She’s a writer, a runner, a gin drinker, a brand consultant, a mother and totally addicted to the ‘homes abroad’ section on Rightmove.co.uk. In other words Aimee Horton, who has penned The Survival Series of books is what this generation calls a ‘slashy’ – someone with maximum talent channeled into many avenues. (Not least keeping her small humans alive). Here we talk to her in our new ‘making it work’ series about how she joins the above dots
How do you make it work?
Right now it’s a little bit hectic. I am trying to finish my third novel by the end of April, but as I’m also doing contracting I’m in the office 3 days a week. This means that every morning I try and wake up about 5.30/6am and fit between half an hour to an hour’s worth of writing in, before doing the mad morning rush for the school run. On Monday and Friday I come back and spend the day writing and finding different ways to market my current books.
On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I’m in the office, so as soon as the boys are in bed I sit down and write for an hour with a gin while dinner is cooking. I sometimes try and take my laptop to the office so that in my lunch hour I can sit in Waitrose café banging out a few words.
I say this is the schedule. Sometimes I just really can’t be arsed, and just collapse on the sofa listening to an audiobook pretending it’s research.
How many hours of the working week (not weekends) are you with your kid(s)?
I pick them up at 3.30pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and try and spend as much time with them as possible. Sometimes that often consists of me ironing in the corner while they’re watching a film.
Do you have this elusive balance? If not, why? if yes, how?
When you look at it on the outside, it looks like I do, but actually right now, no I don’t. I don’t think, when you write a book you ever have the balance because it’s so consuming. I also think, no mother can totally achieve the balance, because it’s so unpredictable.
What do you want from being a working mother?
I’m naturally competitive (with myself, I couldn’t give a toss about competing with others) and so I work for a sense of achievement. I love nothing more than a long day of hitting word count, or upping the engagement for a client on a marketing channel.
Tell us one of your darkest moments balancing work/ parenting (one specific moment would be good – i.e. dropping phone on baby while emailing etc.)
Forgetting the school run, and picking them up late in my slippers. Now I have an alarm on my phone… *hangs head in shame*
Do you miss your previous work? Tell us what you did and why you decided to leave?
God no. Not at all. I used to work in digital marketing, and after having my kids it just wasn’t for me. I think perhaps I’m not such a bitch these days. I’m too tired. I left because I hated it, and I felt like I was wasting what little time I had with my children while they were small.
The only thing I miss is the fact people understood “going to work” they still don’t understand “staying at home and working.”
What’s your biggest tip(s) for other mothers trying to make it work for themselves; mothers looking to go it alone?
Be kind to yourself. It can be REALLY REALLY hard, and REALLY REALLY exhausting, oh and demoralizing. But don’t beat yourself up about it. Also, find yourself some friends who are in a similar boat. I have two or three very very special people, who I’ve only met in real life a handful of times, but if I didn’t speak to them every day I’d break. Even if I just send them something and say “is this totally wank?” they get it.
Does 9-5 office work actually work? What’s your opinion on current flexible working in the UK?
I think it’s shit. I don’t know anybody who works part time who actually does those hours. The words “it’s only a quick question”… It’s never just one quick question, soon you’re quickly absorbed and pulled into working on your phone, ignoring your kids, and not getting paid for it.
What tools are essential for you to make it work? (i.e. Instagram/ gin etc.)
Scrivener, music, gin and running. Scrivener is practical – I need something to write into and I like the fact I can play around and re-order my different scenes and incidents without having to copy and paste. Music is so I don’t get sucked into a Netflix-a-thon. It’s very easy when you’re not feeling the love for writing to think “I’ll just watch one Pretty Little Liars” and before you know it your alarm clock is signaling the school run and you’ve achieved nothing except breaking to prepare a plate of smiley faces and dippy sauce for yourself. Gin – IT’S A CREATIVE TOOL OK. And Running, running clears my head, boosts my mood, and generally is one of the few things that keeps me level.
How much does daycare cost you? Or do you have family support?
They’re at school every day, and on Tuesdays they go to their grandparents, and then after school club costs about £8 per child on a Thursday.
What would your ideal working/ parenting situation be?
I was going to say I didn’t think there was one. But actually, I think my ideal would be the ability to switch off. That’s never going to happen. I often wonder if I gave up writing books and just worked at contracting whether it would make my life easier (I actually think it would) but the thought of never writing again fills me with horror. It’s just who I am.
Work or play?
ARGH. I’d like 50/50 please. I love writing, but I also love enjoying just being the four of us. Nothing makes me happier than a big fat family meal, followed by curling up on the sofa with a movie.
What’s the big plan? Or is it every day as it comes?
Mmm, the plan… So my book would be made into a Sitcom (ideal world scenario). Then the book I’m writing after the one I’m writing now, is going to be a movie. Then I’m going to move abroad (probably the canaries I have a real soft spot for the canary islands) and write there and run on the beach. Oh, and I suppose the kids can come too.
Follow @AimeeHorton for more great words and stuff.