Spending time with your kids in nature is important for so many reasons! Discover just a few of the proven benefits of outdoor play.
As a culture, we have become obsessed with filling our calendars with more. More recitals, more games, more extra-curricular activities, leaving little to no time for our kids to just exist, explore, create, imagine, and be bored.
As a mom of 4 kids, I could easily get sucked into the world of rushing from practices to recitals to home to whip up a quick dinner. But do I really want that? Do I really want the memories my kids have of me to be of a crazy, stressed-out mom who is constantly yelling for her kids to rush out the door?? The answer is no, I do not.
1000 Hours Outside
This is where the 1000 hours outside challenge comes in to play. When I saw this challenge of spending more time outside as a family, exploring and connecting in nature, it intrigued me. I decided to jump in and attempt the challenge of reaching 1000 hours outside in 2021. To be honest, I was skeptical that we would make it.
As the year went on, I learned more about the proven benefits of outdoor play. Everything I learned made me even more adamant that I wanted to reach this goal with my kids.
We spent over 1000 hours outside in 2021. We hit our goal and went above it. Countless memories were made, and many days were spent hiking and splashing in creeks. The challenge pushed me to take my kids outside, even when the weather wasn’t ideal. We played in the rain and snow and hit the water when it got too hot.
You may argue that you couldn’t do this challenge because you are not an outside person…I’m not either! I would much rather be inside in the air conditioning reading a book. I can’t tell you how many times my mom has told me that she never would have guessed I would do this with my kids, and that I’m a totally different person. Kids will do that to you. They change you and mold you into a completely different person. Will you accept the challenge and let them mold you into a connected family who loves spending time together and off of their devices?
Benefits of Outdoor Play: Kids in Nature For Stress-Relief
Spending time in nature is relaxing. It helps our brains to shut off and just enjoy nature without having to expend effort learning something new. When our brain is allowed to relax, stress is reduced. Being in a relaxed state has many benefits, such as a decrease in blood pressure, a lower cortisol output, a boosted immune system, and a decrease in muscle tension.
Our kids need to spend time in nature to help with stress relief. The pressures our kids are under in current society are immense. Pressure to perform well in school, in sports, in a job, on social media, and to just keep up, pile unnecessary amounts of stress on our kids.
So, how can you help your kids relieve stress? Just spend time in nature together. Empty your calendar of so many scheduled things and have blocks of nothing so you can turn off your brain. A habit of spending time in nature provides the building blocks for a life with less stress and pressure to perform.
Benefits of Outdoor Play: Kids In Nature For Balance
Here are two shocking statistics that lit a fire in me to complete the 1000 hours outside challenge:
- The average American kid watches 1200 hours of television every year!
- The average child only gets 4-7 minutes of free play outside every day! (This does not include sports that are outdoors)
With kids using computers and tablets so much in school now, then coming home to watch television and play video games, the amount of screentime is off the wall crazy! The 1000 hours challenge was founded in the belief that as parents, we should at least help our kids match that average with outdoor play. If your kids are spending on average 1200 hours in front of a screen, you know that the time is there to get outside. It just needs to be redirected.
Everything in life is a balancing act. Your goal is to find what works for your family.
If you break down what it looks like to hit 1000 hours outside in a year, that is just less than 3 hours outside a day. Get creative and think of ways you can get outside as a family.
Ideas For Spending Time With Your Kids In Nature:
- Eat one or more meals outside when the weather is nice.
- Plan family hikes, picnics, pool days, beach trips, etc.
- Gather a group of moms who want to reach this goal together and schedule a weekly or biweekly nature time.
- Pack up your schoolbooks and take them outside with you.
- Start a garden.
- Instead of buying more toys for inside, buy larger things for outside (swing set, trampoline, climbing dome, etc.) and/or annual passes to your local zoo and other outdoor memberships.
Are you ready to start the 1000 hours outside challenge!? A great way to keep track of your hours is to print off your FREE tracker and post it somewhere you will see it every day. Add your email in the box below and I will send it right over! I keep our tracker right on the front of the fridge. For every hour you spend outside, color in a square. If you are anything like me, you will not want to see any empty spots at the end of the year!
Proven Benefits of Outdoor Play
- Stress relief – Getting outside helps your brain to relax.
- Decrease blood pressure – This goes hand in hand with stress relief. When you feel less stressed, your blood pressure is lower.
- Boosted immune system – Vitamin D exposure from the sun is crucial to having a strong immune system. The more Vitamin D your body absorbs, the stronger the immune system.
- Better sleep – Of course running around outside for hours a day will tire kids out and help them sleep better. Sunlight before noon is extra beneficial because it can help reset their circadian rhythm. This circadian rhythm is the master clock of the body. It helps your body know when it is time to be awake and time to be asleep.
Check Out These Posts to Help You Outdoors:
- Homemade Insect Repellent
- How to Build a Refillable First Aid Kit
- Bug Bite Relief
- Outdoor Essentials for Nature Exploring
- Easy Items to Keep in Your Adventure Kit
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See my full disclosure HERE.
Shop My Favorite Books for More About Benefits of Outdoor Play:
- Adventuring Together by Greta Eskridge
- The Call of the Wild & Free by Ainsley Arment
- The Wild and Free Family by Ainsley Arment
- 1000 Hours Outside by Ginny Yurich
- 100 Days of Adventure by Greta Eskridge