As a time poor dad who knows how to multitask, podcasts can be the answer to your entertainment needs.
The whole podcast craze had largely passed me by until I got about a year into fatherhood. Now I’m hooked.
Some of you right now will be saying something along the lines of ‘no, shit, Sherlock, what took you so long?’ but if you are a naysayer like I was, this might help convert you.
Yeah, I’d listened to a few sport podcasts, but I never really understood how people found the time to sit around listening to life hacks and comedy shows. Even on public transport or driving in the car, I gave it a go, but found myself unable to concentrate on what was being said – and instead switching to music.
Surely it’s more appropriate when you’re pushing down the highway to be banging out The Killers or Ball Park Music than ‘The History of Rome’?
And there’s always, you know, your wife or some other person trying to yabber at you, so you can never concentrate on the truth bombs coming out of the speakers.
I’m still mostly about CHOONS in the car, but I’ve slowly come to the realisation that podcasts are the ideal form of entertainment when you’ve got a kid to look after.
Those with little sprogs will know that you’re almost never NOT doing something. Your life consists of going to work, helping look after child, looking after child solo or, when you’re not doing those things, catching up on the chores that have been piling up in the meantime.
And almost in complete contrast to what I believed before, podcasts are perfect for when you’re busy.
The trick is to realise you’re not going to soak in every word. Be content with hearing 80 per cent of the program and you will soon find you’re as addicted as I am.
Pre-baby, my main forms of entertainment were night-time TV, going to the cinema with my wife and, if I had some time to myself reading or (more realistically) Xbox. Most of those are now largely ruled out.
Once the bebe has been bathed and put to bed and we’ve had dinner, my wife and I might get an hour’s TV watching done before one or both of us is dozing off and drooling on our own shoulders.
As for the movies, now the kid has learnt to toddle around, seek out mischief and make tactical shrieking noises when she wants attention, even bubs-in-arms cinema is out of the question.
And I can’t play Xbox for long without pangs of guilt about all the constructive things I could be doing with my time.
Taking the Socceroos to the World Cup semi-finals on FIFA is less satisfying when in the back of your mind you know you should really be cleaning the shed or shaving your back or something. I bet Mathew Leckie never suffers this kind of existential angst.
At some point during an afternoon session of monitoring the little one, in that endless period before dinner time, I started playing podcasts over my portable speakers. All of a sudden, the hours which had previously dragged became a lot more fun.
I’m not saying watching my baby daughter take blocks out of a bucket, put them on the ground, then carefully put them back into the bucket is boring … actually, yeah, I am saying that. I love spending time with her but, jeez, you need something extra to keep your mind occupied.
Those afternoon sessions, drinking a beer and chuckling away at a podcast while she patters around being cute are now my favourite part of the day.
Because I’m not engaged with whatever I’m listening too, I am also more likely to take the speakers out to the shed and do a tidy up or into the bathroom while I shave the tops of my feet – rather than just zoning out and playing FIFA.
So, big congratulations to me for grabbing the coat-tails of a trend that has been around for a decade or more. If you’re not on board yet, there is still plenty of coat-tail left to latch on to.
A few podcasts to get you started:
The Totally Football Show with James Richardson
ESPN’s 30 for 30 Podcasts
Wolf of the Plains – Life and Times of Genghis Kahn
The History of Rome
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
My Dad Wrote a Porno
The Russell Brand Podcast
No Such Thing as a Fish
Stuff You Should Know
How I Built This
Is There Something in This?
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