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1000 Hours Outside Challenge

(Well… more like 365 hours outside challenge).

 


I recently stumbled upon a challenge called “1000 Hours Outside” and it’s exactly how it sounds—to spend 1000 hours outside in a year. At first, that didn’t really intimidate me. Sure, 1000 hours outside in a year is probably pretty average, right?

 

Wrong. Most children spend about 7 minutes outside a day. 1000 hours in a year actually averages a little under 3 hours a day, which for me—seems impossible. If the weather is nice, I might be able to get a 3 or 4 hour stretch of outside time in. But that’s definitely not a daily occurrence. What about when its 10 degrees? Or pouring rain?

 

This challenge started with the hopes of getting kids off the screen and back outside in nature. I read one statistic that said the average American child has up to 8 hours of screen time a day, which blew my mind! But when I started thinking about it, I realized—we have the TV on almost all day. There are days where Avery might watch two or three different movies. That statistic is not far-fetched.

 

So instead of jumping all in on the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, I made my own goal to spend 365 hours outside in 2024. That’s only an hour a day, which seems much more doable for me.


I started tracking my time outside on my phone’s notes app and adding up my totals at the end of each month. Once I felt really committed, I made an Excel spreadsheet.

 



January was a wake-up call. I’m going to blame it on the extremely harsh cold temperatures, but I spent a TOTAL of 2 hours and 35 minutes outside in all of January. Am I really that much of a hermit?



 

February was better, but not by much. The weather was much improved, but our house was struck with the plague for about two weeks. Total: 10 hours 20 minutes. Definitely still not on par with my 1 hour a day goal.



 

In March, I really picked up the pace. Again, the weather was better and the temperatures were getting much warmer. I was able to start on some springtime yardwork and go to the zoo. We spent lots of time at the playground, too. Total: 31 hours 10 minutes. Finally—we made an average of an hour a day!



 

April was even better. I had decided that since January and February were so rough, I needed to start making up some of my hours. I set a soft goal of 2 hours a day for the month of April, and while I did much better, I didn’t quite make that goal. Total: 47 hours 30 minutes.


And as we wrap up the month of May...


I also had to change the range to fit our highest hours, so the bars do appear smaller.

 

I’m hoping that these next few summer months continue increasing my hours outside. If you know me, you know I love warm weather, so I’m hoping to make the most of it. Ideally, I’d like to make up for missed hours in January and February, and maybe even get ahead a little bit in preparation for a chilly November/December.

 

What I’ve Noticed

 

We are a third of the way through 2024 (how is that possible?) and I finally feel like I’m at the point to where I can reflect on how spending intentional time outside has affected my life.

 

First, my anxiety is non-existent outside. I don’t know what it is about fresh air, but I suddenly feel like a huge weight is lifted off my chest and I can breathe again. Especially in the early months of this year, I was surviving off of PRN anxiety medication—sometimes two or three times a day. Then, I got to a point where I could not wait to go outside in the afternoons, because I knew I’d feel better after that. So now that it’s warmed up a good bit, I try to get outside in the morning as well. My anxiety is much improved now and I overall feel much better.

 

Avery is so much happier. When we are stuck inside, I feel like I have to constantly entertain her and find ways for her to get out pent-up energy. But outside, she can run around as she pleases, play with the dogs, and even get dirty. Even as a young baby, Avery has always enjoyed being outside. And now that she can run and climb—outside is probably her favorite place to be. Being outside puts her in a better mood and she’s less tantrum-prone.

 

I really enjoy being outside. I knew this about myself before this challenge, but I really REALLY enjoy being outside—even if it’s just sitting in a lawn chair while Avery plays with chalk. I enjoy doing projects and yardwork, too. This challenge has taught me more about myself and what I enjoy.


Here's a slideshow of how we've spent some of our hours outside: Many zoo trips, running in the backyard, hanging out on the back deck, even setting up on the driveway!




 

While I applaud those who are able to tackle and achieve the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, I am so happy I set the goal of 365 hours in 2024. Today is the 151st day of the year, and my total hours thus far is 149. I am so proud of myself for being on track (or close enough) to my goal. Next year, I think we will try for 1000 hours outside!


-M

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