What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood

By Margaret Ables and Amy Wilson

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Description

Hosted by funny moms Margaret Ables (Nick Mom) and Amy Wilson (When Did I Get Like This?), “What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood” is a comedy podcast solving today’s parenting dilemmas so you don’t have to. We’re both moms of three, dealing with the same hassles as any parent, albeit with slightly differing styles. Margaret is laid-back to the max; Amy never met an expert or a list she didn't like. In each episode, we discuss a parenting issue from multiple perspectives and the accompanying expert advice that may or may not back us up. We talk about it, laugh about it, call out each other’s nonsense, and then we come up with concrete solutions. Join us as we laugh in the face of motherhood! Winner of the 2018 Mom 2.0 Iris Award for Best Podcast, the 2017 Podcast Awards People’s Choice for Best Family and Parenting Podcast, and finalist for the 2019 Romper's Parent's Choice Award. whatfreshhellpodcast.com

Episode Date
When We Should (And Shouldn't) Rescue Our Kids
2969
No matter what ages our kids are, when they need rescuing, they look to Mom. And whether we rescue them or not, we’re left second-guessing whatever it is we just did.  Did you bring that forgotten lunch to school? Nice helicoptering, loser!  Did you leave your kid to figure out his own way home from baseball when it was getting dark? Really, how can you live with yourself?  In this episode, we talk about all the situations our kids have (and will) want rescuing from, and whether or not each requires our stepping in-- and how to know.  We discuss: why “natural consequences” for your forgetful kid doesn’t mean she’ll remember her cleats next time; the structures and scaffolding you can put in place so kids can start rescuing themselves; and why “muscle confusion” isn’t just for the gym. Basically, we think that if your kids blow it once in a while, you should go ahead and bring them the right shoes. But don’t forget to give your kids the gifts of solving their own problems once in a while.  As parenting expert Dr. Robin Berman explains: "If you want to have happy kids, you have to teach them to tolerate being unhappy." Here are links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode: Dr. Robin Berman for Goop: The Misguided Desire of Wanting Our Kids to be Happy Carolyn Dalgiesh: The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious, or Distracted Kids Dr. Sarah Sarkis for Hey Sigmund: ‘I Just Want Them to Be Okay’ – Why Rescuing Our Kids Can Get in Their Way Dr. Michael G. Thompson: When Should A Forgetful Nine-Year-Old Suffer Consequences? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 16, 2019
Ask Margaret - When Should My Kids Start Sharing a Room?
351
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "When should my kids start sharing a room?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 14, 2019
Parenting With An Audience
3143
Have you ever felt coerced into parenting in a way you usually wouldn’t because you were in public? Does the tsk-ing disapproval of Aunt Joan feel even worse than eyerolls from strangers? Do you discipline your kids differently in front of friends who might hold a tighter line, even if it's in your house? Do you ever give a "now you listen to me, young man" lecture to one of your kids primarily for the benefit of his or her siblings? For better and for worse, parenting with an audience means doing things differently.  In this episode we discuss what to say to well-meaning (but still interfering) onlookers with front-row seats to your kid's tantrum without making What That Lady Must Think your primary focus. As parenting columnist Sarah Coyne reminds us, we should focus on strengthening our connections with our kids rather than pleasing the onlookers. Kids need consistent, reliable, trustworthy parents who don’t change their game plan based upon who’s acting as witness." Here are links to other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode: Sarah Coyne for The Joplin Globe:  Parenting with an audience changes the rules Dr. Laura Markham for Aha! Parenting: 14 Tips for Parenting in Public Odd Loves Company: Parenting For An Audience Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 09, 2019
Ask Amy - All My Kids Do Is Fight
369
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question, "What do I do about my kids who won't stop fighting?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 07, 2019
When Other Kids Are Bad Influences
3066
What is it about the kid who throws sand that other kids find so irresistible? How do we keep our kids away from bad influences in their lives, especially as they get older? And why do parents sometimes peg exactly the wrong kids as good influences? In this episode we discuss what age groups are most susceptible to peer influence (good and bad), how to approach the parent of a suspected bad-influencer, and how to teach our kids to approach these situations on their own. As Timothy Verduin, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU, explains: "If you want kids who are resilient, you can’t isolate them from social pathogens. Think about the long view, that you’re training them to handle less-than-ideal people and solve their own problems." Here are links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode: Jennifer Bleyer for Real Simple: 9 Bad Influences on Your Child (or You) Diana Simeon for Your Teen Mag: When to Call Another Parent About Teenage Behavior Problems Laurence Steinberg and Kathryn C. Monahan, Developmental Psychology: Age Differences in Resistance to Peer Influence Laurence Steinberg, Temple University: Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: an experimental study George Packer for The Atlantic: When The Culture War Comes For The Kids Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 02, 2019
Ask Margaret - Can I Stop the Flow of Plastic Toys Coming In?
328
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "Can I stop the flow of plastic toys coming in?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 30, 2019
Hot Takes and Unpopular Opinions
3424
We asked the members of our Facebook group for your "hot takes"- that is to say, the things you feel insanely strongly about while the rest of the world is seemingly indifferent.  From athleisure to mayonnaise to french-fry consistency to the enduring fame of Coldplay, these are your extremely fervent hot takes and unpopular opinions.  Should pizza ever, under any circumstances, be topped with pineapple? Should trophies for mere participation be forever banned? Was Dr. Seuss not that great of an actual writer? Here's what all of you really, really want the rest of us to know.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 25, 2019
Ask Amy - When Do You Start Letting Kids Have Sleepovers?
273
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question, "When do you start letting kids have sleepovers?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 23, 2019
When One of Our Kids Is Taking All Our Bandwidth
3062
There are a lot of reasons that one of our kids might end up getting most of our attention. Some are positive: Sophia is the best 12-year-old pitcher in the state!  Some are decidedly negative: another hospital stay. Some bandwidth-hogging choices are freely made; some are obligations.  Sometimes focusing on just one of our kids is temporary, and sometimes it's the sort of “new normal” that can radically reshape family dynamics.  In this episode, we talk about the times in our own parenting lives when one of our kids has taken up all (okay, 99%) of our bandwidth, and how to manage our other relationships- including with our partners- during the tough or crazy times.  In our experience, identifying and being honest about what’s taking up the bandwidth is the key to making sure everyone survives it. Here are links to the research on this topic that we discuss in this episode:  Leigh Anderson for Lifehacker: What to Do If Your Child's Behavior Is Ruining Your Relationship With Your Partner Carson Crusaders Foundation Antoinette Deavin, Pete Greasley, Clare Dixon for Pediatrics: Children’s Perspectives on Living With a Sibling With a Chronic Illness Dean E. Murphy for NYT: Watching Them Watching Me Lisa Rapaport for Reuters: Healthy kids with sick sibling may hide emotions Nicole Schwarz for imperfectfamilies.com: When The Siblings of a Difficult Child Feel Ignored Andrew Sullivan for NYT: How Do You Raise a Prodigy? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 18, 2019
Ask Margaret - My Kid Hates Baths
327
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "What do I do with my child who hates taking baths?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 16, 2019
Managing the Grandparent Relationship
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What should we as parents do when the well-meaning grandparents in our lives are overindulgent of their grandchildren? Or undermine our parenting choices? And what do we do with our own hurt feelings when our parents don't seem very interested in our kids at all? In this episode we talk about how to create a grandparent relationship that works for everyone. It's worth the effort. Take it from our friend Belinda Luscombe, who when it comes to navigating this relationship, reminds us of the ever-present upside: "Don't let the opportunity of getting to know your in-laws or parents in a different way pass you by." Here are links to some writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode: Susan Newman, Ph.D: Little Things Mean a Lot: Creating Happy Memories With Your Grandchildren Jaycee Dunn for Parents: What to Do About Uninvolved Grandparents Jo Piazza for Parents: From Toxic Mother to Loving Grandmother: How I Learned to Forgive My Mom After My Son Was Born Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 11, 2019
Ask Amy - My Kid is Scared of Bugs
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question, "What do I do with my child who is terrified of bugs?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 09, 2019
How To Prepare Our Kids Now to Be Grown and Flown (with guest Lisa Heffernan)
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Kids don't usually seek to lose their dependence on us as parents- and why should they? Doesn’t a grilled cheese taste so much better when Mom makes it?  So it’s up to us to teach our kids independence, and that means showing them how an ATM works sometime before they leave for college. How do we start the nest-leaving process early and often? Our guest is Lisa Heffernan, co-creator of the parenting-older-kids website Grown and Flown. She and Lisa Heffernan are the co-authors of the new book Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults. Lisa says yes, we should start preparing our kids now to survive without us— but she’s not arguing for tough love as the only answer, whether our kids are three or twenty-three. “Being involved in your kid’s life does NOT make you a helicopter parent,” Lisa says. "It makes you a loving, supportive parent.”  It’s often harder, longer, and more complicated to make our kids do something than to just do it for them. But this week we’re going to find a moment, allow a bit of extra time, and walk our kids through a task they are eminently capable of doing for themselves. The pride they’ll feel— even if the results are imperfect— will be worth celebrating.  Here are links to some other writing on the topic that we discuss in this episode:  Melissa Deuter for Psychology Today: 5 Steps to Help Your Teen Leave the Nest Rachel Martin for Your Teen Mag: The Perfect Present: Fostering Teen Independence Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 04, 2019
Ask Margaret - Ground Rules for House Guests
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "What are reasonable rules for when our parents visit?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 02, 2019
Ask Amy - How Do I Deal With Dropoff Meltdowns?
237
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question "How Do I Deal with Meltdowns at School Drop-Off?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 26, 2019
Parenting Styles: Which Ones Are We (And Should We Care?)
3079
Helicopter moms, snowplow moms, tiger moms, free-range moms… we usually define all of these parenting types in the negative: well, at least I’m not THAT. But are there useful takeaways from each of these parenting styles that we can combine cafeteria-style to create our own? Can we reject some of the judginess of free-range parenting, or the tyranny of tiger momming, and still find things to love? What do we miss when we reject other moms' ways of doing things full-stop?  Here are links to the books and articles we mention in this episode: Frank Bruni: Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania Amy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother Foster Cline and Jim Fay: Parenting With Love and Logic Nancy Gibbs for Time: Roaring Tigers, Anxious Choppers The Grammarphobia Blog: The Original Tiger Mother? Dr. James R. Laider for Autism Watch: The "Refrigerator Mother" Hypothesis of Autism Heather Marcoux for Motherly: 'Snowplow parents' and the lessons we can take from them Jessica McCrory Calarco for The Atlantic: 'Free Range' Parenting's Unfair Double Standard Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich for NYT: How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of Adulthood Arti Patel for Global News: ‘Panda parenting’ is all about giving children more freedom — but does it work? Katie Roiphe for Slate: The Seven Myths of Helicopter Parenting Lenore Skenazy: Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) Emma Waverman for Today's Parent: Snowplow Parenting: The Latest Controversial Technique Esther Wojcicki for Time: I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful Children Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 21, 2019
Ask Margaret - Do We Need a Landline for Emergencies?
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "Do We Need a Landline for Emergencies?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 19, 2019
Husband Crimes: Can This Marriage Be Saved?
3425
We asked you to tell us your spouses’ most unacceptable-- and also extremely minor-- household infractions. 356 of you responded. Whether it’s turning off the AC because it's "too cold" at 75 degrees, creating a Sock Mountain of not-quite-dirty-enough laundry, or pausing Netflix to point out plot holes, this episode explores everything spouses do that is trivially horrible. It must also be said: while these offenses are most often properly termed as Husband Crimes, this episode proves that Wives can also be guilty of using ten water glasses in one day, or of eating potato chips too loudly. It seems that no marriage is entirely free of Spouse Crimes.  You are heard. You deserve justice. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 14, 2019
Ask Amy - How Can I Keep My Cool With My Spouse Who Actually Sleeps at Night?
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question "How Can I Keep My Cool With My Spouse Who Actually Sleeps at Night?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 12, 2019
When Should Kids Tell?
3232
Most little kids have an ironclad sense of right and wrong and are most happy to report on whoever might not be sharing in the dress-up corner. But as they get older, the stakes get a lot higher- for them, for us, and for the kid being "told on." When should kids tell? In this episode we discuss: the difference between "tattling" and telling, and whether telling kids "no tattling" is causing other problems; the difference between surprises and secrets; what to do when kids say, "I'm not sure if I should tell you this"; and whom kids should tell when they can't (or won't) tell you. Here are links to some of the research and writing on the topic discussed in this episode: Amy Morin for Very Well Family: Why Parents Shouldn't Tell Kids to Keep Secrets Marisa Cohen for Real Simple: How Much Privacy Should You Give Your Kids? Valerie Reiss for Great Schools: Does Saying "Don't Tattle" Send Kids the Wrong Message? Heidi Stevens for the Chicago Tribune: Tattling is bad, except when it's not Together Against Bullying: Telling vs. Tattling Teachers Pay Teachers: Tattling vs. Telling Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 07, 2019
Ask Margaret - How Can I Stop Repeating Myself?
238
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "How Can I Stop Repeating Myself?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 05, 2019
Imaginative Kids: Is It Ever Too Much of a Good Thing?
3385
Is there such a thing as a too-imaginative kid? Parenting experts say no. Dr. Paul Harris, professor of education at Harvard and author of The Work of the Imagination, says that kids’ active imaginations are “essentially positive” and represent cognitive work, the way that children make sense of the world.  But if you’ve got a kid who prefers her imaginary friend to making real ones— or who terrorizes the first grade by explaining how zombies can get into one’s home through the radiator— you might still wonder whether there comes a time to tamp it all down and force our kids to deal with reality.  In this episode we talk about  the considerable upsides of a huge imagination why some children have imaginary friends why some kids engage in “worldplay” for their imaginary worlds long after the other kids have moved on how to help anxious kids whose imaginations can become overly active how to encourage kids to engage in more imaginative play  And here’s links to the books, articles, and research we discuss in this episode:  Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola book series, featuring the kind-of-visible Soren Lorensen Louise Fitzhugh: Harriet the Spy Dr. Robin Alter: The Role of Imagination in Children with Anxiety Paul L. Harris, The Work of the Imagination Joshua A. Krisch for Fatherly: Brilliant Kids Visit (and Create) Imaginary Worlds Michelle Root-Bernstein: The Creation of Imaginary Worlds Marjorie Taylor: Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them Deena Skolnik Weissberg: Distinguishing Imagination From Reality Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 31, 2019
Ask Amy - How Do I Get My Kid to Stop With the Self-Touching?
242
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question "How Do I Get My Kid to Stop With the Self-Touching?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 29, 2019
When Kids Prefer the Other Parent Over You (Or You Over Them)
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Most of us have been (for better and for worse) recipients of the “only Mommy” level of attention from our little ones-- the sort of singular devotion that leaves our partners decidedly out in the cold. Many of us have also been on the outside looking in, with "Daddy’s girl" giving us none of the love, just eye rolls and the distinct impression that we rank not only second, but dead last.  Why do kids prefer one parent over the other? Why do those allegiances shift? Are we supposed to ignore it, and our hurt feelings, because it’s normal and developmentally appropriate? Or are there times when we should push back against this behavior? Will it get even worse if we don't?  Here are links to research and other writing on the topic we discuss in this episode: Janet Lansbury: When Children Prefer One Parent/ Ellen Weber Libby Ph.D. for Psychology Today: IS THERE A FAVORITE PARENT?/ Carl Pickhardt for Psychology Today: Adolescence and the Case of Odd Parent Out/ Kendra Cherry for Very Well Mind: The Oedipus Complex in Children Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 24, 2019
Ask Margaret - Help! I've Got a Runner!
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question, "How do you handle a kid who's a runner?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 22, 2019
The Mom Gap: Getting Back Out There (with guest Christina Geist)
3830
According to the US Department of Labor, more than a third of college-educated women pause their careers for some amount of time to raise their children. But the jobs we leave behind aren't usually waiting for us with open arms. How do we own the time we've spent out of the workforce raising kids without apologizing for it? How do we re-enter careers that have shifted in our absence- or create entirely new opportunities for ourselves? We talk it all out with guest Christina Geist, a brand strategist, entrepreneur and children’s book author who lives in New York City with her husband, NBC and MSNBC host Willie Geist, and her two children. Her second children's book, Sorry Grown-Ups, You Can't Go To School!,is just out from Random House.  In this episode Christina tells us how she bridged the mom gap and launched "a 2.0 version of myself in my 40s that my 20s self would have been so relieved to meet." Find out more about Christina, her new book, and Boombox Gifts on her website: christinageist.com. Here are links to the research and writing on the mom gap that we discuss in this episode: Katie Weisshaar for Harvard Business Review: Stay-at-Home Moms Are Half as Likely to Get a Job Interview as Moms Who Got Laid Off Dorie Clark for Harvard Business Review: How Stay-at-Home Parents Can Transition Back to Work Lisa Evans for Fast Company: 5 Ways To Eliminate The Stay-At-Home Mom Gap Lisen Stronberg: Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career Wendy Wallbridge: Spiraling Upward: The 5 Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 17, 2019
Ask Amy- How Should I Prepare to Fly With My Toddlers?
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy tackles the question "How Should I Prepare to Fly With My Toddlers?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 15, 2019
When Your Kids Take Everything Out On You
3274
Most parenting experts say being our kids’ safe space includes letting some amount of their snarkiness roll off our backs. It’s normal. Don’t take it personally. And knowing that it’s universal helps. Sometimes. A little. But we still struggle. Shouldn’t we insist on respect from our kids? And what happens when the eye-rolling and "God, Mom, don't you know anything?" really starts to wear us down? In this episode we discuss why kids take things out on us as parents (spoiler alert: it gets worse before it gets better) and how we can lower our reactivity in order to respond more effectively. Here’s links to research and other writing on the topic that we discuss: Christa Santangelo, PhD: A New Theory of Teenagers (book) Alice G. Walton for The Atlantic: 12 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids Sara Bean for Empowering Parents: “I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!” — When Kids Say Hurtful Things Kim Abraham for Empowering Parents: Anger, Rage and Explosive Outbursts: How to Respond to Your Child or Teen’s Anger Janet Lehman for Empowering Parents: Do Your Kids Respect You? 9 Ways to Change Their Attitude Stephanie Klindt: 10 Ways To Set Appropriate Boundaries With Teens Dr. Wendy Mogel: Mothers, don't take teen rejection personally Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 10, 2019
Ask Margaret - Will I Always Be This Tired?
333
Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question "Will I always be this tired?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 08, 2019
Teaching Kids Empathy
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What is empathy, exactly? It involves both emotion and action. For our kids, it’s an acquired skill- one that needs our guidance and encouragement to be cultivated. Here’s how to model and teach empathetic behavior. In this episode we discuss why empathy needs to be taught in the first place, when is the right age to start, the difference between pity and empathy, and how becoming more empathetic can benefit yourself (and your own kids) just as it benefits others. Amy Webb says that establishing sameness is a great place to start: "Once your child has some understanding that some people are different, now is a great time to find some common ground: 'I bet she likes a lot of the same toys/games/food that you like.' You can then ask the child or the child’s caregiver what they like to do. Establishing sameness is KEY. This is when the light goes on and children realize, 'Oh, she’s just another kid, like me. We are more alike than different!'" Here are links to research and other writing on empathy that we discuss in this episode: Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness is an award-winning book for school-aged children about what happens when empathy is not chosen Amy Webb for A Cup of Jo: How To Navigate a Special Needs Encounter Katie Hurley for Scary Mommy: How Can I Teach My Child Empathy? Sumathi Reddy for the Wall Street Journal: Little Children and Already Acting Mean Dr. Chris McCarthy: Turn Around Anxiety Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 03, 2019
Ask Amy - What's the Best Timing for a Third Child?
