Do you love getting outside? Those times in the day when you inhale the fresh air, listen to the birds chirping, and hear your kids yelling for you to, “Watch this, Mom!!!” 789 times per day?
Especially during the stay-at-home order, I find that being outdoors is helpful in boosting my mood and is great for my mental health. Even before the pandemic hit, my kids and I were semi-regularly getting outside as often as we could. The reason? To get as close to 1,000 hours outside as possible.
What is 1000 Hours Outside?
There’s a movement taking place, and it’s known as 1000 Hours Outside. You don’t need anything fancy to participate– just a clock, a tracking sheet, and a sense of adventure.
1000 Hours Outside began with Ginny and Josh, who reside in southeast Michigan and are the parents of five children. According to their website, they first looked into spending more time outside when they didn’t notice very many children when visiting natural spaces outdoors. Upon further research, they found that an average of four to six hours per day was ideal for children to spend outside. So, they decided to give it a try with four to six hours outdoors every few days, averaging out to about 1,000 hours for the year.
Why should I spend 1000 Hours Outside?
As I mentioned above, being outdoors has greatly improved my mental health, especially after months of cold, snowy weather. Sunshine– or at least fresh air– were necessary. So, it’s a goal of mine to go for a walk every morning before our youngest takes her first nap of the day. Then, we work to add more time outside to our day.
Goal setting can be a way to help bring focus back into your life. Especially with the stay-at-home order, we were in need of a new routine. All of our everyday activities were halted. We needed to focus on something new. Though we technically started tracking our time in January, having a goal to meet for our time is helping us tremendously as we adapt to our new normal.
When you set goals as a family, it can give you an additional fun activity to look forward to. Though our oldest is only three, I still make it a point to tell her every time we “earn” another hour spent outside. I will color in a circle on our tracking sheet. It’s a great visual tool to have to quickly get excited about your progress, no matter how small!
How do I participate?
Maybe you already knew about 1000 Hours Outside and are well on your way to meeting your goal. Or, this could be totally new information to you, and now you can’t stop thinking about it! Either way, now is the perfect time. You can start by:
- Downloading your tracking sheet from Ginny’s website and choosing a spot to keep it in. We keep ours right on the refrigerator.
- Setting your goal. We decided to spend 500 hours outside for the year. Since 2020 is almost halfway done, decide if you want to shoot for all 1,000 or cut it in half to 500 (or maybe even 250!).
- Going outside! Here are some easy ways to do this:
- Local places to get outside
- Go for one or two walks each day
- Create chalk art on the sidewalk
- Eat your meals/snacks outside
Making a goal for this time outdoors gives our family something fun to look forward to. Setting goals continues to provide us the focus we need in a time when everything is up in the air. So, what are you waiting for? Get outside!