Today’s post is part of “Your Green Hour Survival Guide,” a series which I hope will provide inspiration to make getting outside every day a habit.
A little more than a week ago, we passed the 30-day mark of our efforts to make time for a green hour every day. Our goal was to get outside at least 15 minutes a day; the reality so far is an average of some 55 minutes. Mission accomplished!
I’m still keeping a journal every day, which is helping me to see some patterns emerging – some of which I think are worth sharing. So here goes.
Getting out the door is usually the toughest part.
Toughest to contend with have been the bad moods (mine and the kids’ both!) and bad weather (we missed two days due to rain and severe wind).
So what works in those moments when it feels like it’d just be easier to stay inside? I repeat the mantra “just 15 minutes outside, guys. Then we can come back inside and do whatever we want.” Some days we really do go back inside after 15 minutes, but most days we stay outside longer.
Being prepared helps.
And not just with ideas for what to do (which you can find a ton of here). To prepare for your green hour:
- Build outdoor time into your schedule. Believe me, free time isn’t just going to magically appear. The trick is to build 15 minutes of outdoor time into your existing schedule. (I promise a future post on this one!)
- Make cleanup a breeze. The explorers always get dirty when they’re outside. I’ve learned to lay a towel down where the kids enter the house from the backyard – and I have a few more towels on hand for drying off.
Having two young kids of different ages outdoors at once isn’t always easy.
My oldest is 6; the youngest is just shy of 3. Some days are easy enough, but others are quite challenging. One of the kids is grumpy, but the other isn’t. Or one wants to do something the other has absolutely no interest in. Or worst of all – one is napping while the other is itchy to go exploring!
The big payoff here is seeing the kids come together – and they do so far more outside than in. Sure, they still yell and scream a lot at each other, but there are a lot more laughs through the dirt, water, mud and sunshine than anywhere else.
Let the kids lead.
This has far and away been the toughest challenge for me to overcome. Once we’re actually outside, I’m anxious for the explorers to be connecting with nature, not shooting hoops or bashing each other in their annoying plastic fire trucks.
But here’s the thing: They need time to unwind. To do whatever they want with no restrictions or limits from me.
I’ve noticed that somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes after heading outside, the kids inevitably take to exploring something more natural, and are often engaged for quite a while after that. The ideas they come up with remind me of what it means to be a kid – to explore without inhibitions and to let fun trump good sense some times.
Which leaves me the chance to either join the fun or sit back and watch it in awe.
I want to hear from you! What’s your greatest challenge to getting outside 15 minutes a day – and how do you overcome it?