October 9, 2019
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 rulesDr. Laura Markham for Aha! Parenting: 14 Tips for Parenting in PublicOdd Loves Company: Parenting For An AudienceLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
October 7, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
October 2, 2019
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 ProblemsLaurence Steinberg and Kathryn C. Monahan, Developmental Psychology: Age Differences in Resistance to Peer InfluenceLaurence Steinberg, Temple University: Peer influence on risk taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: an experimental studyGeorge Packer for The Atlantic: When The Culture War Comes For The KidsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 30, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
September 25, 2019
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
September 23, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
September 18, 2019
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 PartnerCarson Crusaders Foundation Antoinette Deavin, Pete Greasley, Clare Dixon for Pediatrics: Children’s Perspectives on Living With a Sibling With a Chronic IllnessDean E. Murphy for NYT: Watching Them Watching MeLisa Rapaport for Reuters: Healthy kids with sick sibling may hide emotionsNicole Schwarz for When The Siblings of a Difficult Child Feel IgnoredAndrew Sullivan for NYT: How Do You Raise a Prodigy?Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 16, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
September 11, 2019
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 GrandchildrenJaycee Dunn for Parents: What to Do About Uninvolved GrandparentsJo Piazza for Parents: From Toxic Mother to Loving Grandmother: How I Learned to Forgive My Mom After My Son Was BornLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 9, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
September 4, 2019
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 NestRachel Martin for Your Teen Mag: The Perfect Present: Fostering Teen IndependenceLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 2, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
August 26, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
August 21, 2019
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 ManiaAmy Chua: Battle Hymn of the Tiger MotherFoster Cline and Jim Fay: Parenting With Love and LogicNancy 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 AutismHeather Marcoux for Motherly: 'Snowplow parents' and the lessons we can take from themJessica McCrory Calarco for The Atlantic: 'Free Range' Parenting's Unfair Double StandardClaire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich for NYT: How Parents Are Robbing Their Children of AdulthoodArti 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 ParentingLenore 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 TechniqueEsther Wojcicki for Time: I Raised Two CEOs and a Doctor. These Are My Secrets to Parenting Successful ChildrenLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 19, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
August 14, 2019
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
August 12, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
August 7, 2019
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 SecretsMarisa 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 notTogether Against Bullying: Telling vs. Tattling Teachers Pay Teachers: Tattling vs. TellingLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 5, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
July 31, 2019
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 LorensenLouise Fitzhugh: Harriet the SpyDr. Robin Alter: The Role of Imagination in Children with AnxietyPaul L. Harris, The Work of the ImaginationJoshua A. Krisch for Fatherly: Brilliant Kids Visit (and Create) Imaginary WorldsMichelle Root-Bernstein: The Creation of Imaginary WorldsMarjorie Taylor: Imaginary Companions and the Children Who Create Them Deena Skolnik Weissberg: Distinguishing Imagination From RealityLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 29, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
July 24, 2019
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 ChildrenLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 22, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
July 17, 2019
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: 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 OffDorie Clark for Harvard Business Review: How Stay-at-Home Parents Can Transition Back to WorkLisa Evans for Fast Company: 5 Ways To Eliminate The Stay-At-Home Mom GapLisen Stronberg: Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your CareerWendy Wallbridge: Spiraling Upward: The 5 Co-Creative Powers for Women on the RiseLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 15, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
July 10, 2019
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 KidsSara Bean for Empowering Parents: “I Hate You, Mom! I Wish You Were Dead!” — When Kids Say Hurtful ThingsKim Abraham for Empowering Parents: Anger, Rage and Explosive Outbursts: How to Respond to Your Child or Teen’s AngerJanet Lehman for Empowering Parents: Do Your Kids Respect You? 9 Ways to Change Their AttitudeStephanie Klindt: 10 Ways To Set Appropriate Boundaries With TeensDr. Wendy Mogel: Mothers, don't take teen rejection personallyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 8, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
July 3, 2019
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 MeanDr. Chris McCarthy: Turn Around AnxietyPhoto by Charlein Gracia on UnsplashLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
July 1, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
June 26, 2019
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
June 24, 2019
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! more about your ad choices. Visit
June 19, 2019
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
June 17, 2019
We're taking your questions! Every week Amy or Margaret will answer one listener's most pressing parenting question. Submit yours to 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
June 12, 2019
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 BoundariesDr. Mariana Brussoni: Risky Play: Losing a Childhood "Right" of Passage- and a Tool to Help Protect That RightDr. 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
June 10, 2019
We're taking your questions! Every week Amy or Margaret will answer one listener's most pressing parenting questions. Submit yours to 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
June 5, 2019
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 misunderstandingsJohn 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 qualityLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 29, 2019
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, especiallyLori 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 momsRachel of Cha Ching Queen Huckleberry Sleep App  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 22, 2019
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 changeCarl Richards for NYT: Hesitant to Make That Big Life Change? Permission  Helping Children Adjust to a MovePeaceful Parent Institute - Helping Children Adjust to ChangeWe'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 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 15, 2019
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 ParentingRebecca Onion for Slate: Playtime is OverSuzanne M. Bianchi et al: Changing Rhythms of American Family LifeJanet Lansbury: RIE Parenting Basics (9 Ways to Put Respect into Action)Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 8, 2019
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 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
May 1, 2019
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 BulliedSherri Gordon for Very Well Family: 7 Tips for Helping Kids Deal With Being OstracizedSumathi Reddy for WSJ: Little Children and Already Acting MeanSigne Whitson for Huffington Post: Rude Vs. Mean Vs. Bullying: Defining The DifferencesLouis Sachar: There's a Boy in The Girls' Bathroom Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 24, 2019
