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)
I’d been back at work for two months and had been guiltily enjoying being back in adult company, sat at my desk with a warm cup of earl grey tea (or two, or even three) and achieving a page full of to-dos each day, instead of my usual routine of changing half a dozen nappies, sorting the laundry and building duplo houses.
It’s always been important to me to lead a balanced lifestyle with both a good career and loving family and it seemed I had hit the jackpot, working for an award winning full-service marketing firm on the south coast whilst also boasting a beautiful daughter and doting husband.
Not going back to work just wasn’t an option for me. I knew that in the long run, it was best for our family as well as my career. Plus, I was only going back part-time to begin with – the best of both worlds, right? But, after a year of maternity leave, spending the most treasured moments with my little girl (and some bloody stressful times too, of course!), I was dreading the moment I left Madeline for the day to pursue my own ambitions.
Mummy guilt. There is simply no other way to describe it. It eats at you and torments you, especially as you wear a brave face venturing into the boardroom on a Monday morning after the dreaded child-care drop off, leaving your little one sobbing and reaching out for you as you simply walk away.
The silly thing is, while you are having some well needed time out from being a mummy, your bubba is having an absolute whale of a time once they’ve settled (usually as soon as the door closes!). Whether they be at nursery developing their social skills with lots of other precious munchkins (proof that you are not alone in ‘abandoning’ your children for the day!) or on fun day trips with their grandparents or childminders, they always have a really lovely day.
But, on this occasion I was feeling especially guilty. I’d been planning for a client meeting in Manchester for the last month, had worked extremely hard for it and secretly was looking forward to a quiet plane journey, with a nice cup of tea and a good book (The unmumsy mum – such a good read!). Our previous trip to Portugal with our little Maddie Moo had been stressful to say the least, so I was certainly going to make the most of being child-free for this journey!
At 4am I crept into Madeline’s room, where she was so angelicly sleeping, and gave her a big kiss on her cheek before setting off. It was very rare that I was leaving the house before she woke but I knew that Daddy would be greeted with her usual big cheeky grin when she woke and she would be absolutely fine.
My client meeting went well and I must admit, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I could do something other than being a mummy and there was no need for that self doubt I had built up inside me before returning to work. I had done what I set out to achieve and now I could make my way back to the airport and get home to my little girl for the usual bed time routine and give her a big cuddle for leaving her all day.
However, I got back to the airport to see that my flight had been delayed for over two hours. I knew it couldn’t be helped but I couldn’t believe it and literally broke down in the middle of the airport – how embarassing!! I just couldn’t handle the guilt that I would not see my daughter awake at all that day, and more to the point I really missed her!
Life is hard as a working mum. But life can be equally as tough when you are at home looking after a tiny person all day. There really is no right or wrong way and I think mummy guilt will come into play whatever route you take. So, I guess we just have to learn to deal with it.
I was so pleased to get home that evening to find that Madeline’s grandparents had kept her awake for me. And, there are no words to describe the reaction you receive as you walk through the door to be greeted by a smiling baby reaching out for a cuddle. I got to tuck my little girl into bed that night and for that (as well as a successful meeting!), the day was good 💗
Keep going mummies… We are all doing the best we can! X