Balancing the Grind with Emmy Samtani, Founder & Head of Product at Kiindred

Emmy Samtani is the founder and Head of Product at Kiindred, a parenting education and lifestyle platform, covering the newborn to toddler years. 

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

Prior to kids, I was working in my dream job for international beauty brand, Chanel. Having been in the industry since leaving school, I was lucky enough to land the role of Regional Training Manager in my early twenties, an opportunity which saw me travel the world. 

Perhaps a career highlight was my trip to Paris where, in addition to visiting all the incredible ateliers and factories, I had the privilege of spending time in Coco Chanel’s apartment  – a woman who I admired, and continue to admire, for her strength, innovation and determination. 

Then I did what no one, not even myself expected. I quit. 

With zero experience in digital marketing, I jumped into my husband, Sabir’s digital advertising agency to support his quickly growing cohort of beauty clients, leading the social and content team. 

While my digital skills extended about as far asPowerPoint and Excel, my experience of high-pressure, fast paced environments saw me in good stead and ultimately showed me I was capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. What started as perhaps the biggest risk of my career, turned into one of the best decisions of my life. 

Fast forward to the arrival of my first born, Ishq, and the combination of my new found skill set in digital marketing paired with my realisation that babies don’t do what you need them to do, coupled with the fact that no amount of Googling was providing the information I needed, when I needed, I launched Kiindred. 

Kiindred is a parenting education and lifestyle platform for modern parents that provides personalised and informational content for parents from conception through to kindergarten. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Like most busy families, every day varies between primary school, daycare, the nanny and me working from home when needed. 

A typical day starts around 6:30am when my middle son, 4, wakes – he’s the household alarm. From there it is a pretty smooth (read: chaotic) operation to ensure we can get everyone out the door in time. 

The kids sit together for breakfast which I think is important, and I get to down a black coffee while I finish packing lunch boxes, which in an ideal world, I’d do the night before, but generally fails to happen. 

By the time Sabir has them out the door, it feels like we’ve both run a marathon, even though more often than not, I’m still in my pyjamas!

I usually get into the office around 9:30am and then it’s pretty much go-go-go from here on in until I have to leave again for pick up at 4.30pm. We are at a really busy and exciting time with the business, so I very rarely leave my desk. I am working on that though – movement during the day is important! 

Once kids are collected, the chaos resumes, and while I’m trying to be more organised with meal-prep and having food in the fridge, like most busy mums, it’s really hard to be that organised. 

I try to take the time to sit with the kids, complete homework with my eldest, Ishq, and spend time reading stories to my two youngest before they go to bed. I’ll then pivot back to helping Ishq unwind, listening to music and chatting in the dark. This isn’t ideal because while I’d love to nod off to sleep with her, the laptop is calling my name. 

Once they are all fast asleep, it’s a quick shower to wake myself up for round two, which includes responding to my overflowing inbox, hanging washing (why do kids go through so many clothes?), and trying to be the ‘organised’ mum who has the lunch boxes prepared for the next day (#neverhappens). I’ll eventually fall into bed around midnight. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Thankfully yes! It has to. My youngest has developmental delays and requires speech therapy and OT, so I take her to appointments and drop her back where she needs to be. Then on Fridays I work from home, as it is literally the only time I can get all three kids to swimming lessons. 

The needs of my children are a blessing in that, it has forced me to spend time with each of them outside of the madness of the weekend. You know, those two days of the week where you’re a parent taxi and escort to kids parties and playdates?

For all its downfalls, one of the few good things to come from 2020 has been the acceptance of children in the workplace. With lockdowns and Zoom meetings, it’s become completely acceptable to run a business meeting with children occasionally running rampant in the background – even if the odd toddler bare bum does end up at an important meeting (yes, that’s really happened). 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I don’t even think I’ve ever been good at achieving balance. I still feel like there is a lot of juggling going on but what I have got better at is accepting it for what it is – we are in a busy stage with three young children, running a business that’s very much still in its infancy. What I accept is that it’s not forever, it’s just our reality for the time being. 

It also doesn’t help that I work with an equally passionate husband, so we never really ‘switch off’. The only time I have to cut him off is when he wants to discuss work or a business idea when I am finally switching off to sleep. 

Whilst traditionally I would work on weekends, my husband who is now also my business partner has taken that on as it became nearly impossible for me to get through the weekend activities and housework required with three very busy little people. 

I think the balance comes with working together as a team and knowing who needs to dip in and out of things when it comes to the kids. There is definitely an element of guilt with not ever feeling like you truly give everyone and everything what they need – but that’s just life as a busy, working parent, right? 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

Yes! I am a bit of a serial on and off again wellness person. Last year during COVID, I started walking the coastal walk at sunrise. It was the best thing I could have done as it really shifted my mood and energy so I could face a busy work day at home with three kids.

This was only possible because we didn’t have the pressure of having to do the morning routine, drop the children and then be in the office at 9am. At the time, I also had a live-in au pair who could help me with the morning routine.. Once she left, of course this ceased to happen.

Now as I move towards a ‘milestone’ birthday, reflecting on the last few years, I realise that if I’m not the healthiest, happiest version of myself, I can’t be the best possible mother (or wife) that my family needs. I’m therefore trying to prioritise this in various ways to ensure I’m taking care of me – because if you don’t have your health, what do you have?  

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Sadly I am a very bad reader. Like self-care, it’s something I put last and never end up getting to. I’m literally out the minute I hit the pillow and then up again the next day.

In saying that, I have had The Awakened Family by Dr Shefali sitting on my bedside table for some time now and am dying to get stuck into it. I have found as a mother of two little one’s with learning differences that I prefer to spend my time educating myself on how to best navigate this wild ride that is parenthood. It’s also a bonus that it so happens to contribute to the work I do in the business as well. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

The Kiindred app of course! In all honesty, I still use my own app even though I am three kids down the line. I feel like there is so much you forget when you are deep in mumlife and sleep deprivation, so the daily rhythms we have in the app have been a game changer. 

Rain Parrot App  – I recommend this to so many parents. You get a clear view of rain fall within the hour which is important when heading out with kids or managing pick ups and outings. The alerts are pretty spot on! 

For work I can’t live without Slack for our internal comms, Click up for project management and figma for design. 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

This question has made me realise I should interview my own mum! She raised three girls on her own, and worked full time. On reflection and after having my own kids, I now realise that this is no mean feat!

She would have had to be organised, practical and made from steel. I wasn’t the easiest child, so I bet she has some interesting insights into how she was able to achieve work life balance. I wonder if it existed for her during that time.  

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I truly believe that I am able to manage the stress of work, kids and life in general because of a few things. Firstly, I am practically minded and try not to get upset about things I can’t change, instead I focus on navigating challenging situations the best I can, and letting go of the things I cannot change. This really came to life when my eldest was diagnosed with a neurological condition. 

I am also very routine-based with the kids, as I think predictability is important. They thrive off this! Not only does it give them confidence in knowing what to expect each day, but it also ensures we are not compromising the important stuff – like sleep! I am very protective of their sleep as I know how important it is for their growth and development (and of course, their behaviour!). 

But before I sound too boring, we do let loose and break the rules from time to time. Spontaneous dance parties are the best! We actually have a song that we play where everyone has to stop what they are doing and just dance. This is really great for when things have started to unravel and we need everyone to reconnect over a laugh and a badly performed dance move.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.