Continuing our series of successful female-led businesses and brands, meet the lovely and inspirational Vicki Psarias, founder and editor of Honest Mum – a prominent parenting and lifestyle blog where Vicki shares her love of family, food, business, travel, beauty and style. Former award-winning TV and film director, and a regular on daytime TV, Vicki is also the bestselling author of Mumboss and The Working Mum. With two young boys of her own, and well-known for advocating maternal rights, this is a fabulous blog for all Mums who navigate the challenges of combining motherhood, work and family life. Here Vicki gives us a sensitive insight into her motivation behind Honest Mum, as well as challenges she’s faced, what she’ll take to a desert island and a few tips to being a confident mother.
Tell us about your parenting and lifestyle blog Honest Mum – your motivation and how it all began.
I started Honestmum.com back in November 2010. I'd suffered a traumatic birth with my first son and the blog was an escape for me, a creative space to call my own that allowed me to rediscover my voice and later my confidence. The site, coupled with CBT therapy, helped me to piece together my identity again. It was an accidental career as I was a TV Director and Filmmaker prior to blogging and vlogging, and when I set the blog up I had no idea it could become a full-time job. Very few in the UK were blogging then. I remember having to explain to friends and family what a blog was! I love how liberating working online is, and the opportunities it's brought myself and other mums in particular, who are so often offered the short straw in the workplace, is wonderful. Digital storytelling is an emotional and financial lifeline for many parents.
Your blog is about empowering women to live their best lives – what do you think are the hardest challenges the modern day Mum has to face?
We're living and working in a patraichal society. We're 100 years away from the gender pay gap closing and mothers are last on the list when it comes to equality and flexible working. It's why carving out careers online offers us the chance to work on our own terms and time in a way that actually works alongside raising a family. Thank goodness for the level playing field that is the internet!
As a woman who has successfully developed a second career, do you think we are beginning to see a progressive shift towards equality in the workplace and more positive female representation across all forms of media?
It's happening, but slowly. However, the democracy of the internet means we women and mothers have far more control over our own narratives now, as well as the tools and ability to share and connect with others/the media, and that means greater visibility for all. When I first became a mum, very few were talking candidly about the realities of parenthood. I'd sit in cafes pretending I was coping with mums who were also pretending they were coping. It was a taboo to say otherwise. Now we're all speaking honestly so we feel less alone and greater supported.
Three positives to be a successful and confident mother?
Love yourself more.
Drop the guilt.
Learn about boundaries and get comfortable with saying 'no' so you can focus on what and who matters.
Hardest challenge that you have had to overcome?
A large thyroid operation where a (thankfully benign) nodule that was winding me was removed. It took over a year to fully recover from the surgery and took five months of intense therapy to fully overcome that period. A traumatic birth with my first son was also immensely challenging and the lowest I've ever felt in my life. Both periods taught me a lot about my inner strength and resilience. And also how precious life is.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My kids. Without a shadow of a doubt, every day, my sons.
If you could go back, what advice would you give your younger self?
Be gentler with yourself. Don't dwell on the past. Live in the present more. Not everyone will like you and that's okay. Stop people-pleasing and start living more.
How do you unwind and relax?
Yoga, a hot bath, a glass of red. I love date night with my husband, which even before this period of lockdown was infrequent, but so cherished that we got 'us time'.
The South of France. It’s my second home that I've been visiting since I was a baby. My mum loves to remind me that as a toddler I used to sit on the beach on the Croissette in Cannes and try and eat cigarette butts! I would scream if she, or anyone else for that matter, tried to stop me. I've always been a stubborn girl! Funnily (well, not so funnily) not far from there, my youngest son inhaled a tiny Lego piece and was rushed to hospital in an ambulance to have it removed. Argh, a story to tell him about when he's older. The family tradition continues …
Best travel tip?
Roll your clothes in your case to save space and avoid creases, and book a year in advance if you can, for the best deals. Don't be put off by splitting long haul journeys either. We saved a lot of money travelling via Germany when we went to South Africa last year, and it was fun to split up the journey, eat and shop in the airport in Germany and then sleep on the next leg of the trip, waking up in Cape Town.
Top beauty ‘must have’ in your makeup bag?
Jade facial roller. I don't know how I ever lived without it. My skin has never looked or felt better. Also Bio Oil as a face oil. I forget my usual moisturiser when we went away one weekend and now it's my go-to face cream.
Desert island disc, book and luxury item?
I Don't Care – Ed Sheeran; Despacito – Luis Fonsi; Hips Don't Lie – Shakira; Blinded By Your Grace – Stormzy; No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley; Jenny From The Block – JLO; Wannabee – Spice Girls; I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor.
Book: My Wild and Sleepless Nights a Mother's Story by Clover Stroud (the most raw, authentic and moving account of motherhood I've ever read).
Bag: Louis Vuitton Neverfull bag as it fits my entire life in there.
And finally, your favourite quote?
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” George Bernhard Shaw.