vicki and a cake shake

Updated post.

I wanted to share some lessons I’ve picked up over the year which have fortified my life and helped me feel more content.

We’re all human guinea pigs really, testing out new ways of living our best lives, it’s part of being alive right? Getting to know ourselves, our boundaries, our loves and dislikes…So whilst this list is personal to me, it might well ring true with you or help you make some changes at the very least, as I have!

I want to state it’s important to know that not every day will or can be amazingly happy and fulfilling. The onus and pressure on having to be constantly happy is down-right ludicrous in my opinion, some days will be rough and harder than before, particularly with kids who can so often test your limits, sleep quota and patience, while other days, will inevitably see you ride a wave of sheer exhilaration.

With that in mind, here’s my code to the content life:


1. Do what you love

Sounds simple doesn’t it, and it is, and can be. Passion is fluid, what you might have loved five years ago is likely be totally different to what stirs you now. I don’t limit myself anymore, I love to write, direct, present, paint-my creativity knows no bounds and nor should yours.

If you’re unhappy in a job, create a plan of action to leave now. Start honing another skill, begin planning your own business and commit to finding a way to work that excites you, when you can.

I always say that everyone needs a ‘maternity leave’ when it comes to creating a new work model for themselves. It was during both of mine that I was able to work on my blog and create a business.

Having a period of time you can dedicate to changing your career is a gift but if you don’t have a specific window, why not make one, spend an hour a night studying around your current job, write that book, start that teacher training course, gain work experience during a holiday period trialling a job you’ve always wanted…Whatever it takes, make the first step towards your goal.


2. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone

Doing something new is always scary but remember that fear is there for a reason-to protect you yes but to give you the Adrenalin kick you need to create change. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will always help you grow.

It takes great courage to change your path, to start a new job, business or expand your family.. and it’s OK not feel like you’re being successful first time either. Why is everyone so worried about failure? It’s a necessary part of success. Every single hugely successful person you admire will have failed countless times before finding what works for them.

I’ve learnt more from my mistakes far more than from any success I’ve had, plus you only ever hear about others’ achievements so your view becomes skewed about quite how tough the road to success can be.

…Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to feel fulfilled, doesn’t have to be something ‘big’ either.

Recently in Spain, I drove on the right side of the road. Crazy-scared, I somehow managed to drive on dual carriageways and motorways taking my rental car back to a villa 40 minutes away. And guess what? After the initial fear, I found I loved it. I felt challenged and empowered and a little bit kick-ass!

The same applies to receiving my first modelling commission by Nova Harley. I questioned whether I could do it, if I had the guts to model after two children, feared I might be judged but I’m so glad I did it because it was great fun, grew my confidence and led to years of work with a brand I love.

Sometimes we’re the only ones stopping ourselves.


3. Find a positive, productive work/life balance

Once you’ve found that dream job or started taking the first steps to creating it, be prepared for many hours of sweat, hard graft and tears along with oodles of joy. Prepare for the tough times.

There will be many moments when you will no doubt feel overwhelmed and exhausted for the greater good of building your new life so you must rest and replenish.

All work and no play won’t make you happy.

Burn-out is not the goal here.

Building a business takes long hours, hard graft and a ton of passion. It can be draining and stressful so requires respite, so you, the leader of your very own business world, can thrive.

I’m no expert, I still get this whole balance thing wrong at times but I’ve shared some pointers below to remind me of what works:

Learn to switch off.

Be strict with your working hours, particularly if you work online as the internet never sleeps and if you’re not careful, nor will you.

Turn your laptop off and other tech in order to have a better night’s sleep. The blue light hinders zzzzs.

I was suffering with wakefulness and nightmares and low and behold, once I gave myself a working curfew, I slept better, curtailed the bad dreams and became more productive by day. Who knew working late could lead to such bad sleep!

I realise for many parents, night time is when the work gets done but at the very least, give yourself 90 minutes away from screen time before bed, to help you nod off more easily!

Don’t believe me? The science backs it up.

According to this Guardian articleMariana Figueiro led a team of scientists who discovered that exposure to light from self-luminous displays could be, ‘linked to increased risk for sleep disorders because these devices emit optical radiation at short wavelengths, close to the peak sensitivity of melatonin suppression’.

So turn off. Literally. I have loved reading again, something I’ve done less of since having kids, and drawing too. Find an activity that nourishes you that doesn’t rely on tech.


Back to work-

…As well as loving the written word, the reason I blog for a job is because it’s flexible, means I’m in control of my work life, I’m my own boss, and it works well around my young family-therefore, I must commit to making it work for them!

