Can you think back to the days leading up to you becoming a parent? Maybe you spent hours upon hours deciding what color to paint the nursery that would be the perfect mix of cute and soothing. Maybe you did all of the research on bottle feeding vs breastfeeding and you had a plan in place. Maybe you were gifted or bought parenting books that you so desperately hoped would have all the answers to this scary and exciting new chapter of your life. Perhaps, they even promised to let you in on What to Expect When You're Expecting.
However when all of the parents on our staff were asked; "Is parenting what you expected?" The resounding answer was a "NO WAY"! As much as we wish that those late nights spent reading parenting books could have prepared us they just didn't. Every parent is different, every child is different, and every experience parenting differs so greatly - especially if you are raising a child who struggles with their mental health. The only overall consensus we got was that for everyone we asked - it was absolutely NOT what they expected.
How This is Not What I was Expecting got it's start
Parenting is frustrating, wonderful, heartbreaking, intimidating and just about every other emotion a person could possibly have. When we were sitting around and sharing these funny, honest, gut-wrenching, embarrassing, and silly stories about being a parent at our staff retreat one of us said "Hey! We need to turn this into a podcast!" Even though they were joking our Director Christina took it seriously - and she knew just what to call it - This is Not What I was Expecting. Now this group of moms with stories on stories to share just needed to figure out exactly how to do that.
That's where Brewer came in. Brewer is a Junior Advertising Major at Penn State and a self proclaimed lover of podcasts who dreams of one day working in the podcast industry. He also happens to be my little brother and I knew all of this about him so I introduced him to Christina. Brewer fit right in with the group and was given the big task of getting this podcast off the ground - and finding time for these busy moms to sit down and actually record. Not to mention being on call for any and all microphone related tech issues (which is more frequent than you might assume).
Why a podcast?
"Podcasts just feel so real to me. It’s the medium where I find the most honest and authentic conversations happen. I love when an athlete or comedian that I am a fan of goes on a podcast because I know there is a much better chance of me hearing a more real version of them than other press that they are doing. Hey - at this point I prefer podcasts to even music so I was so excited to get started.", said Brewer.
"I love that you can just throw podcasts on and go do what you were going to do anyway. You can take out the trash, walk your dog, our listeners can listen to it in the parking lot as they wait for their kids. That's what I love about podcasts is you can fit them into your day so easily, especially ours because we keep it so short. It really is the perfect medium for a busy parent.", said Brewer.
The passion for podcasts was there but what Brewer didn't have was the experience of parenting. However he sees that as an asset to the show; "I actually think the fact that I'm not a parent makes the show better and more accessible to parents at all different levels of navigating mental health systems. The hosts of the show are so smart and so knowledgeable about parenting and mental health that sometimes they don't realize when they don't explain something that the average person might not know. I am able to jump in and ask those questions I think some of our listeners might be having themselves. I can push for clarity, I can ask them to boil something down for me.", said Brewer.
Who are the hosts?
"The hosts of This is Not What I Was Expecting are very busy moms who each bring something different to the table. That is why every episode you never really know who's going to stop in and share their stories and insight with our listeners. So far we have had on 6 Parent Alliance staff members/moms and they all offer something different for our audience. I love that the hosts change so frequently, I think it keeps the show fresh and allows for different listeners to connect with different hosts. Maybe someone is raising a teenager right now and they love hearing Tracy talk about raising her own. Maybe someone is navigating being a stepparent and what Melissa shares about embracing being a stepmom really resonates with them. My hope is that there is something for everyone to connect with.", said Brewer.
Six moms with busy personal and work lives is a lot to manage and organize. When asked if he found the task intimidating Brewer chuckled and said "This is the least intimidating group of people I've maybe ever met. They are so cool, so funny, and so easy to work with. I think that laid-back/non-intimidating vibe comes through on the show itself. They are a really great bunch of people to create a podcast with, as long as their microphones are working properly.", said Brewer.
Want to check it out for yourself? Here is a quick snippet of our episode on Making Life Easy with Technology!
What CAN a listener expect from the show?
"It's what you want it to be. If you're exhausted and totally spent from the day it's background noise while you do the dishes and maybe you have a chuckle or two. If you're on a walk and feel really isolated in your parenting journey it's like having those 6 incredible moms joining you on that walk. If you really overwhelmed with parenting and feel like you are at your wits end it can be a tool that helps you figure out your best next step. That's why I think it's so valuable that all of the hosts are moms. They are the busy parents that we are trying to reach. They know that a 2 hour podcast just wasn't going to cut it for a parent. They know that even when the topics are very heavy a lot of parents need a little humor to keep them persevering. They get it.", said Brewer.
"What you 100% can expect is realness. They are telling it to you straight. They will tell you their parenting mistakes. You will get to hear about their regrets, hard-earned lessons, and things they said to their children that they wish they could take back. It is 30 or so minutes of genuine parent to parent connection over raising a child who is struggling." Brewer explained. "You also can probably expect the unexpected when it comes to the podcast too. Like I said they are real moms with real dogs who knock over microphones and kids in the background trying to ask if they can have the snack their mom already said no to. So if you hear any audio issues maybe look at Christina's dog Bear before you come looking for me."
What Episode Should I Start with?
"I may be biased but I think they're all great. However my recommendation would be to check out the episode How About Some Bad Parenting Advice first. This 20-ish minute episode covers some of the worst parenting advice our hosts have gotten. I think this episode can be really relatable to a parent who is raising a child who is struggling who may have gotten their own fair share of unhelpful advice."