And now it is time for you to meet my co-host for the We Are Real Moms September 2017 Challenge.
If you are new, We Are Real Moms 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.
If it weren’t for her, We Are Real Moms wouldn’t have existed, at least not yet. This mom took a chance on me a little over six months ago when she asked me if I would like to team up and do something together for Holi, and I said “yes!” Soon after, Karuna and Nisha became a part of our team and the result was a fun 13 Days long photo challenge which was very aptly called #13DaysofHoliFun. And the thrill of that challenge inspired WeAreRealMoms!
Today, half a year later, we are not only friends but also each others’ sounding boards whether it is about bouncing ideas off each other, helping the other person make creative decisions, or just letting them vent. Add some discussions about parenting philsophies, dilemmas, tips and tricks, and even celebrating our babies’ achievements, it’s hard to tell that we’ve never met each other face to face, nevermind that we belong to totally different cultures and backgrounds.
Meet Katerina from OneUPBaby, mom to Baby Shannon who turns 2 very soon and who is the perfect definition of Staged Photos, Real Life. If you see her Instagram feed, all the pictures look like they’re out of a movie scene – perfectly planned and co-ordinated, superbly composed and edited, and plain astounding. And when you read her captions, you realise that she’s as real as you and me.
Her Instagram is all about sharing her experiences of raising a smart and curious baby by engaging with her in activities that will promote early learning, and at the same time, she encourages moms to take charge of their lives and be the best they can be. Her tips and ideas are not only practical but also very easy to follow.
Add to that a good sense of humour and some creative game planning skills, and Shannon is one lucky girl to have her for a Mom.
Let’s get to know a bit more about Katerina, interview style.
Oneupbaby! That’s such a unique name. I have always wondered what that meant…
…although I think I came close to guessing once. Tell us more about your blog and how this name came about
Katerina says, “‘One-Up’ expression is quite common in American English, usually meaning “leading over someone” or “advancing ahead”. It comes from the sports terminology where we usually hear that “this team is one point up over the competition”. When I started blogging, my idea was to share best ideas and insights from my research and personal experience, to help other moms with early development of their babies. I strongly believed that any parent who is engaged and knowledgeable can give this unique “one-up” early head-start to the baby, which will later help during school days or throughout the whole life. So the “one up baby” is a child of an engaged mom (parent) who is focused on fun early development activities with her child. By no means of course it meant to describe my own baby, as the blog was designed to share our ideas to help other moms move ahead.
If you remember, I started with sharing free downloadable materials like “cheat sheets” on early development games for the youngest babies. As the blog developed and we got more followers, I naturally started sharing more about other topics, notably about well-being of the moms themselves, or just our personal developments of our life with baby Shannon. This evolution from early activities to moms’ energy, positivity and well-being was driven by the feedback of my followers. Many of them said – these activities sound fun, and we know it is super important – but where to find time? I am stressed and tired and sleep deprived, I wish I could repeat your fun games but I simply cannot. So I had to start sharing my own experience with getting more positivity and energy renewal. And this is how “Recharge for Moms” program was born.”
You work full time, you ensure that you spend quality time with your little girl every single day…
…you run a successful Instagram account and an online program for moms, and you find time to relax and recharge. How do you manage to get so much done in a day?
Katerina says, “I really believe in single-tasking, i.e. focusing on unique task in hand during specific blocks of time during my day. For example, in the early morning, I play with baby Shannon and I’m not even thinking about work or my blog. I might click some photos or videos, but even that is often outsourced to our nanny. Then at work, I don’t check my personal emails or social media profiles, as my full-time work responsibilities are very demanding too. I allocate more time during weekends to write the content for the blog and IG posts, and plan the week on social media. Finally in the evenings I once again focus more on my family and friends. I also practice meditation, yoga and cardio early in the morning, and keep “Early to rise – early to bed” schedule. All of this helps me to gain more energy to follow the schedule during the day.”
All your Instagram posts are so informative.
What drove you to read up so extensively on early child development?
Katerina says, “I have a scientific educational background and have always enjoyed reading about the human brain, mind and body. Even before my baby was born, I was aware of the importance of the very first years (even months and weeks) to set up the most important foundation for this new human being. So I definitely started practicing it with Shannon baby when she was born. I also had a great example of my own parents – my dad taught me to read when I was 3.5 years, and this love for books really helped me in my life journey. My mom homeschooled me until I turned 7 years old teaching me math equations long before school started… and I remember how much more comfortable and confident it made me during my school years. I was hoping to provide baby Shannon the same comfort and confidence in her abilities, and share the same motivation with other moms.”
