Those who know me well might answer, “Yes, definitely. A long time ago.” No arguments here. But in all seriousness, I have been pushing the limit on our outdoor goals for three years running. I decided to take the plunge this year and print out the 1000 Hours Outside tracker.
I have found that Virginia at 1000HoursOutside.com and I have similar philosophies. We are both greatly influenced by Charlotte Mason. Mason was a 19th-century teacher and educational philosopher who wrote five volumes on education and child-rearing. Here is a quote from her.
In the first place, do not send them; if it is anyway possible, take them; for although the children should be left much to themselves, there is a great deal to be done and a great deal to be prevented during these long hours in the open air. And long hours they should be; not two, but four, five or six hours they should have on every tolerably fine day, from April till October.Charlotte Mason
Go With Them
We can learn so much from these few sentences. First, we should not just send them, but go with them. I used to bemoan the fact that my yard is not fenced. I couldn’t just give the kids the boot outdoors on a nice day like my mom used to. But on this journey to be in nature with my kids, I too have reaped the benefits of unplugging from our digital-dominated lives.
Next, we see that Mason says to be there but to leave the children to their own devices. Mom does not have to be the tour guide to fun every minute of the day. You can have a few things planned, but don’t stress. Let the kids discover things on their own too.
Spend Lots of Time Outside
Go out for up to six hours on all the nice days from April through October! We live where we experience all four seasons. When April rolls around, everyone is suffering from cabin fever. We just want to be outside soaking up Vitamin D.
One of our favorite signs of spring is when the parks and recreation committee hang the swings back up in the park. We love to splash in new puddles, take walks in the spring sunshine, and read under the trees.
During the summer break from school, we are the most active outdoors. We swim, bike, hike, walk to the ice cream shop, etc. It is easiest to be outside four or more hours on these days.
Autumn is for enjoying the changing foliage along the trail, raking piles of leaves to jump into, and campfires with s’mores.
More Fine Days
We have also been learning to expand our definition of a “tolerably fine day.” I am a recovering cold-weather curmudgeon. We have many more resources for exploring in the winter than what was available to Charlotte Mason. We love to bundle up and play in the snow, snowshoe on the rail trail, and go sledding.
There are so many options to keep you busy while outside. The first and best option is to let kids explore. They easily find things to keep them busy, like when my kids built stick forts in the woods.
If you want some ideas for things to do in your outdoor time, try some of the things in this post. Visit trailfamily.blog and 1000hoursoutside.com for many more ideas too.
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