was a baby, and I was still working full time. “Nope, not placing unrealistic expectations on myself because we will inevitably fail and not get 1,000 hours and I’ll feel guilty”, I told myself. I’m not big on resolutions if you can’t tell. I don’t like failing, so sometimes I don’t try. Now I have a 5 year old, 2 year old, and 13 month old who isn’t yet walking. If we go outside she has to be contained in a stroller, swing, or on my back. I’m a free spirit parent for the most part, but I can’t put my wild girl down to consume whatever she sees fit while I help the other two. 

So going into 2023 I didn’t have plans to take on this project. We play outside any chance we get, and that was just fine.

Then I saw a reel on Instagram and she shared that they had failed at getting 1,000 hours outdoors for 2022. I thought yep, that’s me, that’s why I didn’t do it. And then she shared clips of what they gained by failing- 900+ hours outside hiking, biking, playing in dirt, swinging, adventuring, and on and on. Oh, and her kids ages are similar to my babies ages. She also has kids close in age and both are toddlers. 

During their over 900 hours outside in 2022 they bonded as a family, boosted their immune system through play in the dirt, got their bodies moving and found fun ways to exercise, and beyond that they made memories and documented their lives together. 

Kids learn through play, and outside presents unique opportunities for learning. That coupled with fresh air having many health benefits for kids and adults it makes sense why the idea came about. 

When I decided I was going to write this article I began researching the 1,000 Hours Outside starters, the rules, how to track your hours, and all the technical details. I’m writing this article outside with my boys currently, and in trying to get us out here I grumbled “why does it take so long to get outside? How does anyone spend 1,000 hours outside with small children?” And I realized the technical details may not be what people need from me. Many people may feel like I do and just go oh no, we aren’t doing that. We have enough going on and don’t need the added task of tracking hours. Is that you? That’s okay! We don’t have to track our hours. I’m still undecided on if I will. We are on day 2 of 2023 and I have no idea how long we were outside yesterday, but I would guess 2 hours. I’ve already failed at keeping track and continue debating if I correct it. Maybe just spending time outside and knowing we are doing it is enough for our family for this year. The lessons and memories are worth immeasurable amounts.

If you want to do 1,000 hours outside for yourself or your family, you can find an app in the AppStore to help track your hours, or download a free printable on https://www.1000hoursoutside.com. There you will also find all the technical details and history without the long winded writing from me. 

Happy 2023!

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Madison VanRavensway
Don't let her quiet nature fool you. Madison is a force to be reckoned with in the outdoors, or creating amazing recipes from scratch.
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