You are of Russian origin and your husband is Indian. Shannon is exposed to two vastly different cultures and languages.
What are your tips to strike a balance between the two?
Katerina says, “You forgot to mention the western, American culture too. I left Russia many, many years ago so my personality was also shaped by my years in USA and Canada. But as we made a decision to settle in India, its culture definitely dominates in our household. I admire Indian traditions of family respect and support, and traditional family roles and responsibilities are very important for us. So basically we are trying to take the best from all three cultures and mix it together. It helps that my husband is very supportive about it, and open about bringing the best ideas from western and Russian cultures into our family life. To give you an example, early engagement in sports and art is very important for Russians, so we are encouraging Shannon to spend time outdoors climbing and exercising as much as possible. If you follow my Instagram, you might have also seen examples of her trying different forms of art, since she was 10-12 months old.”
Recharge for Moms is such a good program. I have been following the instructions for the last week and I love how well thought out and put together it is.
Tell us more about this program.
Katerina says, “As I mentioned, “Recharge for Moms” was born as my answer to many of my followers who shared with me their frustration about the lack of basic energy, which prevented them from enjoying early development activities with their kids. They would message me: “Kat, your development games look so interesting! I would love to try it with my little one, but I am too tired now to even take care of laundry, let alone some creative game scenarios with the baby!”. It seemed to be such a common problem for all of us moms, regardless of the background or geography. I was always very interested in learning about body and mind balance, yoga, meditation, astrology (from a scientific point of view). Over the years, I developed my own routine that summarized the best ideas which are proven to work for me, for my husband and for my friends. The Basic initial Recharge program helps moms to make some small but critical changes in their routine that immediately bring more positivity and energy in their lives. The program runs online for 14 days, and anyone can join it from anywhere in the world. We have moms from India, America, Canada and Europe taking this program in July and August. It is designed specifically for busy moms, so everyone can follow it – even if you have a newboarn baby. The format is very easy to follow – you have to watch a 5 min video every morning, and then send me your short 1-2 sentence report in the end of the day.
I am also planning an Advance Recharge Program (hope to start it in September-October), where we go much deeper to uncover more about our own personalities and strengths, and cover relationships with our parents and husbands. Speaking of which – the husbands have been so far the biggest fans of the Recharge program. Some were so impressed with their renewed relaxed and positive spouses that they suggested them to buy an “annual subscription”. More information about the program is on its Instagram page @oneupbaby_recharge, and you can see the reviews of the moms who already completed this program @oneupbaby_testimonials.”
Is there anything you miss from your life before you became a mom?
Katerina says, “I miss uninterrupted reading time. I barely have time to read now as all free time is allocated to either playing with baby Shannon, or to creating something myself, like the new content for my blog and Recharge program. I have a long “wish list” of books I would love to check out in the future, and for now am trying audio books and podcasts during my commute and exercise time.”
What do you love the most about Instagram? How has it changed your life?
Katerina says, “I did not expect to find on Instagram such supporting community of likeminded moms who also share the same concerns and frustrations. I found several great friends there and discovered new sources and inspirations for my creativity. It is also an amazing output channel for me to practice my creative skills in photography and writing. Overall, this is a very stimulating new way to communicate, which definitely pushed me a lot in the last 6 months, to grow and develop as a person, as a mom and as a friend.”
What’s the hardest part about being a mom…
…the biggest challenge according to you? How do you deal with it?
Katerina says, “The biggest challenge for me was the loss of personal time and privacy – I am sharing every second of my life with this new human being called baby Shannon, who also has become my great friend and the love of my life. She is almost always with me, whether we’re awake or asleep. Even though we do have a nanny, Shannon still tries to spend most of her time with me when I am at home. This means de-prioritizing some of my beloved activities (e.g. reading) and focusing instead on learning from this new amazing growing human. It is challenging to have no time to work out or even to take shower (I would just put her to play in the bathtub in the same time)… But as I think about it, it is the easiest part in the same time – once I accept that she is always with me, I start seeing so many positives in it too. She definitely made me a better person, more grown up, more selfless, able to control my emotions better and focus on the right things in life.
If someone visits your blog for the first time…
…what should they read first?
Katerina says, “I’d love it if you could start with these:
- Month 7: Fun Development Activities Cheat Sheet
- Our Favorite Children’s Books: Age 6-12 Months
- Sleep Regression Remedies.”
That was fun! Thank you, Kat, 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 One UP Baby on Social Media.
Details of WARM September 2017 will be up soon! Stay tuned.
Mamma Bear | Nikita