The 1000 Hours Outside Challenge :: How to Spend Time Outdoors with Kids in the Texas Heat


I started homeschooling my three girls, ages four, six, and eight, back in September 2021.  It went great for the first few months, then I forced us to take a few weeks off because it wasn’t going great anymore. Right before the start of the new year, I felt as if the walls were starting to close in. Homeschool learning needed to start back up again, but how were we going to do it with as little frustration as possible?

Boy sitting under a pink flowered tree near water, 1000 hours outside challenge Dallas

A few days before I was planning to re-start our homeschool activities, I came across an Instagram account called 1000 Hours Outside. I spent the next hour deep-diving into the feed, reading all the captions and loving every word and picture.

The idea of spending 1000 hours outside in the new year was exciting. It also provided a solution to a few of our homeschool challenges, including keeping my house a manageable disaster. Plus, we love spending time outside and participating would give us a tangible goal to work towards as we homeschool. We started with our first hour on January 1, 2022, and haven’t looked back.

With summer fast approaching, I’m thinking through how we’re going to continue to get our hours in without melting into puddles. Here are some ideas for getting kids outdoors this summer that I want to share:

Morning Time

One of our favorite parts of our homeschooling day is spending an hour or two reading books out loud. The girls gather a few things to do with their hands while I grab our books, my water, and coffee. Our typical spot for morning time is the living room, but now that the mornings are warmer (but cooler than the rest of the day) we’ll move Morning Time outside in the shade of our backyard trees.

Water Time

We are fortunate enough to have a pool in our backyard and have already accumulated many hours poolside since the start of May. As we get closer to July, I know that poolside at our house will start to lose its charm. The good news is that there are so many local pools and splash pads to help break up the boredom while keeping us cool. Here are a few local splash pads in Dallas that we plan to visit:

Campbell Green Sprayground in North Dallas

Oak Hills Splash Park in Carrollton

The Cove at Fretz Park in Dallas

Little Elm Beach in Little Elm

Windhaven Meadows Park in Plano

For even more, check out Where to Find Splash Pads in Dallas.

Nature Trail Time

One of our favorite ways to spend time outside is to go for nature walks. I know my girls won’t be as excited to go on walks in the high heat, so I’ll have to get creative. Our walks will be on trails that are shady, near a creek or lake, and/or by a playground. One of our favorite places that has all three of these characteristics is Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano. We also look forward to taking a day trip to Cedar Hill State Park. It’s just an hour from the DFW area and has everything we need to spend the day outside, from hiking and geocaching in the morning, to cooling off lakeside after a picnic lunch.

Outdoor Adventures

The girls and I love going on outdoor adventures. These can be as simple as exploring the creek in our neighborhood to visiting different outdoor attractions or areas in DFW. Some of our favorites include the Dallas Arboretum and the Dallas Zoo. This summer, we also look forward to exploring:

The Fort Worth Zoo in Fort Worth

Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park, Dallas

The Heard Museum in McKinney

What I love about all of these places is that there are various opportunities to take a break from the heat. Each has various indoor activities or attractions, park-wide misting systems, or even fountains for the kids to play in.

As I share these places and ideas, I get more and more excited about the upcoming summer. Generally, summers for us are laid back and relaxed after the hustle and bustle of public school. While this summer will have its fair share of relaxation time, it’s also going to have lots of outdoor adventure and exploration as we get closer to our 1000 hours outside.

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Kirsten was born and raised in Chicago, IL and is married her high school sweetheart, Ryan. Her family relocated to Dallas, TX when their first daughter Kaelyn (October 2012) was 18 months. After their second daughter Alanna was born (October 2014), Kirsten became a Certified Group Fitness Instructor and taught bootcamp-style classes to local moms with strolled-aged kiddos. Their third daughter Nora (April 2017) was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 18 months. While struggling to manage her daughter’s T1D, Kirsten went down the rabbit-hole of nutrition and became a Certified Health Coach. She opened her private coaching practice in April of 2020 where she currently provides health and nutrition support to local mompreneurs. You can find her playing with her girls outside, trying a new workout, or on Instagram @nourishbykirsten.


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