It’s that time of the month again; the time to introduce you to another Real Mom – a mom who will be hosting the We Are Real Moms July Challenge with me. For those of you who don’t know, it is a 15-days long, prompt based Photo Challenge that I do every month on Instagram with the objective of building a community, and you can read all about why I started this and how you can play along, by clicking here.
As a part of this challenge, I partner with an Insta-Mom every month – someone I met online and yet share a bond, a real friendship with, someone who is Real about her life and its challenges no matter how pretty she or her Instagram pictures look.
And the friendship I share with this mom – the one I’m about to introduce you to today – is some kind of an extreme example of online frienships because we met on Facebook 6 years ago, and we’ve been calling, chatting, and e-mailing ever since. But, we’ve NEVER met in person. How’s that for a virtual friendship?
Meet Karuna, a mom who believes in gentle parenting, (extended) breastfeeding, babywearing, cloth diapering and baby led weaning, something else we have in common in addition to our love for paper crafting. Karuna and I met as I had just started my crafting journey and she was the only Indian source of craft supplies that I could find.
What started as conversations between a helpful seller and an overenthusiastic customer who had zillions of questions about how to use a certain type of ink, or craft tool, or what other stamp sets she had, developed into a friendship that made me a part of the first Design Team of her then newly launched Craft Store – Lulupu. I had a wonderful time working with her as a part of her Craft Store’s Design Team. Today, this marketing-professional-turned-entrepreneur-turned-mom is one of my closest friends and was the fifth person on this earth to find out when I was pregnant with Baby S.
She and her lovely daughter K, are my extended family. Her Instagram is filled with colourful pictures of her daughter, the Montessori Activities she plans for her, the books they read, their family travels, and her two adorable labs – Moose and Cherry.
Let’s get to know her better.
After two months, you are finally the co-host! Every time I asked people to guess who I was co-hosting with, Karuna was the most popular answer for both, May and June. It’s interesting that people who don’t even know our history know that we will collaborate on this. 😄 And now, here we are, hosting the July Challenge together.
I have known you for six years now, but many of the fellow mommies reading this may be meeting you for the first time. So I’m going to ask you a few questions, interview style. Let’s get started.
Tell us a little bit about you, your blog and why you started blogging.
Karuna says, “My name is Karuna Chauhan. I am a mom to a 2 year old and two furries. Being an army kid, I have pretty much moved across the country, but now I am settled in Gurgaon. I pursued my MBA from Symbiosis and joined Wipro, which again got me shuffling my base between Hyderabad, Bangalore and finally Delhi. I worked with them for 6 years before saying goodbye to my marketing role to pursue my childhood passion of paper craft. For the next 5 years, I successfully ran my online store www.lulupu.com – a one stop shop for premium global brands of art and craft supplies.
In June 2015 I was blessed with an adorable girl. I had taken a break from my venture and when I made an attempt to resume, I realized that my heart was in my little girl. I wanted to spend more time with her during her formative years and I wouldn’t be able to dedicate the same amount of time and energy to Lulupu. With a heavy heart, I took a tough call. I was on Instagram for a while but not very active. Only when I got introduced to like-minded young mums who were in or had been through a similar life stage that I began interacting with them. Eventually it became a platform where I engaged with them and also shared my learning and experience of raising Kenisha.
But Instagram is more of a visual storytelling medium and I needed something where I could elaborate. Siddhant, my husband, had started a blog www.nameplaceanimalthing.in in 2014 which was not very active and I decided to join in. The title is based on a fun childhood game we played, which I doubt the kids today do or have any idea about.”
You have an active toddler and two super active dogs…
…what does your typical day look like?
Karuna says, “From a.m. to p.m., I am moving from one baby to the other. I call myself a mother of 3, sometimes 4 if I include my husband in holiday mode. The usual day is quite demanding and despite having some house help, I realized that one cannot depend on them completely.
Both my labs are adults and we spent enough time to get them domesticated; hence it is now a pleasure to have them around a baby as they watch out for her. They ensure they get their share of petting during the day when Kenisha goes off to sleep. It’s a perfect tag team and I believe this can be stressful, but is also the fun part. I can’t complain – each one of them is adorable to the core.”
Do you worry about who may be watching? How do you ensure your child’s safety and privacy, while not compromising on your social media presence?
Karuna says, “To be honest, of course I get worried sometimes. But this is indeed one of the risks we open ourselves up to on social media platforms. However, I take extra care in ensuring what gets shared and what is personal. The information I share does not give out specifics that can be misused.”
