Sometimes when reflecting on a year it’s easy to think about the things that haven’t quite gone to plan and all the things we want to set out to achieve in the new year. Yet, I have so much to be thankful for….family, friends, health, our lovely home by the sea, family holidays and lots of fun and laughter along the way! Happy new year mummies and daddies – if you’re out celebrating tonight, have fun! If like me, you are putting your little one to bed and praying they stay asleep so you can have a glass of fizz in peace…. then good luck! Xxx
When Vicki Psarias AKA Honest Mum said that she would ‘love’ to be my first guest blogger for the latest in a series of posts about ‘Mumtrepreneurs’, I was beyond excited. This new series is all about parents that go above and beyond to succeed in life and achieve their career dreams, all whilst running a happy home – a combination I struggle to get my head around. Vicki really is one inspiring mama with a beautiful family and fabulous lifestyle, albeit super busy!
I posed my questions to her about work-family balance, her career aspirations and her favourite way to chill-out when the kids are asleep. Enjoy!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your family…
I’m a full time, multi-award winning blogger, vlogger and filmmaker – and most importantly a mum to two boys, Oliver and Xander who are 6 and 4 respectively. Together with my husband Peter, we live in Yorkshire and I spend a day or two a week in London with work.
Describe how you feel about life in one word (or as few as possible!)
Ooh what an interesting question! I feel challenged right now in the best possible way, truly stimulated by work and life, never bored but vitally, calm and content. I feel exactly where I want to be, which is the way we should all feel, I reckon.
I’m passionate about what I do and excited for the future, but I’m also happy with my all now, so anything else is just a cherry on top. My priority is the health and happiness of my family and always doing what I love and what feels right for me at that moment in time.
Have you always been career driven or has family been your biggest priority ? Or, a bit of both?
Both, I love creating and it’s a need, you know, I can’t NOT write or shoot. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s like breathing to me. I used to paint a lot and exhibited too but found myself soon cheating on oil paints with video cameras. You lose all sense of time when you are in the moment, be it painting, screenwriting or shooting a video for YT…I feel lucky doing just that. Creating is my job and the fact that I can combine my passions in a career makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning, every single day.
My kids and husband are my world and my purpose, they drive me and give me strength. I strongly believe happy parents equals happy children. I’ve worked tremendously hard for the last six years on my site, to the point where I have a lot more free time (yay) and flexibility. Most weeks see me working a three day week, which has always been the dream. I work hard but I like to play hard too and by that I mean (these days) playing on the swings with my kids.
I always wanted kids and feel so lucky I could have children. My kids are my purpose and whilst my career matters to me, I don’t want to miss their milestones, so it’s a juggle. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to a point where I now have more free time with them whilst doing a job I love.
When and why did you decide to start a family?
I had Oliver pretty young really and was pregnant at 27, which for a female director working in the telly and film industry was young and I suppose relatively young generally as women have kids later these days. I suffer with PCOS so was conscious that I needed to try and conceive as young as possible and my husband was broody 2 years before me anyway, so it made sense. I remember becoming broody almost overnight and couldn’t wait to be a mum. I was lucky that I got pregnant quickly and Oliver really taught me how to be a mother, as all first kids do. It was a shock to the system as parenthood is but he and Xander give me untold happiness. I’d definitely like another baby at some point too, I just need to work on my husband!
Have you changed career since having a family and if so, how?
Yes, blogging was a change in career for me as I was a director and filmmaker pre Honest Mum. I started my site in 2010, never thinking it would become a full time job, yet in a short time it became my career and now, crazily, is one of the biggest blogs in the UK and they tell me, the world!
So, your career goals and ambitions changed since having a family?
Yes absolutely. I didn’t want to be on set for 12-15 hours a day as a director, so blogging was the ideal job for me. I could still film and write and be creative, but in a flexible way that works around my family. I’m totally open and believe the arts and being creative is fluid too, I adore working digitally but that doesn’t mean I won’t ever direct again in the more traditional sense of the word. I see everything as overlapping and merging in exciting ways.
What challenges have you faced in your working life since having a family?
