When you have a baby, you do so many crazy things it’s easy to think you’ve actually gone insane.
Spending up to eight hours a day breastfeeding in the first few weeks, transitioning baby to his own room only to wake up every hour of the night to check if he’s still breathing, lying awake worrying about all the ways he could die or hurt himself, spending hours doing laps around the house with him in a carrier just so he will sleep… All this on about three hours of fragmented sleep per night.
Thankfully, podcasts came to the rescue. In the early days when I was too tired to read more than two words and rarely had my hands free, listening to other parents talk honestly about the struggles and joys of parenting made me feel sane. I wasn’t crazy; millions of parents went through the exact same thing.
Here’s my list of best parenting podcasts:
The Longest Shortest Time
This is a polished, NPR style podcast. The host, Hillary Frank, started it after the traumatic birth of her daughter. I also had a difficult birth and it was helpful to listen to an episode in which she revisits what happened to her, what went wrong, and what she could have done differently.
And then there are so many good stories – not cutesy schmaltz about enjoying every moment of parenthood. Topics are unusual, difficult, sad and happy like the episode about a new mum spying on her neighbour via a baby monitor to cope with postpartum anxiety, a gay couple accidentally becoming parents, and a deaf woman who turned stories from her childhood into a well loved graphic novel.
Janet Lansbury Unruffled
Lansbury teaches and writes about respectful parenting. Her short, snackable podcast episodes answer a question from a parent. I love her philosophy but find it hard to apply, so her podcast is a great way to get practical examples. In a nutshell it’s all about letting children (even babies) figure things out for themselves, acknowledge their feelings without judgement (eg – don’t say ‘it’s OK’ as soon as they cry, rather say ‘I see you’re upset’ and let them cry, which is harder to do than it seems) and being honest with them (no tricks, lies, threats, etc).
For example: cutting babies’ fingernails is hard, so at first I would do it when my son was asleep or when I was feeding him. After hearing one of Lansbury’s podcasts I tried doing it without distractions. I explained why we needed to do this and when he wriggled I said: ‘You don’t like it. I can see how it’s annoying to have to sit still, but I need to cut your nails so you don’t scratch your face or mine. I have cut nails on four of your fingers already, six to go.’ Amazingly, it worked!
OK, OK, the name seems lame, but wait! There’s a reason for it. The creator of the podcast, Elizabeth Laime, started with a comedy podcast called Totally Laime. She went on with Totally Married, which she co-hosts with her husband, and when she had her first child started Totally Mommy. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
Elizabeth and co-host Vanessa Ragland start the podcast sharing good, bad and funny things that’s happened to them and then answer questions from listeners. Often they break into the kind of silly laughing you do when you are so tired everything becomes funny and I laugh with them.
I enjoy it so much I listened to most of the 126 existing episodes, following issues with breastfeeding, sleep, tantrums – it’s sometimes funny, sometimes insightful, but most importantly always honest. The podcast is barely edited – sometimes you hear a baby starting to cry and them saying: ‘oh no, let’s take a break’ and it cuts off and then they come back. But I don’t mind. It makes me feel like I get to listen in on two friends chatting.
Dear Mamas / Mama Said
Emily Writes’ blog about her experience as a mother cracks me up and makes me cry. So when she started a podcast with fellow mum Holly Walker I subscribed immediately. There are only four episodes so far and they only come out once a month but I’ve enjoyed the discussions about sleep, self-care and feeding so far. Sometimes it’s just the hosts, other times they have an ‘expert’ guest. Emily has a toddler who hates sleeping and another child who hates eating. She is always honest about her battles, and manages to make you laugh in the process.
One Bad Mother
I haven’t really got into this one but it has a good following. Like Totally Mommy, it is mainly a conversation between two mums. I am not sure why I like TM so much more – maybe I like the hosts’ voice better or identify with them more, but it might be the opposite for you so worth a listen.