We have reached the end of the third month of documenting our outdoor hours- an idea I picked up on the inspiring website 1000 Hours Outside.
What have we learned?
First of all I can relax. My littles spend loads of time outside. They have clocked up an average of just over 7 hours a day (a little boost there from a couple of camping trips- an obvious way to spend more time outside- and lots of fine weather). Noticing this has helped me to not be so “what – are – you – doing – inside – on – such – a – beautiful – day ??!” at them (well… mostly… ) which has meant lots of creative indoor activities have happened as well.
Next, I have noticed that the only person around here who really struggles to spend time outdoors is me!!
Sure, I should make my 1000 hours, averaging about 4.5 hours a day at present, but usually it is in little moments snatched here and there, and rarely as intentional as I would like. Even though I do as much as I can to bring my indoor work outdoors, there just always seems to be something needing doing inside. Sigh.
So 1000 Hours outside hasn’t been as difficult to do as I had thought it might be- but it has been really hard to keep track of, for a number of reasons:
#1. Not all of the littles are outside at the same time. In the end I have settled for counting the hours if at least half of them are out there.
#2. We don’t really run on clock or calendar time here. Part of the break with our old way of life was to let go a little, and as our friend Loren Kate so eloquently puts it in her beautiful song “Speargrass”– to live by the sun, the stars and the moon. (Of course, frequent appointments keep us on the same planet as everyone else!)
#3. The line between indoors and outdoors here is not really distinct… maybe a cultural thing here in Australia, or perhaps anywhere that enjoys a reasonably mild climate. The children run in and out of doors all day, half of our ‘inside’ is outside- our bush kitchen and outdoor living area, and cookspace on the back verandah. We take a lot of meals al fresco and even sleep outdoors sometimes in the warmer weather.
So… I have generally begun to observe what time they go out each day, when they come in, subtracting any substantial time spent indoors in between. I am also separately tracking my own hours outside. A little untidy as far as record keeping goes, but it gives us a general idea. At this time of year it is not uncommon for the children to tumble out the door as early as 8 or 9am, and, aside from the occasional quiet rest indoors, not come in until it is time for bed.
So, what do the littles do all day outside?
They do what I did when I was a child… swings and bikes, trees and mud, ropes and contraptions, cubbies and forts… busily growing strong little bodies and inventive minds.
And what would I change?
I really want to be out there with them more.
I am in the process of trying to develop the habit of longer hours outside. Of at least one day each week where I give time spent in nature the same priority I would any other appointment.
I am sure the benefits will be amazing.
I want to take more dawn and dusk walks and more picnics. I want to explore more wild places, and stay longer. I want to slow down more, to look and listen. I want to sleep under the stars, not on the occasional night, but many nights. I want to see familiar things through new eyes. I never want to take for granted the wonder of this place we are living in. I want to give my children endless happy memories of many beautiful places.
Don’t think it’s too hard. Really, it only takes a moment to begin. Moment, by moment we are making beautiful memories to look back on… All those moments strung together make for a beautiful life…
Can’t get outside today? Maybe tomorrow…
Even for just one hour. Or maybe more : )
Here are some of our outdoor moments over the past few months…
Looking forward to sharing more pictures in the months to come!