Mother with little boy travelling in mountains. Hiking adventure with child on family trip. Vacations journey with a kid, looking at view.

Inside: The 1000 Hours Outside Challenge is growing in popularity, and if participating benefits you and your family, that’s great. I, however, have intentionally chosen not to participate. These are my reasons.

Immediately after joining TikTok last fall, I quickly noticed a trending hashtag: #1000hoursoutside. It was the focus of every other video in my feed…maybe because it’s often associated with homeschool families?

I’m no stranger to the 1000 hours outside challenge, but I haven’t been exposed to that many influencers participating in – and promoting – the challenge until now.

Perhaps it stood out to me more because a long time ago, when it first became a thing, I made the intentional choice NOT to join in. Even though we had been homeschooling for a few years at that point.

But seeing all those videos and all those hashtags prompted me to clarify exactly why I’ve decided it’s not for us.

And if you’ve seen the trend, but it still doesn’t seem to be the right fit for you, and you’re having a hard time putting your finger on exactly why, I hope my reasons will give you some clarity, too.

Related: Conventional Parenting Advice You Don’t Need to Follow (Unless You Want To)

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1000 Hours Outside: 5 Reasons We Don’t Participate

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Before all the people who adore the 1000 hours outside challenge jump out of the woodwork and into my comment section, I want to clarify:

I am not against the heart behind the challenge. It’s not like I’m over here contemplating, hmmm, how I can raise kids who don’t like be outside. Nope. It would be great if my kids loved nature (although as I point out later, it’s also o.k. if they don’t).

Having read The Last Child in the Woods, I appreciate the need to connect our children with nature more than ever before, especially as things like global warming and rampant consumerism threaten to destroy it.

If the challenge works for you, and your kids are enthusiastic, joint participants, then great! Do what works for your family.

But take it or leave it, here are my reasons for not participating.

Related: Unschooling v. Homeschooling – What’s the Difference?

woman in red rainboots splashing in puddle

1. I’m not an all weather gal myself, and I have no desire to make myself be one.

We’ve lived in two very different climates in the past ten years. From long summers and extreme heat (and Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, which I’ve dubbed “the mosquitoes from hell”) to long winters and extreme cold, let’s just say extreme weather is not my friend.

I don’t like rain. Like at all. Not even with an umbrella and rain boots.

Those things make it doable, but never enjoyable for me. Rain makes me feel cold and soggy and sad.

Maybe if I had a huge Southern front porch where I could watch the rain from my cozy chair? But that’s not currently in the cards.

Snow, I’m learning to enjoy more, mostly because I recently purchased a pair of adult snow pants. They make a world of difference in my ability to be outside in extreme cold for long periods of time, but I still probably wouldn’t choose to go outside in a snowstorm if my kids didn’t beg me to go.

While I do enjoy cold weather, it’s more from a “I love wearing cold weather clothing and drinking hot beverages and hygge home vibes” perspective than anything else.

Extreme heat? Air conditioning is my friend. It’s been a rough adjustment living without central air the past two years.

I do try to get outside at least 3-4 days a week for a run that lasts anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Does it help my mental health? Absolutely. Do I enjoy it? Most of the time.

So I enjoy being outside…just not 1000 hours level enjoyment.

You Might Also Like: An Invitation to Life Without Goals (& New Year’s Eve Alternatives)

A Young Girl Holding A Clock On Gray Background

2. 1000 hours outside feels like a LOT of hours.

I know, I know, I’ve read the breakdowns. 1000 hours outside is doable.

In fact, if you break it down, 1000 hours outside is just under three hours a day for the entire year. That’s not horrible.

But even on the best of spring and fall days, my favorite seasons, I’m still not always outside for three hours a day.

Add since winter lasts 4-5 months where we live, I’m rarely outside more than an hour in the winter. There are brutally cold days (like today, for instance) where I have no desire to set foot outside at all, and I don’t.

Then there’s the extreme heat, when I either want to be swimming or in an air conditioned room in my non-central AC house.