As with everyone, it’s a real juggle – childcare, the guilt, achieving balance etc. We’re all just trying our best and the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to be kind to myself. I’m now flipping good at switching off too. Life is for living. When you live life, you can create greater art.
How did you find returning to work after having your babies?
Directing commercials when Oliver turned one was tough. I’d started my blog and, although I did some paid work around that time, I returned to direct some fashion ads, but being away from him was soul-destroying as I was back and forth to Manchester. I was lucky that blogging became my career when it did and meant that I could work from home and flexibly. I love the freedom of this way of working. It’s liberating and empowering.
How do you manage childcare when working?
My youngest goes to nursery three days a week and I’m off for two usually. My eldest is at school and he attends an after school club too. My folks help as well and we’ve got a good system here.
What do you consider to be your biggest achievements in life so far?
My kids 100%. A happy marriage to my best friend and a man I love more everyday. My career, the milestones that have come from hard work, passion and dedication. The commitment to keep pushing boundaries and to not stop creating. To trusting my gut. To taking risks. To collaborating with great minds and people who make me think outside of the box. To wonderful friendships.
What is your motivation in life? Tell us what keeps you going on those days when life just seems so chaotic?!
Looking at my kids grounds and motivates me. I do everything for them and we have organised chaos really here. We work to a routine and I’m strict with boundaries and work/life times and spaces. I get tough days of course, days where I doubt myself or feel shattered, but I’m lucky to have incredible, strong people around me: my husband, family, friends, an amazing manager in Neil at Insanity who totally gets me, my vision and who, along with my husband, Peter, always makes me believe in myself.
How do you like to spend days off with the family? Do you have regular date nights with the other half?
I wish we had more regular date nights, but date nights quite often mean eating together before watching Family Guy in bed, having a laugh and cuddling up. I get a massage once a month for me time and mum and I get a mani and pedi done every few weeks for a girly day, which is fun. I adore running too and have a PT session once a week with my friend, Caroline and escape to my treadmill in the garage most days to burn off my energy. I take after my dad and have boundless energy!
What is your favourite way to unwind in your free time (and the kids are in bed!)?
Ooh I love scoffing Green & Blacks chocolate (bit obsessed with milk currently) and Betty’s rose tea whilst watching The Housewives of Cheshire.
You’ve touched on this a little already, but why did you decide to start blogging? And, when did you realise that you were onto something good?
I started in 2010 at a dark time when I was suffering from a traumatic birth. I was surprised to be a finalist at the prestigious BritMums in Brilliance Awards in the Fresh Voice Category after four weeks of setting up. I was contacted by advertisers after just two weeks. This was the start of everything for me. The blog surprises me everyday. I have a team now, incredible management, I’ve gotten to collaborate with gifted people, absolute legends from Alesha Dixon to Jamie Oliver, James Martin and many more. My family have the most amazing experiences, be it travelling around the world on amazing holidays to working on the most nourishing creative projects that have built their confidence up and given them so, so much.
What are your plans for the future?
I like to live in the now, but I hope we continue having great health and feel happy in all that we do. We love to travel so I hope we get to see more of the world as there’s so much to discover and enjoy! Travel is my greatest love – oh and food!
What advice would you give to a new parent considering returning to work or those who have just returned and are trying to figure it all out?
I wish I could go back and give myself a great big hug and give myself a good talk to, to not be so flipping hard on myself, to remind myself I’m doing my best and it’s OK to feel guilt (but it’s futile). To reach out for help, when others offer to say yes, to not feel I have to be superwoman. I’d tell myself that parenting is hard, but we’re all in the same boat. Thank goodness for blogs reminding us of that fact, hey?
Vicki is founder and writer of parenting and lifestyle site Honest Mum (http://www.honestmum.com)
If you read my recent post – I get by with a little help from my family – you will know that Fraser, Madeline and I joined my family last week in Benahavis, a Spanish mountain village between Marbella, Estepona, and Ronda.
As a family, we’ve been travelling to this village on and off for the last 15 years and never tire of the exquisite scenery. Just take a look at the stunning Puerto Banus harbour and beautiful beaches at San Pedro de Alcántara.
