What Fresh Hell: Laughing in the Face of Motherhood

By Margaret Ables and Amy Wilson

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a comedy parenting podcast with Margaret Ables and Amy Wilson

Episode Date
How Not To Go Insane in the Winter: Episode 83
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,  […]
Dec 12, 2018
Sometimes We Lose It (with guests Heather Turgeon and Julie Wright): Episode 82
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 […]
Dec 05, 2018
Saying No When Other Parents are Saying Yes (Episode 81)
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 […]
Nov 28, 2018
Are We Oversharing On Social Media? (Episode 80)
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 […]
Nov 21, 2018
Listener Questions: Episode 79
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 […]
Nov 14, 2018
How Little Parenting Can We Get Away With? (with guest James Breakwell): Episode 78
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 […]
Nov 07, 2018
Dinosaurs and Trains and Superheroes and Nerf Guns: Boy Obsessions (Episode 77)
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 […]
Oct 31, 2018
How To Be The Teacher’s Favorite Parent: Episode 76
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 […]
Oct 24, 2018
Self-Regulation for Kids: Helping Them (And You) Deal With Tantrums- Episode 75
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 […]
Oct 17, 2018
How To Get It All Done: Time Management For Moms (with guest Jessica N. Turner): Episode 74
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 […]
Oct 10, 2018
Why 5 to 8 p.m. Is The Worst: How To Handle the After-School Crankies (Episode 73)
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 […]
Oct 03, 2018
The Right Number of Kids Is… (Episode 72)
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 […]
Sep 26, 2018
Hand-Me-Downs, Keepsakes, and Too Much Stuff: Episode 71
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 […]
Sep 19, 2018
Raising Grateful Kids: Episode 70
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 […]
Sep 12, 2018
When Mom Struggles (with guest Janelle Hanchett): Episode 69
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 […]
Sep 05, 2018
Why Are Our Kids Such Total Opposites? Episode 68
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 […]
Aug 28, 2018
How To Be a Happier Parent (with KJ Dell’Antonia): Episode 67
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 […]
Aug 22, 2018
When Kids Talk Back: Episode 66
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 […]
Aug 15, 2018
Friends Without Kids: Episode 65
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 […]
Aug 08, 2018
The Random Things We Can’t Live Without: Episode 64
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 […]
Aug 01, 2018
Are We Too Hard On Our Boys? Episode 63
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 […]
Jul 25, 2018
Helping Kids Through Transitions: Episode 62
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 […]
Jul 18, 2018
How Not To Live Through Our Kids: Episode 61
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 […]
Jul 11, 2018
The Mothers We Swore We’d Never Be: Episode 60
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 […]
Jul 04, 2018
Should Dads Get Graded on a Curve? Episode 59
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: […]
Jun 27, 2018
Vacationing With Kids- What Works: Episode 58
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 […]
Jun 20, 2018
Stuff Our Spouses Do Way Better Than We Do: Episode 57
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 […]
Jun 13, 2018
Princesses (If You Must): Episode 56
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 […]
Jun 06, 2018
Kid Friend Breakups: Episode 55
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 […]
May 30, 2018
When Mom Leaves Town: Episode 54
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 […]
May 23, 2018
Episode 53: Small Changes, Big Difference- Part Two
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 […]
May 16, 2018
Episode 52- Summer Plans
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 […]
May 08, 2018
Episode 51- Tweens
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 […]
May 02, 2018
Episode 50- Small Changes, Big Difference
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. […]
Apr 25, 2018
Episode 49- Let’s Not Care About What We Weigh
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 […]
Apr 18, 2018
Episode 48- Bickering
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 […]
Apr 11, 2018
Episode 47- Partners as Parents (and Parents as Partners)
How do you maintain the spark in your relationship when you’re both up to your elbows in dirty diapers, dishes, and laundry? Do you ever contradict your spouse about parenting decisions in front of the kids? How important is that whole “unified front” idea?  Even when the kids aren’t around, how do you handle true disagreements […]
Apr 04, 2018
Episode 46: Did We Really Do That?
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 […]
Mar 28, 2018
Episode 45- Managing Our Schedules
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 […]
Mar 21, 2018
Episode 44: Getting Your Kids To Talk To You
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: […]
Mar 14, 2018
Episode 43: The Best Mom Advice We Ever Got
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.) […]
Mar 07, 2018
Episode 42: Musical Instruments- If You Must
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 […]
Feb 28, 2018
Episode 41: Reluctant Readers
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 […]
Feb 21, 2018
Episode 40: Morning Madness
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 […]
Feb 14, 2018
Episode 39: What To Do When They’re Just Like You
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 […]
Feb 07, 2018
Episode 38: Mean Girls (with guest author Katie Hurley)
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 […]
Jan 31, 2018
Episode 37: Go-To Dinners
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 […]
Jan 24, 2018
Episode 36: Sick Day Hacks
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 […]
Jan 16, 2018
Episode 35: What is Up With Toddlers?
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 […]
Jan 10, 2018
Episode 34: We’re Feeling Goal-y (Our Resolutions for the New Year)
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, […]
Jan 03, 2018
Episode 33: What is Up With Teenagers?
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 […]
Dec 20, 2017
Episode 32: BONUS! What Fresh Hell Live
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. […]
Dec 13, 2017
Episode 31: Bedtime Routines
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 […]
Dec 06, 2017
Episode 30: Mom Friends- How to Make Them, How To Keep Them
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 […]
Nov 22, 2017
Episode 29: Small Town vs Big City (with guest host Meagan Francis of The Mom Hour)
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 […]
Nov 08, 2017
Episode 28: Is This Battle Worth Fighting?
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 […]
Oct 25, 2017
Episode 27: The Homework Slog
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 […]
Oct 11, 2017
Episode 26: Pets- Worst Idea Ever?
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 […]
Sep 27, 2017
Episode 25: Conquering Clutter
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 […]
Sep 13, 2017
Episode 24: Finding Good Babysitters
[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 […]
Aug 30, 2017
Episode 23: Back to School
[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 […]
Aug 16, 2017
Episode 22 – Birthday Parties – If You Must
[sgmb id=”3″] 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 […]
Aug 02, 2017
Episode 21: How Old Is Old Enough?
[sgmb id=”3″] 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 […]
Jul 19, 2017
Episode 20: Vacationing with Kids- What to Pack?
[sgmb id=”1″]   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 […]
Jul 05, 2017
Episode 19: Does Messy Matter?
[sgmb id=”1″] 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 […]
Jun 21, 2017
Episode 18: When To Let Kids Quit
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 […]
Jun 07, 2017
Episode 17: Yelling Less
[sgmb id=”1″] 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 […]
May 24, 2017
Episode 16: Sibling Rivalry
[sgmb id=”1″]   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. […]
May 10, 2017
Episode 15: Mom Worsts
[sgmb id=”1″]   What’s the WORST part of being a mom? We put out the call on our Facebook page and received an avalanche of responses, each deserving in its own very horrible way. In this episode, Amy and Margaret advocate for their own lists of Mom Worsts, and discuss: —whether that most classic of […]
Apr 26, 2017
Episode 14: Summer Plans
[sgmb id=”3″]   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. […]
Apr 12, 2017