If I don’t want to do it, I’m not going to make my kids do it, which brings me to…

mom and child holding hands outside, selective focus on hands

3. If we were going to participate, everyone in our family would need to be enthusiastic participants. (And I’ve already clarified I’m not.)

Note: This reason assumes that at least a few parents are participating in the challenge with less than enthusiastic kids, with more than a little coercion involved. If your kiddos are enthusiastic co-participants, awesome!

It’s pretty clear by now that I’ve accepted myself as someone who moderately enjoys being outside, but not for 1000 hours.

We have chosen as parents to collaborate with our kids. We rarely force or coerce, choosing to honor our children’s autonomy.

We believe in modeling the things we want to see in them, and in giving them the freedom to learn to listen to their own natural intuition. Watching them learn and grow in this context has been incredible.

Do they make not so great choices sometimes? Yes. But so do adults.

Do they learn from those choices? Absolutely yes.

When they were small, we obviously took them along wherever we went, plus young children typically do beg to go outside or to the park. And maybe if I had kids only three and under, I would make a different choice regarding the challenge.

But now that they are older, we honor their autonomy. We rarely force them to go outside, unless it’s unavoidable (we are going for a walk and some kids aren’t old enough to stay home).

Unless it’s my super sacred alone time runs, when I’m going outside, I invite them to come along. I talk about what I love about being outside, and about the health benefits of being outside.

But I won’t force them to participate in a challenge if I’m not going to do it right along with them, and if they aren’t enthusiastic co-participants, it’s also a no go for me.

You Might Also Like: Our Movement-Centered Minimalist Playroom (for Long Cold Winters)

4. I want to foster a love of the outdoors, and I’m not convinced a challenge is the way to do it.

I know a lot of homeschool parents that require their kids to read. I’m not one of them.

Why not? Because I have this suspicion that the second I force my child to read, I’ll suck the joy right out of it. Many adults who were forced to read growing up – and now hate it – support my theory.

Something they may have truly loved and enjoyed if they had decided to do it on their own, for as long as they wanted to do it, now is an activity they associate with force and must do’s and should’s.

It just doesn’t seem like a recipe for raising a child who loves to read.

And even when you remove force from it, you might end up having a child who doesn’t love to read. Some people don’t like reading. They aren’t inherently flawed or hate to learn; they just have another preferred method for learning and interacting with the world.

I’ve always suspected the same thing is true with being outside.

So even in years past, when in a moment of weakness I’ve “forced” my kids to go outside because: sanity, I’ve never felt good about it.

The second it becomes a “you need to do this because we’re doing this challenge, and we need to clock 1000 hours”, well, you run the risk of taking the joy out of it. And I don’t want to risk them developing a negative association with being outside, like it’s a chore, instead of something to be enjoyed.

Related: The Number That Completely Changed How I Choose Read-Aloud’s In Our Homeschool

5. I don’t need one more expectation as the primary caregiver.

Let’s face it: most of this challenge is being driven by moms. And as a homeschooling, work-at-home mom of five, I don’t need more “should’s” in my life.

Society has so many expectations for us moms.

We’re supposed to:

The list goes on. We’re bombarded with it on social media, at the pediatrician’s office, in books and online.

And sure, your partner is supposed to share the burden with all of these things. But if you’re the primary caregiver, especially the primary homeschooling caregiver, you know that most of these expectations fall on us.

Adding “get your kids outside and magically make them love it, even if they’re disinclined to do so” feels like just one more unrealistic societal expectation.

Add it to the list of things I’ve opted out of over the years.

Related: 10 Things I’ve Stopped Doing That Have Made Me a Happier Mom

The Real Reason Kids Don’t Want to Play Outside (And No, It’s Not Screens)

Screens and nature don’t need to be pitted against each other. You can appreciate both, learn from both, love both.

But as much as we want to make screens the bad guy, technology isn’t the real reason kids have stopped playing outside. If you dig a little deeper, adults are the ones who shoulder most of the blame.

Adults are the ones who don’t let their kids roam the neighborhood way they used to, despite the fact that kids are far safer today than ever before (I’m just as guilty of giving into fear). And when there aren’t other kids outside to play with, well, it’s a whole lot less appealing to go outside.

