As busy Mums we all wear lots of hats, none more seemingly effortlessly than the super busy and talented founder of ‘Honest Mum’ Vicki Psarias; a blogger, vlogger, filmmaker and best-selling author of the new book ‘Mum Boss’… Vicki is living proof that you don’t have to sacrifice a fabulous career to be a Mum or resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to be a rubbish Mum if you have a career you love.
She helps Mums build their business while also thriving at home and is living proof that dreams can come true.
We ran into Vicki (literally) at Waterloo Station and couldn’t resist asking her a few quick questions…
You set up Honest Mum while on maternity leave to help women thrive at work and at home, what inspired you to bring your dream to life?
I wasn’t sure quite what my dream was when I started my blog to be honest nor did I know blogging could even become a business back then. It was an accidental career I fell into after being a Filmmaker and TV Director. I started a blog after suffering a traumatic birth with my first son and feeling lost and alone. I craved a creative outlet to call my own and having read some US based blogs, and thanks to the persuasion of a close filmmaker friend Amancay Tapia, I decided to start my own. I went back on set as a director for a while after blogging but by the time my second son came along in 2012, blogging and vlogging had become my full time (flexible) job. My career has evolved naturally over the years and I’m elated to be able to share all that I’ve learned in my book Mumboss which will hopefully mobilise many mums.
Why do you think Honest Mum resonates so well with women?
The integrity and honesty is what I think matters most. I don’t sugar-coat the highs or importantly, the lows. I’m truthful about my experiences but I also have a lot of fun in life so naturally share those times. Readers often tell me they feel like I’m their best friend- the one that’s truly honest with them and someone they can trust. I’m just myself. I’m an empath and naturally caring (I’m a former teacher) and I think those qualities make me watchable. It’s vulnerable putting myself out there but the support I have on, and offline buoys me up and keeps me going. I always think of who I can help with my work too, and I REALLY love what I do. That passion can be contagious. Whether my diary was public or not, I’d still write it. I’m grateful for the platform the blog has given me and the chance to reach people all over the world. The democracy of the internet is a true gift for all.
You’re an absolute powerhouse…what do you say to women who look at you and think; “I really want to start something, but I’m just too tired”?
I’d say I’m tired too and that’s OK. You don’t have to be ‘on’ all the time. I’m not. It’s half-term here right now so everything is going at a snail’s pace and that’s OK too. Life is for the living. Cut yourself some slack, don’t push too hard (quality over quantity), carve out time to do what makes you happy and trust that regular, consistent work online can go a long way.
As women and especially as mothers I think we are all our own toughest critics, would you agree?
I think it doesn’t help that we operate in a patriarchal society where flexible working isn’t the norm which places huge pressures on us as parents: men and women. Mothers are not given the respect they deserve by the workforce/ society generally and until we have that equality, we’re hindered: all of us, men and women. I think first-time motherhood is particularly tough because we so often trust everyone but ourselves. Second-time parenthood felt a breeze to me. I was no longer a back-seat driver. I trusted my gut more than ever, and still do. I became a relaxed parent after my second son. I think if I had a third, I’d be horizontal!
Do you think that women can ‘have it all’ or is that a myth?
I think you need to define ‘all’ first off. Not everyone wants to work or to juggle both, and I believe the greatest and most challenging job is being a stay at home mum. For me, having it all is doing a job I love while getting to spend quantity and quality time with my family. This year particularly and being managed by the brilliant Jack Freud has given me those things. I really feel I have a balanced work life now.
What’s the one thing about being a Mum that no-one told you, but you wish they had?
That struggling is common, that I shouldn’t hide the hard times from those who love me, like I did at the start. I don’t blame others for not telling me as they would never have known as I kept quiet. I do wish more was mentioned on maternal mental health in those days. Blogs and the candidness around parenting didn’t really exist in 2010 so I was out on a limb when I felt like I was spiralling after a traumatic birth. It was a tough time.
I find when you walk down a creative path you’re also often on a journey of self-discovery…What do you know about yourself now that you didn’t before?
I’ve discovered strength I didn’t know I had which has come from a mix of life experience, overcoming adversity and my creative job. I’ve learned about resilience and needing to feed my creativity in order to feel happy. I’ve met soul-sisters thanks to my blog, and I’ve loved sharing the journey and magical milestones such as my book launch and little Xander signing my books (a memory I will never forget) with my little family. I have the most beautiful bond with my boys who are my best friends, and a rock in my husband, Peter whose support is unwavering. I feel incredibly grateful to them all.
Your book is brilliant; would you say it’s a ‘how to’ guide for Mums who are getting back into business?
It’s a handbook for parents on finding their voice, building a business and personal brand, and returning to work with confidence. It’s the book I wish I’d had myself when I had my first child.
Balance is a real buzz word at the moment, how do you maintain yours with such a hectic schedule?
My management team, my husband, after school club and a schedule that makes family life and our happiness a priority. Being self-employed is utterly empowering but the internet never sleeps so sometimes I can forget to, too. It’s all about checking yourself before you wreck yourself and making self-care a priority. I also accept some instances of course require compromise and tend to know in advance if a month might be hectic so I follow that with a less busy one. It’s a juggle but worth it for the joy of it all.
Let’s talk about ‘Mummy Guilt’ is that something you ever get used to?
It’s futile but it exists so I accept it, and I’ve definitely learned to live with it. I think the more my personal brand has grown, the more in control I am, and the easier it is to pick projects and say yes and no. The guilt has definitely diminished thanks to that.
How important is it to retain your sense of self when you become a Mum and how have you achieved that?
I think I have retained my sense of self (my kids refer to me as a fun mum) but equally I’ve embraced the changes motherhood has brought. I do enjoy and make a point of doing the things I loved pre-motherhood, now whether that’s dancing to the radio parked in my car over heading to a nightclub like the ‘olden days’. I still make a monthly girls’ night with friends, head to the spa when I can, make date night with the husband, plus we’re really outdoorsy and sporty so as long as I’m roaming the countryside with my Rudds wellies on, or playing tennis and football with the kids, I’m happy!
What do you want your children to learn from your Honest Mum journey?
That they can do and be whomever they want to be. I want them to work hard doing what they love, respecting others and spreading kindness and compassion as they go.
One piece of wisdom you’ve learnt that you wish all Mums would take on board?
Trust your gut. Trust yourself.
The Fast Five
What’s the one thing you love to do every day? Eat dark chocolate!
Your go-to weekend outfit? tea dress, over the knee boots and a long trench.
If you were a bumper sticker…what would it say? Nothing witty just a, ‘Please indicate’! (Drives me bonkers when people don’t)!
The song that always gets you on the dance floor? One Kiss – Dua Lipa
Your best ever household hack? The shower caps you get in hotels are perfect for putting over shoes to stop mud from getting everywhere. Great for when you pack a case too (I like to take ALL the shoes with us)!