If you weren’t a blogger, what would you be?
Karuna says, “I wouldn’t term myself a blogger yet. But if I wasn’t doing what I am doing right now, I probably would have been a graphic designer chalking out some kickass designs and creatives. And if I was in a dream world, I would be chucking everything for a backpacking trip around the world.”
What are some of your favourite things to do?
Karuna says, “I love to cook and experiment with different cuisines. Now that I have consciously transitioned to a vegetarian diet from being a hard core non-vegeterian, we are exploring new joints which serve interesting vegetarian dishes. My personal favourite cuisines being Mexican and Chinese, I can go weak in my knees when I see Sushis. My second most favourite thing is travel and I try doing it as much as I can – there is a lot of room to be covered here but I try to maintain a balance. And lastly, I would love to go back to making customized scrapbooks and themed party supplies.”
Is there anything you miss…
…from your life before you became a mom?
Karuna says, “Like most moms I miss my personal space and independence without worrying about a small human who needs my attention every second. I also miss my social life and meeting friends, but I guess this is just a temporary phase. Being a mom has also allowed me to meet some new wonderful friends. So without complaining, I am trying to make the most out of it, before our lil one grows up and pursues her own dreams.”
What is the hardest part about being a mom?
…the biggest challenge, according to you? How do you deal with it?
Karuna says, “To do everything with just 2 hands and 24 hours in a day! Yes, I wish god had sent moms a pair of extra hands to work and an extra pair of eyes to look after the baby while she does that. Managing both was a tough thing! Until K was 9 months old I used to work during her naps on my laptop in the same room. Challenge came when she started becoming the explorer. So I got help and until last month I did keep a help for 12 hours so she could handle all my extra chores while I could concentrate on my baby and her needs. I strongly feel it’s ok to get help if you need. We aren’t and can’t be super moms doing everything!”
You have homeschooled you daughter…
…how has that decision helped you? Or rather her?
Karuna says, “As Kenisha was turning 6 months old, I was looking for options to engage her into activities which have a positive impact on her mental and physical development. This is when I got introduced to Montessori approach and began my research to understand it better. The approach was quite practical and in sync with my thought process. From there began our journey of creating a simple curriculum of activities which K enjoyed. Every week I would introduce something new and gauge her response towards it. While Kenisha is a quick learner, I would not exaggerate if I give this approach credit for her exponential learning curve. I started with baby steps and now it has become a way of life.
I had also introduced Kenisha to books when she was just 2.5 months old. Some people I speak to find it amusing but these books were not like the ones we read as adults and eventually at every stage there were different categories which were introduced. Now she has her own library and we indulge into a reading session every now and then before bedtime. She loves her books and even picks one up when she is keen to read depending on her mood.
DIY activities at home are very easy to manage and can be done even if you are not into craft. With some effort and research, this has helped me create a routine for her and also regulate (with some bumps) her sleep cycle. As a result, I am able to get some hours for myself and my work from home.”
At 2 years old, K now is in pre-school…
Do you plan to discontinue homeschooling?
Karuna says, “I got this a lot in the last 2 weeks when I announced my decision to send Kenisha to a preschool. While as a mom I’m quite capable of homeschooling her until she is even 3-4, I felt it would do great deal to help her become an independent and selfconfident child. I specifically chose a Montessori School so she feels at home knowing that we had followed a similar level of engagement at home. And if you would like to read more about my experience on this new transition in our life, you can read this post about it on my blog.”
How do you manage to keep it real…
…when you look at others’ seemingly perfect lives on Instagram?
Karuna says, “Perfect is just a word in the dictionary. In real life, there is nothing perfect. I never look at Instagram handles and judge individuals. Everyone has their own priorities, personal drivers and content preference. Let’s not forget that each one of us have our own share of struggles, accomplishments, low and high moments in life. Life is about having the right balance and it’s upto each individual on how they want to leverage technology and what they want to share on their social channels.”
If someone visits your blog for the first time…
…what should they read first?
Karuna says, “I’d love it if you could start with these:
- 10 Tips to Fly with a Toddler
- Importance of Unstructured Play for Toddlers
- Why I chose to send my 2 year old to a Montessori Preschool?
That was fun! Thank you, Karuna for agreeing to be a part of this. It’s so good to get to know you a little better.
Don’t forget to check out and follow Karuna & Name Place Animal Thing on Social Media.
Details of WARM July 2017 will be up soon! Stay tuned.
Mamma Bear | Nikita