Fixing a big cultural problem like that one feels heavy and nearly impossible.

But then there’s the way adults interact with kids who do choose to go outside, which is a problem that IS fixable. To illustrate, I’ll leave you with a few of my own stories.

Story #1…

A few months ago, I was at a homeschool park meet-up with my kids. The boys were messing around, playing with a tree limb that was already bending low to the ground.

They weren’t being malicious – they were just playing.

This park just so happens to be immediately next to the local police department. A police officer saw the boys playing with the tree and came out to reprimand them.

The police officer didn’t just ask them to stop playing with the branch. Nope. He zeroed in on one boy (who wasn’t even among the culprits) and told him in a very stern voice that if he EVER caught him playing that way with the trees again he would NEVER be allowed to come back to the park.

The 10-year-old boy was in tears.

Story #2…

Going back four or five years ago, my kids and their neighbor friends were riding scooters in our cul-de-sac, going up and down various driveways for speed. They were having a blast until…

The neighbor came out and strongly told me (the supervising adult) not to allow them to do that because YOU’LL SUE US if our child gets hurt on their driveway.

Suing someone never even occurred to me – maybe it’s insurance companies doing the suing? Either way, it didn’t make my kids want to play outside more.

Story #3…

Another day, we went to the tree-free playground, a place where surely kids should be able to be kids. But an adult (probably a parent) was there “policing” the play, wanting to dictate it and organize it.

You could tell by their faces that they weren’t thrilled to have an adult telling them out to play. It sucked the fun right out of it.

Later on, I watched my kids play in ways that other parents clearly didn’t like. Climbing up the slide? On top of the tunnel? A few glanced at me, waiting for me to reprimand them (of course, I didn’t).

So why don’t kids play outside? Why are they more drawn to the adventures in video games? Maybe because video games don’t have adults constantly reprimanding them and controlling the way they play. Maybe they can climb and adventure and explore without being told, “Don’t”.

Sadly, that’s what they’ve come to expect from adults when they do choose to venture outside.

Kids not going outside is a symptom of a much bigger cultural problem – how adults relate to children and what they believe about children. And that’s something a challenge won’t fix.

Just something to think about.

Related: The Case for Unlimited Screen Time for Kids (from a recovering control freak)

Have you specifically chosen not to do 1000 hours outside? I’d love to hear your reasons for opting out! Share in the comments.

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44 Comments

  1. Hi! I know I’m a little late to this post, but I wanted to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this! A year ago, our family moved from a cul de sac in a subdivision with woods and a stream behind our house. At our previous house, we were constantly outside, riding bikes, walking through the woods by the stream, etc. But last Christmas, we had to pack up and leave that house (which we sold) in order to move into the parsonage at my husband’s new job as a pastor. Our house now is on a busy highway with no fence, no woods, no stream, no true yard. It’s broken my heart to see my kids outside so much less than before. I myself now have a severe vitamin D deficiency. So, when I saw people posting this challenge at the new year, I thought it may be something for us to try. I am a former English teacher, so numbers don’t really register with me. I thought people were saying one HUNDRED hours, and when I saw it was a thousand, my heart sank. “Only” 3 hours a day? While also homeschooling, doing church activities, extracurriculars, etc? That’s a lot of hours! Especially in our new living situation. I also laughed when you talked about how much you hate bad weather. We’re in the deep south, and oh my word, the heat and humidity in the summer is INSANE. If we had a pool, maybe, but it is sheer misery otherwise. We did sign up for a membership at our local rec center, and we plan on taking our bikes over there to use their trails, but driving bikes back and forth is no picnic, either. I really want to find some way to encourage and motivate us to get outside more, but the 1000 hour challenge just seems like setting us up to fail. I’m also a list fanatic, so if you give me a list, I’m going to want to check all the boxes! If I don’t, I will feel like a failure. Anyways, if you know of a simpler challenge, let me know because I’m all ears!

    1. Author

      Hi Melanie! I’m so glad the post spoke to you! Those transitions sound so hard – it’s really challenging to go from a great outdoor set-up to a not easily accessible outdoor space. People do not realize the amount of effort on the part of the caregiver it then takes to bring your children to those spaces on a regular basis. Add that to homeschool, church, extracurriculars, and just home maintenance basics like laundry and cooking and cleaning, it’s a lot.

