How many of us have been hit with the cold, sharp reality that returning to work once you’ve had a baby is not a walk in the park?
The cost of childcare, irregular hours and even just the pull of being the centre of another human’s universe can make going back to the office an impossibility for some.
Yet, like me, when Vicki Psarias was pregnant with her first child, she had aspirations of making it work.
She even had visions of returning to her job as an award-winning director, with babe in arms, so it was a jolt when she realised it just wasn’t going to happen like that.
However, it is has been by becoming a mum that Vicki has truly found her niche in life.
Struggling at home after the birth of her first child, Oliver – now nine, she set up her blog, Honest Mum.
But what started out as a way to channel her creativity while on maternity leave turned into a global phenomenon.
As the brains behind one of the world’s most popular parenting and lifestyle blogs, 38-year-old Vicki went on to become a best-selling author after her debut book, Mumboss, was snapped up by mums eager for inspiration to thrive at work and home.
She now appears regularly on the likes of This Morning, Lorraine and BBC Breakfast as a parenting expert, and has spoken about flexible working and mental health in the House of Commons.
And she will be in Belfast on Thursday to share the secret of her success, as well as her frank and honest insights on modern parenting.
She said: “I’m really excited to be coming to Northern Ireland, I’ve never been before.
“I’m actually bringing my mum with me, so we’re making a bit of a trip together out of it.
“She’s the original Mum Boss, of course.”
Vicki’s appearance at the Black Box has generated quite a buzz, with countless mum and parenting groups sharing details of the event.
And it’s little wonder that women are queuing up to hear what Vicki – who lives in Windsor with husband Peter (38), Oliver and six-year-old Alexander – has to say.
Of course, her incredible success has not come easily.
“To be honest, my job as a director wasn’t compatible with motherhood,” she said.
“When I was pregnant I had this idea that I would be able to bring my baby with me to set, but the reality was quite different.
“Childcare is so expensive, people are paying £305 a week for one child and anyway I didn’t want to be away from Oliver for long periods of time.
“I started my blog in 2010 when no-one really knew what blogging was, so I was lucky to be able to grow as blogging grew.
“I was also able to use my media background as a filmmaker, I could use the skills that I had to develop the blog into what it is today.
“But when I started out, it wasn’t a career, I had no idea it was going to take off the way it did.
“The online world started to explode and I realised I was getting a lot of interest and people wanted to pay me.
“Then I was getting paid quite well and by the time I had Alexander in 2012 I was earning enough that I was able to become a full-time blogger.
“But it’s been a lot of hard work.”
Part of Vicki’s appeal is undoubtedly her honesty – no subject is off limits in her blog.
She recently wrote a blog entitled ‘How Can Anyone Deny Michael Jackson’s Abuse?’ following on from the allegations made by two former friends of the popstar.
“I’m staggered how anyone can dismiss them as liars and deny Michael Jackson’s abuse of them, and no doubt, hundreds of other children,” she wrote.
But it is her own personal account of being a mum, including her painful journey through post-natal depression, that has really struck a chord with her followers.
“I was the first in my group of friends to have a child and I found the experience quite lonely to begin with,” she explained.
“Then I had a traumatic birth with Oliver as well and I spent a lot of his first year on my own and too scared to speak up and say I was struggling in case my baby was taken away.
“I felt so alone and it was strange because I’d always thought of myself as maternal, like I was destined to be a mum, but I felt like I was really bad at it.
“I actually really needed help.”
However, it was only when she moved back to Leeds to be closer to her family that she finally received counselling to process the trauma of Oliver’s birth – and the fog of depression began to lift.
“It’s so hard to go to the doctor and admit that something is wrong when you don’t have the strength it needs to do that,” said Vicki.
The time came when she even felt strong enough to write about her experience of post-natal depression on her blog.
“It actually took me five years to do it, but it actually went viral and helped a lot of women,” she said.
According to Vicki, it’s essential to share the dark times, as well we celebrate the high points, with her followers.
“I think it’s so important that we portray parenthood realistically, it’s not easy,” she continued.
“I used to go to my mum and ask her questions, like how do you put the baby down to sleep, and invariably she didn’t know the answer because it was so long since she had done it herself.
“Then with the fact that none of my friends were parents, I think blogs like mine can be a wonderful source of information and support for new parents who might be struggling or unsure.
“I’ve had women come to me and tell me that my blog has inspired them and that means so much.
“I want women to realise that it’s okay to get something wrong because you can learn from it.
“I want them all to realise that we all go through challenges and tough times and that’s normal, we’re all the same, and it’s about nourishing ourselves and not beating ourselves up when things aren’t going right.”
Vicki Psarias is appearing at the Black Box on Thursday where she will present her Mumboss Manifesto for surviving and thriving at work and at home.