Contributed by local Mom, and Milford Kids Thrive Collaborative member, Kayla Calabro

Ready to hear about my top podcasts for parents?

I remember one particularly tough mom day, I felt completely disconnected from myself. I’d given and given all day and felt like just a vessel of a human. Do you ever feel that way?

I posted on Facebook: “SOS! I need funny podcasts!”

Immediately, my friend Carolyn texted me: “you need to listen to Smartless!” Smartless is a podcast by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. They talk about celebrity things and interview other celebrities- nothing could be farther from how my day-to-day life as a stay-at-home mom feels. So, after bedtime, while I put the random socks away and reset my house, I played the podcast on my phone. 

You know what? It helped. I enjoyed doing the dishes. 

Now I’m a podcast expert! I listen when I feed the cat and then scoop cat poop. Dishes? Podcast. Put random socks in the random sock spot? Podcast. 

Podcasts make me a better mom and they can help you too!

Why should parents listen to podcasts?

Podcasts have that same engaging and entertaining quality that TV has, but there isn’t a screen. There’s something different about having to imagine the characters that places podcast-listening somewhere between reading and watching a video. 

Podcasts could also help you to spend time with your kid, while also meeting your own internal needs for entertainment. (although I should mention, I’m a big fan of kid-directed special time with each of my kids, but that’s a topic for a different post).

There are constantly new podcasts, so if you don’t find one you like now, you may want to check back in a few months to see if there’s anything new and interesting.

Why podcasts are so popular

The reason that podcasts are so popular is because of multitasking. You don’t have to watch a screen to participate in a podcast. You turn on your ears and you have two hands and two eyes that are free to get other stuff done! That’s why podcasts are especially appealing for parents, who often have their hands full. 

What kinds of podcasts should parents listen to?

I group my favorite podcasts into two categories: (1) kids can listen and (2) kids definitely cannot listen. 

I highly recommend that you check out these podcasts ALONE before you listen with kids. Consider this your PG-13 or TV-Y7 warning

My friend from high school was telling me that she listens to raunchy comedy all day long and her kiddos don’t bat an eye, but my son would have a ton of uncomfortable questions if I did that. Choose your own adventure! 

If you want to listen while parenting, which can be a great little brain break, try using one headphone. Lots of parents plop one earbud in, get some chores done, and parent while they listen. I have ADHD and cannot handle the mental load of listening and keeping kids alive, so I save my for-fun NSFK (not-suitable for kids) listening to times when my kids are sound asleep in the car, quiet/nap time, or after bedtime. 

BUT! You can listen WITH your kids. I think you should. There’s a whole list of podcasts made for kids below and you should check them out. My son loves a good podcast and he always asks questions about what he hears or sits and imagines while he plays with play-doh quietly. 

Keep going if you want a ton of suggestions for kid-friendly and not-so-kid-friendly podcasts!

How do you access podcasts?

There are a bunch of podcast apps, but generally, every phone has one. There’s an Apple podcast app and a Google podcast app too! You may also want to listen on Spotify, Audible, Stitcher, or TuneIn Radio. 

Which podcasts should I listen to?

Podcasts for your kids

Stories: If your kid likes to make up stories and listen to stories, try Stories Podcast, Circle Round, or Story Pirates.

Nature: For families that embrace the outdoors and keep a garden, Gardenkeeper Gus is a fantastic little podcast that we play on repeat in our home.

Deep Blue Sea taught me about the fact that starfish are now called sea stars (who knew!). They have an interview format, where they interview different deep-sea animals. It’s pretty adorable. 

Based on the PBS show, you can listen to Molly of Denali. We love that show in our house, so the podcast is an easy sell for my toddler.

Curious Kids: For the little curious future scientists among us, there are a lot of podcasts. Dinosaur George kids talks all about Dinosaurs. Then there are Q&A shows, where the hosts pick random topics and do a deeper dive into explaining them to the kids. But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids and Wow in the world both have a great library of kid-friendly content!

Podcasts about becoming a better parent

Good Inside with Dr. Becky – Dr. Becky is the guru of positive parenting these days. We used all of her resources as we prepped our toddler for going to preschool. It was a breath of fresh air and he flourished with her advice and our effort. I recommend that everyone check her out. 

Respectful Parenting: Janet Lansbury Unruffled – Janet provides advice from her respectful parenting philosophy. She’s all about setting gentle limits and remaining neutral and letting your kids feel their feelings. 

NH Family Now – This podcast by NH Children’s Trust has a slew of different visitors and interesting topics for parents. 

