The Dads episode
The Mother of All Solutions podcast is an independent podcast featuring stories from mums as they navigate their return to work.
As host and producer I, of course, had recorded a lot of mums. Looking at the past episodes I saw gaps in the narrative – one gap being very few fathers were featured. At my work I noted more dads had started to engage in chats about parenting on Teams meetings, and I decided to create an episode as an open conversation between dads for the Mother of All Solutions podcast.
I spotted the book DAD (Untold Stories of Fatherhood, Love, Mental Health and Masculinity) on social media and immediately thought this would give focus to such a conversation. I had also recently produced an episode based on Joeli Brearley’s book Pregnant then Screwed, The Truth About the Motherhood Penalty and How to Fix it and enjoyed the format of discussing issues around a book.
I therefore invited my friend Will Blatherwick, history teacher and dad of two, to read the book DAD and record a conversation for the podcast. The episode is structured around our thoughts on DAD (with an emphasis on work and parenting) and audio contributions from two other dads (one with 3 kids, plus one who became a father for the first time at the start of the pandemic) who read the book at the same in July 2021. By layering the voices of some of the dads I know The Dads episode emerged – and was published at the end August 2021.
The podcast beginning
Making a podcast is an amazing learning and development opportunity – it’s fun but also tough. Mother of All Solutions was always going to be a side project but I have been surprised by the time, tech and marketing effort needed…and how much the podcast would consume my thoughts!
The idea for MOAS started when I was on maternity leave with my second child and luckily by Spring 2019 my friend Owen, already a podcaster, agreed to help me record and edit episodes. In August 2019 we had a pilot episode and 3 episodes recorded (including one with a couple about shared parental leave) and were ready to launch. I booked a bar space in Brixton, made Tshirts and badges and invited friends, family and the local press. People showed up – one colleague even brought her new baby and my friend Lily (interviewed for the podcast as episode 2, The HR Professional) was an excellent parental leave quizmaster!
I believe there is a strong ‘why’ to me making the series – ordinary women have stories to share and a lot to say about parenting and work. By connecting with and interviewing mothers I have been able to share people’s situations, values and choices. I hope there is strength in doing that, and the podcast can become a mini campaign for support and solutions from each other and our employers. This is why an open conversation between dads for the Mother of All Solutions podcast seems really relevant to include.
Recording with my editor Owen at the WOW (Women of the World) Festival at the Southbank Centre in March 2020 was amazing, and an absolute highlight in making the podcast. Then with the start of the first lockdown (only a week after WOW Festival) and working from home and school/nursery closures, progress on MOAS dipped. A full second season was out of reach. I queried whether I had the time and energy, but believed the themes of the podcast were more relevant than ever. Perhaps I could cover much more then maternity leave ‘breaks’ as careers and parenting came into focus on a whole new level. So I switched to recording remotely and tried to reach out to people via social media. I kept making episodes even if the regularity of a podcast season wasn’t quite possible.
Connecting with likeminded organisations and people is very important for me and where MOAS could go next. I would love to continue the conversations I have started and reach out to more listeners. With topics such as hybrid working, 4-day working week, equal parental leave in the press I think now parents (mums and dads) can come together to ask for more access and support around careers and family life. A diversity of voices is important as families differ and industries we work in and how we work varies, but as a society together we should be looking to avoid burn out and raise happy kids.
The conversation now
From reading DAD I think MFF has a real strength as a community for dads today, and I appreciated the diversity of voices in the book. I hope the open conversation between dads for the Mother of All Solutions podcast has contributed to your platform. The next challenge is for us all to keep talking, bringing more people and more unheard voices into the room, listening and trying to better understand each other.
I hope MFF community enjoy The Dads episode as much as we all enjoyed the book DAD. The book was tender and hopeful. It made us cry and made us smile, but above all made us reflect. I hope the MOAS podcast can also offer a point of reflection for people.
Written by Laura Broderick