We’re Spending 1,000 Hours Outside in 2021 (maybe, we’ll see how it goes)

Littlewoods in possession of a snowball

I don’t think I’ve ever kept a New Year’s resolution. Ever.

In my frittered youth, I made impossible, vague and numerous resolutions. I’d resolve to “lose weight, achieve inner peace and volunteer more,” all in the same year, with no specifics, no action plan and no accountability. I think we can all see why this approach failed. And it didn’t fail just once. It failed every single one of my resolution-making years, which was probably a contiguous 20 years.

Based on this enviable track record, I decided to be ultra-specific and action-oriented for 2021. Will this work? I HAVE NO IDEA. But the opposite never did.

Here are my two goals for 2021:

  1. I will hike every single day.
    • I know I’ll miss days here or there, but saying ‘every day’ makes it WAY more likely I’ll get out on the trail on the regular. My husband and I both started daily hiking this past fall and we are not sucking at it (yet).
    • I will say that this goal is aided by the fact that we live in the woods and that my husband built hiking trails through our 66 acres of forest.
  2. I will spend 1,000 hours outside with my kids.

What Do You Mean “1,000 Hours Outside?”

Kidwoods trekking across our yard

The concept is simple to remember, tough to implement: spend 1,000 hours outside every single year. This averages out to 2.7 hours a day, which I think (THINK?) is doable. It’s totally possible we did this last year, it’s equally possible we didn’t because I didn’t track it. I like the idea of being intentional. I like the idea of tracking our outside time because it feels like something we might actually accomplish.

Why am I doing this? My kids are happier when they’ve spent a lot of time in nature. I’m happier when I’ve spent a lot of time in nature. Both kids and I are less annoying to selves and others post-nature. All in all, seems like a good plan.

How’s This Working So Far?

Well, I waited until March to tell you about it because I wanted to see how it went. So far? Not too bad! Especially considering we started during the coldest stretch of the year. Here’s what we’ve done:

  • I’ve hiked every single day (so has Mr. Frugalwoods!)
  • The kids and I have been outside every single day!

I’m tracking our outside time with a highly technical system of coloring in the dots on a tracking worksheet. Each dot = one hour and as of this publication (Monday, March 8, 2021), the kids and I are at 77 hours total, which averages out to 1.15 hours outside per day, seeing as we’re 67 days into 2021.

Littlewoods and I paused for a mid-hike snuggle

We’re well under the 2.7 hours average, but it’s the bitter coldest part of the year. I’m optimistic we’ll up our time as the weather thaws out. I mean, even a degree above freezing would be an improvement. I also feel like just getting out there–in blizzards and subzero temps some days–is pretty darn good (at least, this is what I’m telling myself).

What I find, 67 days in, is that having this 1,000 Hours Outside goal encourages me to take the kids out on days when I’d normally look out the window, shrug and not bother. Same goes for my daily hike goal. Having these two simple, easy to remember goals prompt me to just do it. I like to hike, but there’ve been quite a few days where it’s snowing or really cold or I’m kinda tired and, in the past, I would’ve skipped it. But something about setting this intention goads me into doing it. And I am ALWAYS, always, always glad I did.

Some Outside Days Are Short

Kidwoods in the creek

Some days, we do the minimum viable product. If it’s snowing or raining or ten degrees below zero, I do a brisk 30-minute hike. Same goes for the kids: 30 minutes outside is better than no minutes. BONUS: putting on our snow gear also takes 30 minutes, so it’s an hour-long activity–hey hey hey, pandemic parenting success! Only 97 more hours to fill in the day!

Some Outside Days Are Long

When it’s “nicer” outside, I hike for closer to an hour. When it’s really “nice,” the kids’ll stay out for close to three hours. I will say that those days are rare right now but when it warms up, we’ll be out for much longer stretches of time.

What My Hike Does For Me

My solo hike is definitely the easier of these two goals because, well, I really enjoy it. Hiking accomplishes four things for me:

  1. Really good exercise.
    • There’s lots of elevation; plus, right now I’m snowshoeing, which is more aerobic than plain old hiking.
  2. Time alone in the woods.
    • Solitude is vital to my mental health; well, that and my SSRI.
  3. Fresh air in nature.
  4. Mr. FW models his snow gear

    Entertainment.

    • This might sound sacrilegious, but, I listen to podcasts while I hike. I used to hike in silence, but I found my mind continually looped through my to-do lists and I’d end up feeling stressed about how much I needed to get done when I got home. Listening to podcasts allows my mind to rest and focus on the story I’m hearing. I catch up on the news, I learn new things and I just plain relax. Letting the podcast dominate allows my brain to take a time-out.
    • Since I’m going to ask YOU for YOUR favorite podcasts, here are mine: NPR’s Up First, The New York Times Daily, Terrible Thanks For Asking, The Dream (all seasons), Hidden Brain, Even the Rich (pop culture glory), WNYC’s Death Sex & Money, Dear Sugars, Janet Lansbury’s Unruffled Parenting, Motherhood Sessions and Money Confidential. I also highly recommend the two miniseries 1619 (from the New York Times) and Floodlines (from The Atlantic).

Ok wow, I listen to a lot of podcasts….. ANYWHOoooooo….

What Do The Kids and I Do Outside?

The better question would be, “what don’t we do outside?” because we definitely do the Toddler Ennui’s favorite rota: tantrums, pushing one’s sister, and saying we’re hungry. Good times! Listen, they’re going to do this stuff anyway, might as well do it out in nature.

Kidwoods figured out she can climb up this mountain of snow and sit on the barn roof

In all seriousness, we do exactly what you probably think we do:

  • We go on “hikes”
  • We collect rocks, sticks, moss, bird feathers, tree bark, icicles, an unfortunate incident involving turkey poop…
  • We go sledding
  • We climb on big rocks and piles of snow
  • We go “snowshoeing” (this is a SUPER unsuccessful event for a three-year-old, let me tell you)
  • I put food coloring and water in little spray bottles and they spray the snow
  • We slip on ice
  • We build snowpeople
  • They throw snow at each other until someone gets snow in the face and then they cry at me for 10 minutes
  • They try to ride their bikes in the snow
  • They climb up the giant snow pile next to the barn and then onto the barn roof while I try not to panic

Right now, because it’s so cold, we have to be moving in order to not freeze ourselves. But in the summer, we’ll be able to do everything outside: eat meals, read books, etc. Last summer, we were outside almost all day every day. I LOVE doing lunch and dinner outside with the kids because clean up is top-notch: THERE IS NONE.

