My Top 5 Podcasts: Listen, Laugh, Learn

top 5 podcasts

podcasts I love

I fruitlessly searched for something entertaining to listen to on the radio during my 30 minute commute to and from horseback riding 2-3 times a week. But there were too many ads and bad songs on the music stations, and NPR only does news here during prime drive hours. Finally after several frustrating trips, I remembered podcasts!

For the past ten months or so I have had the opportunity to test drive (HA!) many podcasts. The podcast world has exploded in the last few years and it’s hard to sort through the good from the bad. So here are my top 5 podcasts. I skew toward self-improvement and parenting podcasts, of course, but there are a few in here just for entertainment. Enjoy!

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Happier – Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft

Shocker! I’ve referenced Gretchen Rubin in at least five previous blog posts so you cannot be surprised that I’m into her podcast. The great thing about Happier is that Rubin records it with her sister, Liz who not only bridges the divide between the coasts (she’s in LA while Rubin is in NYC) but also between Rubin’s sometimes rigid “do the right thing” personality and the rest of us mere mortals. Rubin often cannot even comprehend why one wouldn’t do something that would make their life easier while Craft provides the voice of the everyman, explaining in detail why she can’t get to bed before midnight even though she regrets it every morning, or what have you. And the sisterly banter is humorous and endearing.

I’m looking forward to Craft’s upcoming spinoff, Happier in LA, but I sure hope that doesn’t mean she’s leaving Happier O.G.

Magic Lessons – Elizabeth Gilbert

From the woman who brought us Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, Liz Gilbert has found her calling coaching aspiring or professional artists of all kinds become unstuck and move forward toward their goals. I especially love season 2 because each episode contains a coaching session, an outside expert opinion, and a follow up. Season 1 broke these out into three separate episodes, with all the follow ups held until the last episode of the season. That’s fine if you’re binge-listening but not so much if you’re jumping around a bit.

Regardless, Liz’s easy connection with the participants, loving but firm guidance, and almost-adorable-if-it-didn’t-obviously-work belief in making magic in your life is inspiring to hear. A definite go-to for anyone with a hidden dream. But be careful, it may just make you turn that dream into reality.

One Bad Mother – Biz Lawrence & Theresa Thorn

Can I just say a big thank you for this show? Biz and Theresa are hilarious, playing off each other like an old time comedic dream team, with the addition of “swears.” Some topics are light. But more often than not, their comedy bends toward gallows humor, allowing us as parents to laugh at the sometimes terrifying, always stressful, and exceedingly absurd situations our kids put us in. Not only that, but Biz and Theresa are unfailingly supportive, with their tag line being “you are doing a remarkable job.” And when they say it, I can’t help but believe it, even on the worst of days. Ladies, YOU are doing a remarkable job.

Side Hustle School – Chris Guillebau

Don’t have a long commute? Only have ten minute before BART’s underground screeching overrides any input from your headphones? Want to have dual income streams? Then Side Hustle School is for you. In just ten minutes, Guillebau presents an example of a successful side hustle – a subsidiary income stream usually unrelated to your day job – and explains what made it successful. The hustles vary widely, tech-based, expert skills required, sheer force of will required, product-based, service based, etc, but the underlying take-aways are cross-applicable.

For instance, did you know chickens wear saddles? I worked on a huge case for the egg industry and had still never heard of chicken saddles. They’re like little coats the chickens wear when molting to prevent being injured by other chickens. Apparently you are supposed to wash them often. I cannot envision how hard it is to dress and undress a chicken regularly, much less an entire flock. See a problem? A successful side hustle will identify and solve that problem for a profit. While I’m not going to hustle chickens, I can apply that lesson to something else and I learned it in a very entertaining ten minutes.

Young House Love Have a Podcast – John & Sherry Petersik

If you’re into DIY, you’ve probably come across Young House Love. They’ve run a highly successful blog about their DIY renovation journey with their two adorable kids and chihuahua named Burger, written several DIY books and even a coloring book, and are regular guests on various home design blogs, magazines and even TV shows. Their style is fresh and always on point, but most of all, they are just the cutest. Their zany personalities shine in this podcast that touches on design, renovation, DIY and the business side of all of those things as well as blogging. John’s nerdy quizzes, and Sherry’s love for all things shiny or ceramic have made me a podcast fan even though I don’t even own a house to renovate right now. Again, the reporte is highly amusing. I’m starting to think that two person blogs are definitely at an advantage.

Bonus! Two for the Kids: Stories Podcast & Sesame Street

I love love love Stories Podcast, and so does my daughter. The stories are generally appropriate for all ages, though you may need to vet if your child is sensitive to slightly scary parts as mine is. The Stories Podcast reads a new story every week in an engaging and animated way that keeps my daughter’s attention. Stories are sometimes original, sometimes old chestnuts revived, and range from as short as 7 minutes to over an hour (though those are usually broken up into separate podcasts). I love that she can listen to an entertaining story and use her imagination to fill in the visual instead of watching TV.

Sesame Street Podcast seems to be twenty minute clips from the actual Seseme Street show which is awesome for car rides or “quiet time”. Just don’t let your kid see that the Podcast will broadcast video to go along with the audio, making it indistinguishable from a TV show. Unless you’re into that. No judgment here!


I love learning about new and interesting podcasts so please share your favorites with me in the comments! And remember to share this article with your friends to help Reining in Mom keep delivering you great content! 

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