Monday, May 2, 2016

1000 Hours Challenge- How well did we do?

Having children you tend to find yourself outside a lot. With all that energy they have being outside seems like the easiest way for them to expel it. Even if you're not a fan of spending time outside, you sit at a bench with a book while your kiddo runs mad circles around the playground. So when you hear a challenge called 1000 Hours Outside, you snicker and think to yourself "We spend at least that much time being outdoors!". That's exactly what I thought we took the challenge in October 2013. Once we started tracking our hours I learned it only seems like we spent tons of time outside. In actuality we were out on average only an hour or two a day, even on the weekends. In the spirit of a challenge we stepped up our effort to get outside. While we were giving it our best shot, Mother Nature gave us her best shot to keep us inside that winter with double digit negative temperatures. We didn't reach the goal of 1000 Hours, ending 218 hours short. The affect of the challenge had us getting creative about ways to spend just a few more hours outside. We made so many memories during the challenge and learned there were some activities we really enjoyed that we hadn't thought of, geocaching is still a favorite as well as walking/hiking different nature trails. I thought my boys would be bored to tears having to walk miles of trails with no electrical outlets to recharge their devices and only our own company. They surprised me and become so animated being away from all constant stimulation. I have their undivided attention, other than taking in our surroundings we talk about everything and anything. Their curiosity is peaked every time, more often than not when we get home they want to research the plants, trees, birds, and especial the snakes. Even my more cautious child, Jacob, will have us venturing off on different trails just to see where they go.

While we did not reaching the goal, I consider our first attempt a success. When I mentioned attempting the challenge again last April my boys were all for it, they started making lists of places to visit and favorite trails to revisit. We started off strong as summer was just around the corner and nice weather makes us itch to get outside. We were averaging 28 hours a week in the beginning, then around then end of November we got busy with school routine and just kind of stopped going outside. After Christmas it was near impossible to pull the boys away from the tablets they got as gifts. Finally around the end of February we started get outside for a few hours here and there. With the end of the "Challenge" quickly approaching their competitive nature showed through and as they tried cramming in as many hours as we could spare. Yesterday was the last day for our second attempt and we again fell short, not even reaching our total from before. We only managed 754 hours.

We're going to give it one more go, third times the charm. I believe it is important for children of all ages to get outside, but I've noticed that as they get older it can be more challenging to actually get them outside. I follow 1000 Hours Outside both on Facebook and Instagram, they have encouraged so many families to get the kiddos out and unplugged from the electronics. I also noticed that most of those families have young children, preschool/ early elementary age. When my boys were younger it was so much easier to get them outside, I almost never had to ask them. They would be out there from sun up to sun down and be filthy from head to toe. Now we have more things pulling at their attention, I lose 7 hours a day to get them outside due to them being in school. There is also the time spent on homework, after school activities, weekly appointments for occupational therapy, and time spent at friends' houses (which is usually indoors playing video games). I'm set to prove that although my boys are older (15, 11, and 10) that the goal of 1000 hours can be reached. Some days I have begged, pleaded, bribed, and drugged them outside. I have told them to get in the car we were leaving without telling them our destination, only for them to enjoy themselves once at the nature trail. I don't have the playground for them to burn off energy at anymore as they are "too grown" for that; we have gotten some looks at the squirt zone when my 6 ft 15 year old is running around with his brothers. We get creative. We try to keep things are low cost (free whenever possible ) and we try to mix it up so they don't get bored or things begin to feel routine.

While I have "big kids" they are still kids and enjoy being outside. They still like to be goofy and aren't afraid of looking ridiculous. Here's a review of how we've spent some of our 754 hours.