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Amy answers "What's the best timing for a third child?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 01, 2019
House Rules That Work
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We asked our listeners to tell us their go-to House Rules. Whether these words to live by are hanging in your kitchen written in cutesy script on a faux-weathered piece of wood (“in this house we give hugs”) or have been implanted in your children’s brains simply by your repeatedly screaming them, here are your (and our) best House Rules for: screens, fighting, pets, personal space, the dinner table, sleep, Saturdays, secrets, and being nice. Join the conversation in our Facebook group! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 26, 2019
Ask Margaret - My Kid Won't Eat Dinner!
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Each week Amy or Margaret answers a listener's most pressing parenting question.  Today Margaret tackles the question "What should I do when my kid won't eat a lick of dinner?" Submit yours! questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 24, 2019
Finding Your Mom Tribe
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Mom tribes are a thing… for some of us. Others find it harder to make and maintain fun, easygoing friendships with other parents. But should we feel bad if we don’t have a “Sex and the City”-style group that are all equally close and whom we see three times a week?   Our listener Hester describes a mom tribe this way:  like-minded moms with similar age kids who have one another's backscan be one or many, depending on your comfort level  more precious than ever when the traditional support system of close family is not availableIn this episode, we discuss our listeners’ advice on how to find mom tribes, how to deepen connections with the one you may already have-- plus whether online tribes count (yes).  In a day and age when our siblings and parents might live far away, it’s worth investing ourselves in the communities that can happen wherever we are.  Here's how writer Jenny Anderson explains it: I used to think that community was as simple as having friends who bring a lasagna when things fall apart and champagne when things go well. Who pick up your kids from school when you can’t. But I think community is also an insurance policy against life’s cruelty; a kind of immunity against loss and disappointment and rage. My community will be here for my family if I cannot be. And if I die, my kids will be surrounded people who know and love them, quirks and warts and oddities and all. By the way, our Facebook group is a tribe of really cool, funny, supportive parents- join us! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 19, 2019
Ask Amy - My Kid is Scared of Loud Toilets
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We're taking your questions! Every week Amy or Margaret will answer one listener's most pressing parenting question. Submit yours to questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Today Amy tackles the question "How do I deal with a kid who is terrified of loud auto-flush toilets?" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 17, 2019
Letting Our Kids Feel Unsafe (In a Safe Way) with Guest Evangeline Lilly
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Studies show that risky play creates what Dr. Ellen Sandseter calls a “motivating, thrilling activation,” building self-confidence and self-esteem.  Message received: we’re supposed to allow our kids to take risks. But how risky? Like thin-ice risky? What if our kids are fraidy-cats? What if we are? In this episode we discuss the differences between risks and hazards and how to bring healthy doses of risk into our kids’ lives. Our kids need to learn what discomfort is- and how to deal with it- in order to feel competent and confident in the world. We also talk expanding the boundaries of what’s acceptable for our little ones with Evangeline Lilly— yes, that Evangeline Lilly! The award-winning star of TV’s Lost and films like Avengers: Endgame and The Hobbit is also the author of The Squickerwonkers book series, which Evangeline wrote to "open a portal for children of all ages to face and talk about the darker sides of their own natures.” Think Lemony Snicket meets Edward Gorey, with impossibly gorgeous illustrations by Rodrigo Bastos Didier. Here’s links to research and other writing we discuss in this episode: Jennifer King Lindley for Parents: Science Says Let Your Kid Push Boundaries Dr. Mariana Brussoni: Risky Play: Losing a Childhood "Right" of Passage- and a Tool to Help Protect That Right Dr. Ellen Sandseter et all: Children's Risky Play from an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences Susan Davis and Nancy Eppler-Wolff:  Raising Children Who Soar: A Guide to Risk Taking in an Uncertain World. Dr. Jim Taylor: Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 12, 2019
Ask Margaret - When Kids Ask Embarrassing Questions
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We're taking your questions! Every week Amy or Margaret will answer one listener's most pressing parenting questions. Submit yours to questions@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Today Margaret tackles the question "What do I do when my kid asks embarrassing questions about how people look in public?" Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 10, 2019
Making It Work for the Long Haul (with guest Belinda Luscombe)
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The familiarity of long-term relationships is the best thing about them. And the worst. When our spouses' chewing or throat-clearing is enough to send us around the bend, how do we make our relationships work for the long haul? We discuss the latest research with Belinda Luscombe, author of the informative (and hilarious) new book MARRIAGEOLOGY: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF STAYING TOGETHER. After writing about relationships for Time magazine for a decade, Belinda draws on expert advice (and twenty-seven years in the marital trenches) to explain why marriage is better for your health, your finances, your kids, and your happiness. Luscombe argues that we don’t find our soulmates- we become them: "This is what love is, actually. Not a fluttery feeling... but a willingness to throw down for that person, a conscious decision to do whatever you can to make that person's life a little better, more fun, less stressful." Here are links to some of the research and other things we discuss in this episode: Nick North and his “number system” for avoiding misunderstandings John Gottman’s "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (that can threaten any marriage) University of Georgia study which found expressing gratitude toward your spouse was most significant predictor of marital quality Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 05, 2019
Sleep Hacks (For All Ages and Stages)
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Got kids? Got exhaustion. Every age has its sleep challenges, and in this episode we discuss the absolute best sleep hacks for getting babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and even older kids napping, sleeping, and staying asleep.  Here are just a few of the topics you will hear about in this chock-full-of-useful-advice episode:  the importance of routine for even the youngest childrenthe absolute essential-ness of REAL blackout shades (Amy loves this cheap and easy-to-install brand) why the sleep sack isn’t just for babies how to get preschoolers to stay in bed past the first crack of dawn when co-sleeping might be the best answer the best playlists and apps to help set the sleepytime mood why sleep training is never a matter of “one and done”  Special thanks to everyone who sent in sleep hacks for this episode, especially Lori Strong and Sara Strong of Strong Little Sleepers Dr. Sarah Mitchell of Helping Babies Sleep Patti Smith of The Pickup Line, a daily newsletter for moms Rachel of Cha Ching Queen Huckleberry Sleep App  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 29, 2019
Making Big Changes as a Family (with guest Jill Krause)
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Have you ever considered selling the house, homeschooling the kids, and traveling for a year? Has a job or life change ever thrust a cross-country move, or other radical change, upon your family? Does the very notion strike terror in your heart?  In this episode, we discuss how to prepare for— and make— big changes as a family. Change feels huger and scarier when you have kids, in part because routine and structure and familiarity are the things that kids crave, and need in order to survive. But our guest Jill Krause argues that structure, routine, and family togetherness can be found in all sorts of places. Jill’s Happy Loud Life YouTube channel has chronicled the travels of her family of six as they spent the last sixteen months touring the United States in an RV. With— you read that right— four children. Including a toddler. So nobody is saying radical change is easy. If it were, there’d be no point in undergoing it. But change is possible. And it doesn’t always mean permanent. What “change” means, in fact, is entirely up to you and your family. Here’s links to writing on this topic that we discuss in this episode: I Miss You When I Blink, Mary Laura Philpott’s terrific new memoir on giving yourself permission to change Carl Richards for NYT: Hesitant to Make That Big Life Change? Permission Granted healthychildren.org-  Helping Children Adjust to a Move Peaceful Parent Institute - Helping Children Adjust to Change We've partnered with a great new iPhone app called Airr that lets you save and share the best moments of this (or any!) podcast. With one click Airr captures the moments that stand out to you while you’re listening, and then allows you to send the clips to your friends or share them on social media. Airr is a free app that’s currently in private beta, but What Fresh Hell listeners can get early access to the app by going to http://bit.ly/airr-whatfreshhell.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 22, 2019
Do We Really Have To Play With Our Kids? When Parenting Feels Relentless
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According to researcher Patrick Ishizuka, "intensive parenting has become the dominant cultural model." Sounds about right. We spend triple the time actively engaging with our kids that our own parents did with us. And even then, we all feel guilty that we're not doing more. (Or that we kind of hate playing with LOL Surprise! Dolls, and we aren't hiding it very well.) But is more always better? Are our modern hyper-organized days creating children who have no idea how to occupy themselves, who need either a screen or one-on-one adult attention at all times? Do we *have* to play with our kids? Is there a way for parenting to feel a little less relentless? Here are links to research and other writing we discuss in this episode: Claire Cain Miller for the New York Times: The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting Rebecca Onion for Slate: Playtime is Over Suzanne M. Bianchi et al: Changing Rhythms of American Family Life Janet Lansbury: RIE Parenting Basics (9 Ways to Put Respect into Action) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 15, 2019
Mom Wins! (and Mother's Day Fails)
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Happy Mother’s Day Week! In this episode we salute YOU, Mom. Our listeners told us their biggest mom wins and we are passing out some awards- like to Francesca, who has convinced her rambunctious two-year-old that the signs in most public spaces say that all little boys have to stand right next to their mommies.   We also address the various ways that our small children’s Mother’s Day art projects have completely ratted us out. If you’ve ever stood in the hallway outside a kindergarten classroom and seen, projected in three-inch crayoned letters, the proclamation that your own favorite food is “BEER,” we are here for you.   Check out whatfreshhellpodcast.com for Amy’s “mom prom” picture and Billy Collins’ poem The Lanyard, which perfectly encapsulates the insufficiency of any Mother’s Day gift to properly thank us for what we do. You know what? That’s the point. No thanks *can* be good enough. So enjoy those lukewarm eggs benedict and hastily-purchased greeting cards! You’re worth it- and so very much more.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 08, 2019
Bullies
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Most of us hear “bullying” and picture a sand-kicking, lunch-money-stealing menace. But today’s bullying can take other forms. Research by Dr. Charisse Nixon shows that about 7% of kids report experiencing physical aggression once a week— but that HALF of kids report experiencing relational aggression at least once a month. On the other hand, as bullying expert Signe Whitson explains, some things can get termed “bullying” that might be more correctly described as mean or rude. Knowing the difference as parents will help our children navigate tricky situations more effectively. In this episode we discuss how to help our children understand what bullying is, plus how to know if our kids are being bullied themselves— since it’s the kids who are truly frightened and struggling who are often the most likely not to tell us. We also discuss whether, how much, and in what ways parents should intervene— somewhere in the middle ground between “so find new friends!” and beating the bully up yourself. (Spoiler alert: don’t do either of those things.) Here’s links to research and resources discussed in this episode: Katie Hurley for Washington Post On Parenting: What does childhood anxiety look like? Probably not what you think. Katie Hurley for PBS Kids: What to Do If Your Child Is Being Bullied Sherri Gordon for Very Well Family: 7 Tips for Helping Kids Deal With Being Ostracized Sumathi Reddy for WSJ: Little Children and Already Acting Mean Signe Whitson for Huffington Post: Rude Vs. Mean Vs. Bullying: Defining The Differences Louis Sachar: There's a Boy in The Girls' Bathroom  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 01, 2019
Screen-Free Week: How To Survive and Why It's Worth It
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We all know it: our kids are on screens too much. And us parents? Well, if you haven't used Apple's Screen Time function yet, prepare to be horrified. So have you ever considered a cold-turkey no-screens experiment in your home? Screen Free Week is coming up, and it gives us the perfect opportunity to present the idea to our families. But no, you might be saying. We couldn't possibly. My kids would fight! We need that down time! There's all that candy to crush! And to that we say, fear not, because we did it first. And we are here to tell you that you won't just find hours of time- you will, as Margaret put it, see entire bandwidths of your children's brains come alive that you hadn't even realized were asleep. In this episode we discuss how to sell screen-free week to the kids, how to prepare, how to survive, and why we think it's worth it! Here are links to resources and research discussed in this episode: screenfree.org unpluggedfamily.org screenlifebalance.com Kevin Roose for NYT: Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain Taylor Lorenz for The Atlantic: The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google Docs Daily Mail: Smartphones, tablets causing mental health issues in kids as young as two Dr. Jean Twenge for The Atlantic: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Dr. Jean Twenge for The Conversation: Teens have less face time with their friends – and are lonelier than ever Dr. Craig Canapari: Prevent Sleep Problems in Kids: Keep Technology Out of The Bedroom Erika Christakis for The Atlantic: The Dangers of Distracted Parenting Catherine Price: How to Break Up With Your Phone Cal Newport: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World Leigh Stringer: On the Importance of Boredom Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 24, 2019
Changing How We Talk To Our Kids (with guest Dr. Wendy Mogel)
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It’s easy for most parents to explain what’s wrong with how our kids speak to us: the snark, sarcasm, and eye-rolling are all things we could use a lot less of.  But could the way we talk to our kids use a little fine-tuning as well?  Dr. Wendy Mogel’s latest book, Voice Lessons for Parents: What to Say, How to Say It, and When To Listen, is just out in paperback. In this episode, Dr. Wendy Mogel tells us how to bridge the ever-more-complicated communication gap between parents and children, no matter what age our kids are. Over the last two years we've quoted Dr. Mogel more than any other parenting expert, and no surprise- this interview is full of "aha moments" and great ideas. You can read and download the full transcript here. And if you still need a little convincing that we should be focusing on the faults with our own parental communication, rather than the shortcomings of our children’s techniques, consider this quote from another classic of parenting advice, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk: "Rather than blaming your kids for all your parenting grief, you can improve communication with them by making a few changes to the way you speak to them and set the tone of a situation. Listening, sharing feelings, and respecting your kids will make your job as a parent far easier.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 17, 2019
100th Episode! The Best Stories We Haven't Told Yet
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100 episodes in, and we still have a few stories left to tell! In this episode we try to stump each other by playing "True or False."  True or False: Amy's child once embarrassed her horribly in front of Gwyneth Paltrow. True or False: Margaret *almost* had her first child in a hallway. Listen and learn!  Thanks so much to all of our listeners who have helped us grow this show for one hundred episodes. We're honored that you're out there. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 10, 2019
Youth Sports: If You Must
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Is there a middle ground in youth sports? Is there a place to exist between the nine-year-old icing his shoulder after a session with his pitching coach and the kid who bats last and hates every minute and never plays a team sport again? There used to be (back in our day). There can be. But in a world where families spend 10% or more of their yearly household income on travel teams, equipment, coaches, and gear, that friendly, non-intense approach has become a lot harder to find.   In this episode we discuss how to keep the “play” in playing sports how to push back against coaches and leagues that tell third-graders they have to specialize surviving early-spring double-headers at the baseball field  when to let kids quit (70% of kids quit a team sport by age 13 because it’s too intense)  why girls are more likely to quit than boysand when to follow your kid’s passion, even if it means turning all of your weekends over to lacrosseand the only thing you should ever ever say to your child after a game. Here's links to research and studies discussed in this episode:  Kingswood Camp: Our Philosophy On Sports Michael S. Rosenwald for Washington Post: Are parents ruining youth sports? Fewer kids play amid pressure.Bruce Kelly and Carl Carchia for ESPN Magazine: The Hidden Demographics of Youth SportsEmily Barone for Time: The Astronomical Cost of Kids’ SportsAspen Institute: 10 Charts that Show Progress, Challenges to Fix Youth SportsAspen Institute: STATE OF PLAY 2018: TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTSCaitlin Morris for Aspen Institute: Changing the Game for Girls Our main takeaway? Sports are one area where we parents need to take our eyes *off* the prize. Bring back the backyard wiffle ball game. Find places where kids of all levels can participate. And keep looking until your kid finds the sport she enjoys. It won’t always be easy, but it will probably be worth the effort.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 03, 2019
What We Thought Being a Mom Would Be Like (with guest Betsy Stover)
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Some of the ways we imagined motherhood turned out to be pretty accurate (like how much we’d enjoy Santa Claus back in our lives). But some of it was wayy off base, like how long it takes to lose a muffin top. (It's like the Tootsie Roll Pop question: the world may never know.) In this episode we discuss what lived up to, exceeded, and confounded our mom expectations with special guest Betsy Stover, mom of three boys and co-host of the hilarious podcast Why Mommy Drinks.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 27, 2019
When School Projects Become Parents' Projects
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Whether it’s the science fair, the pinewood derby, or a pre-K shoebox diorama, sooner or later every kid gets assigned a school project that is, without question, a PARENTS' project. What four-year-old can fashion her own “Dress As Your Patron Saint” costume? What sixth-grader can attempt proper MLA citation format without extreme maternal participation?  It’s not so much the projects we mind- it’s the feeling that however we handle it, we’re doing it wrong. If we make the origami cranes for the kid, we’re snowplow parents. If we send them in with a social studies project they made entirely themselves out of paper plates and crayons, we also own their cheek-burning shame when their projects pale in comparison to the professionally-produced ones of their peers.  In this episode we discuss how to discern the right amount of help such projects require: not too much, and not too little. Sure, we can help our kids win the battle of the pinewood derby… but we really want to win the war of having our kids who can someday accomplish things all by themselves.   Here’s links to research and other writing we discuss in this episode:  Susan Messina for Huffington Post: That Fake Science Fair Poster That Went Viral? I Made It. Here's Why Dana Goldstein for The Atlantic: Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education  Dr. Keith Robinson and Dr. Angel Harris for the New York Times: Parental Involvement Is Overrated Wendy Wisner for Scary Mommy: It’s Obvious When Parents Complete Their Kid’s School Projects, So Please Stop easybib.com (Amy recommends for an easier way to create bibliographies) sciencebuddies.org (Amy recommends as a resource to choose science fair projects)  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 20, 2019
When You Feel Like a Failure as a Parent
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In this episode we discuss all the reasons we’ve felt like failures as mothers, why we’re never as hard on others as we are on ourselves, and what we have done to mitigate these feelings of failure in our own lives.    “I feel like I’m failing at parenting fairly often,” our listener Becky wrote when she suggested this topic.  If it makes you feel any better, Becky, you’ve got plenty of company. These self-inflicted guilt trips are nearly universal among mothers. But why? Is it the 24/7 nature of the job? Is it the admittedly high stakes that come from nurturing small humans towards successful adulthoods? Is it our parenting culture, which tells us no matter how much we do, how hard we try, there’s another mother doing it just a little bit better? We think it’s all of the above. We also think talking to other mothers is the best solution. Thanks for being part of our mothering community. Here’s links to research and other writing on this topic discussed in this episode: Regan Long for Motherly: To the Mom Who Feels Like She's Failing: You're Not. Promise. Heather Marcoux for Motherly: 66% of working parents feel like they're failing—but the system is actually failing them Doug Parker for Babble: I Feel Like I'm Failing This Parenting Thing Every Damn Day Denise Rowden for Empowering Parents: “I Feel Like a Failure as a Parent.” How to Turn That Hopeless Feeling Around Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 13, 2019
