Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Crushing the 1,000 Hours Outside Challenge

Secrets to 1000 hours outside challenge

The 1,000 hours outside challenge is just what it sounds like – spend 1,000 hours outside in a year.  This may seem like a daunting task, even when you break it up by day (approx. 2.74 hours a day).

But, fear not!  We’ve got some secrets, tips and tricks you can implement to help achieve your goal!

Anyone can participate in the 1,000 hours outside challenge, but it’s especially great for families!  With screen time on the rise and family relationships suffering, embarking on this challenge will undoubtedly result in positive outcomes!  Our secrets, tips & tricks to crushing the 1,000 hours outside challenge are geared towards families with children, but really anyone can modify these tips for their personal situation.

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Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Crushing the 1,000 hours outside challenge

1. Change Up the Scenery

1000 Hours outside - Change the scenery
1000 Hours outside - Change the scenery

There’s so much world to explore, so change it up!  

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Check out local parks and playgrounds
  • Check out state and national parks
  • Head to the zoo
  • Go play at splash pads and pools
  • Go to different beaches 
  • Walk around different neighborhoods

Consider places both near and far.  We don’t mind driving an hour+ if it means a cool new place to explore for the day!

1000 Hours outside - Change the scenery
1000 Hours outside - Change the scenery

2. Don't Overlook The Space Around Your Home

By the same token, don’t overlook the space around your home!  Spending time outside doesn’t have to be a trek every time.  

Really enjoy the outdoor space outside your home!

Whether you have a huge backyard, small backyard or no backyard, take maximum advantage of the outdoor space you do have.  This may be a small patio or parking lot.  Or maybe you have some outdoor space within a short walking distance.  

We have a small backyard, a screened in patio, a small front yard and driveway.  We take advantage of all these outdoor areas.

3. Make Your Outdoor Space More Comfortable

If you do have some outdoor space to work with at your home, make it more comfortable.  You’ll be more likely to want to spend time there!

Consider adding:

    • Comfortable seating & throw pillows
    • A fan (or heater for cold climates)
    • A fire pit
    • Music
    • Nice lighting

4. Change Up the Time of Day

Go outside during all hours of the day.  The same places may look totally different at different hours of the day – different people, different animals, different birds & bugs, different sounds, different lighting….you get the idea!  

Go out and watch the sunset or sunrise.  

Look at the moon and stars.  

1000 Hours outside - Change the scenery
1000 hours outside challenge tips 2021

5. Be Prepared

Take it from the scouts and be prepared!  Nothing can spoil time outdoors faster than having to go back home because you came unprepared.

Always have enough water and food (the last thing you want is a hangry toddler – or daddy!).  We always bring our reusable water bottles and plenty of snacks – and sometimes a meal!

Make sure everyone is wearing comfortable clothes and shoes.  You don’t want to have to cut your time outdoors short because somebody’s feet hurt or somebody is too cold because they’re not dressed for the weather.  If you have younger children, also consider bringing a stroller or carrier!

Make sure you have sunscreen, bug spray and band-aids!

6. Use a Time Tracker App on Your Phone

When you’re taking part in the 1,000 hours outside challenge, you’ll want to make sure you count every minute!  

It’s easy to overlook small bursts of time spent outdoors – but it’s all these little moments that will help you achieve your 1,000 hours goal.  

To make tracking your time easier, we recommend getting a time tracker app.  We talk more about the app we use and like here.

7. Make an Effort to Get Outside Every Day

As mentioned above, the small amounts of time spent outdoors really do add up.  Even if you won’t get nearly close to spending 2.74 hours outside in a single day, still make an effort to get outside each and every day!

For instance, you could easily turn the daily task of checking the mailbox into 15-30 minutes of outdoor time.

8. Plan for Longer Days Outside When You Have More Time (Like the Weekend!)

Though spending at least 2.74 hours every day outdoors may be ideal, it’s just not practical for many families.  

This is why we recommend “catching up” on your hours on the weekends or whenever you have more time.  

On days you have more time, spend more time outside!  

We will often drive to destinations for our planned longer days outdoor and make a full day of it.

9. Bring Indoor Activities Out

Play games outside! 1000 hours outside challenge

Take a critical look at how you and your children spend your time.  What activities do you regularly do that you can move outdoors?  Or maybe you’re trying to cut down on screen time.  What new activities could you embark on and do outside?

Here are some ideas:

      • Play board games or card games
      • Do a puzzle
      • Play (whatever your child likes to play with!  Legos, magnatiles, dolls, cars, etc.)
      • Read
      • Color, paint or do other arts and crafts
      • Do homework
      • Eat meals outside
      • Cook or prepare meals outside (peel potatoes, chop veggies, grill, etc.)
      • Play music or dance
      • Exercise (lift weights, run, do yoga)
      • Paint nails, clip nails, etc.
      • Do make-up, face masks, etc. 
      • Brush/style hair
      • Brush/wash the dog
      • Deep clean items (like fridge drawers)
      • Sort the mail
      • Declutter boxes/bins
      • File

10. Have Lots of Activities

Children (and adults!) who aren’t used to spending so much time outside may feel bored, uninspired or even dread their time outdoors.  To combat this, especially in the beginning, it helps to have some planned activities.  It could be anything from cloud watching to watering plants; looking at bark or bugs; or hiking a trail.  Once you’ve spent some time outdoors, children will likely need less help finding things to do to keep them occupied.  

Check out this article for more ideas:  Nature Walk Ideas for Toddlers & Preschoolers (40+ Activities!)

11. Work on a Project or Hobby

  • Starting an outdoor project or hobby as a family is worth mentioning separately – it’s slightly different than the activities mentioned above.  A project is an on-going project that the family can come back to again and again.  

Examples of outdoor projects/hobbies include:

      • Planting & caring for a garden (if you have a black thumb, try a hydroponic garden like Lettuce Grow).
      • Feeding the birds and birdwatching (or in our case, squirrel-watching!  We can attest from experience that the squirrels love this birdseed!)
      • Caring for fish or backyard chickens (or other animals)
      • Geo-caching
      • Fishing
      • Canoeing

12. Change Up the People You're With

Adding friends and family to the mix will definitely help you achieve your goal!  

You could take your child to the same patch of grass every day for a week – but if they had a new friend with them, they surely wouldn’t mind!

Invite friends or family on your outdoor adventures.  Invite friends or family to your backyard.  Have a BBQ or picnic.  Take a walk.  Involve others in your journey of spending 1,000 hours outside!


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Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Crushing the 1,000 hours outside challenge
Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Crushing the 1,000 hours outside challenge

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