I tried to do winter lunches outside and that failed real bad. It’s too cold to be still for that long, plus removing one’s mittens in order to maneuver one’s carrot sticks is a bad move if you don’t want purple fingers. My homeschool pod mom and I also tried reading books and doing crafts outside in the winter and uh, that’s another NOPE. Too cold to be still. So for now, our outside time is active time.

Isn’t It, Like, Really Cold Right Now?

Went ice skating at a local outdoor rink. Got the skates and helmet at yard sales in years past.

Yes, yes it is. I bring this up because there’s a misconception that you can’t play outside in the cold, that teensy kids shouldn’t be outside in the cold, that people in general shouldn’t be out in the cold. FALSE! They can! You can! The key is the gear. Don’t be going outside in subpar gear, you will then fear. TLDR: invest in cold weather gear. For reference, our current temps (in Fahrenheit) range from -10 to 40 above. Usually, it’s around 20 degrees when we’re outside in the middle of the day.

You will not be surprised to hear that I got all of the kids’ winter gear from garage sales and as hand-me-downs. Good, legit winter gear is expensive, which is why it’s my #1, top, chief, preeminent priority for yard sales. When I see decent snow pants, coats or boots in ANY size, in ANY color, you better believe I buy them. My friends and I then swap and trade to ensure everyone’s kids has the sizes they need. My friend’s son is wearing a pair of winter boots I bought and Littlewoods is wearing the winter boots she bought. Kismet abounds when you shop second-hand and share with frugal friends.

I actually wrote an entire post on how I do this: How to Thrift Like a Rockstar: Plan Ahead, Buy Ahead and Focus on Depreciation

And I have another post on winter gear and outdoor play, which is especially relevant if you have an infant or not-yet-walking baby: How We Recreate In Winter: The Gear, The Mindset, and The Baby Sled

Kid Snow Gear

For kids, I’m an evangelist of the full-body, zip-up snow suit because my children act like frenetic otters in the snow. The two-piece snowpant-and-coat combo is fine, but my kids ALWAYS manage to get piles of snow down their pants (see: frenetic otters in snow). My friend spotted the fabulous, ’80’s style suits my kids are wearing this winter at a yard sale and scooped them up for me (you have my eternal gratitude for this, RG). These things are super expensive new, but cost me $5 for both at the yard sale. WIN!

Riding bikes in the snow… why not?!

Next up, you need mega mittens. I bought these things new because I’ve never found used mittens. Probably because children decimate them (again, see: frenetic otters). I swear by SnowStoppers and bought them for both kids (affiliate link).

Put these suckers on before putting on the snowsuit/coat and voila, your children cannot remove them because they go up almost to their elbows. Whoever invented these was clearly a parent sick of their children whining that their hands were cold because they’d ripped off their mittens.

Waterproof, insulated snow boots: also important. Kidwoods loves the pair I found on the free table at the dump and Littlewoods sports a pair my friend bought for $1 at a yard sale this summer.

Hats: they are needed. My kids usually wear two hats because it is that cold.

Scarves: are you kidding me? Have you ever tried to put a scarf on a rabid raccoon? Because that would be more successful than putting one on a toddler. Kidwoods asked to wear one earlier this year and I later found it on a snow man in our yard, so, that was the end of our relationship with scarves.

My Gear

I bought most of my gear new, but since I don’t change sizes every six months, this wasn’t a problem. I wear the same gear outside every single day and have done so for the last ten years or so. I’m a firm believer in having an “outdoor uniform.” My kids wear the same snowsuits every day and I wear the same gear. You don’t need more than one set of stuff. I put everything by the woodstove to dry overnight and wash it once a week (or a lot less if I’m honest…. ).

Bib overall snowpants: ideal for sledding adventures

Here’s what I wear:

  • A good base layer. I wear a synthetic top and leggings because I’m allergic to wool. My friends who are not allergic to wool swear by a wool base layer. I do wear wool socks, even though they itch so bad! And yes, I have the fancy Vermont Darn Tough “non itchy” socks, but still…
  • Insulated snow bib overalls. Love me the bib since it keeps both tum and bum covered and warm at all times, even during questionable sledding excursions.
  • A fleece zip-up
  • A down-filled coat (oh yeah, it’s the one I found in the trash six years ago). I don’t wear the coat when I’m hiking as I build up too much heat, but I do love it for my time with the kids.
  • A fleece-lined hat. The brand is Mountain Hardware and I bought it at REI 10+ years ago.
  • Ski mittens with liner. Unknown brand, also purchased at REI 10+ years ago.
  • A ski facemask. Unknown brand, also purchased at REI 10+ years ago.
  • These insulated Muck boots (affiliate link). I bought these four years ago and they’ve held up well. They’re the only boots I’ve ever owned that are comfortable enough to hike in every day AND warm enough in sub-zero temps. Love them.

Kidwoods in a tree

With all of this on, I am good to go for hours outside in very cold temps. The only issue I ever have is cold toes. If I’m still for too long, my toes start to freeze up (yes, even with wearing two pairs of wool socks). But as long as I keep moving, I’m set.

Mr. FW wears essentially the exact same arrangement. We own the exact same hat, mittens, face mask, snow bibs…. listen, they were a good price!

Is This Related to Money?

No. Well actually, yeah it kinda is. Outside time is FREE. Hiking is FREE. Enjoying the outdoors as a family is FREE. Enshrining a love of nature in your kids (hopefully, maybe?) ensures they’ll have access to this FREE form of recreation and entertainment for the rest of their lives.

Also, I think the model of my past litany of failed new year’s resolutions provides some insight into how we approach managing our money. Setting vague, complicated, numerous financial goals for ourselves is probably doomed to fail. Conversely, if we set actionable, straightforward financial goals, such as “pay off my student loan by the year 2022,” we’re much more likely to succeed.

Want to get started with a super simple, straightforward financial goal? Take my free Uber Frugal Month Challenge. Or, read through my Reader Case Studies and copy the format to do your own personal Case Study on yourself.