      As for a simpler challenge, I would just set your own tiny goal! I wrote a post about tiny habits with a goal of getting outside even 5 minutes a day. Or you could commit to taking the kids to a park one day a week for a good chunk of time. Something that feels doable to you. You’ve got this, and remember, you are doing the best you can with the circumstances you have right now – you are ENOUGH. ❤️

  2. I chose not to do this challenge. My kids adore the outdoors, to an extent. They like camping and hiking and swimming, but on their terms. Like you said, as soon as it is a requirement, it’s a battle in our house. That being said, I HATE being outdoors. I have severe sensory input issues, the sun hurts my eyes and skin no matter what I try, I don’t like being hot or cold or dirty…You get the point. I have
    zero desire to be outside unless it is absolutely necessary. So why would I make my kids go outside?? Anyway, thank you for sharing your reasons behind not participating in the challenge. Even though I don’t need to justify myself to anyone, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one.

  3. I love this post and I absolutely laughed when you said you are not an outdoor personality n because neither am I. I love to be outside by myself with my coffee but that’s about it lol my kids love the outdoors so it works as we are doiNg the challenge (we live in Connecticut). We have done it for a few years and I actually stopped trackiNg after the first year…its better to just enjoy whatever time me we have outdoors whether it’s five minutes or an hour.

  4. I really appreciate this post. We are actually doing the 1000 hours challenge this year, because I tallied up how much screen time my son has and it was an eye opener. Unfortunately, my partner and I work full time, so during the week he is with grandparents who I know have the tv on all day. My partner dislikes the outdoors also, so it falls to me to get him outside. I can’t go out in the week due to working hours, and we live in the UK so the winter is long. It is good for me to have a goal, but I’m also a perfectionist and worried it is just another thing for me to fixate on. And as you said; it seems like just another stick with which to beat parents with 😅

    1. Author

      Hi Sophie! Yeah, that last line…I’m sure the creator didn’t intend it as such. But unfortunately, there are always others who will latch onto these ideals and look down on those who choose not to embrace them.

  5. I really appreciate your post. I keep seeing things about this challenge, and while I know the goal isn’t perfection, the childhood I had lent itself toward developing perfectionism and “finish what you started.” The issue for us is that our backyard is tiny and my son is almost 11. There’s not much he can do. The park down the street frequently has broken glass from alcohol bottles (if not far worse things). He can ride his bike, but even at 11, he’s nervous because we’re in a semi-urban environment and cars tear through our community even though there are stop signs at very short intervals. And me being out there too? I have lupus. Even with sunblock and sun protective clothing, I am so reactive to the sun that I am supposed to limit my sun exposure to only being in the sun when necessary. We get outside at night, but spending hours outside at night can be a real… challenge. I’m sure some people would graciously give me a pass and say “well of course there are exceptions,” but I know I’m not the only person in a situation like this. To top it off, my son *does* hate going outside. He hates going outside specifically because his grandparents keep forcing him to go outside when he’s not awake in the mornings (he has delayed sleep phase syndrome). So there’s an anecdotal case that fits your theory: one child who used to love going outside and now hates it because he was forced to

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Em!

  6. One of my very favorite points of 1000 hours outside is “even if you ‘lose’, you win” because it’s really not a challenge to hit 1000, just a movement to help people realize there are benefits and it’s worth making an effort. I tell myself it’s sort of like working out. I’m not one to get all happy and high off cardio. But I do it sometimes because the benefits are hard to ignore. I’ve started looking at outside time the same way thanks to 1000 Hours Outside. It’s just helped me learn that there are so many benefits there–mentally and physically. It’s worth some focus, but definitely not worth making yourself miserable. Again sort of like working out/being active….once you realize it’s best for you, you start thinking about working it in more. I used to think 1000 was unobtainable (we don’t homeschool), but because her approach is so forgiving and not intense, we do it. She is so genuine. At the end of the year she such a cheerleader for people who logged 1500 hours and people who logged 150. Still it’s definitely not for everyone and your points check out….and I can aldo see how the message may be more intense coming from her followers. But just wanted to add my two sense that if we’re talking about the motivation coming from the creator Ginny herself–she seems so sweet and supportive and real, it’s refreshing.

