Star Mom : Anu Saikrishna
Today's Times of Amma Star Mom is someone I adore on Instagram! Meet Sweden- based Annapoorna Kailasam aka Anu Saikrishna who we all know as the adorable Mom behind the popular Instagram account anumom_prinsessana. Apart from being a happy SAHM, Anu has also completed two levels and got a certification in Swedish. She is also continuing her studies via online courses in her field of expertise - Corporate Communications. Anu is also a certified western dancer. She has also documented her postpartum fitness journey on Instagram. Thank you Anu, for taking the time to speak with the Times of Amma community.
Apart from your family, what would you define as your passion?
My major passion is dancing, I am also a certified western dancer, I used to teach Jazz, Salsa and Cardio dance. In addition, Ballet for kids too. I also like to write and the reason why you find me in the “Mom bloggers space”, prior to which, I maintained a blog where I shared my experiences related to corporate world.
Has Motherhood and moving outside India affected your career decisions?
No, I worked until I moved to Sweden in the year 2016. I was working in India for close to 10 years as a Corporate Communications professional with just a 5 months maternity break. Sahana (fondly known as Sana) was born in 2014. I worked all through my pregnancy until 2 weeks before delivery and extended my maternity leave by further 60 days (post 90 days stipulated maternity leave) primarily due to my health reasons but thanks to my supportive parents who were there to support me and take care of Sana while I was working, I could balance both my career and personal life well. It’s only post moving to Sweden, my career has taken a backseat, it’s been 2 years now as a SAHM but I think, I am enjoying this phase and keeping myself busy studying and doing things that I never got a chance to do while I was working.
How do you balance your passions with your parenting?
It can never be balanced to perfection, there are always compromises. Sana is 4 years old now. The first two years have been quite easy for me. I would say I was quite lucky as I could leave Sana completely in the care of my parents. I was having a lot of complications post-delivery. It was thanks to my supportive partner and parents that I could get back on track. I was working in Chennai, India and I had the luxury of both sets of Sana’s grandparents living in the same city just a few streets away. On the days my parents were out of town, my in-laws pitched in, so I could continue working. My work involved lot of travel at a continuous stretch covering events hence I have left Sana with them for almost a week and more, right from the time she completed 8 months. So, I never had to sacrifice much during the first two years.
I moved to Sweden when Sana turned 2, since then, there have been a lot of changes since my family took the first priority. Being an expat mom, the first year was very challenging, in terms of settling down in a new country, new life and most importantly, this was my first experience as a SAHM. But I sailed through well and still set aside time to do certification courses on fields related to my career and picking up the local language, Swedish for better results while hunting for jobs.
How has being an expat influenced your parenting?
In a positive way, I have seen both sides of parenting both expat as well as surrounded by family. Having a supportive system around me for the first two years so to say, Sana literally grew up under grandparents influence and very little of us, parents. It’s a complete contrast to what she had after moving to Sweden. I wouldn’t know to judge which is better, both have its pros and cons. Being expat, the first and foremost thing I learnt is that there is no right and wrong, we all learn through failed experiments. Some strategies may work and some may not. I felt like I was a new Mom as I had a lot of firsts after becoming an expat- being abroad, being away from my family and friends, being away from my career for which I had given all, being a SAHM. The whole thing got me wondering whether I would be able to do it all and by myself? 2 years later, I would call it a cakewalk.
There are of course constant struggles, the main thing that I learnt is time management and efficiency and a new sense of confidence that you feel when you achieve so many things and feel super productive at the end of the day. I feel I have taken more pride in the last two years as I have set the rules myself and learnt the hard way.
When I had the luxury of having my parents just a street away, it was easy in case I wanted to go out, get some me time, prepare food for Sana - everything was taken care of. On the contrary, being an expat mom, you're your own help, the first few months seemed never ending. I felt I missed my cook and maid more than my family, no kidding! Here I live on agendas and planners. If I miss one task, I know the repercussions so I try and adjust to a set pattern and it has been working well so far.
Do you think it is harder being an expat mother than an expat dad?
I think both are hard. Being an expat dad also has its fair share of responsibilities. Being an expat, I think the one thing that my partner and I often discuss is the shared responsibilities we undertake versus life back in India where we both were working. At Sweden, thanks to a good work home balance, my husband is always there to support at times of need. My hubby’s job involves a bit of travelling often to other cities and occasionally to other countries, those are the days where I feel the pinch more, as I literally feel like I am on a marathon trying to ensure all of Sana's needs are met.
Do you think you would have been a different kind of mother if you were back in India, living close to family and friends?
Yes, I would certainly have been a bit more influenced in taking decisions as not matter how independent you are in your thinking, there is a good amount of influence your friends and family have on you. While I was working back in India, my health was at its worst. It took me close to two years to get back to my original self. While working, I would often fall ill. It was during those times, I felt I owed a lot to my hubby and parents who never made me worry about my new-born. But we moved to Sweden, as I was beginning to feel better. This gave me an opportunity to realise how much potential I had within me and I think eventually one learns it when left alone as you are your best judge. I am happy this phase happened.
What are the three things you love about being an expat mother?
I love the fact that I am getting more time to do things independently and dedicating more time to do things that I have missed while working, for e.g., enrolling in online courses and attending networking meetings to meet new people, to give Sana the best in ensuring she adapts to an international setting and is happy learning about new cultures. She is also getting very independent and understands the necessity to make her own decisions.
Do you celebrate cultural occasions with your daughter?
Yes, I make it a point to introduce Sana to all our festivals and she also enjoys dressing up in our traditional attire. We are natives of Kerala and speak Palghat Tamil at home so it’s a mix of both cities, hence the more number of festivals. Sana knows most of them well and participates equally. Since we moved to Sweden when Sana was so young, I think it’s important she understands the importance of our origin and isn’t left unaware of how they are usually done. Since there are few opportunities here, I ensure I do it at home and wherever there are any Indian communities hosting any festivals, we try and take part in those as well.
Most expat mothers have to multitask beyond most everyday multitaskers. What is the one time that you remember doing the most tasks at once?
I don’t recall any one particular time but I feel like a juggler on all days (giggles). But one time where I felt completely helpless and was literally on a multitasking mode was when I had to give my Swedish certification exam. My husband was travelling and I had to do the pickup and drops at school, finish my exam on time, manage cooking, laundry and all the routines that all moms know! I can never forget that day. The days my husband travels is when I feel I multitask like a PRO!
Any tips for new expat mothers?
Just to trust yourself, never to follow anyone, do what works best for you. Take the plunge and you will learn from it!
Ensure you have a planner and agenda and chalk out your to-dos. This really helps me.
Being a SAHM there are errands that keep coming, sometimes I feel the tasks are more in comparison to when I was working. With a basic checklist, you feel more productive.
Thank you, Anu for sharing your journey as an Expat Mom with the Times of Amma. We wish you and your family much joy and happiness.
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