I take a day off once a week, cramming full time hours into the other days, and working a little over the weekend usually on a Sunday afternoon when the kids have solo Daddy time which works for us all.

Daily, we always have dinner as a family, do homework together, and read as a family in bed before lights out.

Quality time with my kids and husband matters most to me.

There’s no point working hard if I don’t reap the rewards.

I also delegate my workload to keep myself sane: my manager and publicist handles my new business enquiries and negotiates fees on my behalf, I have a designer who ensures my blog looks its best and handles any IT issues, and a new assistant will be starting soon to help manage my schedule.

This all means I can concentrate on what excites me most about my job-being creative, writing the posts, presenting, featuring in campaign films, styling and appearing in shoots, creating new recipes and more.

I realise my business is at a stage where I can afford to hire others to help me, but the message is relevant to all, to spread out your work, be realistic about your goals and what you can achieve within a specific time frame, and keep reminding yourself that you’re only human. Even Beyonce needs a break you know!


4. Knowing your worth and saying ‘no’

Be it work or life, always know your worth.

If you’re freelance, set fees that feel fair for your time, experience and expertise, focus on positive relationships in your life that make you feel your best (more of that later) and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ if you feel a campaign isn’t right for you or you can’t make an event or see your friends. Self-care is the name of the game not feeling overstretched and guilty.

I recently refused a well paid job because viscerally it just didn’t feel right. Another person might have loved it, but for me, it was a firm ‘no’. Go with your gut. Always. It’s there for a reason and will never let you down.


5. Letting go of the guilt

Guilt is inevitable when it comes to juggling work with kids but it’s utterly futile. For me, I know if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be happy because I need a creative release. I also need to work financially.

Whatever you do, a happy parent equals a happy child.

I interviewed renowned psychologist Karen Pine and her words always ring in my ears, ‘The current zeitgeist makes parents believe that their every move will shape their child’s future. It won’t. Once we accept that, we can stop feeling guilty about not being the perfect parent!’

Let go of the guilt.


6. Eating food that feeds your brain and body

I’ve experimented with food a lot of the years and those who follow this blog will be aware of this, even seeing me try out veganism in the past.

I am fascinated with food, its power, the healing effect it can have, the flavour and goodness, the uniting factor food can have and I’m constantly trialling, changing, amending  and hopefully improving the way I eat.

I know as someone with PCOS, food and exercise are vital to my physical and emotional wellbeing and I do, finally feel I’ve discovered balance in this area.

No food is off limits or laden with guilt, but I generally limit sugar and empty carbs (although the odd ice cream Sunday as above is good for the soul), mostly sticking to a wholesome diet of healthy proteins, slow releasing carbs, fruit and vegetables. Ironically, all this experimenting, has led me right back to my roots-a Mediterranean diet.

I’m also as kind as I can be to myself, I know I can put up to 4lbs during the time of the month and during that time, I know I’ll feel emotional, tired and more sensitive.


7. Exercise that makes you smile

Running and yoga are my friends. I run 3 times a week, not in a high intensity manic way as many advocate (that style just makes me feel exhausted and I personally worry about the long term health effects despite the science so far) but I run to break a sweat, I feel energised by the time I finish and I vary between 20-60 minutes at a time either on a treadmill or preferably in a nearby park, weather allowing.

Yoga too has changed my life. Literally.

I’ve recently discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and have become addicted to her quick sessions which include yoga at your desk meaning there’s no excuse not to find time to breathe.


8. Have a friendship spring clean

I’ve come to realise that not everyone’s going to like me, value me or want to hang out with me, and that’s OK.

But many will, they’ll relish my energy, my joie de vivre, my passion and kindness, my get up and go, my ‘American’ or culturally Greek, ways. Yes I’m honest but I’m true and thoughtful and will do anything for my friends.

Look, people, all people (you and I included) come to relationships with their own baggage and it’s that which will more often than not impact on how someone will receive, and react towards you.

I will always remember at girl at uni on one of my first days, who told me I reminded her of the ‘pretty girls that bullied her at school’ so she felt she couldn’t be friends with me. Funnily enough we did become friends and she soon realised she shouldn’t judge others based on her past, however tough that experience was.

Most people, usually have strong reactions, positively or negatively, to others when they feel are seeing qualities in them they like, or dislike about themselves.

If it’s for the worst, sadly this is their issue, something they need to resolve themselves so simply don’t sweat it.

The reality is, some might envy you, your confidence, how humble you appear, the way you look, your education, personality, success, courage, your family-life, husband, home, the list is endless- and while envy is a natural emotion that everyone feels from time to time, it shouldn’t become a default mode and must never turn to jealousy, nastiness, bullying, or that quiet erosive killer of relationshhips: passive aggression.