    1. Author

      I’m so glad the challenge works well for you and your family! 🙂

  7. I like your approach to not forcing your kids to do things like going outside or reading. However, homeschool is a requirement and reading is part of that. How do you work with your kids to get the amount of hours in without feeling like you’re forcing them? In my state, we have to do 1,000 hours a year. I just can’t wrap my head around how to get kids to do homeschool if they don’t want to. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    1. Author

      Hi Ashley! We unschool. Unschoolers see all of life as learning. Our kids follow their passions, and there is learning in everything they do. The real trick is learning how to see learning in the real world and in their interests and translate that into “school speak”. So baking, for example, would include reading, math, science, following directions and more. Building crafts out of cardboard and hot glue (something one of my kids is interested in) usually involves some degree of STEM plus the arts. Their favorite show also could involve reading, story-telling, art and music. Video games are chock full of learning and have led to other interests like mods (coding) and learning how to apply code to games, plus practicing writing and spelling in chat with friends. I could go on, but hopefully you get the general idea.

      Overall though, counting hours is the worst. We count days here, much easier if you’re unschooling. Hope this helps! Feel free to ask more questions.

  8. First, thanks for your articles!
    I love the 1000 Hours Outside podcast & idea book. Our family has some neurodiversity that makes 1000 hours completely impossible. We use the app time tracker for fun, but without a goal. Sometimes we bake cookies to celebrate a nice round number like 100. For us, I make a general goal of 1000 TIMES outside. 5 minutes to change a bird feeder? Counts. 20 minute on bikes? Counts. 30 seconds in the freezing cold to see the moon? Counts!!! 😉 Definitely embracing the spirit of getting outside for small adventures, vitamin D, & fresh air, not necessarily the hour marker law. We only do it when we can make it happen with joy.

    1. Author

      Hi Cheryl! Thanks so much for commenting. I love it when I hear from people who can approach it this way – I truly wish I could! Recovering perfectionist/crazy goal-setter here. Yay that it works for you guys!

  9. But have you actually listened to any podcasts or read any books or articles about the 1000 hrs outside challenge? Basically the entire premise is to CHALLENGE yourself to intentionally spend more time outdoors with your family. We didn’t come close to making 1000 hrs last year but yet I was still so excited to start over and see if we could beat last years time. We made tons of great memories because we were being intentional with getting outdoors. You don’t have to live in the perfect place with the perfect climate to make that happen. Don’t want to do it? That’s obviously your choice, but I would super urge you to give it a try and see what you think before devoting an entire blog post to why it doesn’t work next time. It worked wonders for my family after I learned to manage expectations, something I learned from Ginny’s podcast and the books she recommends.

    1. Author

      Hi Katie! I’m so glad the challenge is working well for your family – I am certain it is a great experience for some. If you read through some of these comments, I know that it’s not for others, which is why I wrote the post. Especially point #5, where some moms in particular feel guilty if they don’t do the challenge.

      Some families/people can approach challenges/goals with the perspective that however much you do is more than you wouldn’t have done without the challenge. Glass half full. But for others, extreme challenges have the opposite effect, especially if you have an extreme or perfectionist personality that will push to finish the 1000, even at a detriment to yourself or your family.