The Best Relationship Advice Ever
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We asked our listeners to tell us the best relationship advice they've ever gotten- for romantic and platonic relationships both. In this episode, we discuss the advice that has worked best for us in the past- and what we're going to try going forward.  Stuck on what "prioritizing your spouse" really means? Tired of never going to bed angry? Looking for some time-tested fight-avoiding techniques from our listeners' great-grandmothers? You'll find much to think about in this episode! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 06, 2019
Helping Kids Manage Anxiety
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Anxiety is a natural response to stress. Sometimes it’s even useful, like when it alerts us to danger. But when anxiety grips our children, they often don’t (can’t) explain how they’re feeling, and their inner turmoil can take over. As psychotherapist Lynn Lyons explains: Anxiety is a normal part of growing, changing and learning. But worry and anxiety can also become powerful and restrictive, disrupting families in ways that lead to avoidance, missed school, outbursts, conflict, and often depression if left untreated. In this episode we discusscoping strategies for all ages and stageshow anxiety in children can be easy to missthe negative behaviors anxious kids might exhibit why letting our kids avoid anxiety-causing situations is counterproductivehow anxiety "lives in the future” We also interview Dr. Lisa Damour about her new book Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Dr. Damour’s book is full of empathetic insight and useful takeaways for helping our anxious daughters (and sons). We discuss how to help anxious kids "settle their glitter" and how to use our own moments of stress and anxiety as opportunities for modeling. Here’s links to other research and writing discussed in this episode: Lindsay Holmes for Huffington Post Life: 10 Things People Get Wrong About Anxiety  Liz Matheis for anxiety.org: Identifying Signs of Anxiety in Children CDC: Data and Statistics on Children's Mental Health Metropolitan CBT: About Anxiety  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 27, 2019
Middle Kids
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Most people believe middle children are prone to feeling insecure and left out because they get less attention. Their primary emotional state? Jealousy of siblings. Studies show that we think these problems are real and inescapable. A City College of New York study found participants were most likely to use words like “overlooked” to describe middle children— while completely unlikely to use the word “spoiled.”  Psychologist Dr. Alfred Adler first proposed a “middle child syndrome” in the 1920s, and ever since, most of us have assumed the Jan-Brady worst. But Dr. Adler also believed that middle children’s place in the birth order made them “uniquely poised to succeed.” Are we getting it wrong? Are there lifelong benefits for kids who grow up neither the pressured oldest nor the coddled youngest?  In this episode we discuss: “middleborns” vs “classic middles,” and how both are disappearing from the American demographicthe negativity of the “middle child syndrome,” and whether or not it bears outwhy middle children are more independent and open-mindedwhy middle children have a greater appetite for riskhow the “ambient neglect” a middle child sometimes receives can be an incredible giftWriter Adam Sternbergh, himself a middle, says that "being a middle child is not something you aspire to; it’s something that happens to you.” While that may be true, it also turns out that we should perhaps all be jealous of them. Being a middle kid can be secretly great. Here's links to research and other writing on the topic discussed in this episode: Adam Sternbergh for The Cut: The Extinction of the Middle Child Dr. Catherine Salmon:The Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable Abilities Lindsay Dodgson for Business Insider: 'Middle child syndrome' doesn't actually exist — but it still might come with some surprising psychological advantages Risk-taking middle-borns: A study on birth- order and risk preferences Abi Berwager Schreier for Romper: Do Middle Children Really Have More Issues? Jan Brady Wasn't The Only One Alphaparent: Optimum Family Size Facts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 20, 2019
The Best Advice Ever
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Sometimes you gotta consult the experts. We asked our listeners to tell us their best life advice, and as usual, you all delivered! This episode is full of great advice on -making choices -doing what matters -ignoring the haters -and liking ourselves a little better. Join the conversation in our new Facebook group! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 13, 2019
Punishing Kids: What Works and What Doesn't
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When it comes to disciplining our kids, having "the punishment fit the crime” seems like a reasonable goal. But what if the “crime” in question is hitting a sibling?  And what makes a punishment good in the first place? Is our primary goal dissuasion or providing insight? How can our approach to discipline help our children make a better choice next time- even if they’re not worried about being caught? In this episode we talk about what does and doesn’t work for punishing kids of all ages, and discusswhy once you’ve threatened a punishment, you have to follow throughwhy shaming is unproductive (and ineffective)why punishments for younger children need to be “logical and immediate"why punishments for older children need to go beyond taking their phoneswhy, once a kid has served the time for her crime, a parent needs to let it goIn the end, we think punishments work best when we keep our eyes on our longer-term parenting goals: teaching our kids accountability and helping them learn to self-regulate, while also ensuring domestic tranquility (and providing for the common defense).   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 06, 2019
Making It Work When You Go Back To Work
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We asked our listeners to tell us their best tips (and hardest struggles) around returning to the workplace— whether it’s been six weeks, six months, or a few years. Our listener Greta suggested this topic. After three-and-a-half years at home with her child, she "moved across the country, started kid in preschool, and started back at work at the same time.” Dr. Lisa D’Amour says that change equals stress, and if that’s the case… that's a whole lot of change. In this episode we discuss: dealing with the guilt (right or wrong, many mothers feel it)the surprising usefulness of the commutewhy your first day back at work should be a Wednesday the layers of challenge that breastfeeding can add. To those of you about to pump, we salute you. Here’s a link to breastfeeding-at-work rights by statehow to approach your boss about a job share If you’re a mom contemplating a onramping attempt after a quite lengthy stay-at-home gap, we talked about that a little in this episode- and then decided that deserves its own conversation! That episode is coming soon. In the meantime, here are two back-to-work resources suggested by listener Gretchen:  - iRelaunch - Career Relaunch When all else fails, listen to our listener Rachael:  "I went back after 12 weeks. It was tough, but I can say now that it’s been another 12 weeks, it gets easier. You get a routine. And the baby honestly does great at daycare." What helped with your own back-to-work transition? Tell us in the comments?  Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 30, 2019
Surviving a Toddler and a Newborn
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Parenthood is hard. Different stages have different challenges. But there’s one particular phase that is of legendary, Kilimanjaro-climbing difficulty: surviving the first few months as the parent of two children, a toddler and a newborn.  This episode was suggested by Raya, who says:  "At one point I had a newborn and newly-turned-two-year-old. With my husband working seven days a week, I found myself alone the majority of the time with both kids. My kids are now one and three and it is getting easier, but those first eight months where probably the hardest thing I have experienced.” We agree on both counts: it gets easier. It may also be one of the hardest things we ever experienced. But here’s how to get through it!  We asked our listeners to tell us their best advice for the toddler/newborn stage, and in this episode we discussthe best gear to have on handthe sanity saversthe things to do ahead of time in the moments you have one or both hands freehow to let people helpthe singular importance of consistent napping (for you too Mom)why Moana is apparently the movie to have on repeatIf you survived this stage and lived to tell the tale, take a bow (seriously, you deserve it). If you’re in it now: we see you, and you got this. If you’re about to enter this stage: okay, yes, it’s really hard. But you’ll get through it as long as you-  in our listener Rachel’s words-  “give yourself so much grace.”  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 23, 2019
Having People Over
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Entertaining at home is kind of like exercise: you’re so happy that you did it, but that doesn’t stop you from dreading it the next time around. Who should you invite? What should you serve? Will you ever find a playlist that won't unexpectedly veer into gangster rap or Kidzbop?  In this episode we discuss ways to take the stress out of having people over:lowering your standards (okay, easier said than done, but give it a shot)sticking with what works- nail down a few go-to dishes, and then make them every timehaving buffets instead of sit-down dinnershosting potlucks (although Amy claims these can actually be *more* work for the host)figuring out what music you’re going to play before the doorbell ringsAnd here’s some useful links for more ideas- and more reassurance: The Simple Dollar: How to Organize a Cost-Effective and Fun Dinner Party Laura Gaskill for Forbes: 8 Stress-Busting Tips For Hosting Small Gatherings Nancy Mitchell for Apartment Therapy: Why Doesn’t Anyone Have Parties Anymore? Teddy Wayne for NYT: The Death of the Party GfK: Half of Americans entertain guests in their homes at least once a month Isadora Allman for Psychology Today: On Entertaining and Being Entertained Tony Naylor for The Guardian: The new rules of dinner parties: don't be on time – and bring more booze than you need Having people over is always worth the effort. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the potluck! Photo by Kelsey Chance on Unsplash Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 16, 2019
The Birds and The Bees: Having 'The Talk'
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Yikes. Do we really have to have “The Talk”? Yes, we do… and sooner than we’d probably like to think. Studies show that giving our kids appropriate information *before* they need it not only makes them more likely to make good decisions once they become sexually active— it also may delay the age at which such activities will begin.  In this episode we discuss:  the ages and stages of The Talk (a four-year-old gets a different answer than a preteen)why you don’t want your kids’ peers to be the arbiters of this informationwhy there’s not one “talk,” but many (or should be)how to be an “askable parent” why mothers are usually the parents tasked with these conversationshow internet parental blockers can also prevent our kids from seeing useful sex-ed contenthow to punt when you’re caught off guard (which is fine as long as you circle back later)And here’s links to research and studies we discuss in this episode:  John Sharry, Solution Talk: Facts of Life: At What Age Should We Tell Our Children About Sex? Center For Young Women’s Health at Boston Children’s Hospital: Talking to Your Tween about Sexuality: A Guide for Parents Lola’s personal, honest, real-life guide to your first period Advocates for Youth: Are Parents and Teens Talking About Sex? advocatesforyouth.org Dr. Colleen Diiorio et al: Journal of Adolescent Health: Communication about sexual issues: mothers, fathers, and friends Rebecca Ruiz for Mashable: Internet gatekeepers block sex ed content because algorithms think they’re porn It’s up to us to keep the conversation going on these topics. And if you’d rather stick your head in the sand, keep in mind it doesn’t have to be only about the improbable mechanics of it all. Here’s great advice from the Center for Young Women’s Health: Remember that sexuality is a much larger topic than sexual intercourse. It also includes topics such as gender, intimacy, sexual orientation… Talking to your tween about sexuality is an opportunity to share your beliefs about healthy behaviors and relationships with them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 09, 2019
Our Goals for 2019
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New year, new datebook— and some very familiar goals. But this is the year we make things HAPPEN. We’re going to start by taking Jon Acuff’s advice to make our goals smaller- we mean absurdly achievable- and build from there. Acuff studied goal-setting and found that People with smaller goals are 63% more successful. Go big might be a good slogan for a gym wall, but if you really want to win, go small. In this episode we discuss our goals for the coming year, including: * Margaret’s “most massive purge” of her home * Amy’s word for 2019: OPEN * facing our fears * engaging less with our kids when they’re being arbitrarily cranky and challenging * becoming more curious about our spouses’ perspectives * entertaining more * reading more fiction What are your goals for the coming year? Tell us! Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 02, 2019
Live Show Bonus! Chappaqua, NY 12/1/18
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This episode contains excerpts from our latest What Fresh Hell Live! show, performed at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center in Chappaqua, NY on December 1, 2018. Interested in having What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood come to your town? We book live shows into performing arts centers around the country. We also do smaller custom events for Parents’ Associations and other groups. Drop us a line at info@whatfreshhellpodcast.com to hear more about how you can get our show to your town. Even just telling us there’s interest can get the ball rolling. You can always check out our website (whatfreshhellpodcast.com) to see where we will be appearing next. We’ll be making some 2019 announcements soon! Photo: Chad David Kraus Photography         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 26, 2018
Holiday Traditions: The Good, The Bad, The Wish-We-Never-Started
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’Tis the season for traditions— most of them shopped for, planned, and generally upheld by moms. And for some of us, sending 300 holiday cards or creating a new tableau for a six-inch elf every night before bed really gets us in the holiday spirit.  But most of us, at this time of year, have more to do than hours to do it. Many of us think we’re done shopping and only then remember Aunt Doris who is impossible to buy for (and has expressed specific disappointment in gift cards). Many of us have kids at whom we may have raised our voices after the fifth or sixth question about when we were going to make all the Christmas cookies this year.  So we asked our listeners:    What are the holiday traditions that you love and work great for your family? What are the things you’d rather never do again but feel like you can’t stop now?    In this episode, we discuss your responses, plus: how to get out from under the traditions you wished you never started what to consider before letting a new tradition take root (keeping in mind that anything that happens at this time of year will immediately be deemed “something we do every year”) why the Elf on the Shelf might be a slippery slope to the full-on surveillance state why the joy of anticipation is at least as good as the moment anticipated how the Danish concept of hygge factors in to all of this easy holiday traditions like “Christmas Adam,” which as far as we can tell mostly involves holiday pajamas and Rankin-Bass specials Lean into the hygge this holiday season. Push back against the incremental spend, the just running out for one more thing. Lean into the anticipation, because that’s the sweet spot. Oh, and Christmas lights. Lots of them. (They do wonders for Seasonal Affective Disorder.) Special thanks to our guest comedy bit reader for this week: Sean Conroy of The Long Shot Podcast! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 19, 2018
How Not To Go Insane in the Winter
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As the days get shorter, and colder, and darker, our listener Tamar suggested we do an episode on “how not to go insane when you can’t go outside.” (If anyone has any ideas for her, please reach out.) Seriously, our energy levels are especially depleted during the winter. It’s science: our bodies get less vitamin D,  produce more melatonin (which encourages sleep) and less serotonin (which fights depression). No wonder we all want to put on the fuzzy pants, get under the covers, and call it a day. But we’re parents. Which means that while our own batteries are totally run down, we also have to deal with cranky kids who’ve watched way too many YouTube videos today and we should have gotten them outside but it’s 4:35 pm and it’s as dark as deep space out there and never has bedtime seemed so far away. In this episode we discuss:    the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder— and how to tell if our kids have it too the “exercise effect,” and why we resist exercise just when we need it the most why fresh air is actually a thing how to keep our kids busy on long days indoors with “theme days” and other new approaches to familiar things how to tell if you’re *in* or *out* of Daylight Savings Time (just stop and think: has daylight been saved? If it’s dark at 4:30, then no, it hasn’t… and therefore you are not in Daylight Savings Time.) And here’s links to some research and other things discussed in this episode: healthychildren.org: Winter Blues – Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depression Laura T. Coffey for Today: Batty from being cooped up with kids? Here are 9 great cures for cabin fever Valerie Williams for Mommyish: 10 Things Only Parents With The Winter Blues Will Understand Sasa Woodruff for NPR: A New Prescription For Depression: Join A Team And Get Sweaty Kirsten Weir for the American Psychological Association: The Exercise Effect Pennsylvania Department of Health: Cold Weather Outdoor Play Boosts Immune System Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 12, 2018
Sometimes We Lose It (with guests Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright)
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Sometimes we lose it. Really lose it. We’re not talking “How many times do I have to tell you to put your shoes on” in a slightly elevated tone. We’re talking… well, Dr. Stuart Shanker calls the emotional state in question “red brain,” and you get the picture. When we’re in red brain, yelling can actually feel pretty good. It’s also singularly ineffective. Here’s how Dr. Alan Kazdin of the Yale Parenting Center explains it: If the goal of the parent is catharsis— I want to get this out of my system and show you how mad I am— well, yelling is probably perfect. If the goal is to change something in the child, or develop a positive habit in the child, yelling is not the way to do that. But clamping down on our anger isn’t effective, either— in fact, studies prove that attempting to do so actually increases our sympathetic nervous system responses and makes us feel more angry. So this is all pretty tricky. But in this episode we discuss: techniques for recognizing red brain before we’re in it why we sometimes treat strangers better than our loved ones Margaret’s “self-doghouse” technique how to properly make it up to our kids after we blow up And after discussing what NOT to say, Amy discusses what TO say to our kids with with Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright, the authors of Now Say This: The Right Words To Solve Every Parenting Dilemma. Heather and Julie explain their extremely effective “ALP” technique for communicating with our kids— Attune, Limit-Set, Problem-Solve. They also explain the importance of “the repair set” and modeling emotional health for our kids, particularly after we have not been our best selves. Here’s links to some of the other research and studies discussed in this episode: Margaret’s surprisingly useful “family doghouse” plaque Stephen Marche for NYT: Why You Should Stop Yelling At Your Kids Kelly for Happy You, Happy Family: Why Every Parent Should Know the Magic 5:1 Ratio – And How to Do It Dr. Karen Leith et al for Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Why Do Bad Moods Increase Self-Defeating Behavior? Dr. Ralph Erber et al: On being cool and collected: Mood regulation in anticipation of social interaction. Sue Shellenbarger for the Wall Street Journal: Talking to Your Kids After You Yell and our episode on yelling, which is kinda the same but kinda different.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 05, 2018
Saying No When Other Parents are Saying Yes
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How should we handle group situations where we have different parenting styles? When our particular rules around bedtimes, screens, curfews, or sugar are up against more lax rules (or none at all)?  This topic was suggested by our listener Jessica:    How do you deal with group situations where you parent differently without it causing friendship or family strain?  Especially once your kids are old enough to ask why there are different expectations?    Being in close proximity with people who parent differently can make us question how we do it. When other parents have other, looser rules, those of us who are more strict can feel judged. When other parents have firmer rules and tighter structures, those of us who don’t also feel judged.  Meanwhile, our kids are standing there watching us, wondering if we’ll cave and let them stay up until 12:30 just this once or not.  In this episode we discuss:    matters of preference versus matters of philosophy- and how to tell the difference  the importance of offline discussions  the role that “spaces and places” play (things might be a little looser at Nana’s house)  when to default to the rules of the household you are in  what happens when you have different rules from your co-parent  why saying “because I said so” is a missed parenting opportunity    Here’s links to articles discussed in this episode:  Lisa Belkin for The New York Times: Different Families, Different Rules Wendy Bradford for On Parenting: When One Child’s Rules Are Different Than The Other’s Pete Wells for the New York Times: Happy-Meal Me Here’s our takeaway: It’s okay to reconsider your own rules in these situations… just not in real time, and no matter what you do, not in front of your kid. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 28, 2018
Are We Oversharing On Social Media?
