#40 - The importance of getting your kids outside with Ginny Yurich

November 14, 2023
Ginny Yurich

Episode Summary

Ginny Yurich, the founder of 1000 Hours Outside, joins Aro Co-founder Joey on this week's episode of The Aro Podcast. During their conversation, Ginny shares the story behind the 1000 Hours Outside movement and why it's crucial to be intentional about ensuring your children spend time outdoors, including the profound benefits of extended outdoor play on kids' development and why deep play is so vital. Joey also asks Ginny about her upcoming book, 'Until the Streetlights Come On,' and delves into the changing landscape of play over the last 30 years. Ginny shares the science of what happens in kids' brains during free play and the downside of overscheduling. She also highlights the startling contrast between the time kids spend outside versus on screens and the underestimated value of boredom for both children and adults. Their discussion even touches on child prodigies and how the pressures of college acceptance are impacting not only kids but parents as well.

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Episode Transcript

Ginny Yurich (00:00):

In each situation, there are pros and cons, and what it does is it gives us this thing that's just ours. What is your family about? And we're trying to get outside for a thousand hours every year. That's our goal. We've mostly hit it or come close for the past decade plus, and it has given our family these foundational memories that are just ours.

Joey Odom (00:31):

Welcome back to the Aro podcast. Hey, it's Joey Odom, co-founder of Aro. And you may know this about me. My friends know this about me. I am an avid endorsement and I'm a little bit embarrassed to say that I really am. I'm an avid endorsement. I say that a little bit poking fun of myself, but I think I'm going to change. I think things are all going to change today because of the conversation I had with Ginny Urich, Ginny Urich. She started an organization called 1000 Hours Outside, really an organization, really a movement, 1000 hours outside. And it is exactly what it sounds like every year. Her family strives and she encourages other families to spend a thousand hours outside. And we talk in this episode all about the benefits of that, especially for kids. And it addresses things that we're all thinking about. If my kids are 15 and 13, it's about college prep.

And what if my kid is a prodigy? What if my kid's not a prodigy? And is it okay that my kids three years old and does not yet speak Latin? Is that an okay thing? So we talk about that and this four hour excursion that changed her life when she was discouraged as a mom, she was very sure she was a failure. Here's what's interesting about that story. She had three kids and just believed that she was totally failing. And this was her first good day as a mom with three kids when she spent four hours outside and that changed everything and a movement came from that. It's so good. Her book. So this is all around the movement, 1000 hours outside, but she just is releasing a book November 14th called Until the Streetlights Come on. And it goes through all the ethos, all the benefits of spending out time, unstructured play, and how that benefits kids in the long-term. If you're a parent, this is going to change how you think about the time that you have your kids spend, the time that you spend. I ask a question at the end, what about for someone like me who have kids who are 15 and 13, who may have missed the mark? Is it too late for me? And I love her answer there. So this is a great interview. You're going to love this. You're going to want to get a copy of the book for now. Sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Ginny Urich.

A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell proposed that you become an expert at something when you've done it for 10,000 hours. If that's true, then our guest is an expert at being outside and there's a good chance, well, on your way to becoming an outside expert because of her, when she's not admiring Zia's or on a hike, she's most likely in a podcast studio or on a stage. This Wolverine's Pack includes Josh Jackson, Vivian, Charlie Brooklyn, and Winnie Jo. You might know her as Ginny, Virginia, ginger, Ivy, Nini, Gigi, Nina or Dingle, but you probably know her as the thousand hours outside lady, very appropriately. It's dark outside. So we are talking after the streetlights have come on. Please welcome to the Aro podcast, Ginny Urich. Ginny,

Ginny Yurich (03:38):

That was amazing. So amazing. I loved it.

Joey Odom (03:44):

My first iteration. So this is our, we've been working hard at this. This moment is meant to be because we had three other times we were going to talk and they were all going to be outside, so we were going to do them outside. So my original was incorporated, a little bit of us interviewing outside, but hey, we're inside. That's okay. It is dark outside

Ginny Yurich (04:07):

And you have a

Joey Odom (04:08):

Plant. Street lights are on.

Ginny Yurich (04:08):

You've got a plant. So you and I

Joey Odom (04:10):

Have a plant. It's not a Zia, I'm sorry, it's not Ania. I know you're Ania fan.

Ginny Yurich (04:14):

It's something. It's green, so it

Joey Odom (04:17):

Works. So tell me again. So did I get all those right? Ginny, Virginia, ginger, Ivy, Nini, Gigi, Nina.

Ginny Yurich (04:24):

There are a lot of nicknames. So I was named after my grandma, my grandma Virginia, who was actually born in West Virginia. And so yeah, certain names just have a ton of nicknames that go along with them.

Joey Odom (04:34):

I love it. That's so great. That's one of them. That's fun though. Yeah. Well, you have established yourself as the thousand hours outside lady, will you, I'm sure everybody listening knows, but will you orient the listener? Tell us a little bit about what thousand hours outside is, how it started, and then we'll get, I'm very excited about the book, which I told you before. I absolutely devoured. I'm excited to get into that. But let's get some orientation for people on kind of what thousand hours outside is.

