1000 Hours Outside Revisited

Our first summer blogging, we did a post about getting kids outside for the summer. We mentioned a project called 1,000 Hours Outside, a movement that challenges families to match their kids’ screen time with time outside. 

The intro to the movement explains that kids spend an average of 1,200 hours per year on a screen (TV/phone/tablet).

Looking at our household’s day-to-day, the twins spend 8 hours at school and 12 hours sleeping, plus an additional 2 hours for morning and bedtime routine. That leaves 2 hours per day that they are most likely playing in their playroom or watching TV. 

While this doesn’t strike me as bad habits, I did get worried about this summer and those displaced 8 hours. I also admit that they watch closer to 4 hours a day on weekends, especially when it’s rainy and Troy and I just want a lazy day. This includes them watching intently or if the TV is on in the background.

On another note, I am very concerned that my kids turn into zombies when they watch Cocomelon. It bothers me so much, especially since I think it’s now out of their age range.

Even though I knew about 1,000 Hours Outside, I didn’t know that over the years they’ve made this movement a much more measurable challenge. I started following them on IG and later subscribed to their podcast. Looking at all of the tools they’ve created to help families track and reach their hours, I downloaded the app and unlocked a lot of great content. (Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. Just really like a measurable challenge.)

First, they lay the ground rules of the challenge: time must be spent outdoors. This doesn’t mean that your kids have to be hiking in the woods everyday, although that is one of the most straight-forward activities. In their kickoff packet, they give you prompts for every month of the year. So mixed in with the usual hikes, there are picnics, gardening projects, backyard activities, and field trips. There are also different prompt packets based on your location and climate.

The packet also comes with a monthly list of kids picture book titles about being outside in each season.

Second, the app comes with a time tracking feature. You can log in the number of hours you spent for each day and it keeps a cumulative tally. There is also a stopwatch feature if you find yourself going outside in smaller increments.

Third, if you are creatively inclined, they have printable color-by-number sheets that you and your kids can start as a way of tracking your hours. Each hour logged means one box area colored in. They have a lot of different designs for your kids to pick from as a type of gradual reward chart of their progress.

So how hard could it be right?

We started our 1,000 hours on Saturday, April 30th, by taking the girls to the Renaissance festival. We logged four total hours (not including commute) and the girls were exhausted. 

I also asked the girls’ Lola if she could also keep track of the hours the girls spend outside during their Grandma sleepovers. Like when they are playing with sidewalk chalk, walking to get the mail, or helping water the flowers on their back porch. 

The following week, we traveled to Michigan for a family wedding and extended vacation (where I’m writing now). We’ve been able to do a beach hike, visit the Holland Tulip Festival, and hang out outside at a few family-friendly breweries. 

So can we do this, spend some time everyday outside? Rain or snow, crazy heat and humidity? I think it’s worth it if it means there is significantly less Cocomelon in my life.

Realistically though, for us, I’m going to attempt scheduling the hours. On days when the girls aren’t at the park or visiting the splash pad, I have the hours of 4-5:30pm open after work. If I can find a short trail to take the girls during those hours, it might also help me keep my work hours balanced. We also have a nice riverwalk near the house.

Does that mean we’re only doing kiddie things in our spare time? Not necessarily.

I know a big sticking point to finding happiness in parenting is not forcing yourself to do little kid things you really don’t want to do (from Hunt, Gather, Parent).

But in this case, think about things you want to share with your kid, whether that be a hobby or sport, and see how you can adapt it to the outdoors. You could also try to find a new hobby to start so that you and your kids are learning together, like pickle ball or geocaching.

And if you really need to go with baby steps, remember that hiking is really just walking. 

Other helpful tips: 

  1. Log the vast majority of your hours in the warmer months. Luckily in Georgia this spans April through November. During the winter months, they say to aim for just one hour outside. This could be just walking around the neighborhood with the dog.
  2. Dress appropriately for the weather. Layer up in the winter. Rain boots in the spring. Lots of sunscreen and a hat in the summer. 
  3. I’ve put together a go-to bag for our outside time. This includes Hydroflask water bottles for everyone, lots of snacks, sunglasses, and a spare towel in case there is a creek to jump in.
  4. We have a screened-in porch that is generally unused. I want to turn this into an outdoor space where the girls can do their arts and crafts and other projects that would normally just be done inside. Picnic table, bubbles, board games, etc.

Have any favorite tips on getting kids outdoors?
Leave them in the comments and we’ll try them out this summer.

Follow our 1,000 outside goal on IG


One Year Ago: Hello from the Other Side
Two Years Ago: The Calm Down Kit

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