You must also note sometimes the chemistry all bonds are based upon, might not exist. Don’t force it. Friendship shouldn’t be hard work.

Equally remember that you’re human and flawed. Take responsibility for your mistakes, apologise, make amends, change your behavioural patterns and work on yourself.

Behave in a way you want others to behave towards you.

I’m sensitive, that much I know, it’s my Achilles heel if you like, and the downside to being creative I suppose, but equally I have a thick skin when it comes to my creative work, I take criticism well, always want to serve ‘the story’ and bigger picture, and as my father always informs me can be ‘too forgiving’.


Life online can be hard for we bloggers and those who work digitally, we have suddenly become the protagonists in our own narratives meaning it’s hard not to take comments or opinions of others, even those we don’t know, personally.

Try and have a healthy detachment from your online self, keep it real and don’t base your self-worth on other’s opinions. Trust those who really do know you, a strong circle of friends and family who can offer you stability and confidence.

As in real life, keep only those who make you feel good, around you.

Equally, realise that just because you were once close with someone doesn’t mean you always will be.

People grow, change and evolve.

I am still close to people I’ve known since school, sixth form and uni but equally some long-term friendships have drifted or ended. That is life.


As the saying goes, a friend for a season, a reason or a lifetime.

9. Consistently work on your relationship

Relationships need work, in the same way you need to dedicate time to yourself with ‘me time’ (because you do), you need to focus on your relationships too, ensuring you carve out time for your friends and your partner.

Yes it’s hard but even picking up the phone for 10 minutes to mates you might not be able to see often, can keep you close. I speak to one of my best friends Carlie at least once every fortnight if not every week. It keeps us connected and close in a way that emails and social media cannot.

…My husband and I like to try and arrange a ‘date night’ in once a month where we get to just be ‘us’ too. Time for just the two of us is a powerful tonic and helps a lot, when we inevitably find ourselves bickering, fatigued with kids and work when we get back to reality!

10. Be kind to yourself 

Give yourself time-out when you can, talk to yourself kindly, ask for help when you need it, cry when you feel broken (you’ll feel better afterwards), stop self-regulating, be yourself and start living your way and on your terms. You don’t require anyone else’s permission to be you, you awesome person, you.

Bonus point-

Feel grateful

This is a big one for me, feeling grateful for all that I have, to be here right now, breathing, to be alive, to have healthy kids, to have a choice in life, something so many women, and men around the world, still don’t have.

Write a list and remind yourself of all the positives in your life because it’s so easy to lose sight of how much we have to be grateful for.

I have direct debits set to charities that mean a lot to me, and knowing I’m doing something to help others is hugely important to me. If you have time to volunteer or help others in need too, it is the greatest gift you can give.

So there you have it, pretty much my code to a content life (so far).

I’m a work in progress as you are too, and well, I never stop learning and trying to improve…

I’d love to hear your thoughts and pearls of wisdom in the comments.


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My 10 Step Code to Living a Content Life - Honest Mum



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47 Responses

  1. Jane Allen

    I love the tip about being kind to myself. I’ve realised, over time, that I’m my own worst critic. As a result, I’ve decided to be more kind to myself. I take care of myself more, I don’t beat myself when I make mistakes, I sleep well and don’t bother much about what people say or think about me. I eat well too.

  2. Tim

    Excellent advice and in particular I would stress the importance of stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones. The older we get and the more complex life becomes with kids, the easier it is to adopt a ‘safety first’ attitude and stick only to what we know. That’s how we get stuck in a rut. I can be as bad as anyone on this front, but I’ve stretched myself as a writer through my blogging and now I’m taking the next step with my podcast and book. The world feels a busy, scary place right now, but it’s exciting and that enthusiasm spills over into other aspects of my life.

    I really like your bonus point as well. It’s important to take a step off the treadmill and smell the roses occasionally. So often in life we’re too busy or we’re worrying about the things that aren’t going right that it’s important to stop and recognise what is going well. A sense of perspective.

    • honestmum

      Such wise words Tim, you are absolutely right and I completely relate to your comment about pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, channel that fear, turn it into excitement and realise anything is possible. You are such a talented fellow it is all there for the taking 🙂

  3. Notmyyearoff

    These are brilliant tips and ones I really need to act on. I am terrible for working very late into the evening and gotten very used to thinking I will sleep well if I’m exhausted. Of course it only means I’m wide awake at 4.30am, like now!