Ginny Yurich (05:03):

Yeah, sure. Thank you so much for having me, and it's been such a cool path together. I think my husband found you a while ago and we have just loved using the Aro box and the app in our home. Our oldest son is 15 now, so he has a phone and he'll say, he'll always tell us how much time he's got in there and it's very motivating for him. So it's been a real cool journey. And then through you guys, we met Justin Whittell early and I've read several of his books. We actually already had one of his books, which was cool, but Oh, did you really? Yeah, we're able to make that connection. He always talks about you guys too. So it's just been an awesome thing. He's awesome. We're trying to bring back balance to childhood, but this did not stem from being amazing at anything. It didn't stem from being a person who loves being outside and who has really cool hiking boots. It really just stemmed from struggling as a young mom. And that's my story is that when our kids were little, even now I'm just not that good at it. And I was expecting to be You have these kids,

Joey Odom (06:10):

What does that mean? What does that mean? You're not good at it. That's so funny. It seems

Ginny Yurich (06:12):

That you're failing a lot. And I think when the kids were little, I thought it was going to be this pretty smooth, not perfect, but pretty smooth transition and I thought that it was going to be easier and I was just underwater from the get-go, I felt in a really dark place actually with our kids because I went from having a career and doing fairly well at what I was doing to being in the situation where I have kids that are crying all day and they're not sleeping and I'm just feeling really down about it. And so I lived several years like that until one day I had a friend who told me about this woman named Charlotte Mason, who turns out she's from the 18 hundreds, but I didn't know that at the time as Charlotte Mason said, kids should be outside for four to six hours a day whenever the weather's tolerable.

And I just remember thinking, that's outlandish. Who has time for that? Nobody does that. That just seems like a frivolous waste of time. But I ended up trying it with this friend because she asked. And so we met at this park in Michigan. It was in September of 2011, so we've been 12 years at this where she said, we're going to meet from nine in the morning till one in the afternoon, just bring a picnic. And I thought, well, what are the kids going to do? We each had three at the time, three, one and a baby. So little ones. And it turned out to be, I tell people it was the best day of my life because it was the first good day I had as a mom and I had not had a good day yet.

Joey Odom (07:49):

And you had three kids at that time. Three kids. It's not as if it was just one infant. And that was the first good day as a

Ginny Yurich (07:54):

Mom. Yeah, it took me three years and it was a good day because it was the first time I got a chance to catch my breath. The kids were very engaged in their surroundings and with these friends and we all went home refreshed and then they fell asleep.

Joey Odom (08:10):

So that's

Ginny Yurich (08:11):

All in the car at the same time. So my journey has been one of being in a spot where I was really drowning to thriving, and it just took one change. It took this one change of being intentional about getting our kids outside. And what I have learned over the last decade plus is that when you take your kids outside for an extended period of time, not like how typical American classes are 30 minutes or 45 minutes, but when you let your kids be out there for an hour or two hours, maybe a little longer, then they fall into this deep play and it helps them in their whole development. So it's helping their cognition, so it's going to help their academics. And these are all lifelong benefits they last. So it helps their cognition, it helps their physical bodies, it helps them emotionally, and it really helps their social skills. And Kim campaigns as the primary predictor of success and happiness in life is our ability to get along with others. And so what happens when we take our kids outside for them and for us as parents or caregivers, is that we're helping everyone and we're helping everyone in this multifaceted way that lasts. So it's not this frivolous thing. It's really a powerful tool to help our families.

Joey Odom (09:35):

How is that sustained for your 15 year old? Your 15 year old was three at the time, so it's been 12 years for your 15 year old. So what is your 15 year old's life and maybe their connection to the outdoors? Is it something very natural for them now? How was that connection from a young age? How does that played out for them? Now

Ginny Yurich (09:55):

It just gets more fun. This has been a really cool journey with parenting. Things are always in fluxx. You have one season and things are always changing. You're doing potty training, you're trying to figure out bedtime, you're trying to figure out elementary school. It's always changing, but this always works just like how your Aro box, it would always work once you hit the age of using a device, a phone or a tablet. It always works. And that's been a really cool thing about getting outside is that nature meets us where we're at in our stage of development, whether we're a newborn or we're 82, there's something out there for us. And so what's happened for us is it's gone from me being like a pack mule. So I used to have this double stroller, all the food, all the extra clothes, extra shoes, kids' shoes, they break, they lose their shoes in the pond.

You have all this stuff and you're carrying it all. Plus you're carrying the kids, right? Because they don't want to sit in the stroller and they need you to hold them. So it's gone from looking like that to the kids are jumping off these high racks up in the upper peninsula of Michigan and they're jumping down into Lake Superior or we're going on a whitewater rafting trip as a family. And so this is the one mainstay that has stuck with us now for 12 years. And what it has done is it has protected our family experiences because when the kids are little, it's very easy to not have any family experiences because it's a lot of work. You've got to get everybody out the door and when you get home, you've got to unpack it all. So it's actually really worth your while to stay a bit. It's a lot of work, it's a lot of heavy lifting.

Joey Odom (11:38):

That's a good

Ginny Yurich (11:39):

Way as the kids get older and this, you've got kids that are similar age, you're expecting for it to get easier and it does get easier, but it also gets busier because the kids have interest and they have things that are theirs. And it's not really maybe our place to take that away or to say, no, that's not what you're going to do with your time when you're 13, 14, 15, and you have these different interests. And so it has protected this space where we're still making memories as a family. So it looks like maybe we're going on a long family hike on the weekends, maybe we're going on two of those. Maybe we're getting together with some other families to do that, or we're having people over and having an outside chili cookoff or something like that. It looks different. It's definitely more fun, but it grows. It has grown with our family and I'm so glad that we have these foundational memories, but also the kids have learned their bodies, so they also have learned risk management over the years. What can my body do and what can my body can't do? And so they can do all sorts of incredible things because they've been doing it for a decade.

