Talking “Total Mom Sense” With Journalist & Podcast Host Kanika Chadda-Gupta

Kanika Chadda-Gupta is a journalist, entrepreneur, wife, and mom of three. She is the CEO/Founder of Kronologie Agency, a digital marketing firm based in New York. As a Television Anchor and Executive Producer (CNN, Zee TV), Kanika is a born storyteller and has covered the gamut of news stories from the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars and has on-air interviews with Priyanka Chopra, Sushmita Sen, Lilly Singh, Mira Nair, and Kate Hudson.

On her top-rated kids & family podcast, “That’s Total Mom Sense,” she invites her distinguished guests to share their “mom sense” experiences and dig deep on topics like what to expect when you’re done expecting, managing mom guilt, teaching children to meditate, rekindling your marriage, and dividing up the workload at home. Recent guests have included: Rebecca Minkoff, Bobbi Brown, Chriselle Lim, Reshma Saujani (Girls Who Code), Natalie Morales (NBC), Raegan Moya Jones (aden + anais), and many more impressive thought-leaders. The podcast has also partnered with brands such as: HOMER, Manhattan Toy Company, Mommy’s Bliss, Gaiam, StoryWorth, and Wander Beauty

Kanika was born in Bombay, India – and throughout her life has lived in DC, Boston, Miami, New York, and now calls New Jersey home. She is also a trained Indian dancer and member of the Sa Dance Company.

Clearly she is extremely busy both at home and with her work, but we managed to steal a few moments of her time and learn more about her journalism career, her motherhood journey, and how she and her family have fared during the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted working mothers the most.

Everything she says makes total “mom sense”, and here’s what she shared with us:

As a journalist and entrepreneur, storytelling has been a core theme of your work throughout the years. What draws you to people’s stories?

Ever since I was a child, I was mesmerized by stories. My nani (maternal grandmother) recounted the great epics Ramayana and Mahabharata to me, which fueled my curiosity and imagination. Also, my nani and I, along with my mom, sister, and aunts (three generations of females!), religiously watched Oprah and would marvel at her unique way of storytelling through engaging interviews. 

Stories provide the deepest human connection as they foster empathy and understanding for one another. I have always been drawn to people from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds and love to ask them, “Tell me about your life. What is your story?”

We can learn so much from others’ life experiences from their successes to their mistakes and can easily find ways to apply their lessons to our own life. If people really put themselves in someone else’s shoes and found ways to relate to their story, I feel we wouldn’t have animosity or hate anymore. Somewhere deep down, there would be compassion. 

During your time on CNN your on-air presence ran the gamut from covering terrorist attacks to interviewing Oscar-winners and stars like Priyanka Chopra and Kate Hudson. What was the most impactful part of working for CNN?

My graduate school professor Sam Roberts, who was a respected Executive Producer for CBS for over thirty years, once said, “During a crisis situation when everyone is retreating, the lone headlights you’ll see heading into the eye of the storm are those of first responders and journalists.”

As a broadcast journalist, I felt an immense sense of responsibility to disseminate the current state of affairs to the public and provide the truth. I worked as an Anchor and Executive Producer for CNN and was stationed in India. During the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when the city was under seige for 3 days, our crime reporters were on the front lines and the rest of the team worked in the newsroom around the clock. I routed live trucks, updated death tolls on tickers, and during the aftermath, I met with survivors and those who bravely helped masses of people get to safety. My family back home were worried about me, but I told them that this was my call of duty and I needed to stay to do this work. 

I went on to host the lifestyle show, E Tonight, where I did live shots from red carpet premieres and fashion week. When I interviewed Priyanka Chopra, she had just released the Bollywood film Anjaana Anjaani alongside Ranbir Kapoor, and Kate Hudson was promoting Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist. It’s safe to say the entertainment beat is buzzing all year long! 

The most impactful thing to me was taking entertainment stories and making them appeal to human-interest. As an example, when I covered Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar and BAFTA wins, I chose to produce an exposé on the young girl Rubina Ali who was cast from the slums to be Danny Boyle’s lead in the film (Latika). I met up with her to film “A Day in the Life in Dharavi,” the largest slum in Asia with over 1 million residents. She walked me through the winding alleys, pointed out the shanties where her relatives lived, and showed me where she slept on the cold floor.