I Have No to Low Expectations

Me doing my ab exercises while Littlewoods dumps snow on me

I’d say the biggest determinant of our outside time “success” is my lack of expectations. I don’t have a curriculum or a plan or a goal or a destination for our outside time. Being outside is the end goal in itself.

Whatever the kids want to do is fine, which releases me from feeling the need to direct their play or make a plan or even say much. I let them lead and I only intervene when something really dangerous seems about to happen. This doesn’t mean we have perfect outside time, nay, there’s a ton of screaming because that’s what little kids do. But it does mean that our outside time is unstructured and open-ended.

They come up with all sorts of (often questionable) things to do, such as jumping off the roof of the playhouse into a pile of snow, and I follow along trying to keep everyone alive.

When they’re engaged in an activity OTHER than screaming at me, I do my PT exercises in the snow. I do my yoga in the snow, my crunches, my lunges, my squats, my whatever I can think of. This helps ease the boredom and incessant sameness of being outside in the wintertime with two small people who are trying to figure out the world.. at a GLACIAL pace. Sometimes I pop my earbuds in under my hat and zone out to a podcast while they roll down a hill over and over and over and over again (reference again: otters).

So no, it’s not some idyllic, halcyon dancing around the forest together time, it’s just a normal parenting, child-ing time together where they’re able to direct their play, test their physical abilities, be in nature and have few rules other than “don’t damage yourself or your sister, thank you.”

We went to a playground last week and were the only people there. Also, Kidwoods is wearing her bike helmet because she wanted to, not because I made her…

I also want people to know that you don’t have to be an ulta-outdoorsy person to do this. You don’t need to live rurally. You could be outside in city parks, in suburban yards or anywhere else. Other than weather-appropriate clothing, you don’t need a bunch of stuff in order to enjoy time outside. You just need to step out and explore.

I also think–and might be able to prove–that my kids are better behaved when we go back inside because they’re so grateful to no longer be in sub-freezing temps. Studies pending.

What are your 2021 resolutions? What’s your secret to keeping them? Have you done the 1,000 Hours Outside Challenge? What advice do you have for a newbie like me? Also, what are your favorite podcasts? Ok I’ll stop asking questions now.

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94 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    So sweet! I have also made a goal this year to be more intentional with going outside everyday. I didn’t set a number of hours, but I did sign up to participate in the 52 Hike Challenge, and right now we are on Hike 10! So we are on track to do 1 hike a week, on average. The key for our success (so far), has been to reduce my expectations and definition of what a hike is. Pre-baby, a hike meant driving to the local national park or forest and hiking 6+miles over uneven terrain. I still love those hikes! However, I now have a 15-month-old, and our ability to do those types of hikes has drastically reduced. So now a “hike,” is anytime we walk outside, not on pavement, for at least one mile or more. Making that my goal has been totally achievable, even on weeks where nobody wants to go outside. A walk on a level nature path around the lake is a hike, walking through the forest in the neighborhood is a hike, and we have even been able to drive to the national park and do several long, beautiful day hikes too! And the success keeps motivating me to keep doing it!

    • Kris says:

      Wow. I love those “doh!” moments, and believe me I have a lot of them. I’ve been struggling with the 52 Hike, because I was over-defining “hike”. Now, 1 mile outside not on pavement! So simple, yet so never occurred to me. I’m going to expand it even a little more so the bike path with a couple of thigh burning “hills” counts too. Thank you!

  2. Brittany says:

    My podcast recommendation is NPR’s Louder Than A Riot!

    • Kate says:

      Yes!! I stumbled on this and it was so so good. Also listening to one called “La Brega” now that I’m really in to. And Brene Brown unlocking us (sadly moved off of Apple podcasts. Maybe only on Spotify)

  3. Erin says:

    I love the same-but-different familiarity of these posts–the unique magic and utter boredom of getting outside with little kids, while attempting to finish one’s ab exercises… 😆 I’m out here doing the same in the CO mountains.

    Has ANYONE found a spray bottle that lasts? Ours break after a month or so and Kid isn’t rough with them. Annoys me from a frugal and environmental angle! Repurposed ketchup squirt bottles have been our solution but they need filling much more often…

  4. Shea says:

    This is a great goal, I’d just add loads and loads of quality sunscreen to your outdoor checklists!

  5. James W Day says:

    The podcasts I enjoy are :
    Dreamland with Whitley Strieber +Unknown country
    Guy McPherson= Climate change doom & gloom

    I need a great homesteading one! To many are political…preppers etc…

    We went to stowe snowboarding and days off XC skiing.. I really like the XC ski vibe= less kinetic more solitude in the woods…
    Our goal for Kathy & I is 5-10 miles from an Ocean so we can Hobie Cat sail then have 1-2 acres and grow our south facing greenhouse
    in a cool safe place.

  6. You are such a good mom. Children need as much outside time as they can get, even in winter.
    Also I hadn’t heard about the 1,000 hours outside challenge but I’m totally going to try it out. I try to walk everyday—I’m in Maine–but I let weather keep me inside a few days last week. The wind was howling and it was well below zero with the windchill factor.
    But, I sleep so much better when I’ve taken a good walk or a hike through our woods. And my post menopausal crankiness seems to ease as well.
    I listen to a podcast or to music-I have a classical station app and a jazz app on my phone–about 95 percent of the time that I’m walking. I’m the same way with a racing mind. I really unwind more with something playing in my head other than my own thoughts.

    Podcast recommendations: I highly recommend Lore by Aaron Mahnke. Start at the beginning–with episodes from March of 2015.

  7. Charlotte Payne says:

    My podcast recommendation is Brene Brown – either her ‘Dare to Lead’ (business focussed) or ‘Unlocking Us’ (personal focussed).

  8. Dave says:

    This is so awesome. I did a similar challenge last year over the course of a month but I did not specifically include my kids. (Here’s the post in case you’re interested https://minimalismandyourmoney.com/the-100-hour-outdoor-challenge/). I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you! A month is one thing, but getting 1,000 hours in a year is really, really impressive! Good luck!

