Like many moms I drive a lot. At a minimum, I drive 40 minutes each way to and from work, and that is if I don’t have to take Newt anywhere. Add in a stop for her and I tack on another 20 to 40 minutes depending on the day and destination. In my world, where there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, this commute was just the ultimate of wasted time.
Until I made it work for me. I discovered Podcasts.
I’m probably late to the party, but I’m here now. I think for me, podcasts allow me to engage in my curiosity. To think about grown up things again (that aren’t work related). To lose myself for 40 minutes or so. You know- what I used to do when I had time to read a book. I found myself actually looking forward to driving again. And traffic jam? No problem, I may actually be able to finish this podcast before I get home. So, in no particular order, some of the podcasts that I have enjoyed listening to:
Grown-up Time Podcasts
- Serial– Ok, this one is pretty obvious, but it is the reason I even bothered to explore what that mysterious pre-loaded podcast app on my phone had to offer. I heard about this podcast EVERYWHERE and I wanted to know what it was all about. In what is arguably the most well known podcast to date, Serial began as a spin off from This American Life. It has only had one 12 episode season so far, but is already confirmed for 2 more seasons. Serial is amazing. Just really engrossing, sometimes maddening story telling about a real murder and a possible miscarriage of justice. After I finished those 12 episodes, I have listened to another podcast, Undisclosed, which uncovers even more information about the case, but from a more biased point of view.
- Invisibilia– This one is all about the invisible forces that control human behavior- ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Well done and very interesting. My favorite episode was Fearless- which explores the function of fear and sometimes dysfunction of fear. For a super anxious person like me, this made perfect sense.
- Stuff You Should Know– I love this one because I feel like I am learning something and there are so many episodes to choose from about a variety of topics. Some of these episodes are only 5 minutes long, some 40 minutes or more. Some of my favorites: How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked, What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke, How Ouija boards work, and What’s the deal with Rasputin’s Death.
- Really anything from How Stuff Works– Stuff You Should Know is one of the podcasts from How Stuff Works. Other podcasts are: Stuff You Missed in History Class– discussing history, Stuff Mom Never Told You– discussion of issues relating to women, Stuff to Blow Your Mind– just anything and everything, Brain Stuff– science behind how stuff works, and Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know– fun times for conspiracy theorists. What’s great about all of these are that so many different topics are discussed you will always be able to find something of interest.
- Lore– From the time I was a youngun, I have always loved a good spooky story. Each episode focuses on a different folklore or scary tale and explores the “truth” behind the lore.
- The Black Tapes Podcast– The official site for this podcast describes the series as follows, “The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.” For me- another place to explore some good scary stories- at least during my day time drives. This is not one I listen to after dark!
- The X-Files Files– Ok, so this one is a little more niche, but I still love the X-Files after all these years. Each podcast discusses a specific episode from the series. But it is funny and smart and hosted by Kumail Nanjiani, who plays my favorite character from HBO’s Silicon Valley! One of my favorite parts of the show is when he goes back and reads posts from message boards from the week the episode first aired.
- You Must Remember This– This is about the “secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I found I don’t even have to be familiar with the film or star discussed in an episode to be transfixed. Featuring some dramatizations, film clips and awesome music, this podcast is perfect for this pop cultured obsessed mommy.
Don’t Forget The Kids
It didn’t take me long to realize that there are some really great options for listening when Newt is in the car with me. If given the choice between listening to a podcast or listening to music, my kid often picks the podcast, and my kid loves music!
- Stuff You Should Know– Yup. This is the same one I mentioned in the grown up section. With offerings like, Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are You?, Oh No, Snakes!, and Why does toothpaste make orange juice taste bad, it also presents an opportunity for the kiddo to learn something as well. Though it is not geared towards children and many subjects are probably not appropriate, the podcast is not crude and does not have bad language. Some of the scientific concepts probably go over Newt’s 5 year old head, but she understands enough of it to be engaged.
- Audio Books For Children– Developed by Templeton Institute for Neurology, “Enhance your child brain imagination ability by focusing on auditory stimulation through audio books specifically developed by our neurologists at Templeton Institute for Neurology. These stories are written by cultures all over the world, refined over many generations of story telling. They are amazing adventures with powerful values and invaluable lessons.” The best are tales from 1001 Nights and from the Myths of the World entries.
- Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm– The classic tales available to hear in the car. Great narration. Some stories are 4 minutes long and some are over 20. Loyal Books has many many classic tales available for free in audiobook or e-book form. Not just stuff for kids, classic novels too.
- Barefoot Books Podcast– I have a couple of these gorgeous books with classic stories so when I saw the podcast I had to listen. I was not disappointed. Very good story telling and some songs, too. Even younger children would enjoy these tales. I noticed that they have not added more content since 2013, but there are plenty of things to enjoy.