The Hip Mom Tunes Out
Podcast recommendations for moms who needs a break.
Gah. August! How is your summer going, dear moms? Have you been rocking all the kid things — the camp driving, the screen monitoring, the snack vigilance, the good and healthy fun creating, the trip taking, the memory making? Or are you like me? Are you hot, done, sweaty, and wondering why all these bodies are just lying prostrate around your house, playing Fortnite, watching Barbie on Amazon TV, and yelling ”Mom!” when they need a snack opened? Well, have I got a solution for you: podcasts, friends, podcasts! Since it’s often impossible for me to get out and meet real friends — or maybe not many people like me?! — I find listening to an adult voice talking about smart things to be a real balm for my soul. Are you still driving your brains out? Listen to a podcast! (Bonus: If my children are bickering in the car, I threaten them with listening to one of mom’s podcasts, and they groan loudly and hush right up!) Do you want to make dinner in peace, and tune out the screams? Listen to a podcast! And, luckily, I have a great sampling of podcasts that feed all kinds of tastes — some practical, some entertaining, some philosophical - but all are great for moms in all stages of life.
Perhaps my favorite podcast is “Sorta Awesome,” produced by Meg Tietz, an Oklahoma City girl. “Sorta Awesome is a weekly podcast geared toward women who want to stay current on all things awesome, including culture, media, trending conversations and general girlfriend chat.” Meg is herself a mother of four, including twins, and always has fascinating guests on the show. Episode topics run the gamut: there’s parenting-in-the-summer tips; marriage ruminations; skincare for non-teenagers; personality typing and the Enneagram; navigating spiritual crises; budgeting for families; anxiety and depression...ladies, they talk about EVERYTHING. And often there’s big-name guests such as author Gretchen Rubin (“The Happiness Project”). Generally the show is safe for little ears, but Meg warns you if they are going to touch on more “steamy” topics. Every show starts with the host’s “Awesome of the Week” — these “Awesomes” could be a book, cosmetic, podcast, TV show, really anything — and so many of these little tidbits have really changed and improved my life. Their “Sorta Awesome Facebook Hangout” is a magical gathering place brimming with advice and ideas, too. Go have a listen!
Another favorite podcast is “The Model Health Show,” hosted by Shawn Stevenson. When traditional medicines weren’t working, Shawn essentially cured himself of a degenerative spine disease in his early adulthood through dramatic diet and exercise changes. Now his podcast is the #1 health podcast on iTunes and, wow, it is fascinating. I have learned so much from Shawn: the importance of healthy fats in your diet; why intermittent fasting is good for you; foods that can protect your brain from dementia; exercising smart versus over-exercising; how to recover from sleep deprivation...the list goes on. Now some of his advice (coffee distilled from mushrooms? Completely eliminating soda?) I just can’t do now -- or maybe ever. And some of his self-improvement episodes are a little woo woo for me. But, overall, this is a podcast I keep up with -- I don’t want to miss Shawn’s cutting-edge ideas on health and fitness, even if I can’t incorporate all of them!
Another podcast I can’t miss is Danielle Bean’s “Girlfriends” podcast. “Know your worth, find your joy.” Danielle Bean is like the wise, warm, nextdoor girlfriend you wish you had (or maybe you do have one of these!). Danielle is Catholic, so her podcast is enlivened by her faith, but you certainly don’t have to be Catholic -- or even Christian -- to appreciate Danielle’s fresh, warm takes on motherhood, marriage, grown-up friendships, fitness and work. Recent episodes include “How to Find Your Gifts” (I’m still looking for mine), “What Not to Do On Social Media,” ”Fake it Till you Make It,” and “Why You Procrastinate - and How to Stop.” All really relevant topics in my life — maybe yours too! Plus, listeners call in with real-life problems, and Danielle’s responses are always thoughtful, warm and nuanced. She truly cares about her community of listeners.
For us bookworms, Anne Bogel’s “What Should I Read Next?” is manna from heaven. This podcast has enriched my reading life tenfold; I’m currently doing the 2018 reading challenge, and it’s prodded me to read books I wouldn’t normally pick up. Anne interviews devoted readers from bookstore owners, to authors themselves, to English professors -- every guest is fascinating, and all have great books to share. Each show wraps up with a series of questions: What are you reading now, what book do you love, and what book do you hate? And then Anne comes up with a few recommendations for her guest based on her perceptions of their literary tastes. If you are a reader, I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough!
“Forever 35” is a really fun indulgence, but it also has some serious meat to it, too. The tagline is “We’re not experts, just two friends who like to talk about serums” (genius, yes?). It’s more than cosmetics and self-care; it’s also about all the “stuff” that plagues women and moms in their 30s and beyond — anxiety, body image, fertility issues, career angst — it’s all here, ladies. As Meg Tietz noted, it’s more of a “wine out with girlfriends” sort of podcast versus a “milkshake at Chick-Fil-A” podcast. You get her drift! Maybe not always rated G for little ears. But these two friends -- Kate Spencer and Doree Shafrir -- really pour their hearts out on this show, and it can be raw (Doree’s struggles with IVF are really soul-crushing). But it’s also hilarious. There’s a great little story about Kate trying out a sheet mask on an overnight flight. Other episodes include proper bidet usage (I’m really not sure why these two love bidets, but there you go!), juicing, and low-cost self care. If you can’t sneak out for a glass of wine with your slightly naughty and irreverent BFF, just pull up Forever35!
And there’s more. "Smartest Person in the Room" is “a podcast that challenges us to seek out the smartest people and learn from them.” It’s hosted by Laura Tremaine, a “Hollywood Housewife.” She has recently done several challenging podcasts about race and hidden bias in the US.
For more frivolous fare, there’s the “Popcast,” hosted by Knox and Jamie, “Educating you on things that entertain, but do not matter.” The Bachelor series is always great fodder for this show, as are celebrity couples, “pop culture conspiracy theories,” and all things Hollywood. Veering in a completely different direction, “The Simple Show” is hosted by Tsh Oxenreider; you may have read her books “Notes from a Blue Bike,” or “At Home in the World.” Tsh says, “Equal parts homebody and wandering pilgrim, I spend many days reminiscing about afternoons in Italy or dreaming up our next family trip to who-knows-where, mostly while stirring soup in my tiny, Central Texas fixer-upper kitchen.” Tsh is an old soul, and loves really deep talks on all sorts of topics: travel, simplified living, homemaking, parenting. She recently did a series on “Grown-Upping the Summer” about how adults can actually enjoy summer despite all the chaos and responsibility of kiddies running around. What a concept!
Finally there’s NPR’s "This American Life." This is a great podcast for any American who wants to be well-informed beyond the headlines. The most recent episode took an in-depth look at the hotly contested 19th District congressional race in New York State. Another recent episode followed the story of Abdi, a Somali refugee living in Kenya who wins a lottery that puts him on a short list for a US visa. This is a smart, savvy podcast that puts human faces onto the stories we read about in the papers -- and reveals the staggering complexity of so many issues we face.
A note about technology: Often, I’m obnoxious and just listen to podcasts without earbuds in an attempt to annoy my children. My son, however, got the pricey-but-worth-it $159 wireless Apple Airpods from Santa; these are apparently worth the price, because my son has not lost them yet -- indeed, he guards them with his life. But if you’re prone to losing mini-things, try TREBLAB wireless headphones, which are really high quality for a mere $24 on Amazon! So, now you have all the tools you need to ignore those pesky kidlets until school starts...soon, mamas, soon!