Mama Interview – Dr Jessamy Hibberd

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Here we feature another interview with a mother doing deeply rewarding and fascinating work alongside raising a family. Thank you so much Jessamy for sharing your thoughts on motherhood and life!

Tell us a bit about you:

I’m a mother of three and a Clinical Psychologist. We live near the coast in Hove, where my boy and two girls (aged 6, 4 and 2) keep me and my husband busy! I am passionate about the benefits that psychology can bring and have recently been working on how we can feel happier, be more content, and live a daily life that fulfils. I shared my thoughts on this at TED x along with my personal and professional experience of finding happiness.

I work with adults experiencing common mental health problems like anxiety, depression or low self- esteem. I feel very fortunate to have the job I do – I get to work with some amazing people and it’s incredibly rewarding seeing them work through a difficult period in their life and come out the other side. I have also co-authored a series of six self-help books (This Book Will Make You…) to help people understand themselves better and to gain more from their life.

Q. One word to describe working motherhood? Enriching

Q. One thing you enjoy most about being a working mother? Having the best of both worlds

Q. One thing you’ve found toughest about being a working mother?

Staying on top of everything, especially life admin (sometimes I feel like I’ve got a job as my sons PA with the school stuff alone)!

4. One thing you wish you’d known when you first became a mother?

Sometimes there are no answers, the baby is grumpy all day and you’re desperate to know why – teething, unwell, tired? Often you never discover the reason and it doesn’t really matter. Trust your instincts and go with it, rather than trying to work everything out.

5. One thing that surprised you when you became a mother?

Can I do one good and one difficult? On the good side, how much I would like it. I know that sounds strange, but it’s changed my life in the best of ways. It’s what I gain the most fulfilment from and it’s what I’m most proud of. On the downside, it came as a shock that when you’re ill there’s no stopping – I hadn’t fully realised this before having kids! I wish I’d spent a bit more time lying in bed watching TV when I was ill pre children!!

6. One thing you’d like to start doing?

Cooking, my husband is an amazing cook so does most of the food for us. I’d like to have a few good recipes up my sleeve, rather than just pasta!

7. One thing you’d like to stop doing? Getting cross at school run time!

8. One way in which your aspirations and goals have changed since becoming a mother?

I used to be very success driven, whereas since having children I’ve felt much more content and grateful for all that I have. I still want to do well, but I want to enjoy the process rather than be focussed solely on achieving goals.

9. One thing you do when you need more energy? Get a good nights sleep (I love my sleep)

10. One top tip for managing your time or productivity? Turn off your phone.

11. One item you couldn’t do without? My running shoes

12. One activity you most love doing with your kids?

Going to the beach (we’re very lucky it’s at the end of our road), it’s good all year round; especially when it involves a stop at
Morocco’s – the best ice-cream shop I know.

13. One great shop for kids’ clothes? The Bright Company – we love matching PJ’s in our house!

14. One talent you’re proud of? Being a psychologist

15. One great family midweek meal you rely on? Spaghetti bolognese – great for freezing so it lasts more than one meal.

16. One great kids toy everyone loves playing with?

We’ve just been given a book for my littlest’s birthday – does that count? There’s a Monster in my book. My 2, 4 and 6 year old love it.

17. One book you’d recommend, either for leisure or for business?

I’ve just read The Goldfinch by Donna Tart which I LOVED.

18. One thing you have to say about work/life balance?

Finding a good work life balance is an ongoing pursuit – work out what works for you and keep checking in with it. With three young children, I think it’s hard to feel like life is in balance all of the time. When it’s out of balance, I think it’s important to accept (which I don’t always manage to do!) that life isn’t always going to run smoothly.

19. One thing you’d love to achieve work-wise in the future?

I’d love to make psychology more accessible for everyone. Most of us don’t think twice about looking after our physical health – we brush our teeth, put on moisturiser, eat well, exercise. I believe we should look after our minds in the same way. There needs to be a better understanding of mental health so people know what they can do to look after themselves, recognise the signs and symptoms to look out for, know how to tackle things like anxiety, low mood and sleeplessness and feel confident to talk to friends, family or employers. There are really simple things you can do to look after yourself and stay feeling your best more of the time – it’s these ideas and strategies which I think are so important to share and I want to do my part in that.

20. One thing you’d love to achieve in your family life in the future? To go travelling (even if it’s only for a few weeks!)

21. One thing you’d like to see change for working mothers?

A recognition that you don’t need to physically be somewhere to do good work. I love Mother Pukka’s Flex appeal campaign and completely agree with everything she has to say on the topic!

22. One crucial piece of advice for other working mums?

My motto is that “what you do every day is what makes the biggest difference”. It’s easy to put things off until you’re less busy, but in my experience that day never comes. Do what you can today, even if it’s just making time to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea.

23. One thing you’d love to ask other working mums? Fancy a coffee?

You can find out more about the great work Jessamy does in making psychology more accessible, how to get hold of her books and more on the website here.
And to hear a great, exceptionally composed, thought provoking TED talk then follow this link – TEDx.

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