Aimee Stanton is a plumber-turned-DIY-specialist and the co-founder of Tiny Stays. She is also the new ambassador for Australian RV company Jayco.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My oh my. I used to study beauty therapy and realised “yeah nah, I can’t paint nails to save my life”, so took a leap of faith and started studying plumbing. 120 job applications later I landed myself an apprenticeship!
People always ask me why I choose plumbing. I say I enjoy working with my hands, but the other day I thought back to my childhood. My dad would take me to the petrol station to get an ice cream and I would always lean in to grab a Magnum.
One time, he looked at me and said, “Sorry Aimee, you can’t have a Magnum, they are plumber’s ice creams.” I was confused and said, “What do you mean?” He replied, with “Only plumbers can afford Magnums, in this house we eat Frosty Fruits”. So maybe that was constantly in the back of my mind all those years ago!
But anyway, after finishing my apprenticeship I decided I didn’t want to work for ‘the man’ anymore. I quit my job, travelled around Australia on and off for three years and then got home and thought “hmmm I better start making some bread now. I can’t live off 2-minute noodles and cask wine for the rest of my life.”
That’s when I sat down with my brother Ben (who was a travel photographer at the time) and we decided to turn our passions of building, travelling and eco-friendly living into our purpose.
That’s when Tiny Stays was born. We build off-grid tiny houses, place them in some of Victoria’s most beautiful locations and rent them out as short-term accommodation for people to take a break from their busy lifestyles and get back to nature (AKA escape their bosses and emails for a few nights and spend quality time with their loved ones immersed in nature).
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m an early riser! My day normally starts at 3:30am, which gives me plenty of time to exercise, meditate, learn something new and write in my diary for the day ahead.
We hit about 7am and I’m usually in the office smashing out some admin. Then come about 10am I will head to Tiny Stays Headquarters (okay, it’s just my parents’ backyard, but Headquarters sounds a lot cooler haha) where we build the Tiny Houses.
A day on the tools for me is a variety of things – framing, cladding, painting, building, plumbing or organising & dealing with problems (more the last two now), but it’s all a part of enjoying the ride!
If I’m heading away for a few nights, I’ll hook my Jayco CrossHaul on the night before and take it to the job site with me. Only being 11ft it’s easy to tow and means I can jump on the road the moment I’ve finished lunch.
3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I quit my 9-5 (more like 6am-6pm) job because I knew there was more to experience in life, more adventures, more time exploring and the Jayco CrossHaul is perfect for that and any tradie that wants to bring more balance in their life.
I’m a passionate advocate for bringing more awareness to people taking their annual leave and getting out to see what Australia has to offer. It blows my mind that an average person only takes 1-2 holidays a year. To achieve work-life balance we need to plan more things that excites us and they don’t all have to be on the weekend.
Campsites and caravan parks are a lot emptier during the week. Take that mid-week break, buy that dream caravan and constantly plan micro-trips every 6-8 weeks, so you have something to look forward to and you can click refresh and revitalise yourself to be more engaged at work when you’re there.
I try to plan a trip at least once a month (unless COVID steps in my way) and that is what I love about the new Jayco CrossHaul. I can hitch it up, bring it to work (because I carry all my tools in it) then en-route to explore by 2pm (beat the traffic). The Jayco CrossHaul is truly the definition of work to play.
4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes. My top two habits I’ve started that have changed my life are:
1) Picking random dates and putting in the diary ‘AWAY’ ‘AWAY’ ‘AWAY’. Then I choose the adventure of where my fiancé and fellow plumber Kayne and I head away to when the date gets close.
Blocking time in the diary for yourself is so easy to do and it makes sure time doesn’t get away from us. None of this ‘I’m too busy’ I make the effort to plan time away so then I have no excuses.
2) Gratitude and writing in my diary. About four days a week I try and write in my diary: My day plan and what I want to achieve from the day (none of this to-do list stuff), what I am grateful for and then at the end of the day, I evaluate what went well and improvements I’ll try and make for the next day.
I only do this around four days a week because we need freedom – sometimes it is nice to just get out of bed with no alarm and live the day in the moment with no plan. If that means bingeing on Netflix, or taking an unplanned hike or trip I just go with the flow!
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m a huge fan of listening to podcasts when I’m driving. My workplace is one hour away and a lot of people ask if I get sick of driving. I plan it as a time to learn and reflect. Some of my favourite podcasts are How I Built This, Seize The Yay, The GaryVee Audio Experience & Funny Business.
When I go away to Jayco CrossHaul, I always make sure I load up on books. I am reading at the moment something completely different to my usual. It’s called Survivor – Life in the SAS. It has me hooked and I love it even more that my good friend Mark Wales wrote it. Other favourites are Wild, Win Fast, This One Wild and Precious Life and The 5 am Club.
6) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Our Webber and also Spotify. On those long road trips it’s ideal we got some absolute bangers playing!
7) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t get too caught up in just ‘turning up’ to life every day. The world isn’t going to end or your company isn’t going to go into liquidation if you take some annual leave or go on a trip.
That is what life is about balance, adventures, spending time with loved ones and creating memories you will never forget. When you’re lying on your deathbed you won’t be thinking about that time you worked overtime because Cheryl from PR pulled a sickie.
You will be thinking about that caravanning trip with the family and the things you saw, towns you visited, people you met and fun you had.
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