    • honestmum

      Oh no hun, so easy to get into those ways though, I have to be so strict with myself to turn off the phone and laptop but it really makes all the difference to my sleep and energy levels x

  4. Sarah Fawcett

    What a lovely code to live by, such a lot of great advice there, thanks oh and thanks for the yoga tip off, I’ve bookmarked that for later, I’ve been looking for someone good online since my local class closed

  5. Hayley - Downs Side Up

    Thank you for this important post Vicki. There are so many vital messages for us all here. I too have been suffering from nightmares recently and through the Summer have tried to create a better balance and nurture myself more. I’ll be coming back to these tips time and again.
    Oh, and happy birthday dear spring chicken xxx

    • honestmum

      Haha thanks darling, a few months to go but definitely made me more reflective. So sorry to hear about your nightmares, I’ve really helped mine by switching off early, lots of love x

  6. Juliet McGrattan

    I really enjoyed reading this Vicki, packed full of honest, wise words. I see so many people (at work and home) who aren’t happy with their lot. For many it’s a lack of courage to make a change. As you say, it’s a scary thing to do. I think working out what your barriers are and what’s stopping you is really important step. They might be practical or psychological but they can all be overcome with effort. This is a powerful post and will inspire and empower. Xx

    • honestmum

      Thank you so much Juliet, you are such a wise inspiration yourself and I love your words about practical or psychological barriers and that they can be overcome. Thank you for your powerful words xx

  7. Wave to Mummy

    This is such a great post, really important topic. I am finding it hard not to burn the candle from the both ends, even if I recognise (like you) how important it is to set yourself boundaries and switch off – because it just makes you so much happier and your life better. Ah, one of those things where you know what is good for you but find it difficult to follow through. Thanks for the reminder, I think I really needed that 🙂

    • honestmum

      Thanks so much, it is so hard to try and do everything and be everything to everyone but we need to give ourselves a break and time out so we can be strong x

  8. Suzanne

    Very interesting post Vicki. I think many of us spend far too much time over-thinking things – in particular, how we already ruined, or will no doubt ruin, our children’s lives. Thank you for this reminder and the quote – so important!

  9. Mummy Tries

    Absolutely awesome and truly inspiring post my lovely. As I’m sure you know I already, I nodded my head throughout and agree with everything you’ve said here. Having the courage to live the life we want will ultimately make us happy… It’s bloody hard work but it is so worth it xxx

  10. Michelle Reeves (The Essex Barn)

    Oh Vicki I think this must be one of my favourite posts of yours yet! It just oozes honesty, empowerment and positivity; things that I love most about you and I want to drink it all in, so much so that I’m saving it to read whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed with running my two new blogs/businesses. I agree with you on each and every point, notice how I sleep better without screen time before bed, write a gratitude list and meditate daily (check out Hal Elrod’s Miracle Mornings, I think you’d like it) and feel so much better when I cut out processed wheat products too. Thank you for sharing your wisdom darling, much love xx

    • honestmum

      That means a lot Michelle, thank you so much. Life and work can feel overwhelming at times but I have definitely found yoga and eating well while keeping positive people around me a blessing among the craziness. It’s funny you should mention wheat as I’ve eaten more of that lately and my tummy has been in agony, wheat is definitely not a great addition to a diet focused on health and wellbeing in my opinon. I re-read I Quite Sugar recently, it is such a balanced, positive book and I tend to follow that way of eating for the most part. I am so excited for your next blog Michelle, you will rock. Thanks for all the inspiration and of course your friendship. I will check out Miracle Mornings, it sounds incredible, thank you xx

  11. Jennifer

    This is a really detailed and brilliant blog post that clearly comes from the heart. I’m currently coming to the end of my maternity leave *sob* and have spent the last year making a move to set up my own business. I already follow a lot of your advice when it comes to family time, date nights and keeping fit and healthy. The guilt is the worst thing for me. I often think that I think about my business too much and not enough about my beautiful girls. I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see that everything was going to be ok so I could get on with my life without worrying so much! I may have to get an interim job as the business may not get set up in time and Iits soooo frustrating. I’m sure this is something we’d all love – the uncertainty of our future gets to the best of us I suppose!

