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Among the many things that I love, are spending time in nature and participating in challenges. So – there really couldn’t be a better challenge for me than spending 1000 hours outside!
I discovered the 1000 Hours Outside challenge through a friend a few months ago and I knew instantly that it would be one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2023.
The 1000 Hours Outside movement was born in 2013 by an American lady, named Ginny Yurich. The concept of tracking time spent outdoors came to Ginny when she, like many of us, was struggling in early motherhood. As a remedy to her struggles, Ginny started getting outside more and very quickly, she noticed the physical and mental health benefits that this had for herself and her children. They were all happier and calmer after extended time outdoors.
This realisation led Ginny down a path of discovery and learning about the state that ‘modern childhood’ had fallen into. It’s estimated that the average American child spends 1,200 hours in front of a screen per year. The 1000 Hours movement is designed to encourage children and their families to reduce screen time and increase nature time, the benefits are endless. The movement has gone global and has grown into a wonderful blog, podcast and a range of books all focused on outdoor play and adventure.
I consider my family to be pretty outdoorsy already, and at 14 months old, my son Otis does not really spend much time in front of screens yet. In fact, it’s only on those particularly tough parenting days that I resort to having the TV on in the background to keep me going!
Nevertheless, my partner and I are really keen to share our love of nature by bringing Otis up as an outdoorsy kid, so the challenge is very appealing to us. I suspect that we are already spending close to 1000 hours outside anyway, but tracking the time over a year is a good motivation tool and I am intrigued to see how many hours we do clock up.
Obviously, the challenge is much more than clocking hours. It’s the importance of intentionally spending time outdoors in nature. Experiencing the seasons. Embracing all weathers. Feeling fresh grass under foot or sand between your toes. Smelling fresh blossom. The rush of immersing yourself in fresh water. The sound of crashing waves or rustling leaves. Observing other living creatures. Truly feeling like we are part of the natural world.
Then there are the memories that outdoor play and adventures create, much more exciting than trying to remember what we watched on tv or which computer game was being played.
The challenge of spending extended time outdoors looks different for everyone. Depending on where you live, what your work/balance looks like, the state of your health, finances (to a certain extent) and many other factors. For my family it looks like this:
- We live in a townhouse without a garden so we have to leave our property to spend time outdoors
- We live in Cornwall so we are surrounded by gorgeous beaches, coast paths, woodlands and moors.
- My partner and I are self-employed so we have a certain degree of time freedom
- We only have one child so far, this makes getting out of the house fairly easy and hassle-free.
- Otis is pre-school age so we are not restricted by school schedules
With this as our basis, we have given ourselves the following guidelines for the challenge:
- We are only counting ‘intentional’ time in nature settings. Outings in towns/urban locations are not counted.
- We are only counting when at least one of us and Otis are outside together. Not counting if we are out without Otis, or if he is out with other family members than us.
- We will include sleeping outside, whether this is naps or overnight camping in a tent.
- We track all of our hours on the 1000 hours outside app and then transfer this to our paper tracker as and when.
We will loosely follow the schedule below to ensure that we are staying on track each month. At the time of writing this, we have hit 22 hours and we still have ten days of January left to go. So I’m pleased with our progress so far.
I am coupling this challenge with another new years resolution. I am aiming to read at least 6 books this year that focus on nature, outdoors and natural child rearing to keep me inspired along the way.
We may only be a few weeks into the year, but I can already tell that this challenge is going to be quite transformative for my family. It’s going to give Otis the best start at falling in love with the natural world. It’s going to bring peace and calm to days when parenting feels hard. It’s going to allow us to create so many lovely family memories to cherish for years to come.
So what are you waiting for? Are you inspired to get involved, or are you already participating? Do let me know as I’d love to share stories and tips.
Now that you have finished reading, get outdoors and have lots of fun!