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The word “oversharenting” has been coined to describe those among us who chronicle our baby’s every bowel movement, ascribe hashtags to our preschoolers, and relitigate our tween’s hurt feelings, all of it for universal consumption on social media. For sure, we all know oversharenting when we see it— but most of us are equally certain that it’s really something other parents do. And we’re also fans of all the great, useful, meaningful ways social media keeps us connected. But are we considering the long-term ramifications for our kids’ privacy every time we press SHARE? In this episode we discuss: the “disclosure management work” of making sure loved ones are kept up-to-date on social media- and why it’s usually Mom’s job why we’re not as good at guarding others’ privacy when we post as we are at guarding our own why we’re motivated to share (and overshare) the “clean slate” of our own childhoods versus the extremely well-documented stories we’ve been writing for our kids the best practices we have in place for our own social media use whether the privacy concerns are real, or just another place to overthink Here’s links to research and other writing on the topic we discuss in this episode: LINKS Sarah Zhang for The Atlantic: Facebook Groups as Therapy Frank Landman for readwrite: Are You Oversharing on Social Media? Lisa Heffernan of Grown and Flown: Oversharing: Why Do We Do It And How Do We Stop? Tawfiq Ammari et al, University of Michigan: Managing Children’s Online Identities: How Parents Decide what to Disclose about their Children Online Liza Lazard et al for The Conversation: Sharenting: why mothers post about their children on social media Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 21, 2018
Listener Questions: Fussy Babies, Toddlers, and Squabbling Siblings
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We love hearing from our listeners! Your voice mails and emails keep us going… plus you tell us what you want to hear us talk about next. It’s a beautiful thing.  In this episode we answer these three listener questions:    how do you prepare your toddler for the birth of a new sibling?  how do you deal with a particularly fussy baby?  how do you deal with siblings who fight seriously all the time?    In response, you just might hear us discuss   why our anxiety about helping our toddler with a new sibling is probably really about our own anxiety why fussy babies are like the frog from the old Warner Brothers cartoon why siblings close in age are like a dog and a rooster why “face-raking” is a thing even though Margaret has never heard of it how arbitrating a sibling fight is like a lifeguard saving two people from drowning Do you have a topic you’d like to hear us discuss on the show? Go to whatfreshhellpodcast.com and click on the right sidebar where it says “what topics would you like to hear on the show?” Or email a “voice memo” from your phone to info@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. We’d love to hear from you!   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 14, 2018
How Little Parenting Can We Get Away With? (with guest James Breakwell):
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Sometimes we need to stop trying so hard for things to get easier. We asked our listeners: where’s an area of your parenting where you got better results by doing less? And as usual you all came through! In this episode we discuss your best advice on how to parent more lightly by caring less about our children’s homework potty training outfits palates basic hygiene birthday parties and have happier homes as a result. We also talk “bare minimum parenting” in its many forms with guest James Breakwell, author of the hilarious new book Bare Minimum Parenting: The Ultimate Guide to Not Quite Ruining Your Child. James says bare minimum parenting isn’t about the number of kids you have: “Two children aren’t twice as much work as one. If you’re already yelling at the first kid, just add the name of the second kid at the end.” For James, bare minimum parenting is about playing the long game. Can you look around at a group of adults and pick out which ones had baby massage or language-immersion preschool? Okay, sometimes they’re dead ringers. But most of the time you can’t, and we think James’s new book is slyly revolutionary in the way it enables all of us to do less, worry less, and get our kids to pretty much the same place in the end. In other words, Bare Minimum Parenting doesn’t have to mean no rules. It can mean basic rules that work for your family. But those rules aren’t set by the family next door, or that clickbait-y guilt-inducing article you just read. And when the rules don’t work? Put them aside for a bit. No regrets. ICYMI: in this episode Margaret mentions this slackline as her key to bare minimum backyard fun— her kids play on it for hours. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 07, 2018
Dinosaurs and Trains and Superheroes and Nerf Guns: Boy Obsessions
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Why are some little boys so obsessed with trains or dinosaurs- or World War II, or even blenders? Psychologists call these preschool preoccupations “extremely intense interests,” and studies have proven they much more common among boys than girls. In this episode we talk about some of the more common “extremely intense interests” out there, like * Thomas the Tank Engine.Why do so many boys go wild for the Isle of Sodor? Is it the wheels? Is it the characters with clear and never-changing facial expressions? * Actually, all toys with wheels. Researchers found the same clear preference for wheeled toys among boy monkeys as they did with children. * Dinosaurs. Is it the long names? The endless opportunities to “systemize”? Or is it mostly the people-eating potential? * Superheroes: powers, villains, and perhaps a plausible opening to “super-punch” a sibling. * Nerf guns and play weapons. Dr. Michael Thompson says “boys’ fantasy lives are no place for lessons on subjectivity and humanizing the other.” Whether or not you agree with that statement, you will probably agree that boys, when deprived of play weapons, can just as merrily duel with sippy cups or pillows or whatever might be handy.   “Extremely intense interests” tend to disappear once the kids who have them get to grade school, and have both new subject matter to master and peers with whom to assimilate. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 31, 2018
How To Be The Teacher’s Favorite Parent
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When we were kids, there weren’t any IEPs. There weren’t any teacher conferences (unless someone was in BIG trouble). There wasn’t any  school website. For better and for worse, the teacher/parent relationship was not something that our parents considered. It barely even existed. Today our kids’ homework loads, the ever-beckoning online portal, the costs of a good education— and okay, our perhaps sometimes-over-involvement in our children’s lives— all mean that we are meant to have a much more direct relationship with our children’s teachers, and they with us, than our parents could have ever imagined. We think this is a good thing. We also think it’s complicated. We also think it’s a great episode idea, suggested by one of our listeners who is a teacher. So on our Facebook page we asked teachers: “What do your favorite parents do (and not do) to support your work?” In this episode we discuss the advice those teachers gave us, including what teachers want us to understand as parents the beat-the-clock madness of back-to-school nights how to get the most out of a parent-teacher conference the things you need to make sure your child’s teacher understands (and they’re not all learning-related. Then again, maybe they are) how to email teachers without annoying them how to keep conversations productive even in difficult situations Thanks to all the teachers who contributed their advice to this episode. Here’s two of our favorite answers. We’ll be keeping these in mind: ELLEN: My favorite parents are the ones that follow through at home. They never blame the teacher. They choose to work with the teacher. You can openly and honestly address academic and behavior concerns with these parents because you know they have your back and you are in it together for the year. Finally, a simple note of thank you or support goes a LONG way. It doesn’t have to come with a gift. It simply needs to come from the heart. LAUREN: I have been a K-2 teacher the past 10 years and the biggest thing that parents can do is listen to teachers and understand that most teachers have your child’s best interest at heart, are passionate about what they do, and are on your team. Those are the parents that I have always appreciated the most.   Green Chef, Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 24, 2018
Self-Regulation for Kids: Helping Them (And You) Deal With Tantrums
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When one of our kids is having a meltdown in Aisle Six of the supermarket, we will often remind ourselves: He’s not giving us a hard time. He’s having a hard time.  And sometimes those words will seem zero percent helpful.  But they’re true. As Dr. Ross Greene puts it, “Kids do well if they can.” Therefore, when they’re falling apart there’s a reason, as Dr. Vasco Lopes of the Child Mind Institute explains: “A majority of kids who have frequent meltdowns do it in very predictable situations.” Parenting expert Dr. Stuart Shanker suggests we reframe our responses by getting curious about where the outburst is coming from, finding patterns that might provide clues– and then teach our children the skills to regulate their emotions themselves. We loved this infographic by Kristin Weins, reminding us that tantrums are kind of like icebergs: there’s much more beneath the surface than what we can see. In this episode we discuss: how to help children of all ages regulate their emotions so tantrums occur less frequently why toddlers’ tantrums are a biological imperative (sorry) the things to do during a tantrum vs. the things to definitely do later * how to keep ourselves out of “red brain” even when our kids are there what not to say once they finally calm down why teenagers’ tantrums feel like they come out of nowhere And here’s links to some of the research and resources discussed in this episode: Dr. Stuart Shanker’s Self-Reg Knowledge Series Kathleen Megan for The Hartford Courant: The Biology Behind Teens’ Temper Tantrums understood.org: Why Does My Child Still Have Temper Tantrums? childmind.org: How Can We Help Kids With Self-Regulation? Dr. Harvey Karp’s “fast food rule” for talking to a toddler the “chicken cheese bread” recipe Margaret mentioned: If all else fails, and you need new inspiration to keep calm, try this advice from Dr. David Walsh:   If you feel your blood pressure rising, take a deep breath and remember this advice: ‘When you feel like taking the wind out of his sails, it is a better idea to take your sails out of his wind.’   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 17, 2018
How To Get It All Done: Time Management For Moms (with guest Jessica N. Turner)
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A couple weeks ago we asked all of you to tell us what’s keeping you from being your happiest mom selves. There was a clear number one answer. Here’s how listener Colleen put it:    I think I struggle most with time management. There are only so many hours in the day and I want to do it all. I am a part-time health coach working for myself, but honestly not working a lot right now because I feel pulled in a hundred different directions as a parent. I really just wish for more hours in the day.    Even with the best of intentions, we all sometimes end up freaking out about how much we have to do— and therefore doing nothing at all, frozen in place like the dog in David Lynch’s comic strip The Angriest Dog in the World (which also handily serves as Margaret’s #oldilocksalert for this week). In this episode we talk about the ways we manage our time to work smarter, like Workflowy (use our link to get the first 250 items free) Self Control app or the Chrome extension Block Site Laura Vanderkam’s books and 168 Hours Time Management worksheet Amy also talks time management strategies with guest Jessica N. Turner, author of the new book Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive. We talk about “need to do” vs. “nice to do,” the non-negotiability of self-care, and what it means to thrive in all areas of our lives as working mothers. The best time management secret?  Be more gentle with ourselves, not more demanding. The systems are in place to help us do what matters. Not to help us do more.    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 10, 2018
Why 5 to 8 p.m. Is The Worst: How To Handle the After-School Crankies
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Ask any parent: 5 to 8 p.m. is the hardest time of day. When kids are little, the toddler’s melting down because she skipped his nap at the same time her baby brother begins observation of his daily “witching hour.”  When kids are big, you need to get them three places at the same time while also being home to make dinner— and then make sure everyone gets to bed on time (kidding, that is seriously never going to happen).  If it makes you feel any better, there’s a reason kids save up their worst behavior for their home environment. Parenting expert and educator Andrea Loewen Nair calls what happens between pickup and bedtime “after school restraint collapse.” As Ms. Nair explains: It takes a great deal of energy, mental motivation, emotional containment, and physical restraint to keep ourselves at our best for other people while at work, daycare, or school. There’s the rub: Mom and Dad are also exhausted from a full day of behaving like a normal human being for the rest of the world. No wonder this time of day is so bad. But fear not— this episode is full of ideas and strategies for making this time of day a little easier, like: always having a steak to throw to the angry bear what to say to cranky after-schoolers besides “how was your day?” providing age-appropriate decompression strategies moving the acceptable time for pajamas to be worn earlier and earlier as the days get shorter Here’s links to the research and other great ideas discussed in this episode: LINKS Colleen Seto for Today’s Parent: After-School Restraint Collapse is a Real Thing. Here’s How To Deal With It Andrea Loewen Nair: 7 WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD HANDLE THEIR “AFTER SCHOOL RESTRAINT COLLAPSE” Alice Bradley for Lifehacker: Stop Asking Your Kid About Their Day Heather Marcoux for Motherly: After-school restraint collapse is real—here’s how to help your child Justine Lorelle LaMonaco for Motherly: If your kids act worse around you, there might be a (very good) reason why Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 03, 2018
The Right Number of Kids Is…
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What’s the right number of kids? For most of us (at least most of the time) it’s the number we actually have. Here’s how our listener Mahima put it:  “as many babes as you are blessed with is the perfect number.”  Still, it’s a question we ask ourselves at many times throughout our lives, before and after we become parents, and there are many factors which play into the decision— like money. Here’s a sobering statistic:  a 2015 report by economists at the US Department of Agriculture estimated that middle-income married-couple family will spend $233,610 from birth through age 17 on child-rearing expenses.  Per child.  Not including college.  (Editor’s note: Amy was also going to put up a link to their “Cost of Raising a Child Calculator” but Margaret has forbidden it on the grounds of it being too depressing.) But finances aren’t the only consideration, and families of each size have distinct benefits (and okay, a couple of drawbacks). In this episode we discuss:    all the things we (and our listeners) considered when making this decision for their families why only children may maximize their mothers’ well-being why two children may be the magic number for familial happiness why, in our own experiences, three children is awesome why parents with four or more children might not actually be crazy   Obviously there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. When you know, you know, but it’s okay to be undecided, like our listener Chana:  “I just had my 10th. I haven’t found the perfect number yet. I guess I’ll keep going till I do.”  Go Chana! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 26, 2018
Hand-Me-Downs, Keepsakes, and Too Much Stuff
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If you’ve got kids, you’ve got too much stuff. Here’s how our listener Holly put it:  “With kids, there is truly no end to the influx of toys, keepsakes and clothes coming in, plus things they’ve outgrown that need to go out.  My three kids range in age from one to nine years old, and I struggle with what items to save for the baby to grow into. Do I really want to hold onto pajamas for him to grow into six years? The sentimentality of it all weighs on me, too.  The constant mental space this process consumes is definitely my biggest consistent downer as a mom.”  Fear not: we are here to help! In this episode we discuss    why it can be actually, physically painful to throw things away  why decorative baskets are actually the worst  why the giveaway and hand-me-down bins should be right in your kids’ closets  the unpronounceable but useful “RFASR” declutter formula why sentimentality is in the eye of the beholder Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 19, 2018
Raising Grateful Kids
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Most of us would like our kids to express— and feel— more gratitude. But yelling “There are children in India who don’t even have XBoxes!” doesn’t seem to be sufficiently getting the message across. Kids are kids; they lack perspective by definition. Practicing gratitude means having the ability to imagine a reality other than one’s own, and that might take a while. Researchers Blaire Morgan and Liz Gulliford explain it this way in their book Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents: It is largely agreed that gratitude is not inbuilt; instead it develops over time, as certain capacities become available and cognitive abilities mature… it requires a great deal of practice. Still, gratitude really matters, and our kids having that skill isn’t just about bonus parenting points for us. Our children will have better lives if they’re more grateful. Seriously, studies. Parenting expert Jennifer Wallace says gratitude creates “an upward spiral of positive emotions,” and who doesn’t want those? So: until that attitude of gratitude comes naturally, how do we get our kids to say “thank you” like they mean it? Maybe even remember to do so unprompted once in a while?  In this episode, we discuss specific ways to build a practice of gratitude with (and for) your kids, at all ages and stages. Here’s links to the studies and other writing on gratitude discussed in this episode: Jennifer Breheny Wallace for the Wall Street Journal: How To Raise More Grateful Children Homa Navangar for PBS Parents: Ten Ways To Raise a Grateful Kid Maryam Abdullah for Greater Good Magazine: How To Help Gratitude Grow in Your Kids Mayim Bialik for today.com: Why I Don’t Force My Kids To Say ‘Please’ The Effects of Botox Injections on Emotional Experience         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 12, 2018
When Mom Struggles (with guest Janelle Hanchett)
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Moms aren’t supposed to struggle; we’re supposed to be benevolent goddesses of wisdom and Hamburger Helper. Our families (kids and yes, our partners too) have an invested need in our seeming safe and together at all times- and so we feel obligated to provide that.  But are we then further contributing to the myth of Mom as infallible, perfect, able to handle it all?  When things get tough, and the facade gets too hard to keep up, should we let our kids in? Or is that burdening them? And what happens when there’s things we really can’t share?  We discuss struggles and the way back with guest Janelle Hanchett, author of the new book I’m Just Happy to Be Here: A Memoir of Renegade Mothering. Janelle’s book explores motherhood from what she calls “a place of deep imperfection,” telling the story of her descent into alcoholism after having children, her separation from them, and their eventual reuniting. Janelle knows from struggle, and here’s one way she suggests we might address tough moments with our kids: “This is why I’m struggling. And here’s what I’m doing to take care of myself. And you don’t have to worry, because this is what we’re going to do to get through it. And I’m not perfect. And I apologize to you for screwing up. And I’m going to try to do better in the future.” I’m Just Happy to Be Here asks: does motherhood really turn us into better versions of ourselves? And what happens if that doesn’t happen? Even if addiction and recovery aren’t part of your motherhood story, we think you’ll really love Janelle’s book. Here’s links to some of the other resources we discuss in this episode: * Brene Brown’s TED Talk on the power of vulnerability * Paige Nolan and her work honoring the truth of women’s lives * Serena Williams’ Instagram feed, where she talks openly about her struggles with postpartum depression   Here’s our takeaway: we mothers don’t always have to compound our struggles by keeping them secret at all costs. It’s okay for us not to be okay sometimes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 05, 2018
Why Are Our Kids Such Total Opposites?
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It’s not your imagination: kids raised in the same family really do push in opposite directions– and we mean POLAR opposites, especially for closely-spaced or same-sex siblings. But why the de-identification? And how is it even possible for kids reared in the same environment to be so completely different?  In this episode we discuss:    the three theories social scientists have about this phenomenon  why siblings may “evolve” like Darwin’s finches  how “the shy one” in a given family may not be that shy at all- except compared to that outgoing sibling  what parents need to watch out for in terms of leaning in to these (sometimes oversimplified) categories    Here’s links to the fascinating research, and stuff that it reminded us of, discussed in this episode:  Alix Spiegel for NPR: Siblings Share Genes, But Rarely Personalities NYT: Each Sibling Experiences a Different Family Dr. Robert Plomin and Dr Denise Daniels: Why are Children in the Same Family So Different From One Another? Dr. Frank Sullaway: Why Siblings Are Like Darwin’s Finches: Birth Order, Sibling Competition, and Adaptive Divergence within the Family Dr. Robert Plomin and Dr. Judy Dunn: Why Are Siblings So Different? The Significance of Differences in Sibling Experiences Within the Family Science Daily: Parents’ Comparisons Make Siblings Different Dr. Alexander Jensen and Dr. Susan McHale: What makes siblings different? The development of sibling differences in academic achievement and interests. Amy’s yin-and-yang sons, born on the Chinese days of Greatest Heat (Dashu) and Deepest Snow (Daxue) the hilarious book Hyperbole and a Half, with its “Hot Sauce” reminder of what happens when we lean too hard into what we maybe only *think* are our children’s defining characteristics and our own episode discussing birth order and how it shapes our kids’ personalities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 28, 2018
How To Be a Happier Parent (with KJ Dell’Antonia)
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Is a mother only as happy as her unhappiest child? In our experience, yeah, pretty much. And studies (referenced below) back that up– although they also suggest many parents also derive their greatest happiness from their child-raising.  So how do we separate out our own sense of well-being from our children’s struggles? And in a more everyday sense, how do we find happiness in the daily slog?  We talk it out with guest KJ Dell’Antonia, former lead editor of The New York Times’ Motherlode blog and author of the brand-new book How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute. KJ says the key is finding simple, concrete solutions for what isn’t working– and letting go of some of the rest. As KJ puts it: When we’re not putting all our energy into getting our kids to eat and study and do everything exactly the way we want them to, we can put it into a much more positive place. Nobody’s saying that you have to live in denial of your kids’ reality. But we think disengaging from our children’s struggles just enough so that our happiness isn’t directly pegged to theirs is the key to happier, more effective parenting. Here’s links to other research and resources discussed in this episode: Jordan Schrader for Alcalde: Parents’ Happiness Linked to Their Least Happy Child’s Claire E. Ashton-James, Kostadin Kushlev, Elizabeth W. Dunn: Parents Reap What They Sow: Child-Centrism and Parental Well-Being Julie Beck for The Atlantic: Study: Parents Only as Happy as Their Unhappiest Child “Welcome to Holland,” by Emily Perl Kingsley and Shakespearean voice teacher Patsy Rodenburg’s book The Second Circle, which Amy says has influenced her more than any book she’s ever read. Read its excerpts on parenting here. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 22, 2018
When Kids Talk Back
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How are we supposed to respond when our kids talk back? Some experts say it’s normal child behavior, and as such, we should take a deep breath and ignore it. We say no way. But yelling “How dare you talk to me like that in my house?” isn’t getting us anywhere, either. So what’s the best response?  In this episode we discuss    how our kids’ talking back can really be about underlying anxiety  how talking back is also about who’s in control  how our response is the key to setting ongoing expectations  why it’s harder for us to handle talking back when it happens in public  why Margaret thinks it’s okay if our kids think we’re a little bit like Darth Vader  why Amy says a little Yoda thrown in there might not be the worst idea    We like Dr. Laura Markham’s suggestion for a better thing to say when kids talk back: You can tell me what you’re upset about without attacking me. What’s going on? Even for grownups, there’s a difference between standing up for yourself and being rude. We want our kids to have the ability to do the former without the latter. Which means we have to show them how to do it. Here’s links to other articles and research discussed in this episode: Dr. Laura Markham for Psychology Today: What To Do When Your Kid Talks Back Tamekia Reece for Parents: What To Do When Kids Talk Back Dr. Michele Borba for Parents: Helping Kids Handle Anger The Military Wife and Mom: How to Handle Back Talk and Disrespect Like a Parenting Warrior Joseph P. Allen et al, University of Virginia: Predictors of Susceptibility to Peer Influence Regarding Substance Use in Adolescence …and Margaret recommended the book What Children Learn From Their Parents’ Marriages Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 15, 2018
Friends Without Kids
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Once we become parents, there is a great divide— of perspectives, bedtimes, and tolerance of twee photo shoots— between us and our friends without kids. Even the closest of those relationships can suffer as a result. Whose fault that is probably depends on who you’re asking.  In this episode we talk about    how to stay connected with our friends without kids  how to reconnect if we’ve drifted apart  the ways in which our friends with kids do not get it  the ways in which friends without kids do not enjoy being told they don’t get it    Then Margaret talks it out with one of her friends without kids, Candace Feit– documentary photographer, multiple-dog-owner, world traveler, leisurely bruncher. Candy explains once and for all when our friends without kids want to be invited to our kids’ birthday parties and piano recitals, and when they most certainly do not. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 08, 2018
The Random Things We Can’t Live Without
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We asked all of you to tell us the one random thing you can’t live without—whether for your parenting sanity, or just for yourself. In this episode, we discuss the unexpected must-haves that us all going, from grapefruit LaCroix to Target bathing suits.  Here are just a few of the things you might not have thought were that important but which matter entirely:    those packets of desiccant that come in shoe boxes- which Amy used to resuscitate a smartphone that had fallen in the bathtub white vinegar Dunkin’ Donuts unsweetened iced tea (no lemon) white noise machines (for both babies, and the grownups who have gotten too used to listening for them all night) baby carriers (your favorite brands: babytula.com, Ergobaby, and Lillebaby) This episode is full of gee-I-should-try-thats. Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas— even the person who said floss picks. You are heard. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 01, 2018
Are We Too Hard On Our Boys?