Joey Odom (12:46):

Yeah, I love that. I want to go right into the book until the streetlights come on, which even just the title, it took me back to 1986, jinx, Oklahoma, me growing up, six year old, because we did, we played until the Streetlights came on, and your previous book, the thousand Hours Outside was activities to Match Screen Time with Green Time. And you've also written a little farmhouse in West Virginia Children's book. But to me, this was kind the ethos behind the movement. This was, and what I like about it for you did a really good job in the book of, it wasn't necessarily a prescription, but it seemed like a framework because everybody has it left room for people to color in themselves, find what works for you. I assume that was the intent, not make it so prescriptive where it's like because outside, outside is wild and not prescriptive, but it was a framework for people, which I really like that. So those are just a couple kudos. You did a really good job of that fine line because people want certainty when they're reading a book, but it's also leave some room for them. I assume that was the intent behind it.

Ginny Yurich (14:03):

And it can't be prescriptive, right? Because every family is uniquely different. And I do think that's a really special part of family life. And I also think that's a special part about getting outdoors because then we're launching our kids from their own unique thing. It doesn't have to copy someone. And so one of the questions that people ask a lot is, what if I live in the city? And that's the one that comes up the most. But what's so interesting is depending on where you live, if you live in the city, if you live in a neighborhood, in the suburb, if you live in the country, there's pros and cons to each one. And so in the city of all sorts of cool things you can walk to, there's all sorts of bustling happening. My brother lives in Brooklyn, New York, and so we went and visited and he had all sorts of parks that were within walkable distance.

And so we would take our son, we only had one at the time. You go to all these really cool and you can walk there, well, you don't have maybe the neighbors to play with. You can't let your kid loose, especially a little one. But then in the neighborhood, you don't have things you can walk to, but you've got neighbors. So that is an enticing thing for kids, especially if you've got maybe a neighborhood packed or something, or you've got a cool place where kids can go and they get outside and they spend time with their neighbor friends. And that's a huge part of childhood. If you're in the country, you can let your kid run free, but there's no neighbors to play with. So in each situation there are pros and cons, and what it does is it gives us this thing that's just ours.

What is your family about? And we're trying to get outside for a thousand hours every year. That's our goal. We've mostly hit it or come close for the past decade plus. And it has given our family these foundational memories that are just ours and it looks different from everyone else's families. And it looks different year over year because the ages and stages of the kids change and our availability changes. I'm working more now. There's that. And so it does, it kind of works for each family in their own different way, and maybe they have a little bit of a different goal. But where you and I collide here is that the intentionality is really what makes the difference. Because if you get outside, let's say for 400 hours in a year, what a win. What a win.

Joey Odom (16:22):


Ginny Yurich (16:23):

Oh, you got all those memories you made together. And all those times when kids are doing hands-on things instead of being in a two-dimensional world. So we say even if you fail, you win.

Joey Odom (16:33):

Absolutely. And I love that. And what's so cool about this book and the way you start off in the intro, and I think one of the very first things you say is, I'm not supposed to write this. And then you go into talking about how you wanted to give back your infant, which is hilarious. What I like about it, and this is one reason why you have such a great following of people, because people can't relate to you. You're very authentic. I didn't know what you said earlier that you don't really like, you didn't really love the outdoors, which is fascinating, that really is. But you found this outlet for it and this whole, there was something about the way you said it and you referenced it a second ago after three hard years, you said, I happened upon a secret, an answer, hope so, that hope of play. I'm curious, where did play go? Why is it we talk about 1986 for us, that was such a thing we did. Where did play go? What's happened in the last 30 years? That play has been a lost art.

Ginny Yurich (17:38):

I think it maybe flew out the window with the No Child Left Behind thing. And I'm not quite sure about the timeframe of that. If I were to guess from what I've read, I would say that's one of the main drivers. It's because all of a sudden, and people maybe would date it back even further, like the Race to the Moon, different things like that where all of a sudden there was this huge emphasis focused on academics. People also talk about the college admission process and how much that's changed in the last couple of decades with the college boards and having this ranking system. So they're trying to have more people apply to make their colleges seem more selective. This is actually happening. So more people apply. So the colleges seem more selective, and then people are freaking out from the time they have a little one because they don't want their child to get left behind and to say, don't be left behind.

It turns childhood into a race. And we feel even like a program like Headstart, same thing. They may be doing great things for kids, but doesn't that make it feel like, oh my goodness, they're getting a headstart, so I've got to make sure that, and that's for little ones. That's for three and four year olds. They're in these Head Start programs. And so all the verbiage changed to make this feel like it's a preparation for college. It's a rat race. Don't be a bad parent and let your kid fall behind. Things change and the pressure changed. And so I had this experience just one of my own as a teacher where I was helping get things ready for full day kindergarten here in Michigan, which that happened overnight. Kindergarten forever was a half a day, and it's also, kindergarten is optional in a lot of states in Michigan, I don't think you have to start school until you're six.

So it says it's optional. And in decades past they say only 60% of kids went to kindergarten. It wasn't a thing that everybody did. Well, all of a sudden it becomes this full day thing and the teachers were saying, these kids need to play. We need to bring back the PlayStations. I was sitting in all these meetings, bring back the PlayStations and let 'em have the doll station and the reading spot and the water table and the art. They have gotten rid of those. And the teachers were saying, these kids are going to need to nap, and this is what they need for that second part of the day if they're going to be here for a full eight hour, seven hour school day. Well, when it push came to shove, all that time went to academics. And so we're so focused on that academic piece. But ironically, when we let kids play freely, they move in ways that are complex. And complex movements enhance the function of the brain. The whole structure of all the neural wiring gets enhanced and protected. And when kids play freely and imaginatively, it increases the connections between the two hemispheres of the brain, the corpus close them, so those hemispheres talk better. So it's just a lot goes on during play that I think we've discounted because we can't measure.