  9. Lindsey says:

    My podcast recommendation is On Being with Krista Tippett. I “meet” so many cool new people (past and present- she’s been doing this a long time and some guests have now passed). (I am also enjoying 1619 and enjoyed/was enlightened by the series “Nice White Parents”)

  10. donna says:

    I LOVED your story on being outdoors. I made a habit, years ago, of walking after supper. I am fortunate to live in an apartment complex with lots of walk area and it’s fully lit up, at night. So, I can go out on the darkest nights and feel totally safe. Most importantly, I cannot just sit still, after eating. I have to don warm clothing and head outdoors, as soon as I get my dishes cleaned up. It’s a habit I plan to stick with.

    Also, the fall before COVID hit (March?), I’d begun walking with a senior group – some walked up to 4 times a week, in our beautiful in-town parks. I could only participate two days a week, but I enjoyed the walk, the fellowship and the getting caught up in each other’s lives. I’d say about Feb, on a very cold 22-degree morning, we met, as usual, and as we were waiting on some late-comers to arrive (and we always had about a dozen faithfuls), I asked, “Have any of you been sick this past winter?” Not one hand went up. Unfortunately, since this group was related to a local college, we had to discontinue due to COVID and classes being moved to online, only. But, I know it was the walking, all winter, with nary a break, regardless of the very cold conditions, that kept us all vibrant and healthy.

  11. Alysha says:

    Favorite podcasts (Other than the ones you already mentioned): A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs, Code Switch, Every Little Thing, GastroPod, Hit Parade, Ologies, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Science Vs, Throughline, and You’re Wrong About.

    • Juliana says:

      Seconding “You’re Wrong About”! I am not a podcast person (I wind up just tuning them out), but this one really holds my interest. I’d recommend starting with the Marie Antoinette episodes. Fascinating!

  12. Hannah says:

    It took me 3 years of parenting to figure it out, but I couldn’t agree more with eating lunch and dinner outside when weather permits — NO CLEAN UP IS A GAME CHANGER. Tip the table over and let the birds and dog at the crumbs. It’s great. In Nebraska we’ve had some unseasonably warm weather recently (like, tomorrow’s gonna be 80? for some reason?) and it made me realize how much more pleasant life is when I can kick kids outside without the prep of winter gear. Hope it’s coming your way soon!

    • Laura says:

      Hi! I’m in Nebraska too. This week has been so wonderful playing outside in a t-shirt with snow still on the ground in spots.

  13. Jona Favreau says:

    I too set the goal of 1000 hours outside this year with my son, who is 7 months old this month. We’re in Upstate, NY (just as cold) and we just hit 25 hours! The neighbors think I’m absolutely nuts for getting him outside as much as I do, but I know the benefits. Just scored a used hiking carrier on FB Marketplace too – I can’t wait for the ice to melt and hit the trails with him on my back! I like to listen to birth podcasts (nope, not pregnant!).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Woohoo! That’s awesome!!! FWIW, despite owning like 4 different hiking backpacks (all free or used), my favorite ended up being my Ergo (on my back). It kept the baby’s weight closer to my body, which was more comfortable for me.

  14. Jessica says:

    It appears to be all sold out right now, but the “scarf” I use in frigid weather for my kids is the Minkey by Olie.
    My 4 year old still wears one, and she started wearing one when she was 6 months old. It’s a hat, scarf, mittens combo. They can’t take the scarf off because it’s attached to their hat.

    On warmer winter days they wear this on it’s own, sometimes no coat.

    https://oliebaby.com/collections/the-minkey

    Not affiliated. Just love it and think all parents should be aware it exists.

  15. Nancy says:

    Shoot, think of your gardening days to come….y’all will KILL that 1000 hours! I have never been an outdoor sort, but you are absolutely right, there is therapy in the outdoors. No snow here but I walk everyday for relaxation, exercise, release of tension, and a chance to be alone with my thoughts. It’s the best!

  16. Erica says:

    Lovely! I’m very inspired by the 1,000 hours outdoors. Some more podcast recs :
    -Ear Hustle
    -Borrowed
    -Judge John Hodgman
    -Science Friday
    -New Yorker Fiction

  17. Amy says:

    Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods! You mentioned ages ago that 2020 was supposed to be the year you started writing full time, but then… well, we’re all living what happened next. In the meantime though, I thought I’d recommend my favorite writing podcasts…. Write Minded; First Draft: A dialogue on Writing; and Beyond the Book. You may especially like Write Minded, as one of the cohosts specializes in memoirs, which is what you write! When I first started listening to all these writing podcasts, I searched their archives and found all the interviews with my favorite authors. Though I’ve heard plenty of author interviews on plenty of NPRish and the like podcasts, hearing an author interview on a WRITERS podcast is better, because they go into their process in a deep way.

    You may also like the Outside podcast, for lots and lots of stories of people adventuring outdoors all over the world!

    Annnndd… for the kiddos, The Calm Kids Podcast, and Kid Stories with Phil Bechtel. My five year old daughter loves listening to the stories from these podcasts as much as television. She has listened to The Attack of the Red Dragon from Kid Stories at least three dozen times in the past couple months! And from calm kids, she especially loves all the Sophies Adventure Series.

    Happy Podcasting!

    And thanks for the tip about food coloring water sprayers!

  18. Kat L says:

    You should start a podcast! I have recently gotten into them and now instead of music I listen to them all the time! I learn so much! My fav is Dave Ramsey. I also never finished my NY goals until 2 years ago when I went couch to half marathon. I made it my primary focus EVERY SINGLE DAY. Last year 2020 I couldnt think of one and that might have been a good year to have one lol. This year I want to pay off ALL of our debt excluding our house (student loans/travel trailer/hot tub/car) and I think we can do it this year!

  19. Wilma says:

    I have no resolutions, but since Covid shut down the schools here last March 15, my neighbour and I have run every day. We have missed perhaps 10 days in total, due to sickness (migraines for me) and we skipped Christmas day. Also, in February there was a week where it was -40 Celcius (same in Fahrenheit) where we did a youtube exercise video instead of running outside. We are almost at a year! We do not run that far or very fast, but we go each day, usually early in the morning before our kids are up, and it’s been wonderful.

  20. Charlotte K says:

    This is an inspiring idea. I work a desk job that no longer takes place in an underground bunker, as it did before Covid sent us all to work from home, but now in my sunny urban guestroom. Dropping a commute from my life was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I’ve been walking either before I sit at my desk, or when it’s light enough, (like you, I’m New Englander) after work. I just set a new goal to do both, now that the days are longer, with longer walks on the weekend. But I don’t think I’m ever out more than 40 minutes a day. I think I could at least try for an hour and still keep my job!

