This year we decided to take part in the 1000 Hours Outside challenge. The idea behind this being that we get our kids away from those screens and show them that the great outdoors can be amazing fun as well as good for their physical and mental wellbeing. Being a Mum to 2 very active boys I didn’t think I would find it too hard but come February, I realised I had overestimated how much time we spend outside in the winter months. It is so easy to make excuses that it is too cold, too wet, we don’t have enough daylight time and I suddenly became very aware of how much we all relied on screentime to entertain us until the better weather came.
I knew I had to look at how we could incorporate more outdoor time into our lives even when the weather wasn’t favourable and to change our mindset. If you are in the UK like us, it can also be easy to think that you will make up those hours in the summer months but again, you cannot rely on our weather and when a heatwave hits, you may suddenly find yourselves sheltering indoors to escape the overpowering sun as we did a few weeks ago. So, you definitely cannot try to play the catch-up game and, even you if did, you probably won’t find that this new outdoor lifestyle will stick because you will only be doing it to count hours. One of the biggest benefits to come out of taking part in the #1000HoursOutside challenge is that your life will change for the better and you will continue to spend far more time outside and together as a family so you want this to fit in easily to your week, you want it to be enjoyable and you want it to become a family routine. Here are my simple tips to help you to achieve your 1000 Hours Outside without it being hard work.
Brisk Morning Stroll
Take a look at your day and see if you can add a brisk 1/2 hour stroll into your morning routine. If you have a dog, this may already be something you do anyway but maybe you do it on your own? Instead, why not involve the whole family in this activity? On a school day, this may not always work but during school holidays and weekends this could easily be included first thing. Look at what you already do. Does that TV go on first thing on a Saturday morning until lunchtime? Perhaps you could all get up, get dressed, get your walk in and then come back for a family breakfast? Remember, how you choose to incorporate this needs to work for you, not against you.
When people hear about outdoor challenges they often relate these to exploring the great outdoors, climbing in the woods, walking along the coast but you should not overlook the space you already have right on your doorstep. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden or a communal outdoor space, use this to your advantage. Create play areas for your children to enjoy, set up a mud kitchen which will allow them to explore the garden for items to ‘cook’ or ‘wash up’, set a scavenger hunt for them to work on, get them involved with the gardening and helping you with basic chores. Children adore being outside but can often lose interest if the space doesn’t spark their imaginations so you may need to think outside of the box to keep them amused and enjoying their outdoor play.
Walk The School Run
If your school run can be walked but you usually use the car, why not give the walk a go more often? It may not always be doable if you have somewhere to be straight after or if the weather takes a turn for the worse, but if you can make this apart of your daily routine you will be surprised by how quickly your hours will begin to build up and also your fitness levels!
Get Some Recommendations
If you are trying to complete your 1000 Hours Outside challenge and are finding that you are only visiting the same places it can all get a bit boring… Do not even talk to me about how dull it was doing the same walks in lockdown, I could have done those with my eyes closed by the end! So, make sure you get some good recommendations for the best outdoor spots in your area. Just by speaking to a few neighbours, asking on a local Facebook group or chatting to someone on a dog walk, you may suddenly be made aware of some amazing walks that you’d never have known about it if you hadn’t asked. Sometimes personal recommendations can be so much better than sitting doing your own online research because you can really get a feel of what a place is like from speaking to somebody who has experienced it.
Carry A Picnic
In order to encourage yourself and your family to stay out for longer or to prevent yourselves from wandering into a cafe or pub, always be prepared and carry a picnic plus drinks and snacks for the day. This way nobody will be moaning they are hungry or thirsty, you won’t have to cut a trip short and you will get more outdoor hours in by eating outside too.
Invest In Good Outdoor Gear
If you are going to be spending 1000 hours outside you will need to make sure that you have all of the right gear. If you don’t own wellies, walking boots, comfortable clothing, waterproofs, wetsuits, backpack, hats, warm wraps/rugs etc. you won’t be as willing to go out in all weathers. I’m definitely not saying to spend a fortune, there isn’t any need for that when you can easily purchase great items in charity shops, on Facebook marketplace or on selling sites such as eBay. You just need to think about what activities you will most likely be taking part in and what will be your outdoor essentials.
Take Up An Outdoor Hobby
One of the best ways to enjoy being outdoors is to take up a hobby that you can do outside. This year has seen a huge rise in sales in bikes, paddleboards, kayaks and so on because of COVID but a lot of these hobbies are extremely well-loved and are here to stay which is amazing to see. If you exercise as a family it becomes such an enjoyable part of your life and makes getting outside even easier.
How have you been getting on with getting your 1000 Hours Outside into your own daily routine? Do you have any further tips you can add to help others to achieve theirs? If so, leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them.
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