Working moms: I know it’s hard — so hard — to find a minute for yourself.
And if you’re like me, it’s probably been years since you’ve seen a non-animated movie and you have no idea what Netflix shows your colleagues are discussing in the break room.
But you need time to tune out, relax and think about something other than work or back-to-school logistics. Podcasts are perfect because you can listen on your commute, lunch break or when you’re doing mindless tasks around the house.
But with more than 750,000 podcasts at the tips of your fingers, where does a busy, working mom begin? Try five of my favorites that will hook you from the beginning — and maybe make that commute a little brighter and the motherhood juggle a bit easier.
Listen to: Payne in the Pod
Why tune in: If you don’t know where to start, Mary Payne Gilbert’s fast-talking southern drawl talks to other podcast hosts about their shows. It’s like SparkNotes for the world of podcasts. Listen to these, and decide what you want to dive into.
Favorite episode: Season 1, Episode 12:“Teenagers are Risk-Takers. Protect Them”
Even the most tech-savvy parents are playing catch up with fast-moving technology, and this episode pulls the blinders off parents’ eyes — in a totally non-judgmental way — for the “not my kid” response to sexting, cyber-bullying and technology.
Listen to: Motherly
Why tune in: Hosted by, for, and with other working moms, this podcast will make you feel normal and not alone. There’s great advice, inspiration and a lot of “yeah girl, I’ve been there” sisterhood.
Favorite episode: Season 2, Episode 15, with Birchbox’s Katia Beauchamp.
I normally don’t find the “famous working mom CEO as an inspirational figure” trope, well, inspirational, but Katia said something that resonated with me to my core: “There is no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s always hard. You either make your own light, or become okay with the dark.”
Listen to: HBR Women at Work
Why tune in: Well-produced, insightful content specifically designed to support professional women. And sometimes that includes uncomfortable subjects, like why women compete at work.
Favorite episode: Season 3, Episode 3, “The Upside of Working Motherhood”
With so many negative headlines on the injustices working mothers face every day, this is a welcome episode highlighting all of the positive outcomes of the working mom circus.
Listen to: The Double Shift
Why tune in: Host Katherine Goldstein is every bit in the weeds as you are, and she shares relatable stories with a diverse set of guests, from a North Carolina politician to a Nevada sex worker.
Favorite episode: Season 1, Episode 6, on not having it all.
This brutally honest episode of the host’s messy life and work collision makes you realize that no one has this figured out. There will always be hard phases and tough decisions, but you just keep moving forward.
Listen to: Better Life Lab
Why tune in: Brigid Schulte designed this podcast with busy working moms in mind. All epsidoes are about 20 minutes, because she knows you can’t commit to a full hour. Schulte told me, “You know, there are so many podcasts that talk about work — why it sucks, how to make it better. And then there are a lot of podcasts that talk about the challenges of life, juggling it all, life hacks, productivity and finding meaning. What I try to do … is to find the connections between all those threads. It’s all about understanding the search for the good life, and making it available to everyone.”
Favorite episode: Season 2, Episode 1, “The Calm Company”
Brigid talks to Basecamp founder Jason Fried, on how to build a sustainable (and not necessarily high growth) company with healthy work-life balance. As a corporate leader, this episode made me re-examine my own firm’s culture and policies better to support our employees. This episode proves you can grow sustainably and be profitable without killing your employees or yourself.
Jennifer Folsom is the chief of corporate development at Washington, D.C.-based data analytics consulting firm Summit LLC. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Ben and three sons, 17-year-old twins Josh and Will, and 12-year-old Anderson. Her practical guide to modern working motherhood,"The Ringmaster," will be out this fall