Ellie Knaus: Podcasting the Joys and Challenges of Parenting

By Elena Epstein


Writer, actress and podcaster Ellie Knaus, pictured here with her daughter Sabrina, shares her own stories and celebrates and commiserates with parenting guests on her podcast. PHOTO BY HELLO PINECONE PHOTOGRAPHY (WWW.HELLOPINECONE.COM)

Ellie Knaus wants to get to know you. The real you, control issues, neuroses, mommy guilt and all. And that’s exactly what she does each week through her popular parenting podcast, “Atomic Moms,” where she “celebrates and commiserates” with best-selling authors, parenting experts and parents all over the world. Her goal: share the universal story of parenthood with humor and authenticity.

Knaus is a writer, actress and mom to 2-year-old Sabrina. An L.A. transplant, the Houston native came to California after earning her theater degree from Smith College. Witty and well read, Knaus describes herself as a “recovering perfectionist” with a Lucille Ball kind of sensibility. She uses humor and her own vulnerability to draw in her listeners. She loves delving into people’s lives and telling their stories. She brings her curiosity and enthusiasm for the challenges and joys of raising a child to her podcasts, and Knaus’ stories of growing and learning as a mom give them an intimate feel. Her international listeners are responding with notes of thanks for making them feel understood and sane.

Why start a weekly podcast?

Connection. I want to tell the story of motherhood from different angles and create a space and opportunity for all types of parents. I want to share our voices so moms don’t feel so alone. I don’t have rehearsed questions. I like going down rabbit holes and having a stream-of-consciousness conversation. I love having the space to dig deeper. I have an improv background, which comes in handy during the interviews. It allows me to have real discovery.

You have interviewed celebrities, best-selling authors and parenting experts. Have you found a common thread among this eclectic group?

Definitely. Parenting, for all of us, is the most important thing in our lives. When you start talking about your kids and being a parent, suddenly you cut out all the BS. It’s no longer about your credits or the next big project. It’s so much more an authentic and honest conversation.

How is hosting Atomic Moms shaping your parenting?

I have the privilege to talk to incredible moms and amazing parenting experts. Free consultation is the best perk of the podcast. I learn with every show. The one lesson that keeps coming is that our connection with our children trumps everything. I’m learning how to create a safe place for Sabrina to have her big emotions and be who she is. When we first become parents, we are so concerned about our child being OK, and I now realize that being there for our kids means letting them know that sometimes it’s OK to not be OK.

You had a health scare a couple of years before your daughter was born. Tell us about that and how it affected you.

In 2011, I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive bone-dissolving tumor. While it was benign, it had the potential for metastasizing, so doctors had to scoop out the tumor, kill all surrounding cells and fill the gaping hole left in my bone with cement. Post surgery, there were several months when I couldn’t walk and I had to sit with myself and my thoughts. I learned to be much more aware of the little delights in my life and I learned to stay calm in chaos. It changed me for the better. I use these skills every day as a mom. It allows me to stay in the moment and meet my toddler’s needs so much better.

To listen and subscribe to Knaus’ podcast, go to: iTunes.com/AtomicMoms.

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