Being outside literally grounds me. The fresh air, the warm sun or brisk wind, and the trees in all seasons lift my mood instantly. I can only be inside for so long before I start to go stir-crazy. Put me inside with four kids, and I’m really screaming to get out!
Some friends found the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge, and it’s been an awesome way for our family to kick off the new year. We try to get outside as much as we can, but it can be hard to motivate kids to join in, particularly during the long winter months or sweltering summer ones. But every single time our family ventures outside, we are so happy we did.
The 1000 Hours Outside Challenge has various ideas if you need some inspiration to get outside. My kids often groan when I tell them we’re going for a hike. But I can also tell you, without fail, once we are out in the woods, I can’t get my kids out of there. They start building, exploring, hiding, and playing and don’t want to get back in the car when it’s time to go. And there are lots of hiking places to explore in Fairfield County! (You can also check out this post by a fellow blogger on how to be successful when hiking with kids.)
Some of the awesome examples the 1000 Hours Outside Kickoff promotes include:
- Hiking adventure prompts (hike in the rain, animal tracks hunt, favorite hiking music playlist)
- Adventures are broken down by month (from sledding hikes in January to bird hikes in spring to leaf rubbings hikes in the fall)
- Books by month
- “Microadventures” by month (“put down your phone, and pick up your life”)
You can also print out trackers to chart your progress of how many hours your family has gotten outside together.
The benefits of being outside for children are almost too numerous to list. Being outside builds resilience, dexterity, and confidence. It helps children connect to something bigger than themselves and understand how the world works. Being in nature also lets our children see the beauty we sometimes take for granted. It pushes kids out of their comfort zone and helps them fight against depression and the comparison game.
When you think of how the average child spends 1200 hours of their year on a screen, getting them outside becomes even more compelling. How much better would it be for our kids to be outside exploring with family and friends than inside on a screen chatting with them? How much better for their physical and mental health to get off video games, Tik Tok, and social media and out in the world?
And wouldn’t you rather do an activity with your children that is better for both of your health?