Podcasts and Prams

A friend of mine just posted a list of podcasts about new music on her blog (see here) and it inspired me to write my own little list of podcasts, and talk about how podcasts saved my life in the first year of parenting…

I choose not to think about how many hours I spent pushing the pram around the neighbourhood in the last twelve months. And the pram walking took over from the nine months of walking a pregnant lady around the same neighbourhood. Both types of walk, by the way, usually ended with a race for home to either avoid or deal with someone crapping in their pants.

Now don’t get me wrong, on a good day, going for a walk with the pram can be a glorious experience, a form of walking meditation, and a chance to reconnect with your love for your child (assuming that the experience of motion, colour and movement has the desired calming effect on him or her). On a bad day though, it can be nightmarish. Even if your child is calm, there are days when the thought of walking the same route around the same streets for the twentieth time that week can fill you with despair. A lot of different things can feed into this sense of despair, but one of them (for me at least) was just how boring and lonely it could be. I started to yearn for voices to listen to other than my own.

This is where the podcast came to the rescue. Being a musician, I had only ever used my iPod to listen to music, but it was now adults talking to each other that I craved, so I asked around and did my own ‘research’ to find interview and discussion type podcasts. Though I have subscribed to quite a few, the three below I keep coming back to, so they will suffice as specific recommendations. Having said that, tastes in talk are as personal as tastes in music, so my general recommendation is check out iTunes and especially their featured providers like the BBC, ABC and NPR. These three broadcasters and their myriad of talky podcasts are great places to start your search, but by no means where it should end.

Anyway, my three favourites are…

Late Night Live

Philip Adams, an Australian radio institution, interviews an array of fascinating people about equally fascinating global issues.

In Our Time

A weekly programme hosted by Melvyn Bragg, who is an English radio, television and literary institution. Each week he discusses a topic with three academics who are experts in that topic.  The topics are incredibly diverse, ranging from the Iron Age to the Bhagavad Gita to Melancholy to Cogito Ergo Sum etc etc…

This American Life

Just to be evenhanded, here is one from the States. Like ‘In Our Time’, each weekly episode focuses on a single theme for an hour, but there the similarities end. The show is usually broken into a few acts, and each act is a story that relates to the overarching theme. As the name suggests, the show is more about contemporary life than historical or philosophical ideas, but is no less fascinating for that.

As I say, there are others, but those three give a sense of my listening habits, and are enough (I hope) to inspire you to find your own…

ps I was reading the other day that if babies in prams are facing away from their parent then it can create an intense feeling of loneliness and isolation in the child (not sure how they established this, but there you go). Obviously, if the parent is also lost in a podcast, then this reduces the likelihood that he or she will be giving regular verbal reassurances to the child, reassurances that might mitigate this loneliness. In other words, when listening to podcasts it is probably better to have your child facing you if you can, or try to check in with them fairly regularly, if you can’t.

pps Obviously as your child gets older and more verbal they are going to want to interact with you more, which will make listening to podcasts impossible (unless they are sleeping). On the other hand, by that time you’ll be walking them in the pram a lot less, so the need for podcast therapy will diminish.

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