Podcast: Meagan Francis on podcasting, big families, divorce, and making life work

Best of Both World podcast with Laura Vanderkam

I met Meagan Francis through writing circles many years ago, and have enjoyed following her career since. She is the co-host of The Mom Hour podcast, and the co-founder of the Life Listened podcast network. She is also the mother of five kids, ranging from ages 9 to 20.

We covered a lot of topics in this fun episode (anyone who listens to The Mom Hour knows that Francis has a great voice, and discusses life in a very authentic and empathetic fashion).

As a largely work-from-home parent over the years, Francis has experienced some rather intense moments of blending work and life. SHU and I were particularly astonished to learn that during Francis’s tenure as a radio morning show co-host, she would talk for a few minutes on the phone, get her kids up and moving for school during the songs and commercial breaks, then tell everyone to be quiet as she hopped back on to banter. Only after dropping her youngest child off at school would she drive into the studio and interview guests there. Whoa!

Francis’s life recently has been in flux. We spent a fair amount of time talking about family and life logistics in the aftermath of her recent divorce from her husband of 20 years. (A side note: Listeners of The Mom Hour also know that Francis has been amazingly calm and amicable about this; she and her ex have a good co-parenting relationship involving a 50-50 custody split.)

After separating, she and her husband spent a year going to different places, or staying at their own sides of the house, while the kids stayed put in the family house. This had some upsides — it eased the transition on the kids — but was not sustainable long term. As Francis pointed out, part of divorce is creating something new out of something that didn’t work, and she felt like until she had her own place, she couldn’t do that.

So now the kids go back and forth. It is a hassle to move five kids (and their stuff) between residences, but she also has 3 days a week where she is completely by herself. For a woman with five kids, that is a very new phenomenon. She’s learning to be OK with cooking for one. She does a lot of work when the kids aren’t there so she can dial it down a bit when they are there.

And she’s trying out dating apps! It is a brave new world.

Anyway, it’s a great episode — Francis is a podcasting pro — so please give it a listen! And for those who make it through to the Love of the Week section, here’s a link to the chicken tagine recipe that Francis raved about.

Bonus: In the listener question section, we discuss how to co-parent with a partner who travels internationally for work. With a 12-hour time difference, it seems like emails don’t get answered quickly, and requests to Face Time happen at the worst times possible. We suggested doing “digest” emails, with an understanding that any requests within a digest must be answered within, say, 24 hours. The mom who wrote in with this question could specifically request that Face Timing happen at times that work for her, like when she is cooking dinner and needs the kid to be occupied (she added that mornings would be best for her, so her husband needed to shift his schedule a bit to make that work). We also talked about shared calendars, with the understanding that unless he specifically declines something, she’s good to go. After all, she’s the one physically there, so it makes more sense to make the schedule work for her.

5 thoughts on “Podcast: Meagan Francis on podcasting, big families, divorce, and making life work

  1. This was my first pod cast – I really enjoyed it. I also have an Emile Henry tagine which I have never used – I am going to try the recipe for sure!!

  2. You should totally have a “what’s in my purse episode?” 🙂 Your episode on makeup and such was one of my favorite.

  3. My husband traveled 80% when my oldest was a baby/toddler so I have thoughts on the listener question! I like the idea of sending google calendar invites and the digest email. I do think you can make some decisions on your own, but it may be worth a high level conversation about what types of decisions you can just make and what kinds of things your husband wants to be involved in. When we first became parents, I was really surprised by what my husband cared about and what he didn’t. When he was traveling nearly full time, I made almost all of the decisions about our daughter – medical care, daycare, schedule, etc etc. I might have gone too far in the direction of “I’m there, so it has to work for me” to the point where it took me years after he ramped down the travel to stop making unilateral decisions. So – I think this is a great opportunity to discuss what he cares about and what he doesn’t, and that will make it more motivational for him to give you responses (on the things he does care about) and you won’t clutter the situation with things he doesn’t care so much about. Just my 2c from having been in your shoes (admittedly without the time difference twist).

    1. @Beth C – thanks for your comment, and thanks for sharing your wisdom. Yes, I think part of parenting and marriage is figuring out when things have changed and when roles need to be renegotiated.

  4. Listening to this episode today and echoing the Crocodile Creek puzzle recommendation – our 2.5 year old loves them. Big podcast fan (longtime reader of both Sarah and your blogs!). Keep up the great work.

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