October of 2013 through October of last year we took part of the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge, we didn't reach the goal but gave it an awesome try. We were going to restart the challenge but at the time I had too many other things I was juggling with getting Joey's diagnosis, straightening out issues with his school, and getting everyone back into the school routine. Then it kind of got pushed to the side, until the weather started warming up. It was kind of ironic that the day we decided to take the challenge and spent the whole day outside, when we got home I noticed 1000 Hours Outside had shared one of our posts.
I've got to tell you that I was over the moon excited when I seen they shared our post. I follow their page and absolutely love what the message they promote. For those of you who are not familiar with them you can check out their blog here or their Facebook page here. Their message is actually very simple, get kids back outside!! To get kids unplugged from all the wonderful gadgets and get them plugged into nature and into just being kids. I'm not a fan of my kids sitting in front of electronics and electronic time is seriously restricted around here. I much rather see my boys using their brains and imagination then staring mindlessly at a screen. This challenge runs parallel to what I'm already trying to instill in my boys.
There are so many ways to you can add up your outside hours, we do many without thinking about them. We play organized sports through local groups and very unorganized sports as a family in our yard. We walk through our neighborhood and play with friends in our yards. We play at parks and playgrounds and take family bike rides. We invent games to play outside, some being more successful than other (i.e water balloon baseball was great in theory but hysterical to try to play). We also take advantage of the changing seasons to play in the rain, go swimming, jump in leaf piles, and sledding/snowboarding.
When we take part of the challenge we look for ways to "sneak in" more outside time. We have spent time doing homework or reading while outside soaking up some vitamin D. We plan more family meals on the patio. I look for opportunities to get us outside. Then there's my kiddos' favorite way to "sneak in extra time", staying up later. We have more bonfires, take more flashlight walks and star gaze for longer.
Getting us outside does not come without challenges though. There are days that it is either too hot or too cold to want to get outside. The difference in the ages of my boys can make things difficult at times. Jordan would rather not play at the playground while the younger two love it. Joey and Jacob can't walk/bike as far as Jordan can. We also have lazy days when everyone wants to live in their pajamas. Recently we have run into the problem of the boys getting tired of the same parks and walking the same trails. There is something about having a goal that challenges my kids to get up and get outside. Knowing we are behind on our projected weekly hours can help motivate Jordan to suck it up and play at the playground. I can honestly tell you while my kids may gripe about heading outside for many reasons, they have a blast once they're outside.
So here we go for round 2 of 1000 Hours Outside. Our ultimate goal is to reach (or exceed) 1000 hours, but we have a sub-goal of more hours than round one (782 hours)