I am the proud new owner of a used iPod Nano. It was a steal at $20 on a local buy, sell, trade page, and over the last few weeks, I have filled it up with music for both my toddler and me. My favorite thing, though, is podcasts. Podcasts are my new thing. They are educational and entertaining. They are free! Almost always free. And after months of just enduring the sound of my child’s music blaring through my car speakers, I finally decided that something had to give.
So, I plugged in that iPod nano and downloaded a world of stories and information. Grown ups talking about interesting things. I can listen while I am driving (one earbud in and one out, for safety) or while I am cleaning the house or while my toddler is napping. It has made me feel a little less out of touch with the world. I feel a little more hip. I have interesting things to talk about at cocktail parties. Not that I attend cocktail parties. But if I am ever invited, I’ll be set.
So for the mama who is new to the world of podcasts or isn’t quite sure what to listen to, here’s a brief summary of how it works.
If you have an smartphone, mp3 player, or tablet, you can listen to podcasts. The Podcast app is one of those apps that comes with the iPhone that you can’t delete. I usually hate those apps. I even have an “Apps I Can’t Delete” folder for them. But, I promise, once you get started with podcasts, you won’t want to delete the app. You can download the podcasts while you are on wifi and listen to them in the car, or you can stream them (but this option does use lots of data, so beware). Android devices have several podcast apps, so just look through and find one you like.
You can also access podcasts via iTunes on your computer. This option is a little more restrictive, but it’s good if you sit at a computer all day and like to sit for breaks.
So that’s the easy part. Finding something you love to listen to is another thing entirely. What do you want to learn about? Parenting? Fashion? Economics? Foreign Language? The possibilities are endless. If you like it, you can learn about it. But here are a few of my suggestions.
This American Life // Personal Journals. This is an excellent place to start for a new podcast listener. Every episode is a unique story or collection of stories. I am thoroughly entertained by the fresh points of view and variety offered by this podcast. Racism in schools. A father that constructed a 24-foot boat to entertain his 12 children. The magic words to get a person out of paying delinquent credit card debt. Fascinating stuff.
Longest, Shortest Time // Parenting. I have been listening to this podcast for several months. It explores the ups and downs of parenthood in an incredibly likable fashion, interviewing parents about their children and listening to stories of the unique ways that people become parents. If you are a fan of storytelling in general, you will love this.
StoryCorps // Society and Culture. StoryCorps holds a special place in my heart. I recorded an interview with them several years ago to preserve my story about fostering my four nephews for a three-year period. They gave me a CD of my story to share with my nephews when they are older. But these are stories of everyday people doing everyday things. These stories are interviews, often between family members. They are sometimes heartbreaking and often inspiring. StoryCorps even has an app for you to record your own interviews. If you are interested in recording your story at a Storybooth for free or to find mobile tour locations, visit its website.
Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram // Christianity. Chip Ingram is one of my favorite Bible teachers. He is practical, and his podcasts have helped me through some of my most difficult transitions in life. I can’t recommend him enough. And some days, a quick lesson on kindness and grace is just what a busy mom needs.
Unruffled by Janet Lansbury // Parenting. I love to listen to Janet Lansbury talk. She just has a nice speaking voice. I don’t agree with everything she says, and occasionally her tone has a tiny condescending edge to it. But she is intelligent. You can tell just by listening. And I love listening to people with different parenting philosophies. I am adapting the things I like and ignoring what I don’t like. It’s been great for me as a new parent of a toddler. If I can learn to be an unruffled parent in the face of toddlerhood, I will count that as a win.
Next, things I have heard are awesome, but haven’t listened to.
Storynory // Children’s Stories. Kids stories. British accents. If you are lucky, your child will end up sounding like Harry Potter. Win-win.
Serial // News and Politics. From the creators of This American Life. True story in multiple episodes. Start at the beginning.
So there are my suggestions. I hope they help. I hope they give you a few minutes of encouragement and entertainment wherever you are doing all of the amazing things that hip mamas do.
What podcasts are you listening to?