  21. HQ says:

    Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods! Love hearing about what you’re up to with your family. If do find yourself looking for a scarf / neck covering for the kiddos, I swear by stretchy neck gaiters / neck tubes like those ones made by Buff, or thicker fleece ones when it is especially frigid. Your own ski mask might be similar to what I am thinking about. I am not a parent, but I don’t enjoy scarves myself, and these things are super versatile and help close that jacket-hat gap. They are also frequently given out as part of the race packages for trail running and cross-country ski races, or as promotional materials, so there are probably many to be found second-hand or free.

    As for podcasts, my recent favourite is You’re Wrong About.

  22. “Outside time is FREE. Hiking is FREE. Enjoying the outdoors as a family is FREE.” 100% – we have been doing a lot of this as well. My kids love to smash seed pods and collect seeds. So far we have collected an entire bucket full and they just love it. We are outside for 2+ hours a day or close. Not quite as good as you, but I agree it is free and it has many benefits. Thanks for the great post.

  23. JCB says:

    I love resolutions! But, yep, I hardly keep them. this year, the only commitment was to stop making ‘huffing’ noises when I get up from my chair thus I continue to alert the kids I am coming to check that they are actually doing school work and not playing video games. Thats all I got. 🙂

  24. Dianne says:

    Great post! Love the content. Where were you when I was raising my kids born in 86 and 92? I could of used this information! LOL! So sad that today, many kids do not have the “fun” of playing outside. When I was being “brought” up – we were sent outside to play in the snow and it was wonderful! Such a magical landscape for one’s imagination! I can still hear my Dad say ” you kids need to get outside and get the stink blown off of you”! There were 5 of us and we had a ball in the snow! I never heard it is bad to be outside in the winter! Dressed well, it is so refreshing and clean!

  25. Rpberta says:

    I absolutely love your comments about your children and the really trying times and somewhat amusing times there can be with any child. The comment about trying to put a scarf on a rabid raccoon made me laugh with joy. I applaud you for getting out there daily as weather permits with your children. These are memories they will cherish and appreciate as they become adults.

    I am in the senior category with no grandchildren here. However, on the news broadcasts here in Nova Scotia, Canada there are seniors who have also taken to the outdoors during this pandemic building snow structures for hours. Many have never spent this type of time outside and are truly “building” remarkable snow furniture etc. and just enjoying the great outdoors. There were older adults up to 85 years spending many hours outside creating and I can only think these activities are keeping spirits up during these isolating times.

    Thank you for brightening the lives of so many in the world Mrs. Frugalwoods. You are an inspiration in innumerable ways. I look forward to receiving all of your postings.

    Roberta

  26. Helen says:

    I’ve signed up for a walking challenge, walk 1000 miles in 365 days, means 2.74 miles a day, just under a hour’s walking.
    https://www.walk1000miles.co.uk/new-index
    I was walking often, but just like Mrs Frugalwoods, this has encouraged me to walk every day and that’s good. Also with my fitbit I manage to track some kind of exercise every day for more than 8 months. don’t walk to break the streak now. sometimes a 10 mile hike, often a shorter walk, or tennis or paddleboard or workout, occasionally 10 mins yoga..

  27. Erin says:

    YOU’RE WRONG ABOUT!! You will love it!

  28. Leah says:

    I love this article! We went on a guided ice fishing trip in Maine a couple weeks ago and we were amazed at the guide and his wife’s 16 month old daughter. On the nicest day (around 20 F, sun, no wind,) she happily stayed out with us for around 5 hours, even taking a nap bundled up in coats in the gear sled. It definitely made me realize kids can do great in cold weather with the right clothes and parents’ support.
    Since I don’t commute anymore I have dropped a lot of my podcasts, but I still try to make time to listed to Daniel Vitalis. His WildFed podcast is good, but his ReWild Yourself (earlier podcast) has some absolutely amazing topics and guests.

  29. Carolyn says:

    Podcasts: I second “Hit Parade” because my sister’s husband writes and hosts it! Also, Dear Sugars gave me life a few years ago, especially the episodes with Esther Perel. Totally amazing.

    So good to be outside so often with the kids. Brava! These days, I am grateful for my daughter (age 14) wanting to take walks with me. And I agree: I *never* regret having gone outside.

  30. Dorothy Young says:

    If you like history, NPR’s Throughline podcast is a real eye-opener!

  31. Julia says:

    I live in frozen Northern MN and we have been out almost every day this year- save the 2 week period it was -35 degrees Fahrenheit! Instead of scarves I use a fleece neck warmer, and they are amazing! Because you can bury your face into them as well. My kids 2 and 3 both wear them too. They wear the regular adult size and they fit them perfectly.

  32. Cyndi says:

    Podcast: Unlocking Us, Brene Brown, Spotify only but it’s free.

  33. Kate says:

    I love this goal. Fresh air is always a good idea, but even more so during a pandemic!

  34. JP says:

    Try the Sawbones podcast. Both informative and entertaining. It’s my favorite!

  35. Miriam Allison says:

    My challenge to myself has been to walk a mile every day. I’ve done this every day since December 30, 2020 – with only a couple days where I only reached a half mile instead of a mile. Almost all these walks have been outside, even during the recent deep freeze we had here in Kentucky. (We had a whole week of snow-over-ice and sub-freezing temperatures – nothing compared to your Vermont winters, but extreme for this more temperate zone.)

    I’ve belonged to the local library’s Run/Walk Club for the past 7-8 years, which has been wonderful for accountability to get outside and move during our spring and fall “run seasons.” But I would always slack off come winter and summer. I realized during the latter half of 2020, though, that doing a mile a day is a thoroughly achievable goal for me. It takes me about 17-21 minutes to walk this distance, which leaves me far short of your 1,000 hours outside for the year goal. But it’s more than I’ve been doing with my sedentary, kids-almost-all-grown-and-out-of-the-house lifestyle. This goal makes sure I get out every day of the week. Then on the weekends I add yard work or other activities to increase my outdoor time.