Joey Odom (20:48):

Yeah. Well, and it would be one thing if our academics, if we were now leading the world in innovation and we had a hundred percent literacy, it's not as if with all of the focus on academics and pressure, it's not as if we've gotten, I don't believe statistically that much better in terms of global literacy across the country or achievement or advancement. So that's funny about all of it is you can very easily rationalize and say, no, this is working. This is like, we need to really put this folks on academics, but the results aren't there either. So it's almost getting the worst of the two. You talk a lot about overscheduling instrument lessons and lessons and languages and sports. You have this hilarious line in there. I love when you talk about the pressures on to prepare your child for college. You said the neighbor kids can already count a 300, play the cello and oh, to dimension there, bilingual, which I got a real laugh out loud on that, but is the overscheduling, is that inherently bad? Is it someone learning to play an instrument lesson young or doing flashcards in another language? Is all that overscheduling or playing a bunch of sports? Is that bad? And if so, what about that is not good for a child's development? By the way, I'm super guilty of this.

Ginny Yurich (22:11):

It's hard, isn't it? There's so many good options out there, and kids love to do stuff, and it's fun when they're out there doing things. I remember we used to have this, we lived in an area that was near an elementary school and on the weekends we would be heading out for a hike as a family, and the parking lot at the school would be overflowed onto the grass. People are tailgating and they're there for kids sports. We would always be like, where is everyone? We're out in the woods. We're in a fairly populated area. We're not running into other families. Where is everybody? Oh, well, they're there. And then I remember the first time we put our kids in swim lessons and I was like, oh, it was actually swim teams. So I'm like, this is actually really cool. I can sit up here on the sidelines and I can read a book or talk to a friend and they're being engaged with a coach.

And I was like, I get it. Right? It's cool to watch them. It's cool to watch them improve and it's cool for them to improve. The issue comes when all of their childhood, or a majority of their childhood is adult directed, because what happened is they lose the ability to self structure. And the issue is that in decades past, in generations past, you would graduate from high school, you would graduate from college, and you would have a career that lasted your lifetime. You would have one set of coworkers, maybe a few people would come and go, but you had a set of skills that lasted. What's happened is our world has changed so rapidly because of technology and all of these other things that exist anymore. Our kids are not going to have a career that lasts a lifetime. They say actually that coming out into the adult years that a student, a young adult, will have four careers on average within their first decade of life, four careers.

That's four coworkers. That's four. You know how when you change a job or you're an entrepreneur and you're starting something new, I mean, there's a lot of turmoil there, a lot of relearning, a lot of learning new things, a lot of adjusting. And so what we really want for our kids for a future that's changing, which is exciting, change can be really exciting as we want them to be flexible. We want them to be able to have some inner resources that they can pull from. We want for them to be able to be self-starters and all of those different types of qualities they come from within. And so kids have to have, they don't have to have all of the time. It doesn't have to be from the time school ends until bedtime, it's all yours, but they do need to have some time. And so the current statistics are that kids are outside playing freely for four to seven minutes a day, but on screens for four to seven hours.

Those were the statistics when we first started writing. But this just massive imbalance, it's not like it's close. It's wildly off four to seven minutes versus four to seven hours. And so a lot of people use the word unstructured play. Peter Gray, who wrote this amazing book called Free to Learn, he calls it self structured play because it's coming from within and it's allowing them to become creative, our kids, and to be able to negotiate. When you play with another kid, you don't want 'em to quit. Do you remember that? As a kid? You're like, well, gosh, if we get in a fight that's so interesting and they go crying home and I'm too bossy, or I'm mean, they're going to quit and I don't have a playmate anymore. So there's this intrinsic motivation and these outside forces for a child that help them to learn how to get along.

Joey Odom (25:50):

You just blew my mind with that. That's so true. So you would have to learn how to, in some ways get what you want, but get something that's satisfying to you, but also that works for the other person. And so you're right, it gets them into a place they're doing it. And what's interesting then, so you contrast that with a virtual world where you have all the playmates you want, you can play it If that person leaves the game, you got a bunch of other people. You may or may not even know those people. If you're gaming online, it doesn't even matter. So you have no goodness. I think there's a book in just that statement alone. That's amazing, Ginny. Well, and

Ginny Yurich (26:27):

That's an interesting connection too, that it has changed. And my brother has said that about dating apps, that these dating apps where you swipe, it does feel that there's this endless pool of people, and so you become more picky because you're like, well, I didn't really like the way that person ate their peas, so I'm going to go on to the next person, or whatever it is. So there's this endless pool, and it used to be limited, and so that caused us, I think, to be a little bit more introspective and to notice how is this other person feeling and am I being too pushy, whatever the case may be. So there is a lot going on when we allow our kids to play without intervening, obviously intervene when there's blood or whatever.

Joey Odom (27:14):

That's the line. When there's blood, yeah, jump in. But they

Ginny Yurich (27:16):

Do need to learn how to get along and they can't learn it if we're always telling them what to do.

Joey Odom (27:28):

Many times when people come to Aro, they've tried other things already and we get emails like that a bunch. I got one from Jared and Iowa the other day. He said, we're a large family and getting this part of our world more under control is something we've been trying to do for years. I'm still just getting things started, but can't wait to start using Aro more to be more intentional with our time at home. I appreciate what Aro is doing and we'll be sharing this with anyone who will listen. If you're interested in learning more about Aro, just go to go goaro.com

Speaker 3 (28:03):


Joey Odom (28:05):

I want to jump to chapter two. The chapter chapter two is Slow down and gain more. And you talk about, I was very fascinated by a couple things as you talked a bunch about college here, but one of 'em, you talked about this concept of the child prodigy and that society is enamored with the child prodigy, which is so true. Again, I felt very, very seen through most of the book. Will you talk about this concept of the child prodigy and how enamored we are and maybe how we could reframe our thinking there?

