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“A good parent is a happy parent” with Victoria Scott of Scribbler

A good parent is a happy parent + a happy child, but mostly, it is a happy parent. You cannot control your child’s happiness. You can show them, consistently, that you love them. And you can spend time with them, and encourage them to be an individual, and praise them. But you cannot make them […]


A good parent is a happy parent + a happy child, but mostly, it is a happy parent. You cannot control your child’s happiness. You can show them, consistently, that you love them. And you can spend time with them, and encourage them to be an individual, and praise them. But you cannot make them happy. Try buying them a toy (an almost guaranteed success rate), and see if the happiness leads into the next day. However, if you are happy, it’s infectious. The spouse feels the energy. The children do. I call it the Oxygen Mask Theory. On airplanes, if the air pressure drops and the masks fall out, you put the mask on yourself first before the child. Because in order for the child to thrive, the parent must care for themselves first.

I had the pleasure to interview Victoria Scott. Victoria is a critically-acclaimed author of nine novels and the founder and CEO of Scribbler, a global subscription-based company catering to people wanting to write a book. She’s also a wife and a mother to her four-year-old daughter, Luci.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us your “childhood backstory”?

I grew up with a father who worked full time, and mother who was primarily a stay-at-home mother. She occasionally worked part-time, but I mostly remember her at home with me and my three siblings. We were middle class — with enough to take occasional vacations and buy new clothes when needed, but not enough so that my father didn’t grumble when we ordered sodas at restaurants, because water was free and there were five mouths to feed (literally, in this case).

Can you share the story about what brought you to this specific point in your career?

I worked in advertising writing copy for major brands before being laid off during the Great Recession. With nine months of severance in my pocket and a signed non-compete in my junk drawer, I made the decision to try my hand at something new. So, I wrote a book. Then I wrote ten more over the next seven years before feeling that — once again — I needed to try something different.

Much of publishing is waiting, and patience has never been a strong suit of mine. I wanted a career I could go after with both hands, with no one telling me, “You’ve got to just wait and see…” And I wasn’t excited enough about returning to corporate America, where red tape often makes it difficult to execute new ideas. So, after spending a few months brainstorming startup ideas, I created Scribbler, a monthly subscription box for novelists with my longtime writer pal, Lindsay Cummings, who’s a #1 NY Times bestseller. We’ve been running it for 13 months, and have mailed out over 13,000 boxes worldwide, and brought in over $500,000 in revenue. We have a $730,000 ARR (annual reoccurring revenue), and are currently seeking funding to launch new digital products to expand the brand outside the box.

It’s a lot for two women who have children under the age of five (Lindsay has a newborn!).

Can you tell us a bit more about what your day to day schedule looks like?

I wake up around 7:00 am and check my email for a half hour or so. Then I touch base with my husband, and spend a few minutes playing with my daughter before getting ready for work. I’m at the office by 9:00 am, and my day is spent managing my team, meeting with advisors and potential investors, checking to see how our subscriber number is doing, and working on future projects — like a digital magazine and third-party editorial marketplace — both of which are currently in development. I’m generally home by 6:30 pm. Then it’s family time until 8:00 pm, when I do another hour or so of work. Then it’s Netflix and chardonnay time with hubby.

Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. This is probably intuitive to many, but it would be beneficial to spell it out. Based on your experience or research, can you flesh out why not spending time with your children can be detrimental to their development?

Well, first, I learned in my college psych class that children thrive in one-parent households just as well as they do in two-parent households. I’m sure there are studies that support and reject that statement, but it’s always given me comfort. Not because we are a single parent household, but because it reassured me that when my daughter is spending time with just her dad, that it’s okay. That is enough. And vice versa if my daughter is only with me for several days while my husband travels.

Having said that, once a child understands they have two present parents in their life, I can image it would negatively impact their development to feel a continual absence of one or both. I think it comes down to how the child perceives a parent’s attitude toward parenting. If a child senses the parent is avoiding spending time with them, I’m sure that would lead to negative outcomes. However, if a parent is absent more hours than, say, a stay-at-home parent is, but the working parent makes a big, special show of just how happy they are to be reunited with their spouse and child when they are home, I don’t believe there are detrimental consequences there.

On the flip side, can you give a few reasons or examples about why it is so important to make time to spend with your children?

I think most parents think they need to spend time with their children because it’s good for the child, but I’ve found that making time to really sit down and enjoy your child comes most easily when you’re treating it as something enjoyable for yourself. When you can find a toy, or game, or movie that you both enjoy. That means compromising (and teaching your child about comprise while you’re at it). It’s a little like nursing; if you think of it as solely something beneficial for the child, it’s harder to keep up with the task. But if you remember that there are numerous benefits to mother too, it becomes easier. I think it’s important to spend time with your children because it is good for them, and because it is good for you — the parent.

