Why the ‘1000 Hours Outside’ Challenge is Harder Than it Looks


When I saw on Instagram that one of my Mom friends was aiming to complete the ‘1000 Hours Outside’ challenge this year, I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. Living in the Bay Area we’re completely spoiled for choice of outdoor activities, how hard could it be? 

As someone who believes that being outdoors and in nature is an essential part of childhood, the challenge of spending 1000 hours outdoors was appealing. The website 1000hoursoutside.com provides a selection of free downloadable trackers and fun merchandise to buy. The premise is simple, you commit as a family to spending 1000 hours outdoors in 2021. 

Over the course of an entire year, 1000 hours didn’t seem too ambitious, but when you break it down that’s actually 164 minutes (or 2 hours and 44 minutes) per day. Even for someone with a flexible schedule, that’s no easy task with a toddlers’ nap and mealtimes to factor in. 

On one hand, I like the idea of having a measurable challenge and an incentive to get outdoors even on rainy days. On the other hand, in an unprecedented time when most of us are struggling just to make it through the week, is it really necessary to have one more thing to tick off an ever-growing to-do list, or something else to add to the endless things to feel guilty about if I don’t complete the challenge? 

January threw us off target with shelter-in-place, wet weather, and cold temperatures keeping us indoors more than I would have liked. When the rain clouds took a break last week, my son discovered a new favorite hobby – jumping in muddy puddles. As fun as muddy puddles are, they aren’t conducive to spending extended periods of time outside. After just 25 minutes of this new activity, I had to take him home for a full outfit change. 

Despite a disappointing start to the challenge, I’m still optimistic we can catch up. I just need to make sure I carry more changes of clothes, up my picnic game and make an effort to get outdoors multiple times a day. Even if we don’t complete the 1000 Hours Outside challenge, I have no doubt we’ll have fun trying.


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