      I am sure that Ginny is an amazing person! And as I said in the post, the heart behind the challenge is great. It’s just not for us, and I don’t need to reconsider to know that it’s not. I appreciate you taking the time to write in though, and I love that the challenge itself has attracted such devoted fans. Have a great day! 🙂

  10. My family is having a go at the challenge this year, but in the knowledge that we’re unlikely to hit 1000 hours and completely ok with it. Balance is important and if we pursued 1000 hours outdoors to the detriment of all else, we’d spend less time seeing certain family, going swimming (don’t really have outdoor pools), baking, visiting museums, etc. I’m using tracking as encouragement rather than a stick to beat ourselves up with. Every family has to do what’s best for them 🙂

    1. Author

      That’s great, Sarah! I hope it’s an amazing experience for your family. 🙂

  11. So appreciate this! My husband and I are both in healthcare in the rural northeast. There aren’t three hours of daylight around our work schedules and I hate the mindset that people assume I’m choosing work over kids/family, when in fact I’m a BETTER mom for working, and honestly someone needs to work in healthcare and teaching and many other professions….
    We spend a lot of time outside. Especially on weekends and vacation time. I’ve wanted to get behind this but have struggled with mom shame and guilt and I appreciate how you’ve articulated this

    (And not for nothing but there are reasons why it’s illegal to bring children outside in certain temperatures)

    1. Author

      I’m so glad it was helpful! I definitely think the challenge can work for some, but I really don’t like when others use it to mom shame. I’m sure that wasn’t the creator’s intent, either.

  12. I hate logging things or keeping records. And while I love sitting on a beach in Hawaii with a book for hours, I don’t live in Hawaii 😂 I do need natural Vitamin D from sun exposure, but not 3 hours worth a day. So no. 1000 hours outside sounds like setting myself up to fail.

    My older kids grew up in Alaska, and while they spent hours and hours outside in the summer, I couldn’t force them to go out in the winter at -20° or colder no matter how good their winter gear was. That felt like torture to me (but I know some LOVE cold weather sports. Not us). Now I have a toddler who loves outside and I love the “yes” space and lack of clean up that walking to a park or visiting a zoo provides—When it’s 45°-75° and not windy in the lower temps. So I do get a fair amount of outside time. And I have comfortable seating outside at home where I can watch with a firm “Mommy’s going to sit and watch you play and read.”

    So I completely agree. I have fond memories of outdoor play with friends as a kid. But as you mentioned, other kids in the neighborhood made that fun. And I still wasn’t an outdoor play child nor did I grow into an outdoorsy adult.

    And did I mention I hate logging things or keeping records?

    1. Author

      Yes! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      And same with the logging and keeping records. Not my thing. I do what I need to do to keep homeschooling and my business running, and that’s enough to satisfy allll my record-keeping, for life.

    2. Even if you did live in Hawaii you most likely would be so busy making money to afford basic things there that you still wouldn’t get to hang out on the beach for hours. I lived on Oahu for 4 years and the dream of beach reading was usually a dream. 😉

    3. Every time something good and wholesome such as the 1000 hours outside challenge is published someone feels the need to be the face of criticism behind it. It seems like individuals with an internet voice have to criticize everything even that which is a net positive for society. There is so sk so much in this world worth critiquing and bringing attention to, this is not.

      1. Author

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Zoe! We live in a time when parenting advice is handed out like candy, often forcefully so. Parents are often guilted into doing things, even if they can’t sustain it. The problem is not the challenge itself, but the pressure so many parents feel to do this particular challenge because they’ve equated it with being a good parent. That’s why I wrote the post: for the exhausted parents for whom this is just another box to check that, for a variety of reasons, they simply cannot check, and it adds to their guilt and mental load. My desire is to take the burden off their shoulders, and for many, it has, as evidenced by some of the comments here. For them, I’m glad I shared my thoughts. Have a great day!

  13. Yeah no. This is just being lazy and not putting your kids first.

    1. Author

      Thanks for confirming why I wrote this article in the first place. This kind of thinking is not healthy for moms at all: calling them lazy for not doing the 1000 hours outside challenge is mom-shaming. We need far less of it in our culture. Even having the time and ability to choose to do this challenge at all is a privilege that some parents don’t have. Please consider being kinder in the future. 🙂 Future mom-shaming comments will be deleted.