According to this study cited in the Washington Post, the quality of time spent with children is more important than the quantity of time. Can you give a 3–5 stories or examples from your own life about what you do to spend quality time with your children?

One of my resolutions was to spend 30 minutes of undivided attention on my daughter each evening. They say resolutions are made to be broken, and this one was. But I have kept my promise to have myself or my husband read my daughter books, and rock her, almost every night of the week. As an author, literature is important in our household.

Another thing I do is sporadic pickups at her daycare. Sometimes, when I’m having a light load at work, I’ll surprise my child and daycare early, and take her to go get a mani / pedi (yes, she’s four), or to the theater to see a movie.

On top of that, I pay extra attention to every event in our household. Any holiday, no matter how small, I put my all into it for Luci. She always asks me, “What day is next?” Which means, “What can I get excited about next?” I think it gives us both something to look forward to. Honestly, though, it isn’t the holidays I share with her that I love the best. It’s the afternoons where she comes to my office and colors or spins in my office chair as I work. Just having her close, or stopping to tickle her for a few minutes, or sliding across the floor in my own chair to kiss her between emails — those are the moments I’ll cherish. Because I am happy. And she is happy. And it makes the moment better.

We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed and we may feel that we can’t spare the time to be “fully present” with our children. Can you share with our readers 5 strategies about how we can create more space in our lives in order to give our children more quality attention?

1) Have a dead zone. I do no work between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm. That time is for family. Period.

2) Take vacations. The moment you get back from one, schedule the next. If you can’t afford to go somewhere, do a staycation at home.

3) Set aside one morning a week — for us it’s Sunday — where you snuggle in bed. The whole family. We call if Sunday Morning Snuggles because we lack creativity, apparently.

4) Declutter. My husband and I spend one weekend every four months purging things from our house. We don’t have two of anything. We only have one junk drawer. We don’t keep anything that hasn’t been used in the last year. Less clutter means more time for things that matter.

5) Eat dinner outside. It’s easy to slip into who just texted you when sitting at the dinner table. If you take it outdoors, it gives everyone a “time to relax” feel. We do this once a week, and it often leads to games around or in the pool.

How do you define a “good parent”? Can you give an example or story?

A good parent is a happy parent + a happy child, but mostly, it is a happy parent. You cannot control your child’s happiness. You can show them, consistently, that you love them. And you can spend time with them, and encourage them to be an individual, and praise them. But you cannot make them happy. Try buying them a toy (an almost guaranteed success rate), and see if the happiness leads into the next day. However, if you are happy, it’s infectious. The spouse feels the energy. The children do. I call it the Oxygen Mask Theory. On airplanes, if the air pressure drops and the masks fall out, you put the mask on yourself first before the child. Because in order for the child to thrive, the parent must care for themselves first.

How do you inspire your child to “dream big”? Can you give an example or story?

It’s all about exposure. I try to introduce my daughter to people who do interesting or difficult jobs, and explain to her what it entails. Then I may ask, “Would you want to do that when you’re bigger?” At the end of the day though, like most parents, I just want her to be happy. That’s a dream most of us never fully accomplish, but man, it’s a worthy pursuit.

How do you, a person who masterfully straddles the worlds of career and family, define “success”?

Success to me is literal. It’s accomplishing things I want to accomplish. That could mean developing and launching a new product at Scribbler, or getting my family to adhere to the “no phone” zone from 6:30 pm — 8:00 pm.At the start of every year, I set resolutions and I chase them. I break them into quarters and make categories for family, health, work, and other. They’re flexible, and I can change them as the year progresses, but success is having goals for improvement, and working to get there. It’s far better to work toward a more challenging goal than it is to easily achieve a lesser one.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better parent? Can you explain why you like them?

I purposely stay away from parenting books and resources unless I’m seeking a solution to a specific problem. The reason is simple: our children are different, and there are few one-size-fits-all solutions. I wholeheartedly believe that children need independence and respect. When my child says she wants something, or that she feels a certain way, I listen to her. I try to never treat her as lesser, or her arguments as less valid, because she is younger. If it won’t hurt her, then why not let her try? But there are undoubtedly countless parenting resources that would suggest this is not a good parenting tactic. And yet others that would back me up. Do what works for your child, and measure success by their happiness and your own.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have a personal motto that goes like this, “Win…in the end.” It helps me mentally every day going into work, marriage, and parenthood. To win in the end means to pay the long game. It means you need to allow yourself mistakes (big and small) and stay focused on the long-term plan. It means pivoting often. But mostly, it means trying again, every day, to be the best version of yourself possible — including the you that is a parent.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

This isn’t a movement, but a mentality, and it goes like this: accept others exactly as they are. The absolute worst thing you can do to another living person is to try and make them like you. Everyone wants two things in this world: love and respect. Respect other people enough to accept them just as they are. If we could all find a way to do this (including myself!), I think this world would become one, spinning ball of love. And what a world for our children to grow up in.

Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!

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