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At school our sons keep it together. At home, flushing the toilet is well beyond their capability. This leads to a litany of “hurry up, put that down, stop doing that, start doing this” from their mothers. But are we too hard on our boys? We had an “aha moment” after reading this question posed by parenting expert Wendy Mogel: What percentage of your communication with your son consists of nagging, reminding, chastising or yelling? We’re going to respectfully decline to answer that question, as is our Fifth Amendment right. But we love Mogel’s solution: Talk to them like dogs. Really. Read the whole article; it’s a real perspective-changer. Mogel suggests that as our children’s lives become more intense and more structured, with ever-increasing homework when they finally get home, our boys are losing their chances to run and bark and chew on shoes (metaphorically). And that that’s leading to all sorts of issues. In this episode we discuss: how studies have proven that we treat infant daughters and sons differently- even before they can speak how to fight against the parenting norms of what David Lancy calls “WEIRD societies” (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) why the key to our sons’ happiness can often be found in the garage how to be interested (really interested) in what our sons are interested in. Even if it’s Fortnite. Here’s links to studies and research and other things we discuss: David Lancy in Human Relations Area Files: A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Childhood Andrew Reiner for the NYT: Talking To Boys the Way We Talk To Girls Dr. Edward Tronick, et al, for Harvard Medical School and Developmental Psychology: Gender differences in emotional expressivity and self-regulation during early infancy St. Augustine Prep School website: Anxiety in Young Boys is Not Normal 2017 Emory study: Child gender influences paternal behavior and language Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 25, 2018
Helping Kids Through Transitions
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From giving up the pacifier to memorizing a locker combination, growing up is a series of reluctantly-greeted transitions. The ages and challenges change, but the anxiety produced remains familiar.  For us too.   We’re here to tell you that whatever transition you’re shepherding your kid through, this is not forever. This is just right now. Our sons and daughters will not be sucking their thumbs at prom, so long as we parents get just the right amount of not totally over-involved.  In this episode, we discuss     how to practice transitions early and often  why transitions are harder for introverts  the power of magical thinking  the totally wrong time to introduce the big kid bed  how forced transitions can lead to “tensional outlets”   the importance of peer relationships as kids transition to middle school  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 18, 2018
How Not To Live Through Our Kids
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First we’re setting aside our own hopes and dreams to have (and raise) our kids. Then we’re relentlessly mocked (perhaps correctly) for being over-invested in the fourth-grade luau. Are we living through our kids? And how do we stop?  Psychologists have long said that mothers transfer our own unfulfilled ambition onto our children. “Symbolic self-completion theory” suggests that we look to our children as symbols of ourselves, and transfer our ambitions to them— which is why we’re not jealous when they get the big part in the school play; we’re a little too thrilled. Sing out Louise! But as psychologist Wendy Mogel reminds us, our children are not our masterpieces , and pushing them towards our own notions of greatness prevents them from becoming the humans they are meant to be. In this episode we discuss the pitfalls of “achievement by proxy distortion” and how to take a step back if you find yourself a little too enmeshed. Our favorite book on this topic is Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus, the story of a tiger cub who just isn’t getting it and his dad who is trying to not freak out. Recommended for kids, really recommended for parents. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 11, 2018
The Mothers We Swore We’d Never Be
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Before we became mothers, most of us had fairly clear notions of the kinds of parents we wanted to be— and extremely clear notions of the mothers we would not, under any circumstances, ever be.  Our children would eat whatever was on their plates.  Our children would be screen-free until kindergarten.  Our children would never hear anything but their mothers’ most dulcet of tones.  And then we became mothers.  We asked you to tell us the mothers you swore you’d never be— and yet somehow are. (Once in a while.) In this episode we share our own confessions and commiserate with you all.  No food in the living room?  No crying it out?  No plastic toys?  How’d that work out?   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 04, 2018
Should Dads Get Graded on a Curve?
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A dad in Bermuda recently joined his young daughter on stage at her ballet recital when she was too frightened to perform. He was carrying another one of their children at the time. Video of that moment went viral, the dad got his own hashtag, and the world stopped to honor his awesomeness. Here’s our question: would a mother doing the same thing have gotten any attention at all? There’s no question that dads get graded on a curve in our society. Times are changing— fathers are now the primary caregiver for about one out of every four preschool-age children, according to the U.S. Census Bureau— but stereotypes die hard. And while we as mothers may grade our husbands’ household contributions against our own, the larger world grades them against the Don Draper-style fathers of yore— which means that any guy wearing a Baby Bjorn gets a ticker tape parade. In this episode we give that notion several eye rolls. Kevin Madsen of the Hey Dad podcast is our guest, and he says dads don’t necessarily love the curved grading either. While the extra credit is kind of nice sometimes, Kevin says he’s tired of being sold short by people assuming he can’t possibly know how to take care of his own children as well as his wife can. So let’s stop grading the dads in our lives on a curve. Hell, let’s stop grading them at all. And here’s a tip for dads: stop telling your wives you do more than your own dads did. We know. And it’s a start. Here’s links to some research discussed in this episode: Paul Scott for Parents: The Responsibilities and Expectations of the New American Dad Eugene Volokh for the Washington Post: In Praise of Grading on a Curve and this viral post by Facebook employee Tom Stocky , on the “ridiculous praise” he got for changing a diaper or buying groceries with his daughter while on parental leave. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 27, 2018
Vacationing With Kids- What Works
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The biggest drawback to vacationing with kids may be this: wherever you go, your kids will still actually be with you.   But seriously… successful traveling as a family means keeping everyone happy. That doesn’t mean your choice of vacation destination needs to revolve around your kids, but it does mean your expectations for sightseeing or miles logged per day might need to be somewhat flexible. After all, you have even less of an escape from your kids complaining while on vacation than you do when you’re at home.  And despite all the hassles, we both love traveling with our kids. Even when it’s not easy, it’s always worth the journey. So this episode is full of ideas for creating family vacations with appeal  for all age groups, whether you’re going across the state or around the world.  We discuss:    the wonders of RV travel  why the anticipation of a trip can be as much fun as the trip itself  the indispensability of Ziploc bags  how older kids will accept sightseeing when it is offered with a tiny side order of danger  our listeners’ very best travel-with-kids tips    Here’s some writing we love about traveling with kids:  Meg Lukans Noonan for Travel and Leisure: The Age-Appropriate Vacation Mariam Navaid Ottimofiore for The Huffington Post: Seven Reasons Why Travel is Never Wasted on Young Kids Sarah Clemence for Travel and Leisure: 10 Essential Hacks for Traveling with Small Kids …and our own Episode 20, on what to pack when traveling with kids Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 20, 2018
Stuff Our Spouses Do Way Better Than We Do
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We thought it was high time we saluted our own spouses for all the things they do way better than we do. Whether it’s a broken dishwasher, a broken bone, or repeated viewings of some of the worst movies ever made, our spouses do it all. Below, please enjoy some photographic evidence of our spouses showing up and just basically “being game,” which Margaret points out is a thing much to be desired in a life partner.  What are the things your spouse does way, way better than you? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 13, 2018
Princesses (If You Must)
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You may think (as both of us once did) that little girls who are all-princess, all the time, are just not that cool. You may have also believed that any daughter of your own would be a far more independent-thinking, overalls-wearing sort of spunkster.   But once that daughter is born, and turns two, and a well-meaning party-goer shows up with something from, say, the Disney Princess Little Kingdom Royal Sparkle Collection? All bets are off. We’re here to tell you that the princess phase, as brief as it is intense, is pretty much unavoidable–or at least it feels that way. And shaming your daughter for falling for all of it may be less than productive. As Peggy Orenstein points out in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, the princess imperative lines up perfectly with a 4-7 year old child’s “inflexible stage,” where one’s identity as a girl (or a boy) is felt to be actually predicated upon appearing like one. But then it becomes a bait-and-switch that Amy wrote about it for Listen To Your Mother NYC: first, our daughters are told that they MUST like princesses– then, just as suddenly, they are told that they must stop. That doesn’t seem so great, either.   In this episode we discuss:   * whether princesses are okay only if we counterbalance the messaging * whether girls who play with princess toys have lower self-esteem * what boys might be learning from princess movies * why a tiara-wearing preschooler is not really a reflection on our parenting- or what she’ll be wearing in another five years Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 06, 2018
Kid Friend Breakups
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By the time our kids finish middle school, many will have suffered the sting of being left behind by a formerly “best” friend. Many more will have struggled with how to create some space between themselves and the playmates they have simply outgrown. Lots of kids end up on both sides of that equation (or at least ours have). Neither side is easy– but we’re here to figure out how to make it less painful for all concerned, whichever side our kid is on.  In this episode we discuss:    how not to over-identify with the rejection our kids might feel (as Eileen Kennedy-Moore puts it, “don’t go lioness”) the difference between someone bullying your kid and someone just really, really disappointing her how to support older kids through the heartbreak how best to help our kids when they’re the ones who might need to say “I need more space” Here’s links to some great writing on the topic: Eileen Kennedy-Moore for US News and World Report: 3 Ways to Help a Child Cope With Being Dumped by a Friend Dr. Carl Pickhardt for Psychology Today: Adolescence and the Loss of a Best Friend KJ Dell’Antonia for NYT Motherlode: When Another Child Wants To Be Friends And Yours Does Not Whatever you do, maintain perspective! Don’t dismiss or ignore your child’s feelings, but don’t go lioness either. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 30, 2018
When Mom Leaves Town
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Does it seem like just as much work to leave your kids behind for a couple of days as not to go in the first place?   Do your instructions for family operational procedures during your absence run more than five pages?   We’re here to tell you that, as Margaret puts it, “the flip side of that little bit of bad is so, so good.” Getting away from our kids— for work, for the weekend, for a friend’s 40th— isn’t just good for us. It’s also an opportunity for our kids to realize that “only Mommy” stuff they pull when we’re around is not as necessary as they might have thought.  In this episode we discuss     why our kids mysteriously behave better when we aren’t around   why the best time to call your kids when you travel is in the morning  * why nine years old is peak-anxiety age for travel nervousness  measuring your time away in “wake-ups”: that is, in terms kids can understand  why FaceTime isn’t as good of an idea as it seems Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 23, 2018
Small Changes, Big Difference- Part Two
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So many good ideas, we made a Part Two! Here’s dozens of small changes parents have made that turned out to make a big difference in their lives— thanks to our listeners and our Facebook fans, plus some of the top content creators for parents from the 2018 Mom 2.0 Summit, including:   Amy Carney’s Parent on Purpose Avenue Mama Cup of Jo Midlife Mixtape podcast Renegade Mothering Sibling Revelry Project A special shoutout to Janelle Hanchett of Renegade Mothering- her new book I’m Just Happy To Be Here is a wonderful memoir of her tumultuous journey from young motherhood through addiction and recovery. We loved this book!  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 16, 2018
Summer Plans
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Anyone else feeling the stress of the summer countdown? It takes a lot of juggling to schedule ten weeks of summer freedom for our kids, and it’s not cheap, either.  As a nation we spend about $18 billion on camps and other summer enrichments for our kids every year. That’s nuts. But left to their own devices, our kids will be on their devices. So what’s a parent to do?  In this episode we discuss    ways to keep your kids occupied this summer without spending a lot of money how to find the right balance of structure and laziness how to create screen-free environments in a world where there aren’t many   Here’s where we come out: Plan something. Not too much. Mostly fun.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 08, 2018
Tweens
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We always figured “tween” was a catch-all marketing term for stuff with glitter on it. But since today’s kids are going through puberty earlier than ever, the years between 9 and 12 can be plenty rocky. And then sometimes stuffed animals still. It’s a mix. Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, says it’s important that we parents not take our tweens’ sudden withdrawal as rejection: All too often parents personalize some of the distance that occurs and misinterpret it as a willful refusal or maybe oppositional behavior. In other words: sometimes tweens ask for love in the tweeniest of ways. In this episode, we discuss: how the way 9-11 year olds think actually changes from when they were younger the importance of establishing a new-ish relationship with what Juliann Garey calls an “updated version of your kid” how to read between the “get away from me Mom” lines and why Margaret says parenting is like building a boat. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 02, 2018
Small Changes, Big Difference
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We asked all of you on the show and on Facebook to tell us the small changes you’ve made in your lives (as parents and as, you know, just actual people) that have turned out to make a big difference. This episode is full of game-changing ideas for your home, your school mornings, and your sanity. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 25, 2018
Let’s Not Care About What We Weigh
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We won’t lie to you- we probably spend more time than we should thinking about what we weigh. Which is, admittedly, variable. But while we think about what we weigh plenty when we’re unhappy with what the scale says, we spend even more of our bandwidth on it in order to get to the number we have decided is arbitrarily acceptable (and then fight a losing battle to stay there).  Something’s not right about that. But we suspect we aren’t alone— especially among mothers, who have seen our bodies change forever with pregnancy and childbirth, and then never quite change back.   What if we didn’t care? Okay: what if we cared just a little bit less? In this episode we talk about feeling good, and looking good, and how to maybe put a little bit of daylight between the two.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 18, 2018
Bickering
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Per the Cambridge Dictionary, to bicker is “to argue about things that are not important.” Bickering is therefore unproductive by design- and as any parent can tell you the more trivial the thing their kids are arguing about, the more frustrating it is for a parent to listen to.  So why do our kids bicker so incessantly? Are they actually intending to drive us batty, or is there more at work? And if parents are supposed to “just ignore it” until three seconds before the face-scratching starts, how can we sense the perfect moment to intervene?  Professor Laurie Kramer, director of the Family Resiliency Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says siblings bicker because they can: “These are very safe relationships for children, so they feel they can argue and express their feelings without significant repercussions.” Margaret says it’s important to remember: we are the mediator, not the judge. Margaret’s father, who *is* a judge, would recite “Children Should Not Disagree,” a poem written by one Isaac Watts in 1715 , whenever his own children bickered.  It reportedly served as a somewhat effective deterrent, so you might want to give it a shot. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 11, 2018
Did We Really Do That?