  14. I love this post. Absolutely love it. I’ve always hated going outside. I was forced to as a child. I also read a lot and watched a lot of tv. I think it’s just my wiring. I like to be indoors. I am the person who actually uses the treadmill in her bedroom! 🙂 I do intend to work on getting myself and my kids going outside this year because some of them seem to like it more as a natural part of their personalities. But thank you for being honest about this and the burden it can be to some of us mamas!! 🙂

  15. My oldest is 7 but, when she was younger, I didn’t make much of an effort to spend time outside. I didn’t understand the importance. Then, one day I was looking into myopia (something my husband and I both developed in grade school). The number of people with nearsightedness is continuing to increase and there’s obviously a culprit. The more I looked, I found research indicating plenty of time outside maybe prevent the development of myopia.

    There’s tons of other benefits, but learning this is what motivates me when I don’t feel like going outside. Well, I should say I decided not to mess with the challenge but just try to spend a lot of time outside. But after enough days where the kids didn’t care about going outside and I didn’t care if we did either, I realized we needed some motivation. I feel like it’s so good for us in many ways. I used to get the “blahs” and knew if I could get myself outside, I’d feel better. I just realized I don’t get the blahs anymore because we just spend so much more time outside.

  16. I was forced to play outside a lot as a child and at the time I would have much rather have been inside with controlled temperature watching TV.

    But now that I am an adult, I am so grateful to my parents for not letting us do the easy thing, because now it ironically makes my life so much easier. I see other adults and they can’t handle discomfort; they can’t handle what they see as not perfect weather; they complain constantly about things that would literally never occur to me as problems and I’m happy that I don’t have to live like that.

    People complain that it’s too windy and I’m shocked: the wind just reminds me of all the great times we had flying kites with our dad.

    People complain about the heat and I hadn’t even noticed it, because nothing ever feels as hot as my (probably exaggerated) childhood memories of hot, humid summer afternoons sitting under a tree looking at the leaves and the clouds.

    People complain about the cold and the snow and I love it, because it reminds me of all the fun times we spent building snow forts and having snow ball fights.

    People complain when they’re cold after getting out of a pool and I remember all the times I was shivering holding a soggy sandwich with wet hands, but nothing since has ever tasted as good as those sandwiches.

    My husband was complaining about the rain one time and I was so surprised, like, “What? This is just the kind of weather where my mom would have let us put on our swimsuits and run around outside. That was my favorite thing to do.”

    And he laughed and said, “You must have had some kind of childhood if that was your favorite thing.”

    Which was hilarious and I laughed, but later I was thinking,

    “Yeah, I sure did have some kind of childhood.
    I had an amazing childhood.”

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for sharing your story! I’m glad it worked out for you. I wonder if you were just more open to loving all kinds of weather? I’m pretty sure I was made to play outside, too, in all kinds of weather, and to this day, I still hate the rain and humidity. My kids love cold, but not extreme heat. They’ll happily go outside as soon as the weather gets cool and then really cold. Maybe we’re just all different people? Or maybe not. I guess all any of us can do is what we think is best for our kiddos. Best to you!

  17. Wow, I have to completely disagree. Our family has been keeping track of hours for 2 years now. We keep individual logging sheets (for those of us who want to participate). It doesn’t add any burden to me and it doesn’t encourage or hinder my kids from playing outside. It is simply a fun thing to track. We are just trying to “beat” our hours from last year. It does give me extra incentive to read outside in the morning or evening, sit outside and watch the kids play when weather allows, or go on a extra walk. There are so many health benefits both physical and mental that come from being outside and keeping track of them reminds me to do it.

    1. Author

      I’m so glad the challenge works for your family! Everyone is different. 🙂

  18. I can appreciate this post. I am doing the challenge and I am likely not going to hit 1000 hours, but for me it doesn’t feel like failing. I like seeing a tangible number, because if I’m going to get all the snow gear on then we will be outside for at least an hour. I don’t force this time, but I do encourage it. I think the heart behind 1000 hours is about getting outdoors and discovering nature. It’s not about hitting that number.

  19. Gah. Nope. I don’t agree. Since we started doing the 1000 hour outside challenge (this is our 4th year), my children have completely transformed. I could write a book about it. They are stronger, healthier, happier and have inspired a deep love for nature….These things would not have happened had we not made it a priority. Yes, there are days like today, that I was grumpy about being outside…but I’m glad I went. Where i live we do have extreme temps. We can adjust and live around them. My house stays clean when we are outdoors, we get natural vitamin D from the sun, my kids use every muscle group as they play outdoors, and it calms their sensory system. In addition, they naturally cross the mid-line which helps them in their academics (I notice a huge difference when we have been outside).