    I applaud your 1000 hour goal this year. And I encourage everyone to create a goal that works for them. I’ve found one that I can manage for 2021. Who knows how much more I can accomplish next year?

  36. Dawn says:

    I’m in the UK and love the fact that my son and daughter-in-law take their 2 young boys out every day whatever the weather. I’m disabled and going for a “walk” in a powerchair is nice, but not exactly exercise. However, I’ve always loved swimming and last year when the pools closed, I explored local places to swim. Up til then I thought of outdoor swimming as being something I did on holiday in the Lake District. Sadly the nearest accessible to me place is about 20 miles away, although when the ground isn’t bogged down and muddy there is somewhere just a couple of miles away. I’ve tried to swim at least once a week since the end of June and am aiming for 80-100 times this year. Way back in the summer I never thought I’d be swimming in a lake with ice on part of it! Admittedly the lowest water temperature has been 3 degrees C which would be positively tropical for you! I did end up swimming in a bit of a blizzard (again for you it would probably have been not worth noting), but it was interesting coming out to find all my clothes and powerchair covered in snow! So far I’m managing about 20 minutes at a time (no wetsuit, but shoes and gloves) and the temp seems stuck at 7 degrees C. As it gets warmer I hope to be swimming for up to an hour so I really get some benefit.

  37. Kathryn says:

    I love npr’s planet money/indicator (tons) and serial (limited series).
    Also love being outside, good for everyone and everything. From moving to getting some sunscreened sun. I sometimes hate the idea of it but when I’m out with my 2yr old, I never regret it. Passes those hours quicker if anything 😆 I live in Michigan and completely agree about kids and outside, keep them moving and all is well!!

  38. Effie says:

    Outside time is the absolute best! Can you access BBC podcasts in North America? Any Radio 4 related documentaries are super interesting. My favourites currently our “how to vaccinate the world by Tim Hartford”; in fact anything by Tim Hartford is great; “Americast”, and an old series “the history of the world in 100 objects” by a former director of the British museum- which is a completely perfect radio documentary.

  39. KNatGU says:

    Pod Cast Rec: Pantsuit Politics, Sarah and Beth, Grace-filled conversation in a chaotic world.
    Some of my favorite resolutions over the years have been.
    To read at least one of the same books as my husband once a year, is one we’ve kept doing it for so many years since! It makes for interesting conversations. I read a bit more then he does, so he usually picks the book.

    To play a board game once a month at home. We put it on our calendars and have been sticking to it.

    Stop charging my cell phone by my nightstand, this was mine for 2021 and so far just like you, I’ve been able to keep it.

  40. Cyndi says:

    I was gonna ask “don’t you get bored on your daily hikes?” – but then you mentioned the podcasts, and it makes so much sense now 🙂
    I’m also interested in knowing how everyone deals with wasps when you eat outside on the regular. We also eat outside on the regular in the summer, but we noticed that the wasps started coming more and more to bother us. It’s like they learned that we eat out there often, and started coming as soon as they smelled our food. Anything we can do to keep them away so that we can enjoy eating out there without a hurry?

  41. Joyce says:

    Favorite podcasts: On Being with Krista Tippet, Poetry Unbound, This Movie Changed Me, The Doctor’s Farmacy, The Minimalists, Dear Sugars

  42. Tucker says:

    I absolutely love Young House Love Has A Podcast. It’s about home design and renovation but brings in a lot real life and I think the couple is so very funny. I also love By the Book. The hosts are best friends who do two weeks of living by a self help book each episode. I’m also a huge fan of matrimoney a couple hosts a show where they talk about marriage, money and life. Mystery show and science vs are fun too! Also loved limetown and gossip!

  43. Lynne says:

    Additional podcasts: Stuff you Missed in History Class, Planet Money, Happiness Lab, TED Radio Hour, Naked Scientist, and Good Ancestor Podcast. Outdoor time: My kids were your kids’ ages in Russia where, culturally, children need to be outside for 2 hours daily. DAILY. At that time I had BOGS boots that kept my toes cozy warm but I never hiked in them so can’t speak to that. Kids also put their own snow gear on, not kidding I watched 3 year olds suit up in 5 minutes flat. I can’t wait to pitch 1,000 Hours Outside to the family (pro tip – kids who love the outdoors at pre-13 will absolutely decide they hate the outdoors upon reaching 13).

  44. Samantha says:

    Podcast recommendation: Unf*ck Your Brain with kara loewentheil. It’s probably in the self help category, but her paid program is the best investment in myself since I joined the Financial Gym. In a few words it’s a feminist lawyer explaining how brains work, and really improved my ability to sit (or walk alone outdoors) with my thoughts even on stressful days. I miss you on Martinis and your Money , so I had to find an app (Pocket) that would allow me to listen to your blog. <3

  45. I love hikes! Although I don’t go on daily hikes, walking in nature is just magical for me – especially when the ground is covered in a fresh blanket of white snow. Hiking in general helps me reconnect with myself and actually, I get some of my best ideas for my personal finance blog when I hike. Hiking ignites innovation and that’s why I push myself to go out into nature and take short walks. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures!

    Cheers,

    Fiona

  46. Amy says:

    You might check out the podcast Susie Larson Live. She’s an author interviewing Christian authors, lots of interest in mental health and holism.

  47. Melissa says:

    For a podcast, I would recommend Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown. She talks a lot about mental health and has really fantastic guests.

  48. Amber says:

    Love it! Love when we get hand me downs that we use for our girls, and are then able to pass on! Ultimate recycling!! Too bad you’re not in western MA so we could pass to you! Lol

  49. Jessica says:

    What about Martinis and Your Money….I miss hearing you 🙂

  50. Lindsay says:

    I’m too burnt out for news or educational podcasts these days, so I’m listening to the Let’s Not Panic series for the 4th time through. It follows a relatively newlywed couple spending a year driving to the southern tip of South America, mostly camping. It makes me laugh and doesn’t take any mental energy.

  51. Jan says:

    Frenetic otters 😂 😂 😂

  52. Lindsey says:

    I hate, hate, HATE to exercise but this year I had two resolutions: to cook one new thing a week (since I am in a cooking rut and my husband will happily eat the same thing for months on end), and to walk on our treadmill six days a week (we bought it in December). So far I have have kept up with both resolutions except for one week where I was sick and only walked five days on the treadmill.

