Updated: Sep 20, 2019
If you think back to some of your favorite childhood memories, chances are many of them take place outside -- trips to the swimming hole, baseball in the park, games of tag and kick-the-can. For those of us who grew up before the rise of smartphones and tablets, much of our free time was spent under the big blue sky.
While kids today occupy the same world as we did, there’s a growing list of gizmos and gadgets vying for their attention. Recent studies have found kids 8 and up typically spend more than 7 hours a day in front of screens. Even children ages 0-2 are averaging over 3 hours of screen time a day (for context, the average in 1997 was 1.3 hours)!
The concept of screen time is nothing new, nor is the concern that too much of it can impact a child’s development and wellbeing. Conversely, research has shown that outdoor play and time in nature produces positive impacts on health, development, and emotional wellness.
One of the moms on our Advisory Panel, Shaylee Healy, recently introduced us to one family who is taking these findings to heart. Ginny and Josh Yurich, along with their 5 kids, have vowed to spend at least 1000 hours outside each year.
If 1000 hours sounds like a lot, consider that at roughly 3 hours a day, the average 2 year old will log 1095 hours of screen time over a span of 12 months. Ginny and Josh acknowledge that, at first, the prospect of getting the kids outside that much was daunting. What they found, however, was that by spreading out 4- to 6-hour blocks of outdoor activity across several days (with a goal of about 20 hours per week), staying on track with their goal was manageable. They point out that with a little bit of planning, routine things like meals or homework can be done outside.
Ginny has this to say:
“We tried it. And you know what? We have not looked back. Our greatest times as a family, and my most successful times mothering almost exclusively point back to these fully immersive nature days. In time, we began to find that there is benefit upon benefit to this wonderful time outside.”
The Yurich family, whose experience is documented on their blog, hopes others will decide to take what they call the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge. Their website offers resources, like a Challenge tracking chart and activity guides, that make it easier to get started. They even cover the science of puddle jumping, and how splashing around helps kids sharpen their senses. One of LONE CONE’s Brand Ambassadors, Tabby Powell, is giving it a go.
We asked Tabby how her family feels about the Challenge so far:
“We are participating in the 1000 Hours Challenge because it is so important to be outdoors. It’s good for physical exercise and mental health, and [the kids] learn so much from the outdoors. Having a chart and challenge to follow made me way more intentional with getting my kids outside and my kids really love when we get to mark another box off of the chart. We love the challenge as a family -- not only is it good for my kids, but it’s also great for my husband and myself.”
Tabby also offered some great advice for other families interested in participating in the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge:
“The biggest advice I can offer is getting weather-appropriate clothes and shoes. I love LONE CONE rain boots because my kids love to get MESSY and play with mud and puddles, and I don’t want to deal with soggy sneakers.
Another tip is to get some outdoor things for your kids to play on. My kids love their bikes, the hammock, slackline, trampoline and sand box. We have an acre for the kids to play on, but if you don’t have enough space or live in an apartment, I highly recommend getting chalk, bubbles, a magnifying glass for exploring, and other portable items you can easily carry outside.”
Even if you’re not ready to commit to 1000 Hours, any amount of ‘extra’ outdoor playtime is a worthy goal. This weekend kicks off National Park Week, with National Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, April 20th, when entrance to all National Parks is free. It’s the perfect opportunity to create lasting family memories outside, immersed in what Ginny and Josh describe as “the most high def screen imaginable - the great outdoors.” Learn more by clicking the logos below.