With the film being her stroke of luck, Rubina was not only given a trust fund to create a livelihood for herself and family, she also got on a plane for the first time, walked the red carpet at Kodak theatre in Hollywood, and was awarded an Oscar in hand. She was just eight years old! I’ll never forget her.

These are the stories I made it a point to share with the world because they leave a lasting impression and touch your heart.

As the host and creator of That’s Total Mom Sense podcast, what topics have you loved covering the most, and who have been your most interesting/favorite guests?

To me, the most important person is my listener so I bring on guests who have experiences to share which are inspiring, relevant, and relatable. Some of my thought-provoking episodes include Regulating Big Emotions with Suzanne Tucker (Founder/CEO, Generation Mindful), Thinking Like a Leader to Become a Great Parent with Robyn Ward (CEO, FounderForward), and What Women Want: Championing Female-Driven Narratives in Media with Sarah Harden (CEO, Hello Sunshine) who I’m lucky to call my mentor. 

[WATCH: That’s Total Mom Sense Teaser]

Growing up with Bollywood and being a trained dancer, I loved interviewing one of my most favorite actors Kareena Kapoor Khan, who shared that whether she’s a size 0 or a 10 after giving birth to her two sons, she is confident in her skin and puts herself out there because the public needs to see what it means to be body positive. 

[WATCH: Kareena Kapoor Khan on Movies, Motherhood, & The Pregnancy Bible]

Bobbi Brown is so down to earth and shared that even as a serial entrepreneur (Founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Evolution_18, Jones Road), she made time to serve as the PTA president for her three sons. Being involved in her kids’ lives was paramount. During her commencement speech for her youngest son’s graduating class of 2020, Bobbi advised to “Get over it, get over yourself, and get out there.” The pandemic affects us all but if we have conviction, we can fight against the odds. 

[WATCH: Bobbi Brown on Motherhood, Makeup, and Making an Impact]

Shannon Lee, famously known as Bruce Lee’s daughter, is an author, actor, producer, and single mom to her daughter Wren. She has become a dear friend and my very own Shifu (teacher). In her book, Be Water, My Friend, she shares her father’s sage advice like how we should respect water for the life force that it is, and behave like it too. Water adapts to its environment and can be powerful like a storm or calm like a lake. We have this ability within us (especially since the body is made up of 70% water). 

[WATCH: Shannon Lee on Leading a Legacy]

Media has traditionally been very bad at covering real, complex and thoughtful stories of motherhood. How can podcasts like yours chip away at the narrow portrayals and normalize the idea of more moms taking up space and shaping narratives?

That’s Total Mom Sense was born from the struggle I felt as a mom. After I had my twins and younger child in 1.5 years, I felt overwhelmed and burnt out, had no time or energy to read a mountain of parenting books and was looking for a platform to simplify it all. I quickly found that the parenting podcast space was bereft of a show that is I) informative, II) engaging and III) inclusive and provides listeners with tangible takeaways from experts. I wasn’t a fan of the endless banter or commiserating. My mission is problem-solving and providing support for my audience. 

Since I’m hardwired as a journalist, I feel it’s imperative for media to be objective, sans agenda-setting. When covering polarizing topics, I invite thought leaders with opposing views so parents can rely on their intuition, what I call their “mom sense” and “dad sense,” when picking a lane. Episodes include Sleep Training vs. Co-Sleeping, To Breastfeed or Not, and The Birthing Series which goes in depth about hospital births vs. home births. 

In addition, I think it’s important to give moms and dads the opportunity to be on equal footing when it comes to raising their kids. In 2022, I’ll be releasing my monthly series, What Matters Most with Maple featuring co-host Michael Perry. In an effort to allow dads to pull up a seat at the table, we discuss issues like infertility, dividing the workload at home, same-sex parents, and the impact (or lack thereof) of having involved parents and caretakers on children during their formative years. 

With so much data showing that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted mothers the most, can you share how your family fared during 2020 and 2021?

It breaks my heart that we have lived through the Great Resignation where over 4.4 million women left the workforce due to Covid. 