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We’ve all done things as parents that, looking back, we can’t believe. Sometimes they are supermom-type accomplishments that defy easy explanation: did I really have three kids in diapers at the same time? Did I really get through airport security with those same three children, and unassisted?   Then there are the decisions that in retrospect seem foolish at best: did I really wake a sleeping infant every three hours? Did I also make a tiny sign to hang from the car seat, reminding strangers to wash their hands, as if it were a cartoon speech bubble coming directly from my baby’s mouth?   We asked our listeners for their “did I really do that?” moments and got plenty of each version. In this episode we put them all on the table– and also interview two women who may or may not have done a few silly things themselves: Amy’s mom and Margaret’s Aunt Terry. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 28, 2018
Managing Our Schedules
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It’s the battle of the calendars! Margaret swears by her hardcover Book of Meg, but tends to forget a birthday party once in a while. Amy swears by her online systems,  until her phone takes the initiative of entering an event in Greenwich Mean Time. Neither system is perfect, but which is better? In this episode, we talk strategies for managing our families’ busy lives- and for handing at least some of that responsibility back to our kids.  For a personalized, hardcover Book of Meg with the exact kind of pages she wants inside, Margaret uses Erin Condren Life Planners. For keeping the two hundred things she needs to remember later in a findable place, Amy uses two apps on her desktop and phone: Evernote and Workflowy. Kimberlee over at The Peaceful Mom has a great how-to post for Evernote newbies here, and Workflowy has an introductory video here. Other takes on this topic we mention in this episode: Michael Grothaus for Fast Company: What Happened When I Ditched My Smartphone for a Paper Planner Ferris Jabr for Scientific American: The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens for handing some organizational responsibilities back to older kids: Smart But Scattered: Teens, by Richard Guare and Peg Dawson Today’s episode is brought to you by Evernote, the app Amy swears by for keeping soccer schedules, flight confirmations, blood types, and what-was-that-place-again at her fingertips and searchable wherever she goes. Evernote Premium lets you search PDF text, so even if you are more of a dumper than a file-er, you’ll always be able to find what you need within seconds. Get a free month of Evernote Premium with our affiliate code: bit.ly/evernotefresh. Have a product or brand you’d like to hear on the podcast? Email us at info (at) whatfreshhellpodcast.com and we’ll send you our (quite reasonable) rates!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 21, 2018
Getting Your Kids To Talk To You
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Getting our kids to talk to us is never easy (unless we’re standing with car keys in hand, front door ajar, 15 minutes late for an appointment). Based upon empirical evidence, “How was school today?” is the most annoying question a mom could ever ask. So why bother trying?  Because Jennifer Kolari, author of Connected Parenting: How to Raise a Great Kid, says getting our kids to open up is part of our job description: It’s our job as parents to help our kids sort through and process the things that happen to them during the day. “They don’t have the higher-order thinking to do it on their own yet. In this episode we lay out what gets our kids to talk–  at every age and stage. Margaret says you have to “talk the talk that arrives.” But Amy comes at it armed with research; if her ninth-grader wants to talk NBA draft, she’s ready to lean in. Both of us plan to work on what Marie Roker Jones calls “listening with the intent to understand.” Here’s links to some research and hilarious takes on this topic that we mention in this episode: Alice Bradley for Lifehacker Offspring: Stop Asking Your Kid About Their Day Marie Roker-Jones for Good Men Project: 10 Ways to Get Your Son to Open Up and Talk to You Clare Gagne for Today’s Parent: Age-By-Age Guide To Getting Your Kid To Talk from American Girl: Conversation Starters To Get Your Girl To Talk About Her Day (to our surprise, “What emoji best describes the day you had?” was a great question!) Liz Evans for Huffington Post: 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’ The Ungame  …and some perfect viewing for you and your teenager: Maddie Corman’s wonderful short film How Was Your Day? How do you get your kids to open up? Tell us in the comments! Here’s one way we get our kids chatting with us– cooking together. We’ve both been pleasantly surprised at how HelloFresh has turned dinnertime prep into something our kids love to participate in. We follow the easy (super-easy) directions, chop along together, and then we all sit down together as a family to try something new (and maybe even talk about it). Get $30 off your first HelloFresh delivery by going to  hellofresh.com and entering the code mother30.     Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 14, 2018
The Best Mom Advice We Ever Got
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What’s the best mom advice you ever received? We asked our listeners and got a wide range of responses. Some aimed for the eternal perspective:  The days are long, but the years are short.    Some were more practically applicable:  Don’t ever bring a vomiting child into your bed.  (Truer words were never spoken, Stacy.)  In this episode break down the best advice we ever received for parenting babies, toddlers, kids and teens. Here’s one essay we reference in the episode:  Jenny Anderson for NYT’s Motherlode: Seeing Tantrums as Distress, Not Defiance Thanks to everyone who contributed their mom words to live by! Announcing our next live show! What Fresh Hell is coming to The Theater at North in Scranton, PA (Amy’s hometown) on Thursday, April 19th.  The performance is a benefit in memory of Lindsay Doherty and will benefit the St. Joseph’s Center Baby and Children Pantry (one of Lindsay’s favorite causes). Join us for a night of many laughs and a celebration of Lindsay’s life! Tickets are available here.          Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 07, 2018
Musical Instruments- If You Must
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Musical instruments: must our children either be tied to a piano bench or forgo their dreams of the Ivy League? Must we battle with our children daily to make them practice, and then have to listen to fifteen minutes of what sounds like a dying moose?  Experts say childhood exposure to musical instruments relieves stress (theirs), tones the brain for auditory fitness, even lowers kids’ risk of dementia seventy years hence. While that’s certainly playing the long game, all of our kids play instruments, and we’re here to tell you why yours should at least give it a shot. At least the recorder. Sorry about that. Here’s links to research and further reading we discuss in this episode: a picture of a bass clarinet, which Margaret promised as a visual appendix to her story of Clarice, the clarinetrix sports coach Bruce Brown’s terrific advice on the only thing you need to say after watching your kids perform: “I Love To Watch You Play” the Tiger Mom article that started the backlash against making kids spend three hours a day practicing (not that we were ever going to do that anyhow) Ten Reasons Why Everyone Should Learn to Play Musical Instruments Angela Kwan for Parents: 6 Benefits of Music Lessons Did you play an instrument as a kid? Are you glad you did? Tell us in the comments!        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 28, 2018
Reluctant Readers
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Are audio books cheating? Must every book our second-graders read feature Poopy Man and The Toilet King? Are reluctant readers doomed to fall behind their peers? Will Margaret or Amy ever read anything other than their Facebook feeds ever again?  This episode is full of ideas to get everyone in your family reading– plus books your kids will drop everything to read.  We love this “book traps” idea from our listener Nicole:    Find books in the library that seem like they might be irresistible to your child and place them strategically around the house so that your child stumbles upon them and feel like reading them was their own idea.    What about audiobooks? Is it counterproductive to let kids who struggle with decoding listen to their books instead?  Jamie Martin, assistive technology consultant for understood.org, says no:  Listening to audiobooks isn’t “cheating.” The main purpose of reading is to get information. It doesn’t matter what path that information takes to reach the brain. Here’s some resources for parents that we recommend in this episode: Common Sense Media’s lists of books for reluctant readers Amy Mascott for PBS Parents: What To Do When Your Child Hates Reading Susan Dominus, NYT, Motherhood Screened Off Linda Flanagan  for KQED: How Audiobooks Can Help Kids Who Struggle With Reading Mary Ann Scheuer’s Great Kid Books, a blog which recommendis books for kids from 4-14. Here’s books and authors that Amy recommends in this episode: the Amulet series (graphic novels for grade-school readers) anything by Raina Telgemaier (graphic novels with heroines for grade-school readers You Wouldn’t Want to Be… series (real history with a dose of gross-out humor) the American Girl collection (the best you’re-growing-up books out there) What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (a perfect coffee table book. Irresistible for all ages) and a few audiobook series recommended by Amy’s 10-year-old daughter: A Series of Unfortunate Events The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place The Mysterious Benedict Society and of course, Harry Potter, with hundreds of characters all voiced by Jim Dale. Here’s the books that have gotten our listeners’ kids reading. Thanks for everyone who joined in with ideas on our Facebook page! Lauren: Pete the Cat, Wayside Stories from Wayside School Maureen: Mo Willems Tracy: “Right now (8 years old) we are loving Super Rabbit Boy.” Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 21, 2018
Morning Madness
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We’d all love a school morning where everyone gets out the door without Mom  yelling or feeling stressed. And by “all” we mean all mothers. Our children seem blithely indifferent to all the hollering and pleading and bargaining we do each morning in order to make the bus– which means each day we have to do a little more of it.  Good times.  Leigh Anderson puts it this way, for Lifehacker Offspring: “Getting kids out the door in the morning can go one of two ways: They wake up early and then dawdle, forcing a last-minute scramble, or they wake up late, forcing a last-minute scramble.” In this episode we talk about what works to get the kids moving and in charge of their own schedules. We love Leigh’s idea of creating a morning playlist: if “Yellow Submarine” is on, it’s time to be tying your shoes. Our other favorite tip– keep another set of toothbrushes in the downstairs bathroom!– is from Carolyn Dalgliesh’s book The Sensory Child Gets Organized. Here’s other tricks and tips we discuss in this episode: Amy uses these  5- and 30-minute hourglasses  to make the dwindling time until the bus arrives more concrete. (Beware: the 30-minute one can sometimes have the paradoxical effect of making the time left seem endless, at least to an 8-year-old.) The Time Timer is a less chic but equally effective visual reminder. Margaret has her son use a smart speaker to set his own timer. Margaret uses a dry erase board to remind her kids of what’s left on their morning checklists. Amy’s friend Susan uses this gradual sunlight alarm clock for her exhausted high-schooler. And if all else fails: put them to bed in their school clothes. Here’s how to handle the dinnertime madness: HelloFresh, which delivers weekly recipes and fresh ingredients straight to your doorstep. What’s for dinner? Open fridge, pull out bag, get to it. No planning, no shopping, no complaining. Your kids might even *HELP* because the directions are so snazzy. We are huge fans! Get $30 off your first HelloFresh delivery by going to  hellofresh.com and entering the code mother30.       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 14, 2018
What To Do When They’re Just Like You
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Are your child’s most annoying traits disconcertingly familiar, because they are also your own? And are those qualities- anxiety, competitiveness, impatience, even hatred of loud chewing- baked in the cake? Or have our children learned how to be impossible simply by living with us?  Ellie Grossman says when our kids are driving us nuts, it’s always best to look within for answers: The trick is to find our child’s greatest strength hidden inside his or her worst quality. The first step is to look at ourselves in the mirror. Where do you think our child’s mishegas comes from in the first place? Keeping this in mind, we also love Wendy Mogel’s writing about the “yetser hara,” that part of all children’s personalities that is both the source of all parental exasperation and the essential spark of our children’s greatness. Read more here: Emily Bazelon for The New York Times: So The Torah is a Parenting Guide? Wendy Mogel, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Timeless Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children Special thanks to our listener Michelle for suggesting this topic! Do you have an idea for an upcoming episode? Leave us a comment below, send us an email, or click the Speakpipe on the right-hand edge of our website to leave us a voice message. This week’s episode is brought to you by Barkbox. Barkbox is a monthly surprise of dog toys, treats and goodies. Amy’s kids absolutely loved helping Marshmallow choose among the many delights in her “Knights of the Hound Table” themed shipment. What Fresh Hell listeners can get a free Barkbox when signing up for a 6 or 12-month plan (and support our podcast!) by using our special code: barkbox.com/laughing.       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 07, 2018
Mean Girls (with guest author Katie Hurley)
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Mean girls: they’re a thing, and sometimes it’s *our* girls being the bullies. Experts agree that girls exhibit “relational aggression”  more than boys do, and  girls are also more deeply upset by it. Even more worrisome: mean-girl behavior used to start in junior high; now it starts in pre-K. Fear not: we’ve got tons of useful advice in this episode, particularly in our interview with Katie Hurley,  author of the just-published book No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls. There is hope! As Katie explained: “Our daughters are not destined to repeat the things that happened to us… especially if we are talking to them about being empathic and being compassionate.” Start sooner than you think: Katie says the sweet spot for impacting your girl’s friendship skills is ages 8-10. Here’s links to some other research and resources discussed in this episode: A Way Through, a site created by female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner, helps girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships Kelly Wallace for CNN: How Not to Raise a Mean Girl Our sponsor this week is Erin Condren, creator of the fully customizable Life Planner.  Choose your layouts, your extra pages, your colors, your cover. We love the look of everything this mom-owned business makes and we think you will too. Start designing your planner– and support our podcast at the same time!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 31, 2018
Go-To Dinners
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What makes a “go-to dinner”? One pot is good. 30 minutes or less is better. But we’ll use every cookie sheet and pot in the house if it’s 1) not pizza and 2) all of our kids will actually eat it.  Here’s links to all of our own go-to recipes that we discuss in this episode, plus the ones our listeners swear by:  Margaret’s Go-To Dinners  Beef Empanadas  (use refrigerated pie crust for the dough) Green Soup (Margaret adds chicken) Slow Cooker Pork Shoulder Savory Muffins and, believe it or not, Lobster Thermidor (Lego Batman’s favorite, natch) Amy’s Go-To Dinners Roasted Broccoli with Shrimp (ten minutes, one pan. If you don’t have the spices, skip em.) Sheet Pan Fajitas Taco Night (this is a super-easy recipe from Laura Fuentes) Our Listeners’ Child-Approved Meals Rebecca’s Loaded Potato Soup Mollie’s Chickpea Tikka Masala Diane’s Asian Noodles (kudos to this brilliant bit of improvisation): and Nancy’s Spanish Rice (thanks, Amy’s mom!) Here’s some of our favorite places to get go-to dinner inspiration : Amy’s sister loves the  Weelicious website Margaret’s favorite cookbook: America’s Test Kitchen: The Best Simple Recipes Amy’s favorite recipe app: Treehouse Table And our new obsession! Our podcast’s latest sponsor: HelloFresh. HelloFresh delivers weekly recipes and fresh ingredients straight to your doorstep. Last night Amy made their Veggie-Loaded Orzo with Sausage. Margaret and her husband made the Chicken Cheddar Fajitas. People, they were devoured. No planning, no shopping, no complaining. We are huge fans! We think you should try HelloFresh for your family-and you can get $30 off your first HelloFresh delivery by going to  hellofresh.com and entering the code mother30. What’s your go-to dinner? Tell us in the comments or on our Facebook page!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 24, 2018
Sick Day Hacks
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One day out of school? Fine, here’s the remote. But by day four of a low-grade temp— just enough to keep the kid home— most parents get rather desperate for ideas. We are both unfortunate experts on the topic of kids’ sick days, and in this episode we discuss    what you should already have around the house in anticipation of those “Mommy, I don’t feel well” moments  how to decide if your kid is really sick enough to stay home  why sick days are not the time to introduce a new skill  how kids will act better before they report feeling better  why even sick days need a semblance of a schedule  the importance of “blank-facing”  and why we must always beware secondary gain. Here’s links to some research and articles with great ideas for sick-day kids that we discuss: Devon Corneal for Real Simple: 16 Clever Ways To Entertain a Child Who’s Home Sick Parenting Magazine: Activities for Kids on Sick Days Stephanie Morgan for Momtastic: 10 Activities When Sickness Has You Stuck At Home Carrie McBride for Apartment Therapy: 5 Survival Tips for Being Sick at Home from NPR: Should My Slightly Sick Child Stay Home? The Rules Often Conflict and most importantly, this sobering read, from Heather Murphy for the New York Times: Fish Depression is Not a Joke Want to help a sick kid in the hospital who is really super-bored? Donate a LEGO set to Sam’s LEGO Drive! One of our favorite sick day hacks? Audible. (Amy’s daughter has listened to three Harry Potters and the entire Incorrigible Children series, saving her mother’s sanity while she listens.) Get your 30-day free trial at audibletrial.com/whatfreshhell- and help support our podcast at the same time!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 16, 2018
What is Up With Toddlers?
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Have you a short fat dictator in your home? Do you cower before a 24-pound child demanding pizza– no, not THAT kind of pizza! the other kind, the kind she likes NOW, which apparently has neither sauce nor cheese?  What is *UP* with toddlers?  In this episode we discuss    * why toddlers’ tantrums may have, at least at one time, been biologically necessary  why taking your toddler’s french toast sticks away makes him feel like he’s suddenly swimming alone in open ocean  how expecting a toddler to be “magically cute” is extremely problematic  why, if you really must ice-skate with a toddler, you must always, always take your own skates off first    And here’s links to some fascinating research, helpful tips, and funny toddler stuff we reference:  Kate Gammon for Popular Science: Birth Of Memory: Why Kids Forget What Happened Before Age 7 Patrick Sauer for Fatherly: What’s Going On Inside A Toddler’s Brain, According To Science Alison Gopnik’s TED talk: What Do Babies Think? Mo Willems and his perfect description of how a toddler goes “boneless” Toddlerography with James Corden and Jennifer Lopez …and from England’s First Steps Research, a study indicating that a toddler’s daily caloric output is the equivalent of going 83 rounds in a boxing ring. This episode also features our interview with Heather Spohr, co-author of the new book The Toddler Survival Guide: Complete Protection From the Whiny Unfed. Spohr’s book is hilarious *and* has practical advice (our favorite combo) for surviving the inevitable onslaught of the Toddler Apocalypse in your own household. Take heart, and plan ahead.         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 10, 2018
We’re Feeling Goal-y (Our Resolutions for the New Year)
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It’s a new year, and we’ve got goals. Some of them are perhaps the same as last year, but Margaret says that 2018 is all about Widening the Window of Acceptability. Isn’t that a lovely notion? If redefined to include regular ambulatory activity, “get in shape” might indeed be something we accomplish this year. Either way, we are here to *win 2018*, whether through Amy’s Word For the Year (“Clarify”) or Margaret’s Phrase For These Times (“Say Yes to Less”).  In this episode we both agree to avoid the Cookie Committee, or whatever it is we really don’t want to get roped into this year, by taking Brené Brown’s advice of choosing discomfort over resentment. Here’s what else one or both of us hereby swears to do on the record in this episode: * read more books (Margaret says she’ll read 30 in 2018) * drink two glasses of water with lemon every morning (okay this one might be just Amy) * meditate * organize kid-free time * soften into with-kids time * dock our phones in the kitchen at night Here’s links to some other sources of inspiration discussed in this episode: for stuck creatives: Jon Acuff’s book  Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done for those in a tough moment: David Foster Wallace’s  “This is Water” for those of us who tend to conflate busy-ness with worthiness: this clip of Joan Rivers from “A Piece of Work” to make meditation easier: the Headspace app to read more articles instead of your Facebook feed: the Pocket app What are your 2018 goals? We want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments!           Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 03, 2018
What is Up With Teenagers?
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One day you have a munchkin who yes, gets up at 6 a.m. and survives on only the outside of chicken nuggets, but who also calls you “Mommy” and makes you valentines.  The next day you have a grunting giant who sleeps until noon, eats entire loaves of bread at a sitting, and communicates with you exclusively through text messages even when in an adjacent room.  Congratulations! You’re the parent of a teenager!  In this episode, we discuss just what exactly is up with teenagers, including    getting over the weirdness of disciplining someone who is taller than you are  * how teens today are physically safer, but psychologically more at risk  how when you have a teenager who is a boy you will be literally the last to know anything  how to let your teen feel like she’s getting away with something while still keeping her within the bounds of what you consider safe    Here’s links to a must-read and some useful teen-handling tools we discuss  Dr. Jean Twenge for The Atlantic: Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? We also recommend following Dr. Twenge on Twitter if teens and screens concerns you (as they really probably should) Amy swears by Sneaker Balls  to make life in a home with two teens bearable for all concerned. Amy also recommends using an app like Tiny Cards to bone up on whatever your teen really wants to talk about, whether it’s NBA players, types of Pokémon, or Star Wars ships. Dazzle your teen with your sudden kaleidoscopic knowledge! We also had the great pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jess Shatkin, author of the new book Born to Be Wild: Why Teens Take Risks, and How We Can Help Keep Them Safe. Dr. Shatkin explained to us how teenagers are hard-wired to take risks, and why “scaring them straight” doesn’t discourage them in the least. But don’t despair– this book has useful and specific takeaways, and we’re giving away a copy to a lucky listener who is brave enough to share one of her own (perhaps regrettable) teen photos! Come visit us on our Facebook page and post one of your teen photos- we’ll be choosing a winner at random to receive a copy of Born to Be Wild. Here’s another tip for living with teenagers: label absolutely everything. This week’s sponsor, Label Your Stuff, means you have at least a fighting chance of seeing that $75  hoodie again. Shop their stuff- and support our show- with this special code: https://bit.ly/freshlabel.          Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 20, 2017
BONUS! What Fresh Hell Live
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This week’s *bonus* episode is a recording of our first live show! On December 1st, more than four hundred of you showed up at the Chappaqua Performing Arts Center for “What Fresh Hell LIVE!” A few brave husbands were also in attendance; they were moved to the safety of the “Men Pen” for their own protection. (Scotch was served.) The show was such a hit that we can’t wait to do it again. So we are now booking dates for 2018! We’re talking local theaters, school groups, PTAs, fundraisers, moms’ nights out. If you’d like to talk to us about bringing What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood to come to your hometown in 2018, drop us an email at info@whatfreshhellpodcast.com. Special thanks to SheBee Jewelry, the sponsor of our very first What Fresh Hell LIVE! SheBee jewelry adds a touch of chic to elevate the everyday. Get a little something for your mom, your sister, your babysitter– or get some ideas for your own letter to Santa–  at shebee.com and get 15% off with code FRESH. Thank you to Chad David Kraus Photography for the fabulous photos!             Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 13, 2017
Bedtime Routines
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Bedtime routines: whether your kid is six weeks or sixteen, PLEASE tell us they have one.  A 2009 study in Sleep magazine found that bedtime routines- regardless of what they even were- improved not only children’s sleep but “maternal mood” as well. That’s right: do it for you. In this episode, we break down bedtimes by age groups and offer solutions to getting to lights-out a little sooner, discussing topics including * when to start sleep training * why under-rested kids have even more trouble falling asleep * why routines are important even for babies * why older kids should be allowed to establish their own bedtime routines, even if their individually tucking in eighteen separate stuffed animals makes YOU a little crazy * the importance of introducing dark and silent sleep spaces at an early age * why Margaret goes by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to “Brush, Book, Bed” Here’s links to some articles and studies discussed in this episode: webMD: How Much Sleep Do Children Need?  Parents: How to Develop Bedtime Routines Deena Blanchard for Momtastic: How To Stick To Your Kid’s Bedtime Routine Tim Herrera for NYT Smarter Living: Feeling Groggy? Here’s How to Stop Robbing Yourself of Sleep For parents of teenagers, this 2017 study from Sleep Health is fascinating reading: it suggests the more face-to-face interactions adolescents have (as opposed to screen time), the higher their “sleep efficiency.” For infants and toddlers, we think Dr. Harvey Karp has the best advice and we recommend his books highly…   And if your grade-schooler has a hard time falling asleep, Amy swears by Audible- her fourth grader listens to books on tape every night (on a sleep timer!) Use our link to get a free trial: audibletrial.com/whatfreshhell. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 06, 2017
Mom Friends- How to Make Them, How To Keep Them
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Do you go on a moms’ night out and talk about … your kids? Does morning dropoff chit-chat feel  like a middle school cafeteria?  In this episode we talk about deepening bonds with your mom friends, and keeping those relationships going when your kids graduate from whatever preschool or karate class brought you together in the first place.  In this episode, we discuss:    how to make the leap from a “mom chat” to a mom friend  whether you have to be a phone talker to be a good mom friend (Amy hopes not)  what to do when it’s your third kid and you’re plumb out of friend-making bandwidth  the Bechdel test and its useful application to your mom-friend conversations (if you don’t know “Bobby’s mom’s” first name, try harder) imposter syndrome, sadly universal in the mom friend world what to do when your kids don’t want to be friends anymore but you still like each other how to maintain your relationships with friends who aren’t parents (remember them?) We love this advice from Darcy Shapiro for Scary Mommy: “How Making Mom Friends Feels Just Like Dating” A wise friend once told me about the rule of threes- that is, she always makes sure when she likes someone (male, female, friend or date), she makes a point of hanging out with that person three times in quick succession, thereby never letting the momentum lull. After three times, a level of comfort is generally established whereby it becomes acceptable once again to take things for granted and get lazy. I fully ascribe to this strategy.   If you’re looking for another great parenting podcast, check out Joyful Courage. Hosted by Casey O’Roarty, Joyful Courage is a “conscious parenting podcast” featuring real talk with parenting experts designed to support, inspire and inform those of us on the parent journey. Casey believes our kids choose us, and that the challenges they present us with are exactly the challenges we need. How’s that for perspective?        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 22, 2017
Small Town vs Big City (with guest host Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour)
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City versus country (versus the great strip-mall in-between): where’s the best place to raise your kids? Amy hashes it out with guest host Meagan Francis, founder of the Life Listened podcast network and co-host of The Mom Hour, one of the top parenting podcasts on iTunes! For the other half of this Host Swap, our very own Margaret Ables is talking Regional Parenting Differences with The Mom Hour’s Sarah Powers this week. Give it a listen in your podcast app or right here: If The Mom Hour isn’t on your podcast subscription list yet, it’s about to be! In our own What Fresh Hell episode, Amy and Meagan discuss differences between big-city and small-town living like: * kids’ sports * academics * diversity * independence * culture * peer-led play time * minivans with trunks * high school interviews * friendships * basements, the lack thereof being perhaps the largest drawback of city parenting life. As Andrew Cotto put it in the New York Times:   …any movement is mitigated by the fact that we have neighbors downstairs who don’t want to live below the circus. “Please stop jumping” is the sentence I repeat more than any other while at home. Where are you raising your kids… and does it have more benefits or drawbacks? Tell us in the comments!   Check out primary.com for adorable basics for babies and kids that are sparkle, slogan, and sports team-free. Just stylish basics in vibrant colors! Get 20% off your first order by going to https://bit.ly/primaryfresh.         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 08, 2017
Is This Battle Worth Fighting?
