As a mother, I want my daughter to have every opportunity in life. I want her to be successful and to find joy in all she does. I also want her to be healthy, both physically and mentally. I believe that spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to achieve all these goals.
That’s why my daughter and I have made a commitment to spend 1000 hours outdoors each year. We’ll go hiking, camping, bird-watching, and kayaking. We’ll explore our city and its parks. We’ll visit the zoo, the aquarium, and the botanical gardens. We’ll do whatever we can to get outside and enjoy nature.
I know that spending time outdoors isn’t the only thing that will make my daughter healthy and successful. But I believe it’s a very important part of her development, and I’m happy to have this commitment as a way to make sure she gets enough exposure.
Benefits of Spending Time Outdoors
There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors that I could go on and on. But to put it simply, spending time in nature makes us happier, healthier and smarter.
For me, the best way to get my family outside is by setting a goal of 1000 hours per year. We typically achieve this by going on regular hikes, visits to the park and spending time outdoors as a family. And it’s not just our physical health that benefits from all this outdoor time; we’re also better able to focus and learn when we’re in school.
The bottom line is that we all need to spend more time outdoors. It’s good for our bodies, our minds and our spirits.
Planning an Outdoor Adventure
Now that we have a goal in mind, it’s time to start planning our outdoor adventures. We’ll usually start by looking through our options for local parks, forests or nature preserves. We also like to check out the hiking trails and mountain biking trails in our area.
If we’re going to be doing an overnight trip or spending a few days camping, we’ll start packing our gear and make a list of food we’ll need. We also like to find fun outdoor activities to do in the area where we’re going. This can range from hiking and swimming to white water rafting and zip lining.
No matter what we’re doing, we always make sure to pack plenty of sunscreen, insect repellent and water bottles. And of course, we always have our hiking boots and mountain bikes ready to go!
Making Time for Outdoor Play
As a parent, I know firsthand how hard it can be to find time for outdoor play. My daughter is at an age now where she’s constantly in demand—with after-school activities and social commitments. But I also know the importance of unstructured outdoor play, so I’ve made it a priority in our family.
We’ve set a goal of 1000 hours outdoors each year, and we work together to make it happen. We get up early on weekends to go for a walk or bike ride. We take nature walks on our days off from school. We visit the park or the beach as often as we can. And we always make time for some good old-fashioned backyard playtime.
It can be tough to fit it all in, but the benefits are worth it. Playing outdoors helps kids stay active and healthy, teaches them about nature and encourages creativity and imagination. It’s also a great way to connect with your kids and have some fun together.
The Gear You Need for a Great Outdoor Experience
When it comes to the gear we need to make our outdoor adventures enjoyable, it might surprise you how little you actually need. We keep a separate bag with a few essentials like you might expect: sunscreen, hats, snacks, and water. But we also bring things that lend to the experience and make our time outdoors even more memorable.
We bring books for reading or scavenger hunts, binoculars for bird watching, hula hoops for playtime, crochet materials for art projects, bubbles for imaginative play and laughter, magnifying glasses for bug hunting…the list goes on. These items not only occupy our time in nature but also open up the opportunity for learning about the environment around us. We explore without screens and create without limits.
The other bonus of bringing along these fun toys is that they make great conversation starters with other families we come across while out in nature. It’s amazing how quickly kids can bond when they have something creative to focus on!
Determine Your Outdoor Goals & Plan to Achieve Them
Once I realized the power of being regularly outdoors, it was only natural for me to set a goal of spending at least 1000 hours outdoors each year. But how do you actually set and track tangible goals like that?
Well, the first thing I did was think about my outdoor activities individually. Hiking, running, cycling and swimming are all great in their own ways and have unique benefits, so I decided to break out each type of activity into their own goals. This way, I could track my progress month-to-month throughout the year to see how I was doing against each individual activity.
Then, I had to figure out how much time each type of activity would take in order to reach my total goal of 1000 hours annually. After some careful planning and math, I determined that if I spent roughly 6 hours per week on outdoor activities, then I could meet my goal. That’s something that’s totally achievable!
Finally, I made sure to commit the time in writing by creating a plan of action with specific deadlines and milestones. After that, it was just a simple matter of planning ahead and sticking with the plan!
Creative Ideas to Make the Most of Being Outside
We’ve come up with some creative ideas to make the most of our time outside. One idea is to have a bug hunt or a scavenger hunt. We use this opportunity to explore nature, while also learning about different types of bugs and plants.
We also like to set up games in our backyard, like a specific type of ball game, such as catch or Three-Legged Race. Since we’re playing in our backyard, it’s easy and convenient for us to set up these activities.
In addition, my daughter and I love going on nature walks around our neighborhood or nearby park. During these walks, we often talk about what we see and observe while playing outdoor spotting games like “I spy with my little eye” or counting how many flowers/insects/birds/hills/trees we can find along the way.
These are some fun ways that my daughter and I have been able to make the most of our time outdoors each year, and ultimately reach our goal of 1000 hours outdoors each year!
I’m a firm believer that children need to spend time outdoors every day, and I’m not alone. In fact, there are a lot of great reasons why kids should play outside.
For one, being outdoors has a bunch of physical benefits. Kids who spend time outside get more exercise, which is great for their health. They also get Vitamin D from the sun, which is essential for strong bones.
But that’s not all. Kids who play outside also have better mental health. They have better focus and attention, and they’re more creative. They learn how to solve problems, and they experience nature in a way that can’t be replicated indoors.
We work hard to get our 1000 hours each year, and it’s worth it. My daughter has learned so much from being outside, and it’s something we both enjoy.