A PCS for parents means hours in the car spent trying to figure out how to keep kids quiet so you can focus. There are movies and games to hand over, but if everyone is on their individual screen, you miss out on using these hours of togetherness in a positive way.
Podcasts are a great alternative to other media because you can find something the whole car can listen to and enjoy which facilitates conversation and togetherness.
There are so many to chose from though, so how do you find something appropriate and entertaining for all ages? Below are some of the best family podcasts in a variety of genres. Podcasts selected are available for free on a variety of apps and are not serial podcasts – you can listen to a few selected episodes in the car rather than starting at the beginning. There are suggested ages, but check content, reviews, and language for what is appropriate for your family.
Need a little bit of quiet in the backseat or a bedtime story? For sweet stories perfect for the littlest listeners with each coming in around 20 minutes in soothing voices, download episodes of Story Time to listen to as the sun goes down. You can also check out Stories Podcast for a range of genres – quick fables, classic fairy tales, or original characters — told with enthusiasm and song in a G-rated format.
Need a moment for everyone to stretch, calm down, and get ready for bed in the hotel room or in a new house without furniture? Peace Out is a yoga and meditation podcast for kids that walks children through calming exercises with stories, questions, and easy movements.
Learn Something New
Ologies with Alie Ward is one of the best science podcasts interviewing experts in a variety of fields encouraging you to, “ask smart people stupid questions,” however, the language, jokes, and content are for mature audiences only. Luckily, she just started releasing “smologies” — recut episodes on topics that appeal to kids, like dinosaurs and the moon — in shorter, family-friendly episodes. For a science podcast made specifically for kids try Tumble. Hosts Lindsay and Marshall interview scientists, talk about scientific discoveries and explain science concepts in a family-friendly format.
For families more interested in history, Stuff You Missed in History Class is appropriate for ages 8+ (content may vary) and tells fascinating stories that are often overlooked. The Past and the Curious explores interesting stories from history for the whole family (5+).
Laughter can be just the thing to break up monotonous hours of travel and keep spirits up, but finding humor that appeals to multiple ages can be difficult. Two kids’ podcasts that have imaginative storylines, high production quality, and are entertaining enough to keep the whole car engaged are The Story Pirates and What if World.
The Story Pirates take stories written by kids and turn them into humorous skits and songs with a frame story that has the Story Pirates on a different adventure each season. The host of What if World, Mr. Eric, takes kids’ “What if?” questions and turns them into wacky stories.
Making Conversation with a Teen
Trying to relate to your teen and get them to look up from their phone as they leave their friends behind is a mountainous task, but here are some conversation starters.
Dear Hank and John is by the authors and brothers John and Hank Green, known for their best-selling novels and YouTube shows. It’s humorous, with John and Hank answering letters with what they call “dubious advice”, and talking about their favorite things and adventures. Pair with gifting your teen one of their books for the car and check out all the shows from their production company Complexly.
For more serious discussion, consider using one of the NPR family of podcasts like This American Life or Snap Judgment to talk about current events, personal challenges, and controversial issues. The storytelling and production value is always excellent and you can check out the full line of shows available as podcasts here.
Still Buffering is a conversation between three sisters: Sydnee McElroy, Teylor Smirl, and Rileigh Smirl. Big sisters Sydnee and Teylor give advice to Rileigh and talk about the differences in teenage life between their respective generations. Episodes cover everything from the mundane of shopping malls, tons of pop culture, and the awkwardness of “the talk” in health class, modeling positive conversations between family members.
Spooky Fall Fun
PCSing during the Halloween season? Check out Unspookable where host Elise Parisian tackles the history and stories behind spooky tales like aliens, ghost ships, and monsters in a family-friendly way recommended for ages 8+.
If you have older children and teens who are interested in weird histories and scary stories, they may be able to handle some of the podcasts from production company Grim and Mild. The award-winning Lore that started it all is recommended for ages 14+, but refrains from bad language as it tells the scariest folklore, urban legends, and stories with supernatural twists from history. Other podcasts from Grim and Mild tackle spooky subjects from around the world like the Salem Witch Trials, djinn, and royal scandals.
As always, PCSgrades is here to help with all your relocation needs. On the road for an ETS? The Podcast From the Battlefield to the Boardroom focuses on job-seeking after the military. Founder of PCSgrades Todd Ernst recently joined the program to discuss relocation in the episode “Reducing the Stress of Relocation from the First Relocation to the Last”.
Armed with these podcasts, you can make PCSing go more smoothly for kids of any age! You may also want to check out our list of books that help kids through a PCS move.
Meredith Flory is a military spouse, homeschool mom, and freelance writer currently living in Texas. She has a master’s degree in children’s literature and her writing has appeared in publications such as Military Families, The Mary Sue, and Augusta Family Magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @Meredith Flory Instagram @merediththemom or check out her website www.meredithflory.com for more info.