Ginny Yurich (28:33):

Well, there's hardly any child prodigies. That's the whole point,

Joey Odom (28:38):

Other than you and me. Yeah, I get it. Yeah.

Ginny Yurich (28:40):

There is something about childhood and our kids. There's a really good book called Take Back the Game by Linda Flanagan, and she's talking about sort of this crazy culture of youth sports. There's a couple really good books about youth sports and Fernanda Yoa wrote another one and his is called Beyond Winning, but Linda Flanagan talks about what this is doing for us. Nobody really admits it, but she's like, when our kid is the superstar on the team, when they're the quarterback, when they score the winning goal, when they're out there doing these incredible things, it does something for our psyche too. And so she talks about it can't be quite such a big deal. It can't be that big of a deal for us. She says, have your own interests. She says, otherwise we make, this was a really interesting thing. Otherwise we make adulthood look like a big boar.

If all we're doing is sitting on the sidelines cheering them on, that's all we do. That's all adulthood is. You spend your whole childhood doing these things and growing and having teammates and having this exciting life. And then you hit 18 and you're sitting on the sidelines. You hit 21, and now all you can do is she says, sit there in the wasteland, the hot whatever, and cheer on, and that's all you do. So she's like, no, develop your own interests. Show kids that adulthood. They've got something to look forward to that it's an exciting life. And so I think that there's something to be said about what having a child prodigy does for us as a parent, we get a little bit of bragging rights. We feel like, oh, I must've done that type of thing. And people look at you and it gives you validation.

And so Linda says, no one talks about it, but it's a thing. And so it's important to have some balance there too, I think with between cheering on our kids but also not making too big of a deal out of those things that are kind of fleeting. She says that there is not one study that shows that youth sports, this is pretty wild. I don't even know if I believe it, but she's really well researched. She says she doesn't, there's not one study in 40 years of research that shows that the benefits from youth sports extend their tentacles into other areas of life. And that's a big reason why people talk about youth sports. They're like, well, my kid's going to be a better leader and they're going to do this in the workspace. And she actually says, there's not one shred of evidence to suggest that that's actually true.

Joey Odom (31:14):

Wow, that's so interesting. I could see the value in that of I'm a big subscriber to sports in general, but getting the play element out there again, as long as it's not, I could see where it could, you start seeing the detriment when you start seeing coaches screaming at third graders and fourth graders, like, that's not good. You got to extend it beyond that. And I think probably I'd be interested when the benefit really starts kicking in, because I could see that if you stop playing baseball at third grade, that probably didn't do a whole lot for you other than just making some buddies on the team. But as you advance farther, I could see the benefit of it. But that's really, really interesting. And so the child prodigy stat, you said one in 5 million kids is a prodigy, and I found this stat, I read this stat that in the Little League World series, so this is the best of the best kids, right? Have you ever heard the stat? No. These are the best of the best baseball players, kid, baseball players. There have been 10,000 kids who have played in the Little League World series. 64 of them have made it to the major leagues. So is that amazing? 64 of the 10,000 who have participated. And again, these are the best players growing up. And so we all think we have this child prize. And I think, Ginny, I'd love your take on this.

It is hard to stomach that your child's not a prodigy. But what good, I going to think exactly how to say this. Do you really want a child prodigy? They haven't done anything to get that. They were born pretty lucky. If a child prodigy hasn't done anything to get it right, you haven't achieved anything. You haven't worked towards it. You are just a prodigy. So is that even a great thing to have a natural born prodigy who hasn't done anything to work hard and strive towards other things? You know what I mean? Would imagine great badge bottom, I

Ginny Yurich (33:09):

Would imagine. And I would imagine that's a hard life for the kid. And so our kids come how they come, so we take 'em how they come. You get the child prodigy, great. You don't get the child prodigy, which is 499 million of us, whatever. It's that you don't, but you take your kids how they come. And I think that those two books are really good resources, especially for youth sports because our kids play sports and they really like it. It's a good place for them to make friends. But if it borders on too much, that's when there becomes an issue. And I think this is what we're talking about when we talk about childhood. It's just this imbalance in that beyond winning book and take back the game. And Linda Flanagan has this woman who says, look, I lost the whole childhood at Saturdays soccer games.

I lost the whole thing. I don't have family memories. I don't have things you don't really remember. You don't remember the exact goal. You may remember a couple big games here or there, but you don't remember those specific ones because your brain encodes it all as one memory. If it's a similar thing all the time, you're in the flat field, you're sitting on the sidelines, your brain encodes that as one thing. But when you do things that have some variability to them, and really that's anything outside, because the seasons are always changing and the experiences are different. You might walk and you see a deer this time, you see rabbit at you. The leaves are changing. All of this variability. Our brains encode that as a separate memory, so it actually makes our lives and our kids' childhoods feel fuller. So it's just about, it's a balance thing.

And I think it's really hard with eSports in particular because there's someone's career is on the line. So you've got a coaching staff, you have got maybe a massive building. I mean, there's things by us that are just these huge structures. So they're dependent on tournaments and they're dependent on all of these things to meet their budgets. And so they need your kid there. They need your kid in it. So I think we have to be real selective and just careful that our kids also have empty space, that we are the guardians of the calendar and that empty space that is really what's going to prepare. All these other things are fun and good, but we're talking about preparing them for who knows, right? They say that the jobs, I mean, they've not even been created yet. Kim campaign says in 2030, by 2030, something like 85% of jobs will be entrepreneurs or people that have their hands in a bunch of different pots.

