Mumtreprenuers – an interview with Honest Mum…

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!

vicki-psarias_profile-pic-jan16_crop-2-1

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.

vicki-psarias2965-copy-726x1024-3

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)

Finding a little bit of the pre-mummy me!

imageI tried desperately to think of something interesting to say… Anything at all. Anything other than what I’d been up to with Madeline that week (mainly consisting of play dates, baby sensory class and soft play!) and all of her latest achievements. 

It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about our baby girl, that would definitely have been my subject of choice. It’s just that it had dawned upon me that I actually didn’t have anything else to talk about. “What did we used to talk about before having a baby?” I thought. 

My sister in law had offered to look after Madeline (then aged eight months) for the afternoon, so that my husband, Fraser and I could go out for lunch. She loves spending time with her niece and we really needed a bit of ‘us’ time, so it was win win. The only problem being that all we had talked about so far, other than a quick discussion regarding the menu, was our precious little girl. 

It became clear to me that it was time to think about the dreaded W word. It was time to prepare myself for returning to the world of work. As much as I loved being a mummy and the flexibility of planning my own days (obviously centred around the demands of a baby and her very busy social diary!), I needed to find myself again. 

Fraser was busy working each day and in the evenings had commitments training with his football team and rehearsing with the band he plays in. He had a number of responsibilities other than ‘just’ being a parent/husband (and, I must say, very good at that he is too!). But, through no fault of my own, I didn’t have any hobbies or recreational activities to take myself away to (I used to sing in a choir but had stopped so that I was around in the evening for Madeline), meaning that being a full-time mum had meant exactly that. I had embraced the mummy lifestyle and lived it to the full. But, now I felt it was time to do something for me.

The mummy guilt kicked in there and then, how on earth could I even consider leaving someone who so clearly needed and relied upon her mummy? Plus, I knew I would miss her far too much. So, how on earth would I go about this? Was I being selfish setting out to embark upon my own career and ambitions? The additional income would certainly benefit our little family, so surely that was reason in itself, but we had ‘coped’ thus far (my husband would definitely disagree, often pulling his hair out over statutory maternity pay!).

I decided that I would wait until Madeline was approaching a year old and, if work permitted, would return part-time. A luxury that I know many parents don’t have the choice to make and I was extremely grateful for. Also, thank goodness for such fab employers with family values at the forefront of the business… A must for any working mummy or daddy! 

Since returning to work, I must admit that I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I’ve not only reminded myself of the pre-mummy me, but I’m fairly certain I’m more efficient than I ever was before and my organisational skills have improved dramatically. Being a mummy, you realise that time isn’t your own anymore and there’s absolutely no time for procrastination. Checking off that to-do list is the ultimate aim of the day and if I’m to get home for tea time, then there’s no time for plodding along. 

Madeline is 100% my motivation and inspiration when I sit down at my desk each day. I don’t want us just to cope, but for her and her future brothers and sisters to have a life where they never go without. So, not only have I ‘found me’ as I set out to do, but through having a child have become a better version of the ‘working me’ than I once was (even if I do say so myself!). 

And, how about Madeline? Well, we now have quality mummy/daughter days whenever I’m off and I cherish every single moment. There are a few less play dates with other mums and their babies, but we still make it work and have lots of fun together. Lazy days at home with a cheeky one-year-old, spending all day playing toys, singing nursery rhymes, reading books and having cuddles are by far my favourite way to spend the day.

And the fun doesn’t stop for Madeline who clearly has a fabulous time with the family that look after her while I’m at work (we are very fortunate). They all know to text me regular updates throughout the day as to what she’s up to. And, here’s the photographic evidence that she is full of smiles…


As for Fraser and I, we now have plenty to talk about in the evenings after tucking our beautiful little girl into bed. If anything, he often has to politely (sometimes not so politely) ask me to stop rambling on about work… He doesn’t have a clue what I’m on about and is clearly trying to watch the football… Oops!! 😝

Keep going mummies… We’re all doing the best we can X

Diary of an imperfect mum