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A couple weeks ago, we asked our friends on our Facebook page to tell us what battles they’re currently fighting in their homes— or choosing not to. As we all know, there are some parenting buttons our children push that are perhaps best left ignored. Then there are dishes left in the sink instead of the immediately adjacent dishwasher, which we believe we have no choice but to interpret as a spouse’s call to arms. In this episode we decide once and for forevermore which of the following battles are worth fighting: * messy playrooms * messy kids’ rooms * food outside the kitchen * co-sleeping children * co-sleeping pets * matching outfits (for school, church, family weddings) * shorts in the winter * picky eating * hats at the dinner table * saying “like” like, every third word Even if a battle is worth— let’s say “skirmishing”— there are more and less productive ways of making your point, and in this episode we lay out what does and doesn’t work for us. We also love Stephanie Dolgoff’s article for Parenting: How To Choose Your Battles. Stephanie suggests creating a short “family-values list” of non-negotiable points (like no name-calling) in a non-confrontational moment. And when all else fails, don’t be afraid to compromise. As Stephanie writes, “When [your kids] see you work out what’s really important, they learn how to work out for themselves what’s really important.” See that? Choose your battles, and you just might win a few. This episode is brought to you by Pip & Grow, makers of the Smitten Sleep System for babies. Inspired by the Finnish tradition, the durable and lightweight Smitten is ready to go wherever your infant goes. You can assemble the Smitten in five minutes or less— no cursing required!– and the Smitten meets all of the safe sleep recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Use the code “FRESH” to get $10 off a Woodland Smitten. (That’s the gray baby box with the cute deer silhouette and birch pattern.) Find out more at pipandgrow.com— and tell them we sent you!         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 25, 2017
The Homework Slog
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Do our kids have too much homework? Yup. Agreed. But since moving to a yurt and living off the grid may not be an option for your family, here’s how to make the homework slog a little quicker and less painful at your house. Perhaps even tear-free. (We can dream.)    In this episode we discuss    whether the kitchen table is an acceptable homework location (one of us says yes)  whether you– or your kid– should be checking the nifty new school website with every assignment listed  (one of us says no)  how to help your older kids ignore the distractions of the internet when most of their homework– and many of their textbooks– are online  how to invent a system that supports your kid… and then back away from the oversight    Our favorite advice on this topic (besides our own) is from KJ Dell’Antonia, who provided these “three cardinal rules of homework” in her most recent newsletter: 1. It’s not yours. 2. What kids learn from homework is rarely on the worksheet. 3. You don’t want to make tonight’s homework better. You want to make ALL the homework better. Here’s links to some other advice and research discussed in this episode: KJ Dell’Antonia (she’s good at this) for NYT Motherlode: Creating a Homework Habit Bruce Feiler for the NYT: The Homework Squabbles The Learning Habit Study (American Journal of Family Therapy) The Learning Habit: A Groundbreaking Approach to Homework and Parenting by Dr Stephanie Donaldson Pressman  With this episode we celebrate our podcast’s first birthday! Thanks to all of you who listen, laugh, and tell your friends. It’s been a wonderful first year for us and we look forward to continuing the conversation! This episode is brought to you by SheBee Jewelry. Women who wear SheBee (like us) love to express an individual sense of style. SheBee jewelry adds a touch of chic to elevate the everyday. Get a little something for yourself— or create some hints you can not so subtly drop for your next birthday– at shebee.com and get 15% off with code FRESH.        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 11, 2017
Pets - Worst Idea Ever?
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Should your family get a pet? Heavens, no. Take it from two extremely reluctant pet owners of the cat, dog, and fish variety.  Okay, pets have upsides: their cute little faces. Their tolerating humiliating headdresses. But there are downsides as well, and in this episode we elaborate them for you in enough detail that you will vow never, ever to cave to your children’s demands for a pet.  Barring that, we hope you will at least consult our extremely useful Pet Matrix in order to balance your future pet’s fun-to-hassle ratio.    In this episode we discuss    why getting a pet will not, despite popular sentiment, make an animal lover out of you if you’re not one already  why you should or should not let your kids pick the pet’s name  how you, once you have a pet, will either travel less, travel differently, or have to find a relative with “pet bandwidth”  why you shouldn’t get a hamster cause you can’t handle a dog  why birds are an absolutely not    Here’s some useful links for further reading on the topic:  from Lifehacker: Where To Start When You’ve Decided You Want a Dog (first step: “Make sure you’re sure.”) from PetFinder: How Much a Dog Costs Per Year from The Orlando Sentinel: Study Says Cats Would Kill You If They Were Bigger Are you a doting pet owner? A absolutely not-er? A slowly-being-beaten-down-by-clamoring-children holdout? Tell us in the comments!   This episode is brought to you by PastBook. With PastBook, you can make gorgeous hardcover photo books of your Facebook or Instagram feeds in seriously one click. (And you know that’s where you put all your best photos already.) PastBook does the photo arranging and can also include the captions from your feed as part of each photo. To get started, go to pastbook.com/fresh.        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 27, 2017
Conquering Clutter
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America has 3% of the world’s kids… and 40% of the world’s toys. We’ve got clutter, right here in River City. In our opinion the best decluttering advice, from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, is to “slow the accumulation of new possessions.” In other words, don’t let all that junk in the front door in the first place. But assuming your household missed that memo— as ours both have— in this episode we discuss: * non-vehicular nonsense * our kids’ anxiety about purging toys, even long-forgotten ones * the personal blind spots we have when clutter-clearing (Margaret has T-shirts from HIGH SCHOOL) * the procrastination-enabling, problem-compounding reality of owning a storage unit * the great unused potential of the back of your closet doors * why the roasting pan you use once a year can become your toy room’s greatest strategy * the surprisingly plausible “super-fun cleaning party” Amy organizes a little bit at a time; she thinks emptying a junk drawer a day is the key to a tidy home.  Margaret says her house is way beyond the help afforded by cleaning out her makeup bag on a Tuesday afternoon. But wherever you lie on the clutter continuum, this episode is full of ideas for eating that elephant. One delicious bite at a time. Here’s some links to research and resources discussed in this episode: * the UCLA social science study in 2012 that shows our collective clutter-induced doom: Life at Home in the 21st Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors * “low self-worth apparel”  as defined by creativity guru Julia Cameron * the “decluttering burst,” from  Courtney Carver of Be More With Less * the “30 Day Declutter Challenge,” from Liz Neiman of the Love and Marriage Blog * from Beth Teitel for the Boston Globe: Today’s Families are Prisoners of Their Own Clutter This episode is brought to you by Blinkist, which distills the best takeaways of popular non-fiction into 15- minute “blinks” you can listen to or read while you’re on the go. Check out decluttering “blinks” like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside Out with our special code: http://bit.ly/freshblinkist.      Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Sep 13, 2017
Finding Good Babysitters
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[sgmb id=”1″]  Babysitters: whether you have a full-time nanny or a college kid two Saturday nights a month, finding and maintaining good childcare is an ongoing process.  You find someone your kids adore– but he’s graduating this year and moving to Southeast Asia. You have someone your kids used to adore, but she has no idea how to help with 5th grade math homework (we mean, who among us does).  As your needs shift, so does the sort of childcare you’re looking for– but doing the right groundwork on the way in can prevent starting all over again in a month.  In this episode we discuss:    * whether Margaret’s “fog on a mirror test” is an effective way to choose a caregiver  * the virtues of a “someone at home, someone on the move” system  * heeding the warning signs that someone is not working out, even if they were once terrific  * why you should check a caregiver’s social media as part of your research  * the three types of caregivers as laid out by Tammy Gold, in her book Secrets of the Nanny Whisperer   SUPER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: What Fresh Hell LIVE! Friday 12/1/17  at 8 pm Chappaqua Performing Arts Center, Chappaqua, NY Tickets $18.50! Grab your mom friends and come laugh with us.  Tickets available here: https://bit.ly/WFHlive         Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 30, 2017
Back to School
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[sgmb id=”3″]      Back to school: while some psychologists say we parents must “maintain a positive attitude about summer ending,” we say the end of summer sucks for all concerned and we might as well admit it. Do you try to impose some order on the countdown to school in your house? Or do you just run hard until the night before and take the pain all at once? As the first back-to-school photos creep into our Facebook feeds, these are the questions we are here to answer.   In this episode we discuss: * back to school shopping * the batching of unpleasantness (haircuts, dentist appointments) into those last precious moments of freedom * all the summer reading and math sheets our kids haven’t done yet * how we really better start moving bedtime a little earlier now * and the one great upside: the return of “Mom office hours” Here’s some links to resources discussed in this episode: * Meghan Leahy for Washington Post On Parenting: 4 Ways to Ease the Back-to-School Transition  * Bethany Hardy for PBS.org: Back to School: Transitioning Your Family From Summer to School How are you managing the back-to-school transition? Join us on our Facebook page and show us your happy (or not so much) back-to-schoolers! We’re proud to be sponsored by SmartyPants Vitamins. SmartyPants makes a 1-for-1 nutrient grant to Vitamin Angels , which helps expectant mothers and children around the world get the life-changing nutrients they need. That means that every bottle of SmartyPants you buy improves your children’s health– and the health of children around the world. And SmartyPants has just passed the four million mark: 4.2 million women and children helped! Find out more here.              Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 16, 2017
Birthday Parties – If You Must
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Birthday parties: must we really? Every kid, every year? Can we skip the goody bags? Can we ban slumber parties now and forever? Is it possible to spend less than four figures on a fete for a four-year-old?  In this episode we discuss ways to make birthday parties easier:    stopping “The Great Crap Exchange” (Margaret will die on this hill)  how to manage size of your guest list  the right budget for a party  (with special dispensation for parties in the winter)  the crucial-ness of the backup activity  how Etsy can make your kid’s party Pinterest-worthy for less than a trip to Party City    In the end, it’s Mom’s loving effort that will be remembered more than the result. Right? Amy sure hopes so, because this is the LEGO birthday cake she made for her 8-year-old (stop laughing)      and here is the Lightning McQueen cake Margaret made once (SHOW OFF).    Here’s some interesting/helpful/horrifying links to further reading on this topic:    more on Amy’s horrible baking skills but also the time she threw a kick-ass LEGO birthday party * Sarah Zhang for The Atlantic:  Blowing Out Birthday Candles Increases Cake Bacteria by 1,400 Percent * baby Leo pees on his first birthday cake * Parents Drop $40,000 For Toddler’s Birthday * Rookie Moms: 5 Tips for a Cheaper Third Birthday Party Thanks to everyone who entered our SmartyPants Vitamins giveaway on our Facebook page! Your birthday party worsts were truly horrible- so bad we turned them all into haikus.  In addition to featuring them in this episode,  we’ll be sharing them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram over the next two weeks, with identities obscured to protect the innocent. The winner of a SmartyPants Vitamins Family Pack, including their Men’s, Women’s, and Children’s multivitamins, is Heather! Enjoy some #smartyhealth!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Aug 02, 2017
How Old Is Old Enough?
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Every parent has a “how old is old enough to” question about her kids that keeps her biting her fingernails. And as soon as one of those questions is resolved, a new one crops up. This seems to us a parenting challenge that gets harder, not easier, as our kids get older.    So we asked our listeners: what’s the “how old is old enough to…” question you’re currently struggling with at your house?    In this episode we discuss (and attempt to decide for the rest of eternity) how old is old enough to:    walk to school  go home alone from school  babysit younger siblings  ride bikes around neighborhood  get a phone (here we both advise what our friend Ann calls the “StarTac 3000 approach”)  go on a date    and more.  Our listener Donna says the answer to all of these questions is probably 12, what she views as the “golden age of responsibility.” But she then adds the caveat that her kids are 6 and 7, so that’s a bit hypothetical on her part. Donna, we’re here to tell you: all 12-year-olds are not created equal.  And our Country Mouse and City Mouse lifestyles dictate different answers to these questions, as well. Margaret’s kids walk home from school alone before they’ve lost all their baby teeth; Amy’s kids have to go through puberty first.  In the end, of course the answer to any of these questions is “it depends,” and there are no right answers for all kids– only *your* kid. But in this episode, we lay out the factors that should and shouldn’t be part of your calculations (what definitely needs to be left out: what judgy moms will think of you).  Some reading on the topic:    Marion Franck: What You Need to Know About 6-Foot Trick-or-Treaters Lenore Skenazy’s freerangekids.com Exercise From the Dark Side, Margaret’s son’s YouTube genius-ness this New York Times article, which argues that when it comes to smartphones, later is better. This episode is brought to you by SmartyPants Vitamins! Do you love good ingredients, great taste and good works all-in-one? Do you loathe vitamin-y aftertastes and fish burps? Then SmartyPants is the multivitamin for you! They’re packed with multivitamins plus omega-3 fish oils, and stuff like extra vitamin D for the kids, and folic acid for moms. Best of all, for every bottle sold SmartyPants makes a 1-for-1 nutrient grant to Vitamin Angels, helping expectant mothers and children in impoverished communities in fifty countries get the life-changing nutrients they need. Go to smartypantsvitamins.com and use the code SUMMER25 to get 25% off a bottle of Kids Complete Cherry Berry! Code valid through 7/31/17.                 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 19, 2017
Vacationing with Kids- What to Pack?
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Rule one of vacationing with kids: don’t vacation with kids.  Oh, your tickets are already purchased? Then you’d better stock up on Ziploc bags. (Take it from a mother who’s needed a few.)  We asked our listeners on our Facebook page for their packing essentials and got dozens of responses. In this episode we dig through them all– and also discuss what might be better off left behind. Here’s links to a few resources we discuss in the episode: SeatGuru, for checking your in-flight entertainment options before you get to the airport (although Rule Two of Vacationing with Kids is: Always Have a Backup). WorkFlowy, for easy packing-list-making. Do it once, keep it forever. Amazon Video and Netflix apps, both of which offer downloadable content (h/t to The Mom Hour: don’t start downloading fifteen minutes before you leave for the airport!) Don’t head off for your summer vacation until you listen! Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments! Looking for the perfect gift for an anniversary, big birthday, baby shower, wedding, graduation, you name it? A Boombox is an absolutely beautiful keepsake box filled with custom designed and printed photos and messages of love from friends and family. It’s the ultimate DIY gift for anyone with a big heart who hates scrapbooking. Be a hero! Give a Boombox! Shop the collection of gorgeous boxes at www.boomboxgifts.com, and use the code podcast for 10 bucks off at checkout!        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jul 05, 2017
Does Messy Matter?