This has really changed. And you start to see it, right? I mean, that's what I'm doing. I'm an entrepreneur. You are an entrepreneur, and I think that it can be really tricky if your whole life has been laid out for you, do this, do this next, and then all of a sudden you're in this wide open space of what decision am I going to make? Who am I going to talk to? What am I going to do with this business? And it can be real tricky, but if your kid has a foundation of doing that, then they're real prepared for it.

Joey Odom (36:07):

So that is the segue. Maybe back to, we talked a little bit about college and what I want people to read, especially chapter two, talking about college. That was a real eye opener for me. You're right on the selectivity of colleges and how when US News and World Reports started coming out with their rankings, the rejection rate, how that shows how good a school is. So they want you to apply, it's they

Ginny Yurich (36:30):

Want you to be rejected.

Joey Odom (36:33):

They want you to be rejected. It's absolutely fascinating. Please do read that piece because it's very eyeopening. Then you talk about, you said that if you find the only reason you're doing something is for college resume building, consider taking a hard pass. So the question I have there is, is there a place for college resume building? I mean, it's at some point, how would somebody who does want to go to college, how should they approach that? What should they be focusing on developing as parents? What should we be helping our kids develop inside of themselves because they will be eventually going to college? So what's the balance there where, but you got to face the reality that you will go to college. So where's the place for college resume building there? That's a very long way to

Ginny Yurich (37:20):

Ask that question. No, and it's a good question. I think what's really tricky is that when our children are four or 5, 6, 9, 14, you don't know. You really don't know where the path is going to go. What if they go into the trades? What if they become a hairstylist? What if they go into the military? So this is the thing that I always thought was odd. It's like you do your whole childhood the same, and then all of a sudden people launch and they have a completely different adulthood experience. And so I think sometimes we siphon our kids just into one path and we only prepare them for that. And so if we only prepare them for college, but they want to be a trades kid or they want to do something and they want to be an entrepreneur. I mean, some kids are entrepreneurs right out the gate.

They're doing their own thing. They're working on their own businesses. Joel Sale, who's this farmer says, every kid who's eight to 10 should have their own business. They should be out learning how to deal with customers and talking with people and trying out different ideas. And so I really am a big proponent, especially since our world is changing so rapidly and there are so many different college options. Now, this isn't a podcast that we would've done 30 years ago that was different when we're talking about now. Now it's like the wide open west. You can do online school, you can do hybrid, different situations. You may join a company and they're going to pay for your continuing education. So there's so many options out there that I just think we cannot be so narrow-minded as to prepare our kids for only one thing. But I do believe that if we allow our kids to fully live today, which is that we're not squashing and taking all the time, that we allow them to fully live and be themselves and keep them off the screens, put their thing in the Aro box, turn it off, build up all of that time and be excited about it, then they're going to be prepared for what's to come.

I just read this amazing thing, and I'm trying to think of what book it was in. I think it was in Michael Easter's new book. He's got a new one out called Scarcity Brain, where he was talking to a professor and the professor said something like, the best students are the B students. He said, because they are hustling. I don't even know if I'm going to be able to find it. I've gotten notes talking to Michael Easter, but the B students are the ones who are hustling and maybe they have two different jobs or something like that, or he said they're the ones that they think outside of the box. And he says that, oh, it's right here. Here's what it says. Grades often misrepresent students. My most promising students usually don't receive an A, don't receive. My most promising students don't receive an A. They're too freethinking or they're gritty hustlers who work 40 hours a week while taking on a full load of courses. My most promising students are usually in the B to a minus range. Come on, let's talk about those gritty hustlers.

Joey Odom (40:14):

How about the gritty hustlers? That sounds like a good band name the gritty hustlers, but think about that. I want, this is what's so funny, Ginny. I would love it for my kids to be gritty hustlers. However, I also really want 'em to have all a's. You know what I mean? It's such like we have this cognitive dissonance within our minds, which we're just like, oh yeah, my wife, our son was going through something really tough a couple of weeks ago, and I just wanted to swoop in there and just fix it. And my wife said, she goes, Joe, you know how we always say we want hard things for our kids? We want our kids to go through difficult times. We want 'em to build resilience. These are the moments you sit back and talk about 'em, like romanticizing the idea of your kids having to struggle through things. But then all we want to do is rescue them when they get in it, and you just have to know it's going to suck, right? It's going to suck for them. It's going to suck for you. But that's where they become the gritty hustlers, right? Yeah,

Ginny Yurich (41:11):

Yeah, yeah. We're really wrapped up. I mean, I just think that parents of yesterday were not quite so wrapped up in their kids. I mean, you hear the stories of, I was talking to a friend, she said, and they're five years, she was five years old just roaming the neighborhood and going, and she said, they found this old abandoned house and the windows were broken, and they climbed through with these busted windows. She's like, my mom had no idea where I was.

Joey Odom (41:35):


Ginny Yurich (41:37):

Goodness. We're so invested, and I think obviously you want to be invested in your kid, but there is a place for taking a step back and like you said, letting them walk through their own hard things so that they come out ahead with the skills that they need for a rapidly changing world.

Joey Odom (41:54):

Yeah, absolutely. Will you talk briefly about boredom? I want to hear about the value of boredom and then maybe what ages, we talk about kids experiencing boredom mode, but how can that also apply to adults? Is that a practice we should all kind of build in?

Ginny Yurich (42:14):

Ooh, that's a good question. Well, as of late for myself, I've been real inspired by Jill Winger and she's this homesteader, and she was talking about how when we use our hands, so in three dimensional ways, not on the screen, that it helps our brain release dopamine. So I've been keeping, this is so I feel like an old grandma, but I've been keeping a little sewing kit with me like this cross stitch after listening to her and just when I have the downtime, instead of reaching for the phone or put the phone in the R box, it's not right there. Then you have something else there to do with your time. You have a book with you, a novel, something little. When your kids are little, you can't even imagine having 15 minutes or 20 minutes. But as your kids get older, I do think you can get stuck.

