The ’15 Minutes Outside’ Challenge


I just started reading 15 Minutes Outside by Rebecca P. Cohen. I planned on doing a book review but instead, I’m turning it into a challenge…for myself and for whomever else would like to join in!

The challenge is this:  During the month of January, our goal is to spend at least 15 minutes outside each day.

I know what you’re thinking. “Couldn’t you have chosen a month that wasn’t in the dead of winter to begin this challenge?”

Well, that’s kind of the point. I’m a fair-weather fan of being outdoors. I like being outside when it’s 72 degrees, sunny, with just the slightest breeze. When it’s 15 degrees or 100 degrees? No thanks. I’ll stick with the climate-controlled indoors, thank you very much.

And let me ask you this:  Have you spent an entire day indoors with my two boys? They do ‘indoors’ about as well as I do ‘outdoors’ in the bitter cold and stifling heat. They’re bouncing off the walls, fighting over toys, and make it their utmost priority to drive their poor mother completely insane. Which, by the way, they have been successful at for the past two Januarys.

So…we’re going to attempt to go outside for at least 15 consecutive minutes every day this January (much to my dismay, shuffling in and out of the car doesn’t count). If there is a day or two where the weather is just plain awful or if someone is sick, we’ll sit that day out. Otherwise, we’re going to try our hardest to get outside every day!

Here are just a few benefits of spending fifteen minutes each day outside, according to Rebecca P. Cohen in 15 Minutes Outside (p. xix):

  • Offers great health benefits through fun physical exercise and sunshine
  • Redirects children’s energies, motivating them to play and explore constructively
  • Creates a family stress-relief valve and a way to spend meaningful time together
  • Makes life easier for busy parents:  play dates outside are hassle-free
  • Provides an effortless education in natural science and an appreciation for nature’s life cycles


A few of my own additions to this list of benefits are:  The boys LOVE being outside, it wears them out (so they take good naps), time outside allows them to be creative, and it encourages gross motor development!

(If you need some creative ideas for how to spend your time outdoors every month of the year, be sure to check out 15 Minutes Outside:  365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids.

And before you think my intentions are completely pure…I have to tell you the forecast for the first week of January where we live looks glorious. Sunny and in the 50’s every day. Had the forecast been blizzard-like, I might be rethinking this whole challenge!

January 1st…here we come!

Who’s with us???


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**Please use your best judgement and consult your doctor if you live in areas with extreme cold. The contents in this post is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this site.


  1. i just got her book as well- as was totally thinking of challenging myself as well! Count me in!!!!!! you should have a button and have people link each week and shar their best activity!

  2. I’d like to give it a go! My daughter has been protesting outside time…she doesn’t like the cold either…but maybe if I got a little more excited about it then she would too.

  3. We are in! Already have the winter blues. In fact I started a board on pinterest to help us get through January. Thanks, now I’ll have support. :). (& we can wear our cute winter clothing I’m always to lazy to pull out)

  4. I am in ! As a mom of 4 boys, I completely understand your motivation for getting them outside – for their sake as well as for our own.

    I have learned over the years, that the benefits of getting outside every day, regardless of the weather, far outweigh the task of getting everyone bundled up and ready to go.

    Good luck with the challenge. I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.

  5. I got a admit, I’m like you nice weather ok but too cold or too hot (can’t stand the heat after spending over 30 days and nights over 30 degrees celsius (86 F) a few years back in Germany) I stay in. My 2 yo loooooooooooooves outside and he never wants in unless I bribe him (I swear he doesn’t feel the cold!). I need to give myself a good kick in the pants and take him out everyday. At the end of the day, I always go back on the day and think what could I have done better and taking him outside for a walk is always lacking and I always say tomorrow I will…

    This sounds like a great challenge, I’m in!

    1 question though if it’s -30c (-22F) can we skip that day? I’d be afraid he’d get frost bitten.

    1. Of course! My challenge is to TRY MY HARDEST to get outside every day for 15 minutes. Skipping a day or two due to extenuating circumstances is just fine by my book! :)

      1. Oh good! I got worried there for a minute ;) Frostbite is not fun, been there as a teenager, not again thank you! So I’m a little more OCD about going out with him when it’s cold. Thanks for the challenge, I needed that :) Hope you and your boys have great time with it :) Btw we currently have -23 C (-9.4 f) good we don’t start today lol.

