Monday, April 25, 2011

Solutions to Our Biggest Green Hour Challenges

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.

We recently passed the 2-month mark in our efforts to make time for a Green Hour every day. We’ve far surpassed our goal of getting outside at least 15 minutes a day – it’s been more like 50 plus minutes on most days. And we’ve only missed three days in two months (all due to weather)!

Last month at our 30-day check-in, I shared some of the patterns I saw developing as we began spending more time outside. This month, I thought it might be helpful to share our three biggest challenges.

Challenge #1: Our unstructured play often lacks a nature connection.
This may have something to do with our urban environment. Our backyard consists mostly of grass and concrete. The kids’ current favorite activity is to “bash” each other with their trikes, or shoot hoops – neither of which offers much in the way of a nature connection.

Solution: Strike a balance between play and planned activities.
I’m working hard to allow the explorers to have unstructured playtime outside – time when they choose what they want to do, how and for how long. But allowing that freedom means they won’t always opt for a nature connection. (I also think our backyard could use a few more natural elements to inspire them.)

As long as the kids are outside entertaining themselves, I don’t interfere. But I’m learning to mix it up, too. Some days we head to the park instead of the backyard for a change of scenery; some times I have activities planned, like planting wildflowers or an outdoor playdate.

Challenge #2: Sometimes more than one of us is just plain grouchy.
There have been a couple of days this past month when the big explorer asked if he could take a break from outdoor time. What?! I have my moments, too, when I’m tired or stressed and no good to anyone.

Solution: Keep it simple – and do something fun.
It is on these days that it’s especially important to go easy on yourself – and the kids. Aim for a shorter amount of time outside and pick an activity you know you’ll enjoy. I usually opt for blowing bubbles or drawing with sidewalk chalk when I’m feeling uninspired. Of course, time outside almost always makes us feel just a little bit better than before.

Challenge #3: Two kids, one mom.
This plays out in several ways: The little explorer takes off running while the big explorer and I are walking/playing/sitting happily. Or scheduling conflicts mean I spend a ton of time outside with one explorer and none with the other. Or one of the kids has a total meltdown while the other is having the time of his life.

Solution: Stick with it.
Yeah, I wish I had a better answer for this one, too. But the truth is, I’m still working on it. I won’t give up, though. Time and experience will make it easier for all of us to learn what works best for us. And I’m not willing to give up our outdoor time to wait until the little explorer is past toddlerdom.

If you've set a goal to get outside at least 15 minutes a day this month, how is it going? I'd love to share a little of your story, so leave a comment here or send me an email.


  1. Such great solutions! Good work on getting outside so often.

  2. AH! Our struggles and aspirations are right in line. I'm a mother of three young children living in Michigan (where's the warm sun?!?!?) Last October when my older two children couldn't find anything to do in the yard I tried drumming up some ideas on the spot but came up sadly empty. That night, switching to offense rather than defense, I wrote a list of 101 play ideas we could use in the yard. Maybe you can find a few worthwhile ideas here for your little (adorable) guys and I'll keep checking back here for my little people. Thanks for the informative post!

  3. @Miska: It's nice to meet you! Sounds like an interesting list you've created - maybe we should find a way to share it with my readers? Feel free to email me directly so we can chat more.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...