Sometimes, when I’m in a parenting funk, or a downward mental spiral, simply taking a few minutes to listen to someone else’s thoughts gets me out of my own head.
Do your own circular thought patterns ever get you bogged down? Does your to-do list sometimes run amok in your own head? Journaling, reading, and connecting with other live humans is always helpful to me. But there is something about listening – and sometimes watching – inspiring content that lifts me up, too.
One of the only things I miss about commuting and heading into an office is the “podcast time” I used to have on the metro on the way to work. This very much felt like “me time,” because I intentionally picked things to listen to that would leave me in a better frame of mind for the day. And it felt private. No one else had a clue what I was listening to.
There were a number of months during the early days of the pandemic when I didn’t listen to or watch much of anything by myself. Yes, there was a lot of family-viewing-time of episode after episode of good ‘ole classics like Fraggle Rock and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. But I couldn’t figure out how to fit in things for my own listening or viewing pleasure.
I’ve gotten creative, though, and re-worked my listening routines. Why? Because I realize how much better I feel after hearing something that makes me think. Helps me feel connected. And inspires me.
5 Things I’ve Been Listening To and Watching Lately
There are a few things I’ve listened to and watched recently that inspired me to write this post in the first place. Here are my most recent recommendations:
- Two America’s Presents: Motherhood in America: This 30-minute special, a “Two Americas” presentation, highlights the voices of 4 mothers. Their individual journeys reflect the larger issues facing moms in America.
- “Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish,” Jessica Brubaker’s TedX Talk: “Self-care” may be an overused phrase these days, but this TedX Talk gets deep into the heart of how the language we use to talk to ourselves makes the biggest self-care difference. Gratitude to the mom in our Mindful Return 201 course who recommended this one.
- Rachel Brumberger’s Podcast Episode on Healing Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Conditions, with Mikah Goldman Berg: This episode of the UnscRxipted Podcast should be required listening for all new parents – men and women alike. (And for anyone who knows and wants to support new parents.) Deep gratitude to Mikah for sharing her postpartum mental health story so openly and helpfully here.
- We Can Do Hard Things Podcast, with Glennon Doyle, Abby Wambach, and Amanda Doyle: ALL the episodes of this entire podcast series. This is the only podcast I’m listening to right now where I refuse to miss an episode. The recent episode on menopause blew my mind open. (And as someone within a few years of needing to think about this taboo topic, I was ready for some mind-opening.) The episode with ALOK made me re-think my own family-of-origin’s limitations. And the episode called “How to Love Yourself and Let Yourself Be Loved” with Ashley C. Ford inspired me to read Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir.
- The Puberty Podcast: With an 11 year old boy in the house (and not having had any brothers growing up), I figured it was high time I learned a thing or two about what was happening to my dear son. Our pediatrician recommended the wonderful book, Decoding Boys, by Cara Natterson, M.D., and gosh was it an eye-opening. When I learned that Dr. Natterson had a podcast (which she co-hosts with Vanessa Kroll Bennett), I breathed a sigh of relief to have found a good source of podcast intel on tweens and teens.
Whatever you choose, I’d encourage you to make a queue for yourself and be intentional about it. Just as I suggested in my post entitled When You Finally Get “Alone Time”, How Do You Use It?, as you put your list together, give some thought to how you want to feel after you listen. Then identify options that will help you feel that way.
While I like to listen to The Daily, for example, I don’t put it in my ears when I’m feeling off or in need of a re-set. I’ve also started intentionally not listening to anything when I walk over to my kids’ school to pick them up. At the end of a workday, I know quiet benefits me more than sound.
When Do I Listen and Watch?
Once you’ve compiled your list of things you want to listen to and watch, when and how do you find time? As Marisa Volpe Lonic says in her book, Time Momagement, we can “solo-task the mindful and “multitask the mindless.” Here’s when I experienced the suggestions above:
- Two Americas Motherhood Special: Watched with my hubby one evening, on the couch, after we were both too fried to do any other work. Immediate date night.
- “Why Self-Care Isn’t Selfish” TedX: Watched on Sunday morning, in my room, while folding laundry.
- Rachel Brumberger’s Episode on Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Conditions: I listened to the first half with my beloved Bose Sport Headphones in my ears while I ironed some clothes. I listened to the second half from the speaker on my phone, while it was sitting on a box of tissues in the bathroom. This was while I was getting ready for a Zoom work call, during a morning my husband was on point to take the kids to school.
- We Can Do Hard Things Podcast: I listen to this in bits and pieces in all the places. Walking to a business lunch. While cooking dinner. (Unless it’s a meal with a recipe I don’t know, in which case I can’t multitask or risk messing up our food!) While weeding the vinca outside of my house.
- The Puberty Podcast: I admit I don’t follow this one as religiously, but when I’m caught up on We Can Do Hard Things, this is the one I turn to. Usually in the kitchen while cooking. (With my headphones in, of course.)
There isn’t any rocket science involved in carving out of time to listen. But I’ve discovered about myself that I’m often just so much happier when I do make the time.
One of the things I love most about being in communities with other people – like this one! – is the swapping of resources. What are you watching and listening to these days that’s inspiring you and filling you up? Please do leave your suggestions in the comments below!
Want more practical tips on working parenthood? Check out my book, Back to Work After Baby: How to Plan and Navigate a Mindful Return from Maternity Leave