Podcasts just for you

If you’re into reality TV circa 2000, then you’ll love Kail Lowrey’s slew of podcasts she’s putting out. The former Teen Mom star now hosts Coffee Convos Podcast (with Lindsie Chrisley, this one seems mostly like girl talk), Barely Famous  (she interviews various people), Baby Mamas No Drama (this one is Kail Lowrey and her co-parent Vee Rivera).

If you need a little time off from momming (or dadding) and want to listen to some girl talk, then The Carpool with Kelly and Lizz might be good. It’s two sisters chatting about everything and anything. 

For the sports fans (the ones who don’t auto-draft their fantasy teams and then make it to the semifinals without paying much attention…), there’s The Bill Simmons Podcast. I know nothing of the sports ball, but this was recommended in the NH Toddler group by a real live parent, so it has to be halfway decent.  

For my fellow gossip lovers. I don’t want to take part in the gossip (as in, I don’t like to be talked about), but if I can eavesdrop on some folks at the coffee shop talking about their friend that keeps humble bragging about Law School, I’m hooked. I imagine that’s some of the vibe from The Southern Tea Podcast. Her website says,“ with no topic off limits, this podcast is an ongoing conversation on life, career, family, faith, motherhood, and everything in between. Lindsie swears to spill the tea, the whole tea, and nothing but the tea.”

If you love a good scandal… Along the same gossipy lines, some bigger and deeper scandal-type podcasts might interest you. American Scandal (about Americans who break the rules and get caught) and Even the Rich (about American Dynasties from the Murdochs to the Carters – as in Jay-Z and Beyoncé).

Then there’s this whispered-about teaching drama that all parents should probably be listening in on. There’s the science of how we know kids learn how to read and then there are the actual reading practices of schools in the U.S. The two practices don’t always match up. In fact, by the age of 8, many many American children are not fluent readers. Sold a Story takes the listener on a journey to find out why that’s happening. 

For my gross-loving podcasters (the ones who dove in with Serial and now want some more grossness). I can’t stomach these podcasts very well, now that I’m a mom but there’s a whole group of you folks (some of my best friends included.. You weirdos), who love a good murder/crime podcast. Since this is for parents though, I’m just gonna say PLEASE WEAR YOUR HEADPHONES for these. With that disclaimer, these were recommended by reputable podcast listeners: My Favorite MurderCrime Junkies (if you love a good true crime), and last but not least, Morbid! (an autopsy technician and a hairdresser share all things true crime, creepy, and spooky).

For my TV-loving millennials… If you are also a TV Junkie raised in the era of latch-key kids, then you’re going to love some of the show rewatch podcasts that exist. Guys, there’s one for Boy Meets World (Pod Meets World). Then there’s The Office (Office Ladies) and Parks and Rec (Parks and Recollection). If you loved Scrubs, then listen to Fake Doctors, Real Friends and New Girl has one too! (Welcome to Our Show). 

For my nerds…There are a ton of great research podcasts too. A new one recommended by a friend is Timesuck – a weekly deep dive into random listener-suggested topics. Then you can also dive into “Stuff you should know” or “Stuff Mom Never Told You”

For some easy laughs, listen to some funny podcasts! My #1 Podcast is Smartless – Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett interview their celebrity friends. They name-drop like it’s nobody’s business (like for example, their friend Jen isn’t any good at using her phone. Yeah. Jen ANNISTON). These guys make me chuckle while I’m up to my elbows in soapy dishwater.

Then there are some other comedian podcasts, like Where My Mom’s at with Christina P and Your Mom’s House. Not to mention the more famous comedians who have podcasts like Chelsea Handler (Dear Chelsea…), Sarah Silverman, and Andy Richter (The Three Questions with Andy Richter)

Then there’s Fly on the Wall – Dana Carvey and David Spade share about their time on Saturday Night Live.

When should you listen to podcasts?

I listen to podcasts all the time. I have to choose when NOT to listen to podcasts. Podcasts are great to listen to when you are doing something kinda mindless. Maybe scrolling social media or cooking. Some days we listen to a kid-friendly podcast when my kids are eating a snack (the silence as they munch and listen can be quite nice at the end of the day). Some folks listen on stroller walks or while cleaning, cooking, and working. One mom I know even wears one AirPod while parenting. She listens to her kiddos with one ear and plays podcasts in the other ear. 

Go pick a podcast and give it a listen

Okay, so you know the social media folks are calling your name, but I want you to resist. I want you to instead pull up the podcast app on your phone. I want you to pick ONE podcast to listen to and see how you feel. Maybe you’re having a hard time with your kiddos hitting – see if Dr. Becky has a podcast about that (she does). Maybe you want to feel like you learned something, try Timesuck. Maybe, like me, you’re in a fog of tasks – try laughing and lightening up with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett! (If you can’t tell, I’m obsessed) 

Let us know in the comments what you are going to listen to. Did we miss any awesome podcasts?