  6. This is great!!!! My kiddos are 5, 3, and 1. I am lazy in the winter and hate putting on winter costs and such, but it will be great for us all!!! Thanks for sharing this idea!!!!

  7. Thanks for the post. I will have to order this book. As for us, with 2 1/2 year old twins I should be saying Count Me In but I am not sure with it being so cold. :) Well I have a few more days to be on the borderline :)

  8. I am thinking of trying this too! Seems like it would be fun. I love to be outside with the fam, but don’t do it enought. Would like to see if any differences are noted….

  9. I am in unless it rains. snow I can handle for 15 min but not rain. wish we had ur 50 degree temps. it is in thlow 30s here today. going otside always breaks up my day and mkes tings run smoother. :)

  10. This is a great challenge! My 19 month old LOVES to be outside and doesn’t seem to be bothered by the cold (granted, cold is relative. We live in Texas.). I should definitely do this!!!

  11. I think I’m definitely going to be adding this book to my book list for 2012. We may not do January as my littlest is only 12 months and we live in bitter Ohio, but maybe March when we can get at least some 40’s :)

  12. Oh Jenae, this is just what we need (I say we, I mean me….) I’m going to tell Lindsey so she can “encourage” me daily. Thanks Pal!

  13. I love it when I check your blog and you have just what I am looking for! I really need to challenge myself to do this, count me in!

  14. We are in, I need to get the little one outdoors more! Last winter I was so much better about getting outside. I would make myself a take along mug of hot chocolate ~ my toddler had her outdoor time and I had my chocolate fix!

  15. I so agree with this!! We are doing Charlotte Mason homeschool using and this is a big part of our education. However she encourages 2-4 hours per day!!
    In the winter this is very daunting especially with my youngest (3 years) My older two have outside chores which get them outside… and once out they stay out for as long as they can!!
    I am definitely going to try this with my 3 year old!!

  16. I have a 3 year old and a slow recuperation from a back injury but this does sound tempting enough to challenge myself and toddler with all the benefits listed.Might help with his bouncing off walls during the day and his refusal to sleep @ bedtime.

  17. I’m up for it, too. I’d already decided that I must start doing more stuff outside with my daughter, before she starts getting into bad, sedentary habits, and it will also avoid her climbing the walls some days!

  18. Well I just came in from my 15 minutes (ok more like 45) outside we took the dog for a walk and that always last more then 15 minutes. Surprisingly I feel revved up and just a little chilled.~Thought I would post Have a great day and very Healthy and Happy New Year!

  19. Great idea! We will totally take the challenge! We live in California, so this is easier in some ways and I love going outside every day. I am going to challenge myself to do new things each day instead of always the boring “let’s go ride bikes outside” sort of idea.

  20. This is a great book. So glad you are enjoying it and taking the challenge! I made our 2012 resolution to get outside for play time everyday this year! I think we only missed maybe 12 days last year but I am going to try not to miss a single day this year. I have two other bloggers that are joining me too and we are going to check in with each other, inspire each other and share ideas. Would love to have you join us!
    So great that so many people are commenting and joining you!

    1. I just got back in for my day 2, it was a little harder to stay out today because it was snowing but I made it. Though I will admit unlike yesterday I didn’t want to stay out any longer then necessary.

  21. Just got back in to the swing of things to read your blog. Love this idea and we are in! We started today with a walk around the block and some scooter play!

  22. I’m in! I’ll bundle up my 5m old, stay in the sunshine here in Denver and let my 2.5 yr old run and play. Although we all love being outdoors, I dislike the cold. This will be great for all of us!

  23. We do this now. The playground is down the block and as long as it’s sunny out, we don’t mind. It does help my 21 month old nap and eat better. It also makes her really happy and I get to take fun photos in natural light.

  24. I was just looking at this on amazon after your post and saw the kindle version for 1.99. Excited to go through this after reading your post and reviews on amazon!

  25. We are IN!! We spent 15 minutes outside just now, playing ball together! What a lovely time we had and how invigorated we all felt!!! The kids are excited to be back out again tomorrow! To be honest, they LOVE to be outside, it’s ME who would rather sit on my rear on the couch!!! :D

  26. LOVE this! I am so with you….I don’t get too excited about bundling both kids up and getting them out in the cold, but I know it is important. Love the challenge!!!! I’m in!

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