For my family, caring for three toddlers during the pandemic was challenging. I homeschooled my 2-year-old twins and 1-year-old for over a year. I was fortunate to have the support of grandparents who live nearby, our nanny who was with us a portion of the time, and later a part-time preschool teacher who lived in our town. 

I was perpetually tired and hated that daily tasks like grocery shopping became a crazy field trip. However, I made the most of it. I would tell myself, “this is a blip in time,” and that it was a blessing that I got to make these memories with my young kids. I taught them how to tell time, the beginnings of geometry (they could identify shapes like rhombus, trapezoid, and acute and obtuse triangles!) and built their vocabulary (it was hilarious to hear my twins using the SAT word “mollify” and “benevolent” in a sentence). Kids are like sponges and will pick up whatever you’re willing to teach them. My husband was very hands-on. He met us outside for lunch several times a week and came home early to ride bikes, have dinner and enjoy story time with them before bed. 

From a routine perspective, I would wake up at 5 am to answer emails, would take the kids outside to play at a park or go on a nature walk 365 days/year no matter the weather (I’m talking sleet, rain – we just dressed appropriately!), and then I’d drive around in the car so they would all fall asleep. When they napped in the afternoon, I recorded guest interviews on Zoom and got back to work late at night. 

I ended up releasing bi-weekly podcast episodes, a Parenting in a Pandemic guidebook, the Breaking Down Covid-19 series, and At Home with HOMER series, because I wanted to serve my audience of parents who were in dire need of support, resources, and key takeaways from experts. Giving back to my community made every challenge worth it. 

Can you talk more about rediscovering your identity after having kids, and dealing with societal expectations that tell women to tamp down their ambitions?

Motherhood helped me filter out the B.S. and just live my life’s purpose. When you’re strapped for time, you get really clear about what matters to you and it gets easier to say “no.” I have a passion for storytelling and media and decided to pivot from television into podcasting so that I could have more flexibility when it came to my family, and autonomy to produce shows that were impactful for my audience of parents. 

Generations ago, most women were homemakers because that was the norm and there were limited employment options if you had kids. It was only after World War II that there was an economic need for women to enter the workforce. Now, we’re living in a new day and age where females comprise 60 percent of enrollment to colleges and universities. We are choosing to further our education and for those who go on to become mothers, their careers will in no way damper their experience as a parent.

Women have found ways to innovate, become self-employed, launch successful start-ups and add value across industries and will continue to do so for years to come. Paid parental leave and affordable childcare are issues we still desperately need to resolve in this country, but for now, I think there is a paradigm shift where women are making an impact in their careers and child-rearing is a collective effort. 

One of the most infuriating questions we see directed to mothers is that dreaded “how do you balance it all?” question that fathers never seem to get. How do you respond, and how would you encourage other women to respond to this?

I think it’s trite that mothers are often asked this “work-life balance” question whereas fathers aren’t because to me – parenting is a team sport! It takes a whole village! If you haven’t yet read Eve Rodsky’s Fair Play, you must. It breaks down how couples can divide child rearing responsibilities and household tasks so that everyone benefits and no single person is shouldering the burden. 

Furthermore, there’s no such thing as balance. That implies that we can allocate an equal 50/50 to our work and family. We all have 24 hours in a day and when we exclude sleep it’s roughly just 15. We should use that time wisely and only focus on what matters. In Samantha Ettus’ The Pie Life, she illustrates that the slices of our pie include Career, Health, Relationship, Children, Community, Friends, and Hobbies. The size of the slices will keep changing and we need to anticipate and accept that.

For me, if I have a podcast campaign that I’m working on for a sponsor and have to meet a deadline, my career takes precedence for that time. However, if I have a sick child at home, then my children get priority. It’s important that we have a partner and village who are aligned with us so that we all can focus on these facets and lead a purposeful life.

As a mom of three who is the CEO of a digital marketing firm and a podcast host, you are clearly very busy! What new projects or endeavors do you have planned for 2022?

I am writing a book and plan to turn my podcast into a live talk show for OTT platforms. I’m excited to showcase my brand in new avatars! 

You can stay in touch with and learn more about Kanika Chadda-Gupta and her podcast at Follow her on Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

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