    • honestmum

      Thanks so much for your comment and I totally relate, the future is uncertain for us all and no more so when we run our own business or are freelance but we also have the freedom too and in this digital space and time, we have more power over our work and control than before. It’s also such a democratic space too, one where anyone can shine. It is so hard dedicating time and energy and passion to a business and job with a small family where both require attention and love. I don’t have all the answers but I do know you have to be kind to yourself, take time out when you can. We are all in pursuit of balance and relieving the guilt so know you are not alone and things will work out x

  12. Mirka Moore @Kahanka @Fitness4Mamas

    You know i love you so much, and am so proud of you. You have achieved so much because you bloody work hard and go for it. Love all these tips which will help many. Cannot wait to see you tomorrow and finally spend a bit more time with you and your family with my girls too. xxx

    • honestmum

      Thanks darling, love you too and yay for tomorrow our little holiday together, the boys can’t wait to see their sisters. So proud of you too sweetie, you inspire me and I love you lots x

  13. Mary Louise

    Vicki i really like you and believe you could not have chosen a more apt blog name. I am like a sponge to your words and love to read your blog. I love seeing your choice of outfits and your shots! I wish my guy could take a decent picture of me when I am all dressed up. I ooze with confidence in my normal world and have a fantastic family and group of friends but don’t really feel that way about the blogging world. Not really one to discuss personal matters but my blogging confidence really has been knocked by internet bullies and gossips!
    Hopefully I will get it back soon.
    So much respect for you lovely lady! Beautiful post. So honest, wise and true xx

    • honestmum

      Oh Mary Louise that breaks my heart, never let anyone online or off make you lose confidence, I abhor internet bullies, and they are not always the obvious ones either, there is a lot of jealousy out there, you are a beautiful and talented lady so sadly an obvious choice for trolls and those deeply insecure. Please cut out, delete and overcome the nastiness and start slowly gaining your confidence back. I always take people for who they are, never listen to gossip (not that I’ve ever heard any about you anyway) but I worry deeply for the small minded, the judgemental, the ones who can’t decide about people for themselves. My husband always says you’re better off with those people out of your life anyway so it’s wonderful to be rid of the negativity. You are a shining star, remember that x

    • honestmum

      Yay thanks my darling, you are one wise lady and I’m honoured to have you as my great pal for that and a million other reasons, so lucky to have met you thanks to this blogging world x

  14. Babes about Town

    You are so wise Vicki, this post is spot on as ever and will help many people younger and older still trying to find their footing. Thanks for the lovely mention, very proud to count you as my homie x

    • honestmum

      Thanks means a lot Uju because as you know I consider you my rock and guru, girl, you are always so wise and fair and inspiring, love and miss you home girl x

  15. Ebabee

    I love this post so much – so positive, so encouraging and so giving as you always are. Written from the heart with so much that resonates. I love that you have taken out time to reflect on what is working, what isn’t, what makes you happy, what doesn’t. It’s such an important thing to do – to take stock once in a while and it’s inspired me to do the same. Thanks so much for the mention – I feel the same about you. You are a true friend and an inspiration. xx

    • honestmum

      Oh Nomita I feel the same way about you and have LOVED our recent phone chats too, I adore that blogging brought you girls and so many others into my life-creative geniuses I instantly clicked with, love you xx

    • honestmum

      Aw thank you darling Lucy, the feeling is 100% mutual, thanks for all your support and friendship, means a lot to me, lady xx

  16. Leigh - Headspace Perspective

    I love this post so much Vicki – so much so I don’t know where to start with making a comment! All of what you say is so true. Much of it I think we have to learn the hard way so we appreciate the importance. But kindness, passion, doing what you love, hard work, getting out of your comfort zone and a knowledge that life is short are concepts that will always be true. (I am also astonished by what that girl at uni said to you???!) I mentioned you and your fab Good Morning Britain slots in my latest blog newsletter yesterday, saying you’re an inspiration to anyone going for what they want in life. Proud to know you darling. Much love xxxx

    • honestmum

      Oh Leigh thank you so much for the mention, that’s so kind, I can’t wait to see and for your kindness and friendship. I agree about learning the hard way too, life can be so cruel and unfair. Thinking of you always, thank you for your support, much love xxx

  17. Mama and More aka Zaz

    I love this post so much Vicki for many reasons, above all the fact that it is so important to take stock as you’ve done and check in with yourself on where you are, who surrounds you and what you’re doing, ensuring that the whole results in nourishing the who you are and who you want to be! Thank you darling for the mention, look forward to doing yoga with you again soon! Much much love darling xxx

    • honestmum

      Thanks Zaz, definitely so important to take stock and keep doing that, keep on track with your dreams and be happy. Yay for more yoga, hope to see you guys soon x

  18. Katy

    Love this hun, I am not great at being happy with my lot, I strive to be better at the expense of my current situation. Fab post x

    • honestmum

      Oh chick, think we are all too hard on ourselves at times but know how amazing you are and relish in all you are achieving, hope to see you again soon x

  19. Kirsty

    As a new blogger this is such an inspiring post! I started blogging as have always loved writing and things have recently got a little stale in my full time job so wanted to challenge myself and push myself with something new that I feel passionate about. Seeing how you have made something into such an amazing career is amazing! X


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