Monday, May 16, 2011

Lessons Learned From My Green Hour Journal


Today’s post is part of “Your Green Hour Survival Guide,” a series which I hope will provide you with inspiration to make getting outside every day a habit.

When I first decided to get serious about making time for a green hour every day, one thing I knew I’d have to do is to keep a journal.

Writing things down makes me accountable – even if only to myself. (My bright red notebook stares up at me from my nightstand every morning reminding me to find time to get outside that day.) A journal also helps me notice patterns, like our biggest hurdles and our successes.

I keep my journaling simple so it’s easy to write something down every day. I include the date and day of the week, the weather, the time of day, the total time spent outside, what exactly the kids do, and any other notes worth mentioning.

Here’s what our green hour journal has helped me learn about our endeavors as we pass the 3-month mark.

Mood matters. A lot.
This one was a big surprise for me. I didn’t think it should would matter that much. Turns out that on the days when one or more of us is cranky, we have trouble connecting. There is yelling, fighting and lack of creativity on their part and mine. Still working on a way to turn this negative into a positive (ideas welcome!). For now, bubbles seem to help.


Weather doesn’t make or break our ability to get outside.
Granted, I don’t live where it snows. But it does rain – sometimes hard. And the wind! Oh my, the wind. But guess what? The weather has almost no influence on whether the kids want to play outside. In fact, they love being outside in the rain. And while the wind is a bit more challenging, it isn’t a deal breaker.


Turns out I’m the only one in the family who gets cold and uncomfortable outside when the temp drops below 70 degrees. Good for them.

Our backyard space lacks inspiration.
I talked about this one earlier this month when I invited you to take a peek inside our backyard.


In recording the types of activities the kids seek out, I have learned that it would be helpful to offer up some more natural options, like a mud pie kitchen, a dirt pile, a fort, a water play area and more. (Bonus if the activities can be combined with bikes – a huge hit at the moment.)

Funny thing is, when we’re playing somewhere other than our own backyard (like a park, the school garden or even on play dates), it doesn’t seem to matter if there are natural elements around – the kids still engage in nature play. Something must be working.

Water play is a must on hot days.
On every single mildly warm day thus far, the explorers flock to the water, soaking themselves and loving it. Learning this has helped me focus on new ways for them to enjoy water. A few new elements I'd like to add: water spray bottles, containers of all shapes and sizes, water painting and a water wall.


It usually takes a while for the real fun to get started.
On the days when the kids have the most fun (like the day they created a wet spot in the grass and ran through it getting muddy for what felt like forever), it usually comes after being outside for at least 30 minutes. I guess they need time to unwind, too.


If you've set a goal to get outside at least 15 minutes a day, how is it going?

5 comments:

  1. Green hour every day! That is such a fantastic idea. It is probably something we already do without focusing on it, we spend a lot of time outside, everyday. But focusing on it and keeping a journal takes it to a whole different level.

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  2. Can't believe you have been journaling and blogging. That is amazing. But you are right, what a great way to track the patterns and similarities in what you all have been doing.
    About mood - since your kiddos are slightly older you could try letting the cranky one decide what you all will do outside, or give them the chance to bring a new "inside" toy outside. This will hopefully get them excited and break the crankiness and the enthusiasm is almost always contagious! Not sure how to help if it is your mood that needs changing...which is normally the case with me!

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  3. @Tat: Yay for you for getting outside every day! :)

    @Abbie: Love the idea of letting the crankiest of us choose that day's activity. It might even work for me! :)

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  4. I didn't know about green hour when I started. I didn't know about the 30 day challenges that abound. All I knew is that I wanted to get outside every day with my son, and I wanted to inspire others to do the same through my blog

    The most amazing thing I have seen is how much getting outside changes his behavior. I really think this could be the cure for the terrible 2s! If we miss a day or shortcut he is grouchy and defiant.

    For me, I'm learning not to be so structured all the time. To let him set the pace and change the rules. They're more guidelines anyways.

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  5. @Sunny: Great comment - getting outside every day has definitely helped me back off on my usually over-structured approach. Which may be why we tend to have such fun. :)

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