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)
As many of you have probably seen, Victoria Beckham has penned a letter to her 18-year-old self as part of her October cover story for Vogue. It really moved me and, although I felt she was a little harsh on herself at times, we were given a glimpse into her deepest thoughts and emotions, which I’m sure ring true for many of us.
I think we are all guilty to some extent of putting ourselves down and feeling just not quite good enough. I know that in 20 years time I could do with writing a letter to the current me, giving myself a good telling off for all the self-doubt I’ve been through this past year on my journey as a new mummy. But, in all truthfulness, what good would that do? We can’t go back in time, only look to the future. I can, however, write to my daughter at aged 18 and hope that she still listens to her mum as she matures into a beautiful young woman…
As I sit here watching you play so nicely with your light up In the Night Garden Ninky Nonk train, I am filled with such love and have so many hopes and dreams for your future. I hope that Daddy and I have done the best for you throughout your childhood and given you the opportunities you need to succeed in life.
We’ve discussed getting you tennis lessons, ballet classes and piano tuition over the next few years. We don’t want to be pushy parents but we want to open up avenues for you. More than anything, we want you to be happy and doing the things you love.
I can’t imagine the world that you now live in. Even now, I turn on the news to see reports of unemployment, rising house prices, high university tuition fees, pollution, global warming, cyber-bullying, trolls and terrorists and worry what a world I’ve brought you into. But, even at aged one I can tell that you have an intelligent head on you and are strong-willed, with a fun-loving personality. Never let the world bring you down and grab the opportunities that come your way. If you remain true to who you are, you will do so well in life and make mum and dad proud.
I know that you are going to be so beautiful as an 18-year-old young woman. I’m looking forward to having a best friend to go shopping with and share fashion and beauty tips with – I’m sure you will tell me off for being past it! But, try not to focus too much on outwards appearance, what’s inside is much more important. As Cinderella’s mum told her, have courage and be kind. I feel this is a good motto to live by.
My darling, pray. Ever since I was a young child and my parents took me to church, I’ve always prayed. Not long godly prayers, just little moments to help see me and our family through. I’m no saint and certainly can’t claim to live by the book, but I’ve never gone without in life. In times of struggle, things have always worked out just fine. And, I was blessed with you, what greater gift could I have received?
If you’re anything like mummy, then you will be thinking about moving out by now, gaining some independence and finding yourself. I wonder whether you will be looking to move away to university or planning a once in a lifetime travelling trip. If you’re like Daddy, then you will want to stay a little closer to home, spending time with family and living with us until you are ready to move out and start your own family. I don’t mind as this way I will be able to hold onto you for a little longer. Whatever life choices you make, you have our support. We will always be there for you to offer advice and guidance… And, I’m sure money!
I hope you have the most treasured childhood memories. I know mummy has had to work and can sometimes get a bit stressed out, but I’ve always aimed to put you first. Quality family time has been especially important to me. At the age of one, you’d already been on three family holidays and lots of weekend trips away. My days off may at times have been filled with housework, but I always tried to make sure that you have had nice mummy time too.
I’m not sure if you’ve grown up with brothers and sisters. I do hope so and I hope you are close. I’m sure there’s been some fights and arguments over the years, but friends may come and go, family will always have your back. Make time for each other as you grow up and love each other. Friends are important too… When you find a good one, hold on to them and laugh until your tummy hurts!!
Madeline, love life. Go and spread your wings and be happy. But, remember, you will always be mummy and daddy’s little girl and we love you dearly.
All my love always,
Mum xxxx 💞