You have 15 minutes. What are you going to do with it? So I've been trying to have just some cool, enriching things on hand so that I don't fall into just scrolling my life away and wasting that time. But for kids, boredom is where they come up with something out of nothing. And I have a friend whose son went into, he went into, he fixed his airplanes. I'm not quite sure what that career is called, but this was a pretty intense career to fix airplanes is a lot of math and science and different things he had to learn. And when he went to get admitted to the program, the story is something like this interview, they only asked him one question, and the question was, did you play with Legos when you were a kid? That's the question. Wow. It wasn't like, Hey, did you take AP bio?

Are you in Calc three? It was, did you play play with Legos and have that time to construct and put things together and use your brain in all of these different ways? And kids are losing that. Dr. Nicholas Cardis, who wrote two fantastic books, one's called Glow Kids and one's called Digital Madness. It's all about screen use and how screen use is affecting culture. He says that he has people that come into his office, they bring their kids. They're two, three years old, and they don't know how to stack blocks. They don't know how to play with blocks. They don't know how to play. And Dr. Susan Lin, she wrote some amazing books about creativity and the toy industry, and she said, it's not a given that kids know how to play anymore, that they're losing these skills. And so boredom is where they retain that.

Have you heard that? Really cool. There's that nasa. There's NASA thing where they have this test and it's called maybe the Torrance Test or something, and it measures creativity. So they were trying to find it, NASA, the most creative, who can think outside the box and solve our problems. And so they administer this test to their whole staff and they find these people that think outside the box and come up with all sorts of different solutions. And it really worked this test for creativity. It worked well. They gave it to kindergartners, and kindergartners is like 98% of them scored in the genius range. Crushed

Joey Odom (45:14):

It. Crushed it,

Ginny Yurich (45:15):

Wow. But then they lose it so rapidly they lose it. By the time they're in their thirties, it's like 5%. And over the course of childhood, they're losing that. The number is just rapidly declining. So it's like these kids already have that secret sauce. They come into the world with creativity, with motivation, with exuberance. And so I think part of our job is to channel that and to help them not lose it. And what downtime does is it gives them an opportunity to pour into that, and also it helps them release neurotoxins. So Kim T-Pain says, when we play, when we have downtime, so this is for kids and adults, you have this stress, these hormones, and they're building up and the stress and when you play, your body releases that. So he says he sometimes prescribes play three times a day because our kids need that chance to kind of release and let it go, and so do we as adults.

Joey Odom (46:17):

So something that when you talked about the NASA study, the creativity test, interesting about that is all of us, let's say all of us, us want our kids to be prodigies. We talked about that earlier. All of us want our kids to be prodigies. They're already freaking prodigies. They are creative prodigies. If you want a prodigy, you have one already. And again, with no malice in our hearts, for most of us, we deaden that within them. And what if we developed it? I mean, what would that look like if we developed a bunch of kids? It's laughable when you put it in other terms, thinking about, let's say you have the best 18 year old basketball player like Bronny James, LeBron James son, and what if you said, okay, Bronny, now we want you to play baseball. Instead, we're just going to totally switch you. It'd be laughable to take away this something that he's so clearly good at to shift to something else. But if we're doing that with our kids who are so embedded with this creative genius inside of them, yet we're deadening it to, okay, hey, now I want you to learn Latin instead. You know what I mean? Not a terrible thing, but at the same time, let's develop those. What an interesting concept

Ginny Yurich (47:25):

That they already have it, that they're better than us. And I, that's the tricky part. It's very well intentioned. All of these decisions that we're making to enroll our child in this and to put them, and that's what I was doing. I was enrolling our kid in this and enrolling in that program. That is how I was parenting. You look around, and that's how we do it in culture. It's sort of the sign for a good parent. But then when things shifted, and I mean, I have got this stack of hundreds of books that talk about the value of what the child brings to the table of what they find is a worthy use of their time. And you see little kids, they're digging in the dirt, they're shoveling things into a little digger, and it seems like a waste, but it is helping them develop in every sense of their being.

And so it is very worthwhile and interesting in this beyond winning book about sports. What has been shown is that the best athletes have had a wide variety of sports exposure as a young child. So maybe they played a bunch of sports and then eventually they specialize. But I think something like 70% of kids quit by the time they're 13. So it's not been this amazing experience for them. It's been like you were talking about, and then you're like, well, what if you lost all those weekends? What if you lost all that family time and 70% are going to quit by the time they're 13 and only 64 out of the 10,000? I mean, it's a big focus, but pick up games of sports actually are really good for kids because that's when they're also learning how to come up with their own rules and negotiate.

We did that all the time as kids, and they say, kids don't get injured in pickup games of sports because they don't want to quit. So if they injure their friend, if they slam into their friend at home base and then that kid goes home and quits, well then all that time they put into figuring out how are we going to play this game with seven people or whatever it is. All of that time and effort and energy and mental fortitude is wasted. So kids, they have ability to be aware of their bodies and be aware of themselves and control that.

Joey Odom (49:37):

I have two questions to close. The first one is for, I want to make this really approachable for a young parent, a parent with very young kids in the toddler age or younger, or not even having kids yet, maybe five or younger, what would be, in addition to going up and getting a copy of the book, which they need to do, that's the most important thing is go by until the streetlights come on available November 14th. But let's make a very approach. What's the first step? What's the best next step for that young parent?