    I marvel/envy people who love to exercise but my entire life I have loathed it. I tried gyms, finding a buddy, telling friends who would hold me accountable, trying all kinds of sports or exercise routines hoping to find something I liked. We did take up ballroom dancing and both like that, but the pandemic put an end to that for now. It finally came down to just telling myself I did not have to like it, I just had to do it. Also, buying a treadmill makes it more likely because the thought of wasting all that money by not using it is a motivator.

  53. Lauren says:

    I LOVE love LOVE Revive Our Hearts Podcast! Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth leads this Christian podcast and it does a combination of both interview style & more teaching type style podcasts. Highly recommend! I listened to it daily when I was commuting pre-COVID

  54. MamaMinou says:

    Enjoyable podcasts! Help me with the tedium of weeding:
    -You’re Wrong About
    -This Podcast Will Kill You
    -Sawbones
    -RadioLab

  55. Wendy says:

    Happier with Gretchen Ruben and her sister Liz Craft is a brilliant podcast.
    And Clark Howard’s daily podcast is a great one too.
    And yes, time outdoors in nature is necessary. Walking outside can be so meditative.

  56. Jane says:

    Wow, it’s so fascinating reading about parenting on the other side of the world in sub zero temperatures. Here in Sydney Australia our winters are pretty pathetic – I don’t think I even wore a coat once last year. I’m not actually complaining, but snowy places always conjure up a sense of coziness and “hygge” for me. I would like to experience that.
    One of my favorite podcasts is The Parenting Junkie. Her YouTube videos are also great.

  57. Angela says:

    Thanks for sharing your goals and Podcasts! I enjoy Freakonomics, Abiding Together, Fountains of Carrots. I like the idea of the specific goal of 1,000 hours outside for the year. Good luck in your quest!

  58. mary beausoleil says:

    Great post. My goal for several years has been to walk 2 miles per day. I seldom miss a day and I definitely second what Mrs. Frugalwoods said about wearing the right gear. Makes all the difference! I don’t listen to podcasts when I walk because I try to pay attention to what’s around me. I wave to everyone who passes in a car (not a huge number, I live in a rural area) and stop and talk to ANYONE who’s outdoors. Several drivers usually stop to chat for a few minutes too. I am 78 years old and increasingly realizing the importance of keeping moving, as I am sadly seeing many friends and family members who are losing mobility.

  59. mary beausoleil says:

    forgot to say I live in Vermont, just a few miles north of the Frugalwoods family.

  60. Susan McCool says:

    Great column! DH and I have been hikers for decades (we’re in our 70s now). Used to do a lot of backpacking, but now we walk. Built up to 4-6 miles per day – mileage was our measure. But 1000 hours per year is a much more appealing and practical goal. Thanks for sharing that.

    And you are right about creating a foundation of love for the outdoors while your kids are young, but don’t be disappointed if an “anti-outdoors” phase comes along. Our son (now 46) went through a period in late teens/early 20s when screen time was his priority. He eventually came back around to his outdoor roots so don’t be over worried if it happens with your kids.

  61. Brittany says:

    Podcast Recs:

    Pantsuit Politics
    Dirtbag Diaries
    Pod Save the World
    REI Wild Ideas Worth Living
    Gangster Capitalism

  62. Have you ever read There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather by Linda Akeson McGurk? I think it would be right up your alley! There’s also some fascinating research in there about the benefits of daily outdoor time.

  63. Megan says:

    I love to be outside in all seasons. No kiddos for my husband or I yet; so I either go solo, convince him to go for a hike, or do a hike with a friend of mine. She introduced me to the group “HikerBabes”, and I joined the Facebook group for my local chapter, so have also done one hike with a few women from that group. They have a 100 hike challenge, and this year I started keeping track of my hikes, I’m up to 10 so far I think. I count anything at a park as a hike, whether paved path or dirt, since some of the parks have multipurpose paved paths. I work full-time and have a 45-minute commute each way, so it can be difficult to get out every day, but now that the days are getting longer I am aiming to get outside at least a few days a week. I also plan to train for a 1/2 marathon this year so am working on easing back into running as well. Soon I’ll get my bicycle out too.

  64. Hi Mrs. FW!
    I love your blog and I was just out yesterday with my toddler fighting boredom as he found 1000 things to do with a stick. It’s such a good reminder not to have an agenda and just let them explore. Why do I ever try to direct it? He senses my need to control and resists immediately. I love how you realize that parenting is not just hoping kids will stay out of your hair as you go about your day of household tasks, but rather that parenting is a more-than-full-time job. Kudos.

    Also…I know you have an interest in yoga, and perhaps you have heard of it’s sister science of health, Ayurveda? I started a blog in November that is about Ayurveda – I have been a nurse for 20 years so I have been around the healthcare block (yes I had a late surprise last baby at 44 OMG) and I have been interested in Ayurveda for awhile. I think it’s a fun read and would love if you would come check it out. If you like it and want to get emails when I post, you have to leave a comment and then it will ask you if you want to be notified of new posts. (My biggest challenge has been navigating the tech stuff, but I dearly love to write and Ayurveda rocks.) Thank you in advance, understandable of you have not the time.
    http://www.ayurved-ish.com

  65. Perfectly Cromulent Name says:

    Podcasts recs:

    1) Bitches Get Riches (feminist finance- they also have a great blog)
    2)You’re Wrong About
    3)Planet Money
    4)This American Life. This one makes me feel old because I’ve been listening to it since it started on the radio when I was in high school. I’m 40 now.
    5)Memory Palace
    6)Crime Junkie (if you’re in to true crime.)

  66. Cindy says:

    I used to struggle with walking/hiking and keeping my mind (and mouth) quiet, too. It was always spinning about the million things I had to do so I decided the best way to deal with that was to set three goals for myself every day: 1 professional, 1 personal and/or creative, and 1 domestic. And leave it at that.

    I keep a running, handwritten list of things that need to get done and only look at it when something comes to mind and I need to add to it. Every Friday afternoon, I choose 15 items and line them up for the next week so when Monday hits, I’m ready to go. Fifteen tasks spaced out Monday-Friday is so doable, even on the worst of days. And when it’s not doable? Well, those tasks either go back to the running list or the rest of the week gets reprioritized.

