It’s been about a month since I decided to commit my family to this challenge and I have to say that it’s been going pretty well. If you’re new to this program, you can read more about it on their site and my reasons for trying it. In a nutshell, more outdoor time is always a positive – such great effects on our mental health, physical well-being, long-term benefits for children and something somewhat safer to do during Covid. Right now we’re at 58 hours for the month of January, which is about 2 hours a day. Some days have been shorter and some have been longer. Considering it’s the middle of winter in New Hampshire, I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment.
I have found that convincing my children to get outside is often the hardest part. Much akin to exercising on days that you don’t feel like it, I give us all permission to call it quits if we’re just not feeling it that day. Sure there are days where they’re bored, cold and wanting to come in. But there are other days where I insist they come walk the dog with me and an intended 10 minute venture turns into 45 minutes of breathing some fresh NH air and a mood boost. We all return home a bit happier and calmer. I’m also lucky that their school prioritizes outside time, which helps us rack up the hours. Lastly, structured activities obviously make this challenge a little easier – mornings spent skiing, nature walks as a family on milder days, masked outside playdates with friends and we will be attempting to ice skate this coming weekend!
I first became interested in this idea of “outside as much as possible” after reading Balanced and Barefoot. Sure, I knew that my happiest childhood memories are filled with making mud-soup in my friend’s backyard (I didn’t have one, the city girl I was) and playing on the beach. I also remember strolling my first baby in the city on a brutally hot summer day and thinking “she should be in a pool right now”. (There are definite pros to raising children in cities, but I decided that wasn’t the path I wanted to take with mine.) However I didn’t think that those joys could also bring other types of formative benefits to my children. That’s when I decided to make outdoor play more of a priority in our lives.
Long story short, if you’re on the fence, there’s still time to try this challenge. Even if you don’t make 1000 hours and make it to 500, that’s still a lot of outside time and benefits to be reaped. If you have already begun, how’s it going for you? Have you found it harder or easier than expected? Share with us! – Rachel