Janey Jones was born in Edinburgh and grew up by the seaside just outside the city. She published the first two Princess Poppy books herself (with her own illustrations) and they were so popular that Random House Children’s Books soon bought the series and re-packaged them. They went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Janey has since set up her own Publishing company, Eden Cooper. Janey lives in Edinburgh with her three sons. Her latest Princess Poppy book, Please Please Save the Bees is out now…
Tell us a bit about you as a mum…
My sons are now in their twenties but I have always tried to put their needs first.
That said, I believe it sets a good example to the next generation if they see their parents working hard and prioritising work where necessary. It makes me happy that my children are proud of my professional achievements.
I like to follow my sons’ interests, cook well for them, support their studies and inspire them with ideas, stories and potential heroes. We also have fun, be that water parks on holidays or trips to see comedy films at the cinema. I also love to surprise them with tiny gifts or books they might like.
This might all sound a bit too perfect. Over the years, I have been strict on certain matters and I don’t ever consider myself to be a sort of best friend to my kids. I am their mother and that’s that.
I believe that a parent should take a firm line when it comes to manners, values and discipline. Not in an old-fashioned way. But I think you prepare your children for the real world by encouraging them to be less egotistical. As a mother and school teacher I have observed that children who are over indulged both emotionally and financially struggle more in friendships. I am proud that my sons are caring friends to others.
Tell us about your current job…
I work as a writer and publisher. This involves a mix of writing, marketing, editing, planning and promoting. The life of a writer is one of contrasts, I always think. Sometimes you work in lonely isolation and at other times you become theatrical and communicative, taking to stages, village halls, summer tents and pop-up festivals, madly selling your work. It’s like the wedding season, lasting from May to October, all the authors of the world out and about. I love working on new books, either for children or in the romantic genre. It’s wonderful to have a job where variety is such a feature. Research means that you become immersed in diverse topics and I find this keeps the brain fresh and open to new thoughts and ideas.
I find that reading other people’s books is extremely important, not for ideas, but for benchmarking my own work. The writing talent out there is incredible and so many people have formally studied creative writing so the standard is incredibly high.
I love my job and as long as you are self- disciplined, it’s a great way to earn a living.
How easy have you found being a working mum?
There have been hard moments when it all seemed overwhelming and as if I was letting everyone down. But overall, I feel as if one role has enhanced the other. When I succeed at work, I become more positive as a parent and vice versa. There are different challenges at the evolving stages of your child’s life. With little children, I found the challenges were mostly practical things, such as lack of sleep and childcare and school pickups, and managing hobbies, illnesses and parties! But later on the issue is around your child’s increasing independence. I find it impossible to sleep deeply until everyone is accounted for after night life, yet that might not be resolved until 4am – and I am getting up at 6am to walk the dog. Cue the power nap and siesta stage!
How have you found trying to balance being a mum with your current role?
I am lucky that my children are that bit older now but it has to be said that it’s always tough, deciding what to prioritise on any given day.
I have recently increased my workload by starting my own publishing company, and even though the boys are grown up they have still had to adjust to the fact that I am more pre-occupied. They will tend to cook more and treat me with kindness when they see me frazzled or exhausted. For example, during a recent bout of flu, they brought me delicious smoothies and healing potions. I often ask for their advice on business and professional matters as I think the young generation is plugged into the right ways of thinking and acquiring information. It’s a great privilege to have this sort of relationship with the children.
What has kept you going throughout your journey so far?
The belief that I am a better mother when I develop my creative self. It doesn’t follow that being with your child every minute of every day makes you a better mother. You need to recharge at times and they need a variety of ways of learning about the world. Also, whereas I was able to pass on a love of books, I wanted others, with the right expertise to pass on a love of science and numbers and boat building or football.
I have offered unlimited love, consistency and devotion, but I have also encouraged our independence from one another. This means that respect develops and they know what it means to be committed to tasks and to fulfil ambitions.
One important thing is that I have always cancelled everything in my diary if they need me.
What advice would you offer anyone who is about to return to work after having a child?
Don’t underestimate how emotionally tough this can be. As well as the emotional angst of being in a separate space from your baby or child, you may find that you are functioning in a different way and your professional self might take some time to re-emerge. That’s totally normal. There could be issues around feeding, hormones and energy levels. Little children do benefit from routines, but don’t always follow them robotically. It can be so hard to pitch up at work on little sleep. Also, it’s tough to excuse yourself from a meeting that is over running as you need to collect your child, but you must go and be firm on this. Maybe going out socially helps you to function, but for me, early nights really helped when the boys were little.
What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you about combining motherhood with a job?
Don’t dwell on the bad days. That’s not the general direction, just a detour. Plough on, looking at the bigger picture. Also, don’t give up too easily if something doesn’t fall into place.
Anything else you would like our members to know about you?
I have come to terms with imperfection and this makes life more bearable. In fact, more enjoyable. I have big batch cooking days and freeze stuff in containers.
I think fitness, care of appearance and healthy eating all help energy, confidence and general organisation.
I am at peace with myself and my life.
Janey’s latest book, Princess Poppy. Please Please Save the Bees is available from Amazon, Waterstones and all good book shops. (£8.99). Fantastic, no Plastic from summer 2019.