    I literally set boundaries with my own mind and it has really helped with my mental health and has allowed me to relax more into my life. My walks are peaceful, my house is clean, things are getting done that need to get done, I’m taking better care of myself, and my days off and weekends no longer feel like a barrage of MUST DO ALL THE THINGS.

  67. Carrie says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Thanks for the podcast recommendations! A couple miniseries podcasts I’d recommend are Timber Wars, Dolly Parton’s America (fascinating dive into US culture), and bird Note Presents Grouse.

  68. Erin says:

    Yes, outdoor time is how we have kept our sanity during this year of remote school/no school and two parents with full-time jobs. We’re in NH and are outside when it’s beautiful or not. Agree that good gear is key and we love fleece neckwarmers, too.
    On one winter day when the weather was low single digits, we were at our local park where my kids (5 & 7) found an un-smashed area of ice on the ground, which was the ultimate challenge for them. They spent quite a while trying to smash the ice as much as they could. (Another vote for low/no expectations here!) Not one other person was outdoors at the park (very, very uncommon). An older person drove by us, rolled down his window, and gave my spouse & I a big smile and thumbs up. That made my day. We don’t stay outside for hours on those super cold days, but even a bit of fresh air helps our family so, so much.

  69. Kathy says:

    I was born in November and napped every day outside in the carriage. Also I realized that all that outdoor time with kids used to be you just let the kids go outdoors themselves, my mother was too busy working at home to be outside with me.

  70. Sarah says:

    I’m doing the 1000 hours outside challenge with my kids too. I like it! I like that I can feel like I’m accomplishing something every time we walk over to the playground (even if all we do is lie on the slide and watch the squirrels). January and February we did not meet the 2.7 hour a day average, but we’re having a warm March and we are averaging more than 2.7 hours a day right now!

  71. Sue says:

    I did a quick scan through the comments to see if anyone mentioned one of my favorite podcasts, The Moth. It’s stories spoken live, without a script (usually in a front of an audience pre-pandemic). The glimpses into other lives is very centering and also inspiring! Plus I’m fascinated by anyone who can speak publicly and keep a straight thought in their head! Or even have the courage to get out on stage! There is usually a theme but such a range of nationalities and accents and life experiences. There are also two books out with collected stories but hearing them told by the people that lived them often makes me catch my breath and just consider the totality of humanity. Re, the 1000 hours outside, I long to do this with my grandkids 7 and 10 but the 7 yr old is SUCH a homebody. When I can coax him out he always wants to know how close he is to being back home i.e. are we just going down this block? is it going to take longer than 10min? etc. Work in progress!

  72. Victoria says:

    You have to try This Podcast Will Kill You. Two disease ecologists cover a different bacteria, virus, poison etc each time with history, biology and current status. Sometimes they do crossovers episodes with a botanist. Each podcast comes with its own cocktail too!
    It’s not for everyone and a lot of them aren’t kid friendly, syphilis being an example. You will end up a bit depressed by how every illness has been tested on young/poor/disabled/black without consent or knowledge (again syphilis), but I find them fascinating and they’re more fun than they sound.

  73. Barbara says:

    I’m a teacher at a nature based preschool and agree with your gear recommendations. I’ve had parents buy expensive down coats that then get torn on a branch. I always carry a roll of duct tape for repairs. As the weather warms up, we switch from snow pants to rain pants as it is easier to hike in them. I also recommend that mittens and boots should be a tiny bit big so you can wiggle your fingers and toes to warm up.

  74. Cara says:

    I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music lately. I find I need a break from hearing and reading words, other humans- including myself- in verbal form. I will admit that this type of music all used to sound the same to me. But it doesn’t now and I am learning. As far as a recommendation, I think that Haydn often sounds cheerful, he might be a good place to start at the moment.

  75. Heather says:

    I love that you shared about the 1000 hours outside! I’m one of those people that *think* they spend a lot of time outside, but don’t actually track it. So I started tracking this past week, and we definitely don’t spend as much time as I thought we did, but because I’m tracking it now, I did get outside on some days when I would have rather just stayed in (read: wet wet snow and/or very windy). But, spring is in the air and soon we’ll be able to do lunches outside again without being wet or blowing away, so I’m getting excited for that!
    Podcast recommendations: What Should I Read Next by Anne Bogel if you’re ever looking for something to add to your TBR, the Indicator by Planet Money (also Planet Money, but the Indicator is shorter and every day), Science Friday, Proof by America’s Test Kitchen, and sometimes some gardening ones like Margaret Roach’s Away to Garden or the Joe Gardener podcast.

  76. JMB says:

    Thanks for another great article! I come here to your blog specifically when I need to jump start my motivation. I love how you keep it real and I always feel so much more grounded after reading your posts. 🙂 I don’t think any one has mentioned “Revisionist History” by Malcolm Gladwell. If you enjoyed his books, you’ll love his podcasts! I loved the very first one–it really helped me make sense of some current day (at the time) situations–and have been hooked ever since. It sounds like it may have some similarities to “You’re Wrong About” but since I haven’t listened to that podcast, I can’t be sure. Lastly, I applaud your 1,000 hours outside focus for the year. My friend and I have decided to go hiking at every single state park in Indiana this year. So far we’ve managed to get to 6 together. We go every other weekend and should easily get to all 25-27 (there is some kind of discrepancy in the many online sources) by year’s end. Since I bought the State Parks pass for $50 on Jan 2, we are gloating about our cost per visit. In addition, the DNR has an online Parks Passport and when you “check in” at each park you earn points towards fun prizes. We also take food with us and have mostly been able to handle sitting outside and eating our snacks. It helps to have hiked for a while first to get warmed up, but early on we decided to embrace, the “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing” mantra this year and not let weather be our excuse for not going. May your days outside be sunny!

  77. csdx says:

    Whenever we’ve been on hiking trails the kids have always been more interested in exploring than going at any pace. And I’ve learned to give them space to do that (and yes the one earbud to listen to a podcast and on off to make sure I still hear them trick is great).

    They would love taking bits of plant and asking me to identify them, but being not really that well versed in these things would mostly be a I don’t know. But after remembering we live in the future, I downloaded an app that helps identify plants based on pictures you take. We all get to learn interesting nee things now.

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