Ginny Yurich (50:10):

I think you have to decide. I think you have to look at what's out there and decide what is childhood going to look like in our family. So we're going to decide to be intentional, and what it does is it solves a whole lot of parenting problems. When I say, look, we're going to go outside. We have this intentionality. I'm not going to hit it, but I'm going to decide that I'm going to give 500 hours of this year toward trying to be outside. I'm going to give 700 hours of this year to aiming for hands-on real life experiences, knowing that this is going to help my child grow and have these lifelong benefits. Like Katie Bowman says, the osteoporosis is a childhood disease that shows up in adulthood because kids are supposed to jump and land and have this impact on surfaces to build their skeletal structure.

So I think the first thing is just making sure that you know the right information and making a decision. This is going to help with your battle for screen time, because our best days are the ones where we just run out of time for screens. We had a big full day and we ran out of time. So with little ones, I recommend finding a friend. That is my top recommendation. It's for safety, but it's also so that your child has other friends to play with. That is a game changer. And you are building relationships as well. If you go by yourself, if you're always going by yourself to the park, to the hike, the kids grumble and complain, and it's really hard to keep up with it. But if you've got a friend you're meeting, it changes the whole thing. Our kids are teenagers. They don't really want to go outside.

They want to play video games. That's what they want to do. They want to text their friends. That's their inclination. But if friends are going, they're going to hop in the car and go, or they're going to go outside and shoot hoops or whatever the thing may be. So I always say, you need three things. If you've got little ones or big ones, you need a first aid kit that's important. You need food, bring some good food along, and you need a friend. You need a friend to add that variability to the experience. So if you've got little ones, you could start with a weekend hike. If it's a half mile or a mile, you'll see that your young kids will get engaged with their surroundings. It'll take an hour and they'll hang on things and they'll sniff things and they'll grab things. Really, you see immediately the benefits to the child and into the family unit.

Joey Odom (52:34):

That's really, really great. I love the alliteration there, the first aid kit, food and friend. So last question is, what about for a parent like me, a 15 year old and a 13 year old? I hear a lot of this, and it does, it just makes me realize that I missed a bunch. Frankly, I've not been great at this. You, you're going to hate me when I say this. I call myself an avid endorsement. So I feel like if, for a parent like me who may feel like they've missed the window, what do I do? Can I recover some of this? Can

Ginny Yurich (53:06):

We, you've never miss the window because this is something that anyone can enter into at any age. You could be 26, and there's people that do 1000 hours outside, have that goal, and they have no kids, or they do it with their dog, whatever. They're a grandparent. My dad does it, and he's a retired grandpa. So the thing applies at every age. It's the three F's. You got to have your first aid kit because kids take tumbles, even teens do, but bring a friend and bring some really good food for them. And they do challenging things. So when you hit 13 and 15, I mean, they can hike the huge trail, they can go zip lining, they can go canyoneering, they end up specializing is what seems to happen. They might like to skateboard or they might like to mountain bike, they might like to fish.

And so when they're little, you're just kind of doing the same thing as everyone else. But as they get older, kids fall into different types of interests. And so if that hasn't happened yet or you haven't been outside much yet, then just go on some hikes, be together as a family, have some conversation. Go sit at a picnic table and play cards. Take your schoolwork outside. Take your reading outside because all that full spectrum light is helping your brain to reset and all these body systems, depending on the day and night cycle. So it doesn't have to be anything exceptional. It can be we had our breakfast outside and that reset our whole body systems because we were exposed to the morning light. So there is a lot of things that you can do that are simple to just dip your toe in it. My story is that my life completely changed in one four hour excursion outside. That's it. I did it once. Changed my whole life. And it has continued to sustain our family as our kids get older and things get busier, and I would imagine, I mean, I'll probably do it till I die.

Joey Odom (54:59):

Yeah. I love that, Ginny. Thank you. I want everybody to go to 1000 hours outside.com. I want everybody to subscribe and listen to the thousand Hours Outside podcast. It's so good. You're such a great host and we love listening and participating. And then go purchase a copy of Until the Streetlights Come on. Comes out November 14th. I leave. We'll put all that in the show notes I leave out. Do I need to catch it

Ginny Yurich (55:25):

All? Well, they do need to listen to your podcast on ours, your podcast episode, because it's one of our top episodes. It's called something like You're Scrolling Your Life Away. It's really a good one. They'll put that in the show notes too, because that's a fantastic episode. I know people, I mean, we have gotten comments and emails and messages about that one, just time and time and time again. Very nice. It's awesome.

Joey Odom (55:47):

Ginny, thank you so much. Thank you for this book. Thank you for what you're doing. Appreciate you and your friendship. Thank you. I know anything related to our kids and how we raise our kids can feel daunting. You want to get it perfect. I want to encourage you, she says this in chapter seven of her book, she talks about this concept of optimization the best. Let's not worry about the best. So for your kids, don't worry about totally optimizing this. Just decide what do you want their childhood to look like? And if it is experiencing some of this, whether it's a thousand hours or 400 hours or a hundred hours, whatever it is, just this concept, this ethos of let's spend some time outside unstructured play. I think that's the best step is just decide. And then like Ginny says, then you need three things.

You need a first aid kit, food and a friend. So it's a great place to start. And for a parent like me, it's not too late. We can begin now. Please do. Go get a copy of Until the Streetlights come on by Ginny Urich. Check the show notes for everything else. Listen to their podcast. Very, very grateful for Ginny for her time today, for this book and for the movement, 1000 Hours outside. I hope you enjoyed it. Share it with a friend, and we can't wait to see you again next week on the Aro podcast. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Poco. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support and to our executive producer Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.