  20. Agreed! I’m all for outside time, but not REQUIRED outside time. That just sounds like another chore. And timing it just seems kind of weird to me. I love the intention behind it, but I feel it’s another way to put pressure on parents (OK, mums). And like you mentioned, weather?! We have mild weather year-round so being outside is easy, but there’s no way I’d be outside with snow unless it was essential!
    On social media it just feels like yet another one of those virtue-signalling activities where some families will do it easily and love it, while others will attempt it, not make the hours, and beat themselves up over it while feeling like absolute failures.

  21. Thanks for this! We aren’t doing the challenge either. I don’t need one more burden heaped on me to make it happen and then waste my time recording it. That’s the main reason we’re not doing it. We love our exploration days, park time, after lunch walks, and my kids play outside with their neighbor friends almost daily. We ditched what I had planned yesterday for “school” in favor of them running around our backyard looking for ladybugs, building habitat for the ones that they had temporarily caught, observing what they did, asking me about what they eat, calculating how many they had caught, and sharing the joy of it all with their neighborhood homeschool friends who had come over to play. And just like that, we covered science, oral composition, counting…yeah, we enjoy nature on our own terms, and everyone likes it that way best. I let my kids take risks on the playground too. 😉

  22. Yes, yes and more yes!! Ever since this became a thing (and I know the mom that runs this business personally as an acquaintance), I have felt like a failure because I wasn’t interested to n forcing my kids to do this. My kids LOVE the outdoors and we even live on 80 acres of beautifully wooded land, yet clocking hours just to say we did a certain amount of time never felt right to me…for all the reasons you listed above! It’s so refreshing when someone gives us permission to “miss out” and not have to keep up with the Instagram “Joneses”. Thanks so much for this!!

    1. Author

      You’re so welcome, Jen!

  23. I appreciate this post and wanted to add a story to the illustrate another reason why kids don’t want to play outside.

    In late January we had a huge wind storm here in our little part of Southern California. Hundreds, maybe thousands of trees blew down in the storm. The parks were enormously fun for the next few weeks due to the debris from the trees. My kids wanted to take extra trips to the park to play with stumps, build with branches, climb, create and explore. My daughter said “This is a MAJOR upgrade!” To the city, it was a bunch of dangerous debris that needed to be cleared away, so we could have a nice, clear open space to gather in. To my kids, it was a little piece of wild to play in and it made the park much more compelling.

    1. We had the top of a pine tree snap off in our yard, over the winter. One day I looked outside, and noticed all of our kids, along with some neighbor kids, stripping off all of the branches, in order to build their version of a wigwam. Similarly, I remember playing for hours on a tree in our pasture, when I was a kid, that had been hit by lightning, and had a large limb still attached, but down on the ground. The 1000 hour challenge would be great if it spurred people to go outside, but at our house it’s usually the opposite, where the kids want to be outside continually, in all weather, the more mud the better, and it is a struggle to get them to come inside for necessary things such as eating and sleeping!

  24. I felt the same way when I saw the challenge (and we’re a family that loves being outside). We had joined a local nature group and my girls, who love all things nature, could tell that many of the other kids didn’t even want to be there. One girl told my daughter that she was an inside girl. It was obvious that being outside was being forced on a lot of these kids and it bothered me. Like you, we don’t force anything. Being outside is just something my girls enjoy. And I know that trying to add some challenge to what they love would totally suck the fun out of it!

    1. I totally agree Daniela! It does suck the fun out of it once it becomes a “have to”. I also find that it’s just another things moms (or parents) do to “one up” each other. It’s another cool thing to say you’re doing or another “cool post” on Instagram. Well here’s one, #whocares #joyofmissingout lol I do believe that not everything has to be a “thing”. It can simply be “We went outside today, and we had fun! Maybe we’ll go out tomorrow too, maybe not.” And that’s ok. I’m so glad for this blog post!

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