This long weekend break was absolute bliss and the perfect way to spend time off work enjoying quality family time…
A friend of mine sent me a message last week saying that she had enjoyed a lovely holiday away and thank goodness for grandparents! After a lovely long weekend away in Spain with my family, I completely understand where she was coming from – I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready for what life has to throw at us (and that’s even after a late night flight home with only a few hours sleep!!)
Before returning to work last June, I thought it would be nice to have a holiday just the three of us, mummy, daddy and Madeline. The perfect end to an incredible 11 months off work. We stayed at a beautiful villa in Burgau, Portugal. It was just off the sea front, with our own private pool just a few feet away from our patio area. It was absolute bliss. Yet, it was so different to any of our pre-baby holidays.
Our usual routine would have been a lazy morning, leisurely getting ready, having a chilled-out breakfast in the sunshine before packing a small bag of essentials for a long day at the beach, sunbathing and reading our books. We would have a paddle in the sea, eat our picnic and maybe play a game of bat and ball, before returning ‘home’ to get ready for a night out. Not that I would change life as we currently know it, but I wish I’d fully appreciated how bloody brilliant that really was!
We did, however, have a fabulous holiday and it was lovely spending time together as a family – Fraser off work and the three of us just hanging out together for two whole weeks. Madeline loved the attention of having both mummy and daddy around and we quickly learned what a little diva she really could be in the sunshine!
Obviously, things have changed and as parents we have to adapt. This holiday was all about walks down the harbour, visiting Zoo Marine (a sealife tourist attraction that was absolutely fantastic and you have to stop by if ever in the area) and stopping off for child-friendly lunches. We would grab an hour by the pool while Madeline napped and that was enough (well, maybe just ten minutes more would have done the job!). Our evenings were spent in the comfort of the villa, enjoying a lovely evening in with delicious food and drink. We did venture out into the quaint little village one night in the fist week and decided it was just easier not to again – a story for another time.
We had a lovely time and it really was the perfect end to maternity leave. If you get the chance, I would recommend a family holiday to anyone soon to be returning to work. However, we quickly realised the benefits of travelling with the wider family.
So, when my dad phoned me up recently and asked whether we would like to join my parents, brother and sister for a few days in Espana, we jumped at the chance! Last week, we stayed at a beautiful apartment at Monte Halcones, Benehavis (close to San Pedro, Marbella and Puerto Banus) with stunning views to ponder upon each day. Madeline certainly loved the morning sunrise…
Each morning her grandparents, auntie and uncle would fight over who got to look after her while mummy and daddy had a little lie in (only until 8am, but when you’re usually used to a 6am start, this was just the best). Her nana would ask to feed Madeline her milk, change her nappy, get her ready (like she had to ask!). Grandad would offer to prepare her breakfast, lunch and dinner. Auntie and uncle would play with her in the pool and help entertain her whilst out. They just couldn’t do enough for my little pickle and mummy got plenty of time to sit by the pool and relax or spend some quality time with daddy for a change!
I just loved watching Madeline bond with her family. Her face so happy as they played with her, tickled her, sang songs to her, took selfies with her. She would wave frantically and reach out to each of them for cuddles as soon as they walked into the room. It just proved to me how many people it really takes to raise a child. We don’t have to go it alone…
Fraser and I are truly blessed with wonderful families on both sides, who are always there for us and ready to offer us a helping hand whenever we need it. I know this isn’t true for everyone, so for that I am grateful. Yet, I often feel bad for ‘palming Madeline off’ to others, so that mummy can have a little break. But, who can do a good job at anything when they are exhausted?! It’s not a #fail to ask for help.
When Madeline was very little I found it difficult to let her leave my side and often kept her all to myself. But, I now feel it’s important for babies to spend time with their wider family too and really get to know them. I have the most treasured memories of days spent with my grandparents when little and want the same for Madeline. It also seems that family (and friends) will jump at the chance to help look after your little one. So, let them.
Win win! 😎☀️
A lovely family day with my in-laws at the Isle of Wight. What a beautiful summer’s day. This was just a little taster before our holiday in March next year. Got to love precious family days and time off work! 😊☀️