No, I’m not a nature hater. My whole family loves hiking and enjoying the outdoors. So, when I heard about the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge, I jumped in headfirst. I downloaded the tracking app and added a minimum of 3 hours of outside time to our daily plans. Soon, I learned that this challenge didn’t inspire us to be outside more. Keep reading to discover why we opted out of the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge.
After reading There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, I felt convicted to keep my kids outside in the rain, sleet, sun and snow, no matter what. Here’s the thing, my kids don’t like being outdoors in all sorts of weather. Sometimes, they do, and sometimes they don’t, but I started removing that choice in favor of hitting our 1000 hours outside goal. It turned into whining, complaining and zero fun for any of us. Since we stopped tracking our time outside, my kids go out in all sorts of weather when they want to go, but I don’t force it.
Nature vs. Screens
If you’ve researched the movement, you know many children spend way more time looking at screens than outside. We don’t. In our house, we like TV sometimes; otherwise, we’re always doing something other than screen time. So, we’re meeting that goal in different ways. And screens aren’t the enemy. But, screen addiction is the enemy. Also, I don’t want my kids thinking they have to go outside. I want them to love going outside.
As a working homeschool mom of three, I’m all full up when it comes to stress and expectations. Are they learning what they need to know? Do they get enough time with friends? Are they active enough? Great! Let’s add, do they spend 1000 hours outside every year? No thanks. I don’t need another box to check or an app notification to check. Thankfully, I’ve been able to let outside time happen organically, and we’re all a little calmer for it.
I love being outside. I grew up camping and hiking and swimming in lakes. My heart needs the sun, sand, dirt and breeze. That’s what I want for my kids. I don’t want them to think about being outside as another goal to meet. I want them to fall in love with family time by a fire and tiny ants scurrying across the patio. I hope the outdoors fills them with joy.
Last but not least, I’m over the trends. There’s always something shiny and new to chase. Is that really how we want our kids to grow up? If they’re always going after something trendy, they’ll miss out on the tried-and-true gifts we’ve all been enjoying for thousands of years. Nature isn’t new, and it isn’t trendy. It’s God’s gift for all of us to steward and enjoy. We don’t need a timer to enjoy it.
Give yourself permission to skip the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge. Instead, just enjoy your time together in nature. You might end up outside more than you ever imagined when you all crave it naturally.