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 unpluggedfamily.orgscreenlifebalance.comKevin Roose for NYT: Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My BrainTaylor Lorenz for The Atlantic: The Hottest Chat App for Teens Is … Google DocsDaily Mail: Smartphones, tablets causing mental health issues in kids as young as twoDr. 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 everDr. Craig Canapari: Prevent Sleep Problems in Kids: Keep Technology Out of The BedroomErika Christakis for The Atlantic: The Dangers of Distracted ParentingCatherine Price: How to Break Up With Your PhoneCal Newport: Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World Leigh Stringer: On the Importance of BoredomLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
April 17, 2019
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
April 10, 2019
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
April 3, 2019
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 GirlsOur 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
March 27, 2019
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
March 20, 2019
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 WhyDana Goldstein for The Atlantic: Don't Help Your Kids With Their HomeworkThe Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education Dr. Keith Robinson and Dr. Angel Harris for the New York Times: Parental Involvement Is OverratedWendy Wisner for Scary Mommy: It’s Obvious When Parents Complete Their Kid’s School Projects, So Please (Amy recommends for an easier way to create bibliographies) (Amy recommends as a resource to choose science fair projects) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 13, 2019
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 themDoug Parker for Babble: I Feel Like I'm Failing This Parenting Thing Every Damn DayDenise Rowden for Empowering Parents: “I Feel Like a Failure as a Parent.” How to Turn That Hopeless Feeling AroundLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 6, 2019
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
February 27, 2019
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 Identifying Signs of Anxiety in Children CDC: Data and Statistics on Children's Mental HealthMetropolitan CBT: About Anxiety Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 20, 2019
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 ChildDr. Catherine Salmon:The Secret Power of Middle Children: How Middleborns Can Harness Their Unexpected and Remarkable AbilitiesLindsay Dodgson for Business Insider: 'Middle child syndrome' doesn't actually exist — but it still might come with some surprising psychological advantagesRisk-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 OneAlphaparent: Optimum Family Size Facts Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
February 13, 2019
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
February 6, 2019
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
January 30, 2019
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 UnsplashLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 23, 2019
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
January 16, 2019
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 PartyLaura 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 PartyGfK: Half of Americans entertain guests in their homes at least once a monthIsadora Allman for Psychology Today: On Entertaining and Being EntertainedTony Naylor for The Guardian: The new rules of dinner parties: don't be on time – and bring more booze than you needHaving people over is always worth the effort. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the potluck!Photo by Kelsey Chance on UnsplashLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
January 9, 2019
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 ParentsLola’s personal, honest, real-life guide to your first periodAdvocates for Youth: Are Parents and Teens Talking About Sex? advocatesforyouth.orgDr. Colleen Diiorio et al: Journal of Adolescent Health: Communication about sexual issues: mothers, fathers, and friendsRebecca Ruiz for Mashable: Internet gatekeepers block sex ed content because algorithms think they’re pornIt’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
January 2, 2019
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
December 26, 2018
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 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 ( 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
December 19, 2018
’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
December 12, 2018
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: 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
December 5, 2018
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
November 28, 2018
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
November 21, 2018
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 mediaLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 14, 2018
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 anxietywhy 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 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 We’d love to hear from you! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
November 7, 2018
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
October 31, 2018
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
October 24, 2018
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
October 17, 2018
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 Why Does My Child Still Have Temper Tantrums? 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
October 10, 2018
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
October 3, 2018
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 whyLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 26, 2018
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
September 19, 2018
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 beholderLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
September 12, 2018
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 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
September 5, 2018
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
August 28, 2018
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
August 22, 2018
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
August 15, 2018
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’ MarriagesLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
August 8, 2018
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
August 1, 2018
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:, 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
July 25, 2018
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
July 18, 2018
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
July 11, 2018
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
July 4, 2018
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
June 27, 2018
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
June 20, 2018
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 kidsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
June 13, 2018
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
June 6, 2018
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 yearsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 30, 2018
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
May 23, 2018
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 seemsLearn more about your ad choices. Visit
May 16, 2018
 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
May 8, 2018
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
May 2, 2018
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
April 25, 2018
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
April 18, 2018
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
April 11, 2018
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
March 28, 2018
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
March 21, 2018
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: Have a product or brand you’d like to hear on the podcast? Email us at info (at) and we’ll send you our (quite reasonable) rates!   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 14, 2018
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 and entering the code mother30.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
March 7, 2018
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
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