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Does messy matter? In our kids’ rooms, in our front halls, in our kitchens?  We’re not talking about hoarder-level mess; we’re talking about the tendency toward entropy and chaos in any house with multiple children who play two travel sports and/or bring home backpacks brimming with loose slips of paper every afternoon.  Margaret’s house is pretty messy, and that stresses her out.  Amy’s house is pretty neat, but keeping things that way stresses her out.  In this episode, we talk about how to manage both our household chaos and our expectations around it. We discuss:    why keeping the toy room too neat may stifle your children’s creativity  the value of a decorative box  the importance of (once in a while) going “back to one”  why making beds is either the most important thing you can do OR the biggest waste of a daily minute    Here’s links to some further reading on the topic that we also discuss in this episode:  Laura Vanderkam: The Magic in a Messy Playroom Alison Gerber for Apartment Therapy: Dirty Little Secrets of Tidy Families Gretchen Rubin: Drowning in Clutter? Observe the One-Minute Rule also Gretchen Rubin:  what she’s found to be the most popular happiness-making resolution ABC News: Study Says Tidy or Messy Environment Can Impact Decisions and Behavior Lauren Cunningham for Her View From Home: I Keep a Clean House. Can We Still Be Friends? We want to hear from YOU for an upcoming episode! What’s the “how old is old enough to…” question you’re struggling with at your house?  Maybe it’s how old is old enough to get a phone… or how old is old enough to babysit…. or how old is old enough to walk home from school alone. Tell us in the comments- or click on the gray microphone on the right sidebar and leave us a Speakpipe message! (photograph by Sue Barr)       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 21, 2017
When To Let Kids Quit
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Out of all the things we stress about as parents, whether to let our seven-year-olds quit the violin seems like it shouldn’t matter that much. If they wouldn’t have made first chair in the Vienna Symphony anyhow, what difference does it make?  But letting our kids quit— or making them tough it out— gets at the very crux of parenting: pushing our kids enough, but not too much. Directing their young lives, but letting them find their own paths.  In this episode we discuss:    the crucial difference between quitting and “non-re-upping”  the importance of “dabble-level” activities for little kids  finding the “less-intense alternative” for older kids  the times that it’s okay to let kids quit  the times that you need to push them through. As Dr. Angela Duckworth, the esteemed “grit” researcher, put it: “Don’t let them quit on a hard day.”    Here’s links to some further reading (and some viewing) on the topic, most of which we discuss in this episode:  Nina Sovich for WSJ: When To Let Children Quit Delia Lloyd for Brain, Child: Should You Let Your Child Quit? Amy Wilson (!) for New York Family: Finding the Optimal Push KJ Dell’Antonia for NYT Well Family: Raising a Child with Grit Can Mean Letting Her Quit Melaina Juntti for Men’s Journal: Six Signs Your Kid Should Quit a Sport Angela Duckworth: Grit: Perseverance and Passion for Long-Term Goals HBO’s documentary State of Play: Trophy Kids This episode is sponsored by Blinkist. Read all those non-fiction books you’ve been meaning to get to in 15-minute “Blinks” on your laptop or phone. You can read, listen– or both! What Fresh Hell listeners can try Blinkist for free at bit.ly/WFHblinkist. Keep leaving us those ratings and reviews on iTunes— you’re helping our audience grow. Thanks!        Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jun 07, 2017
Yelling Less
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When it comes to mom-yelling we hold these truths to be self-evident: never yelling is not possible; less yelling is desirable.  Let’s be real: there are times when every parent’s got to yell. Here’s how Lisa Belkin put it in The New York Times: When all else fails, a few claps of oral thunder certainly show that Mom or Dad has had it, that humans can be pushed just so far, and this is what it looks like when you’ve pushed them too much. But although we might agree that a little bit of hollering has its place, we’d both like to do less yelling in our homes, due to two other unavoidable parenting truths: • The more you yell, the more you have to yell. • The more you yell, the more your kids will yell. In this episode, we discuss what we yell about, and then what to do about it. There’s usually an easier solution to what you’re yelling about than yelling, or at least a quieter one. Parenting expert Carolyn Dalgiesh, author of The Sensory Child Gets Organized, calls it a “workaround for the source of tension.”  In Amy’s house, for example, an extra set of toothbrushes in the downstairs bathroom cut the morning yelling by half. And sometimes we have to face the fact that parenting without yelling takes a little more effort than parenting with. As Margaret’s sister-in-law likes to say, Really saying ‘no’ means getting off the couch. Here’s some links to other takes on the topic we discuss in this episode: Amy Wilson for Redbook: Could You Go a Week Without Yelling at Your Kids? (spoiler alert: I could not) Hilary Stout for The New York Times: For Some Parents, Shouting is the New Spanking Sue Shellenbarger for the Wall Street Journal: Talking to Your Kids After You Yell   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 24, 2017
Sibling Rivalry
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Sibling rivalry: harmless rite of passage? Or everything that made you the neurotic adult you are today?  The inevitable part of it seems clear. Dr. Ron Taffel says siblings are like lion cubs, born with an intense and innate need to tussle. But if that fighting it’s normal, it isn’t always benign. So when should a parent step in? And what works when she finally does?   Here’s some links that we discuss in this episode: *  from Anahad O’Connor for NYT Well blog: When the Bully is a Sibling * some good stop-the-quibbling advice from Dr. Sears: “ignore small, address big” * from Peter Toohey for The Atlantic: Sibling Rivalry: A History   Is the sibling in-fighting driving you batty at your house? Did you survive some memorable squabbling in your own childhood home? Tell us in the comments!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
May 10, 2017
Mom Worsts
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In this episode, Amy and Margaret advocate for their own lists of Mom Worsts, and discuss:  —whether that most classic of Mom Worst plagues— lice— can even compare to the daily, unending hell of preparing three meals per day  —whether Flat Stanley (insert your child’s own anthropomorphized “classroom mascot” here) is perhaps the worst thing ever imposed upon motherhood, or if the pinewood derby is even worse  —whether the “All-Family Stomach Flu” is the absolute worst Mom Worst of all (spoiler alert: when Margaret says she will not go into details – DO NOT BELIEVE HER)  Only one link this week: Amy’s own Mom Worst, as told to Parenting Magazine:  An Aerial Disaster: One Mom’s Tale of Flying Solo with Her Three Children Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 26, 2017
Summer Plans
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Here’s what all parents can agree upon: Summer need not be another Christmas, one lasting for three full months. It’s okay- actually, it’s imperative– for our kids to be a little bit bored.  The trick is to find the right balance between your kids having too much to do and nothing at all to do. Back in the 70s, kids could go outside after breakfast and basically ride their bikes until it got dark. But these days, if you want your kids to have the opportunity for unstructured fun, you have to structure their summers. A little.  In this episode, we talk about:    * how summer is for formative experiences- as long as said experiences are at least somewhat formed by the kids  * why summer is designed for your kids to do things differently than they do during the school year  * the virtues of Camp Grandma  * whatever happened to summer jobs for teens? While half of teens had summer jobs in the 1980s (including us— hello, Baskin Robbins?) less than one-third do now, according to a Pew Research survey (link below)  * the summer slide: how to fight it without ruining everyone’s every single day  * how we as a people must fight against the great shrinking summer. In Putnam County, Tennessee, the school year now starts on July 23rd. Stop the madness!  * Why Margaret is just completely, fundamentally opposed to physics camp Here’s some links to two nifty products, and reading on some issues we discuss in this episode: Schoolhouse Rock: Multiplication Classroom Education (DVD) The Math Bus: Multiplication and Addition (CD) from Kingswood Camp: The Value of Down Time from Scholastic: 3 Ways To Prevent Summer Slide from Pew Research: The Fading of the Teen Summer Job from Time: American Teens Are Not Getting Summer Jobs by Daphne Sashin for CNN: Back To School: Why August is the New September by Marjorie Ingall for Tablet: Phineas and Ferb: Dynamic Duo Is your summer too short? Too long? Do you dread your kids’ long lazy days ahead? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!       Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Apr 12, 2017
Birth Order- Parenting Each Child Best (More or Less)
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The study of birth order— how one’s placement amongst siblings can shape one’s personality— began in 1874, when Charles Darwin’s cousin noticed that eldest sons were overrepresented as members of the Royal Society.  In other words, sibling rivalry is survival of the fittest, playing out in real time right at your dinner table. Some say that assigning personality traits to an only child or a middle child is like reading a horoscope—the traits are vague enough it’s easy to assign them to anyone. But we are firm believers in the power of birth order. Amy is the oldest of six and annoys all those around her with her insistent list-making. Margaret is third out of four, and she says her car keys have to be around here somewhere. Recognizing the strength of these roles in our families is important because we can work against them— or inadvertently reinforce them— with how we parent. In this episode you’ll find out:   * why oldest siblings love rules * why middle siblings are more able to change their minds * why younger siblings are such smooth talkers * how your own birth order affects what kind of parent you are   And we also talk about:   * how to tap the brakes on your oldest child’s intensity * why you should give your middle child the power of small-decision-making * why you should resist intervening on the youngest child’s behalf   We can’t fully counteract the influence of these familial roles— nor should we, they’re not THAT big a deal— but awareness is a good thing. Let the middle kid pick what’s for dinner once in a while.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 29, 2017
Helping Kids Deal with Disappointment
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[sgmb id=”1″]     Not to toot our own horns or anything, but when it comes to disappointment, we’ve got vast experience. Amy claims an acting career is a surefire express route to let-down expertise; Margaret claims a screenwriting career might be even more useful.  And while we’ve still turned out quite nicely, thank you, that doesn’t make it any easier when we as parents have to help our children handle disappointment.  We don’t want to coddle our kids. We know we can’t protect them from every moment of sadness and regret. But what’s the best way to help them through such moments?  Dr. Jim Taylor explains what we as parents need to focus on– and it’s not the disappointment itself:  Disappointment is a natural response to failure, but some children react to their disappointment in ways that increase the likelihood of more failure and disappointment.  In this episode, we discuss:    * why disappointments are developmentally important  * why silence is the best policy, at least during a child’s “wet cat mode”  * why “tantrums belong upstairs” is a useful household rule  * why resilience and grit may be the most important traits our children need for success  * why some kids take what Margaret calls “the brambly path,” and how to guide them (or not) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 15, 2017
Do Manners Still Matter?
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Manners have been around since at least 2300 BC, when Ptah-Hotep wrote on papyrus that one should refrain from “speaking evilly” and from staring at people. And as parents, we say manners still matter— to quote Margaret’s mother, no one likes a bratty kid. But which manners still matter? We think author Tamar Adler put it best in her “Manners Manifesto”: Perhaps the way to distinguish useful etiquette from frippery is to discern which rules help us be good rather than seem good… Whatever unites [us] merits keeping, and what divides can be folded and stored away with the linen too old and ornamental to use. Eating the food you’re served, saying please and thank you, holding the door? All that makes other people happy. So our kids should do it. Although getting them there? That’s easier said than done. In this episode we talk about   * why manners are all about context * why other people’s manners rule (even if they’re not yours) * whether it’s okay to expect (and perhaps forcefully elicit) good manners in your friends’ kids * why thank you notes suck but we have to make kids do them anyhow * why manners require constant reinforcement * why everyone should stop listening to videos in public places without headphones because that’s just absolutely the worst   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Mar 01, 2017
What To Say To Your Kids When You Don’t Have a Clue
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We average about one conversation a week, with one or other of our children, during which we are suddenly at a total loss as to what to say. Perhaps you too have had a few Tough Questions like these:  Is Santa real?  What is racism?  If I go to heaven, will my toys come too?  When answering Tough Questions like these, Amy feels that it’s important not to have innocence-ending conversations too early. She calls it “age-appropriate obfuscation.” Keep it simple, keep it reassuring.  But Margaret likes to call this approach “Say ‘Delay,’ Run Away,” and she has somewhat of a point. The Tough Questions need to be answered, and if a parent doesn’t step up, a kid might just seek out some peer education, bound to be rife with misinformation.  In this episode, we discuss    * why it’s hard to explain concepts like racism to children young enough to be unaware of it  * how to let the child lead any delicate discussion with her questions (rather than your answers)  * the power of the pause before responding  * why you should always leave a little bit left over to divulge for next time  * why we all just have to figure out the Easter Bunny back story already Here’s some of the best advice we have collected: * from Meg’s sister in law: Only answer the question you are asked. * from educator Danielle McLaughlin: “In order to actually engage our children, we need to find out what it is that they already know and what are they seeking to understand.” * from Michael Thompson, PhD: “Pausing for a moment…lets your child know you are taking him seriously.” * from PBS Parents: save a little bit of information for the next conversation on the same topic. Cause it’s coming. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 15, 2017
Dividing the Workload
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In any home, there’s the workload everyone can see: the dirty dishes, the broken crayons under the dining room table, the laundry to be folded. And in most of our homes, that workload is divided more equitably than it was in the homes where we grew up.  But then there’s the workload that lives in a parent’s head, the running list of things we hope we won’t forget: the permission slips and prescriptions. The birthday presents and batteries.  And there’s still usually just one parent who’s in charge of THAT.  And if you’re reading this right now? We’re going to guess it’s you.  In your household you’re the one that blogger Mblazoned calls “The Default Parent,”  and while we hasten to append  #notallmen to what we’re about to say… studies indicate that whether the mother works outside the home or not, all this “stuff” usually remains firmly in the mom’s pile. And it’s a big pile. We have a choice: to either change that dynamic, or leave it the way it is but stop feeling resentful about it. Margaret and me? We’re starting with the moms in the mirror. Make that change. In this episode we discuss: •how to make the “invisible workload” more visible •the power of the Sunday evening calendar meeting •why we’re going to start saying “thank you” more often •why letting go of the “why am I always the one who does everything” monologue is harder than we care to admit   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Feb 01, 2017
Are Our Kids Overscheduled?
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Are our kids overscheduled? Compared to our own childhoods, definitely. But is that necessarily a problem? And how are we, as parents, supposed to tell?  According to Dr. Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child: There is a line between a highly enriched, interesting, growth-promoting childhood and an overscheduled childhood…. and nobody knows where that line is. In this episode we are all about FINDING THAT LINE. We hash out * the myth of the overscheduled child (spoiler: it’s a myth) * why even non-scheduled time needs to be— well— scheduled * whether to let our kids decide how many extracurriculars they can handle * how loving an activity, and being stressed out by its demands, aren’t mutually exclusive ideas * how our overscheduled kids have costs for our marriages as well * how to push back against the overscheduling creep: (rage, rage against the dawn of the travel sports) * making a “priority pyramid” for your family Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 18, 2017
Mom Goals
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New year, new leaf! In this episode we’re talking “mom goals” for the coming year. Productivity guru (and mom of four) Laura Vanderkam says that “goals should be our tools, not our masters.” But since we need to set goals in the first place in order to make them achievable, we’ll take her advice, skip the feel-bad part, and kick this year’s butt.   Amy’s mom goals for this year are: * more meditation, because it makes me a happier and calmer parent.  Headspace is a great app offering a user-friendly introduction. My kids like it too. * more one-on-one time with each of my kids (and I may steal Margaret’s idea for one-on-one birthday dinners) * keep up the #devicefreedinners, and institute device-free playdates (a great idea from author Daphne Uviller) * reconnect with three old friends— and Facebook doesn’t count (from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast episode “Revive a Dormant Friendship” ) * more books, less smartphone scrolling * structure more time for my personal goals by writing them down. I got a great Christmas present— the Productivity Planner— that I love so far! Margaret’s mom goals for this year are: * get fit, and she’s not playing. She’s going to use self-help dude Keith Ferrazzi’s goal-setting system to lay out how she’ll accomplish this in the next five days, five weeks, and five months. * yell less. If she needs more advice on this topic, she might look to this foremost parenting expert quoted in this New York Times article, who prefers the word “hollering.” * set specific personal goals for the rare free non-kid-focused hours that she has. Vague goals=Candy Crush. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jan 04, 2017
Chores
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This week we’re talking about chores: do you make your kids do them? If so– how much, how frequently, and do they get paid for their troubles?  Experts say that kids’ chores are worthy in and of themselves, teaching kids things like teamwork and self-esteem. In other words, it may be worth the extra effort to wheedle your kids into loading the dishwasher, rather than just doing it yourself (even if that is WAY faster).  But in a recent survey of one thousand American adults, while 82% of them said they did chores growing up, only 28% said they make their kids do them. Time to put those wee moochers to work!   In this episode, we discuss   * how to overcome the many obstacles between assigned chores and done chores * the power of branding. Who wouldn’t want to attend a “super fun laundry party”? * chores any kid will get into doing (relatively speaking) * when pay-for-play chores are a good thing * how to let go of the perfect in order to give our kids more ownership   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 21, 2016
Handling the Holiday Craziness
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Each December 25th, most moms look at a living room full of scattered wrapping paper and vow to do less next year. Then Black Friday rolls around. But can you really downshift on how much Santa brings once a baseline has been established?  This week Amy and Margaret talk about managing the holiday craziness. (Disclaimer: for both of us, that does mean Christmas, although we feel the pain of the Hanukkah Harriets out there, we really do).  Here’s some of what’s discussed in this episode:    * how to get your kids more involved in holiday preparations— at any age  * the very appealing “three kings, three gifts” rule * how to carefully consider any new holiday “traditions” before instating them (we’re looking at you, Elf on the Shelf) * how the Laws of Holiday Attrition can work in your favor * how Amy uses this cookie recipe every December and it’s easy and amazing * what to do when your spouse gives you a Pajamagram   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Dec 07, 2016
Do Our Kids Have Too Much Homework? (Yes)
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Some experts say we’re drowning today’s kids under nightly tsunamis of homework. Others disagree— but one thing’s for sure: our kids have more homework than we did at their age. And more stress. And more “projects,” a word sure to strike terror in any mother’s heart.    In this episode, we take on homework, and discuss    * whether kindergarteners should have it in the first place  * how to avoid the nightly wailing and gnashing of teeth by setting your household’s “reasonable limits”  * whether we’re supposed to help our middle-schoolers with their assignments  * whether we are smarter than third graders (spoiler alert: sometimes)    Here’s links to some of the research discussed in this episode:    The National PTA recommends ten minutes of homework per grade: in other words, ten minutes a night for a first grader, an hour for a sixth grader. We heartily agree. Karl Taro Greenfeld, writing for The Atlantic on what happened when he tried to do his middle-school-aged daughter’s homework for a week. The University of Michigan’s study finding that the average time spent weekly on homework increased from two hours and 38 minutes in 1981 to three hours and 58 minutes in 2004. The Brookings Institute study on homework in America, arguing that the homework load has not actually gotten larger at all— except for nine-year-olds. and finally, the Texas teacher hailed across the nation after announcing she would be assigning exactly zero homework to her young students this year.   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nov 16, 2016
Screen Time
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This week’s episode is all about screen time. Given: Unlimited screen time is bad. But how much is okay? How much is too much? How do you handle the nightly battles of “But PLEASE, Mom! Just one more level!” when it’s time to unplug?  Most importantly: is it ever okay to let our kids’ brains melt just long enough to get dinner finished?  In this episode, we talk about how to limit screen time for each age group– toddlers to teens– while acknowledging that screens are an increasing part of our children’s lives, both inside the classroom and out.  Since we recorded this episode the American Academy of Pediatrics has lifted its draconian “no screens under two” rule, which we heartily agree with. Encourage parents to make good choices; don’t treat us like idiots who are incapable of exercising judgment. Really, don’t. You wouldn’t like us when we’re angry. Here’s links to other writing and products mentioned in this episode: Resources for when you’re ready to go hard-core * screenfree.org * unpluggedchallenge.com * sabbathmanifesto.org (National Day of Unplugging) * Time Timer Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 27, 2016
Helping or Helicoptering
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You just brought your kid’s forgotten lunch to school. Again. Is that helping or helicoptering?  You know overparenting when you see it— in other people. Sometimes it’s harder to gauge in yourself.  As moms go, Margaret tends toward the laissez-faire, and Amy towards the shall-we-say particularly attentive. In this episode we tease out    * our own worst bad calls on this topic  * the best question to ask yourself when you’re not sure if you’re hovering or just helping  * why you need to start letting your kids fail now    Perhaps it’s best to just keep in mind Margaret’s solemn words of advice:  When in doubt, let your children be more miserable. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 24, 2016
Your Picky Eater
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Welcome to the podcast!    Whether you call it “picky eating,” “restricted eating,” or as some pediatricians like to call it, “avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder” (ARFID)— if you’ve got more than one kid, chances are you’ve got a kid whose acceptable foodstuffs can be counted on one hand.    We’ve each dealt with a picky eater at home. Amy’s teenager has pretty much outgrown it; Margaret’s still in the thick of it with her grade schooler. So we know from picky eating, and in this episode, we discuss      * why picky eaters are NOT the result of bad parenting  * why almost every kid suddenly becomes a picky eater at about the age of two  * why picky eating can eventually get better on its own… but why we say you still gotta force the issue a little  * how to get the daily dinnertime battle for control under control  * how getting the picky eater motivated to solve the problem may be the quickest path to progress     If you have a picky eater, it’s not your fault. Leave the guilt behind and get to work! It takes time, it takes baby steps— but in this episode you’ll hear lots of ways to get started. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Oct 24, 2016