The Mother Hustle Interview: Hels Martin, Lionheart Magazine

This weeks Mother Hustler is an old friend of mine Hels, creator of the fabulous Lionheart Magazine (Issue 8 out soon!) and Mother of two. I first met Hels about 10 years ago when we were at uni in Falmouth, we both had curly haired boyfriends and after uni we all moved on to Bristol to settle down in flats with cats! I witnessed Hels realise her dream creating this beautiful magazine, alongside jobs and later going freelance after children. Ive seen how much love, passion, work, perseverance and joy goes into it, and if you've read it you'll see it oozing out of the pages. Lionheart is an inspiring and empowering read, It really is an antidote to the glossy 'women's' magazines that feed our insecurities. Ive had many insightful chats with Hels about the proverbial juggle/ mother side hustles/ going for your dreams and passions despite the guilt and economic hit and wanted to share her insights on the blog..

Thanks Hels x

Tell us a bit about who you are, where you are and what your family looks at the moment

I am Hels, I live in Bristol with my partner, Charlie, and I am mother to a three-year-old fun and courageous girl and one-year-old hilarious and just walking boy. They are my loves, my treasures, tiredness and joy. We live in a Victorian terraced house and have one fast-pawed cat. Our whole family are ocean lovers and one day, we hope to live by the coast, but we love the countryside that surrounds us, as well as the fun that city life gives us.

Tell us all about your business/ side hustles/ work life and where we can find you on the interweb?

I independently publish a lifestyle magazine called Lionheart. Issue eight is about to come out and it’s full of brilliantly interesting, inspiring people doing great things, as well as style, craft, interiors, poetry etc. I also write features for various magazines as a freelance writer, some of which have me on some pretty funny adventures. I get to meet such an array of people through writing, normally doing things they are very passionate about and this is what I really like, I love to tell stories and get to know characters. I also get to do this being a mum!

Lionheart Issue 8

How do you find the Juggle with work/ family/ life / childcare etc?

Both children have childcare two mornings a week, then the rest of my work is completed in evenings and weekends. I think I just try and get it done, and luckily I love what I do, so it’s OK. The only thing I would like is more time with Charlie/free time. But I am proud of ‘mummy’s magazine’ and the fact that my oldest knows about what I do. They have been my colleagues through necessity many a time because that’s just how it is, how I’m leading my life. I AM going to do the magazine, write and try and be the best mother I can for them and for me.

What would your ideal balance be, and are you close to achieving it? If not what needs to change?

I am happy with this free style we have. In my ideal world, Charlie would have one day off a week, we would all love this. He took one month of parental leave earlier this year and that was magical/occasionally annoying/brilliant – hot coffees, writing, cycling, France. But I think it’s a shame the majority of employers don’t pay dads for parental leave, we had to really save to make it happen and £ is a big obstacle. The new 30 hours means that the children will now be in two full days, so that’s on its way – for the eldest. I think the free 15 hours should start from age one, not three. I think parents are in a vulnerable place after leave and to create a possible expensive barrier creates all sorts of guilt and potential issues, when you need to know that it’s OK to want to carve out a part of your own life, separate from your child’s. I hope more people create the ‘village’ and everyone works together, this is the future!

Why did you decide to work for yourself?

For flexibility, spontaneity and because I’ve always wanted to – especially after having children. But ever since I started the magazine, it was the dream really. I enjoy setting my own hours and working hard towards something I’m creating and growing, especially with others. On good days it’s like the best electric dance. On less good days, it’s rain and tax returns.

Would you say you have been more productive since having children, or less?

More, definitely! I have always loved working projects and have no trouble working all day on something I am passionate on. But with the children, I can end the day exhausted - night, night, zzz - then I get a second wind and I am all pumped for work. They inspire me to work harder and I have also definitely got better at multi-tasking, like all mothers with much to do – we are responsible for these little life forces and must think of all range of things at once. However, we are a family of great potterers/pottering, and this is often when ideas for all sorts of things spring up. We can potter quite happily for days.

What is your favourite thing about being a mother?

Sharing their total zest for life and quest for stories, bold, beautiful, imaginary, true.

And your least favourite?

When your eyes are literally glued together. The specific pitch of whinging noise.

Peppa Pig.

What do you love about where you live and what does your ideal weekend look like?

Bristol is really vibrant, always with ideas bubbling away and people doing really interesting things, open to everyone. I love the art, events, museums, parks, markets, food, coffee – how friendly people are, the excitement of the mini festivals specific to certain areas, the pride and the way some parts change, but the river, downs, colourful houses and the bridge, stay consistent, like a framework the rest of the city shoots around in – with the occasional hot air balloon floating above. Ideal weekend would involve cycling for coffee and croissants at Hart’s Bakery, a stroll through Leigh Woods, followed by a late lunch picnic in St Andrews, a walk around St Werburgh’s Farm and a cider, then a slow meander home. Sunday would be reading, pottering, endless coffee, art, baking and a short stroll at tea time.

And finally do you have any tips for working from home with toddlers?

Before you need to have some time to work, ensure you spend some really solid one-to-one time with them doing something they love first. Then get them set up with some kind of tools for engagement – colouring, decorating biscuits, stacking things. My son is a bit small for this, but he still naps and sometimes… the children play together. But who am I kidding, I don’t know! If I had the true answer (is it Peppa Pig?) I would have a bestselling book?! I think though, that it’s good for you to do things around them that’s not just focused on them, to see you are a human being too. It’s not about being a born mother, it’s about learning your own way of mothering and trusting that. That’s all you can do for you, and them, I think.