You’d recognize Amanda Jane Jones’s work on any newsstand. As the founding designer and co-creator of Kinfolk, Amanda had a heavy hand in spearheading the minimalist movement – her mastery of mature type and photography created a refined look synonymous with today. Her work is classic and thoughtful, so it’s no surprise Amanda is too.
Since Kinfolk, Amanda founded Define magazine, tackles freelance projects, is in the midst of a home renovation and raises to two sweet-as-could-be toddlers, daughter Jane and son Miles, alongside her husband Cree.
We chatted with Amanda to find out about life with two littles, hearing about a meltdown on the way to the Eiffel Tower, popsicles on the porch and how a creative instills creativity in her children. Read on, then check out Amanda’s top Bitte picks on her Favorites page.
What’s life like in the Jones household these days?
Jane is 4 and Miles is 21 months. They are so fun! And they’re just starting to really, genuinely enjoy playing together. Cree and I were making lunch today and in they came down the hall, both inside an inner tube pretending they were a choo choo train.
Our days are pretty simple. They are both are usually up between 5:30 and 6:30. I work part-time and Cree works part-time, so whomever is off gets to have all the fun with the kids. Nap time/quiet time is early afternoon and now that it’s summer, we like to go out for family bike rides, an ice cream or a dip in the pool before bed. Summer in Hyde Park is so much fun.
As a freelancer, how did you balance (the “b” word!) your work schedule with motherhood once Jane and Miles came into the picture?
It’s an ongoing struggle! I feel so grateful that I have Cree who also values time with the kids and has amazing flexibility in his schedule. We both work part-time during the day and then late in the evenings if needed.
I have an office, but it doesn’t have any doors – working on it! I honestly don’t mind though when the kids come in to say hi. I don’t ever want them to feel like they can’t come to talk to me or tell me something. Jane will generally set up her art supplies next to my computer, which I love. She says she has to get her “pwojects” done too.
Before kids, I took 10 times longer to get work done. It’s amazing how efficient becoming a parent makes you.
Given your line of work, we imagine sparking creativity in your kids is of high priority. How were you encourage to be creative as a kid, and how are you passing that down to your children?
My mom was a dream when it came to this. She always had a closet with just about any craft supply you could imagine and she said we could use whatever! Her only rule was that I don’t use her sewing scissors on paper, which I often forgot...
I try to do this for my kids as well. We have a little art nook; the colors and tapes and papers are always out so both kids have easy access to their art supplies. I love turning the corner and spying them both busy with a project they started all on their own.
Traveling – with two young kids, at that! – also seems to be important to your family. As a family of four, you’ve bopped around the world: Iceland, Venice, Geneva, Paris and around the States. What are your favorite memories, most challenging moments and greatest skills and lessons you want to instill in your children from traveling?
Oh my goodness, they are the sweetest little travelers. We’ve had so much fun exploring with them so far.
My three top favorite family memories are:
- The hot spring hike we did in Iceland. It’s a challenging hike, especially while wearing two babies and backpacks. Once we reached the top though, it was worth it! So gorgeous and the springs were so refreshing. They were shallow enough for Jane to explore on her own. It was just such a magical experience to have with them. They both fell asleep on the way down, which is always a nice perk.
- We took Jane to Amsterdam when she was about 18 months. She was very busy at that stage, so we didn’t set very high expectations for ourselves that trip and just biked around all day long, and it was so much fun. It was so simple, but just biking around the narrow streets and canals felt like the greatest adventure.
- We did an amazing hike in Wengen, Switzerland with the kids. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever been on. Both kids fell asleep, so it was completely quiet. It was also overcast, so the colors of the mountains seemed to pop even more. Breathtaking. And bonus: the hike had an amazing restaurant and playground at the end, so the kids loved it too.
Most challenging moments?
No trip is without mishaps and minor tantrums, but we always regret it when we push the kids too hard. I remember in Paris, Cree and I really wanted to see the Eiffel tower, but Jane kept saying she needed a nap. We hoped she would just fall asleep on the go, but she didn’t and it resulted in a massive, massive tantrum. We felt terrible and learned our lesson. We went straight back to our rental and all took a nap and she was back to her normal self.
Our family does better on longer trips so that we can work in “down days.” Days where you can have a slow breakfast, maybe just take a walk or even watch a movie. Travel really takes a lot out of kids, so being able to have some restful rejuvenation days really has helped us.
We’ve also learned that this is our season for nature travel. Our kids do 10 times better when we are in the mountains or on a lake – anywhere there is fresh air. Cities and loud places tend to make them anxious and so we’ve learned to plan accordingly.
Your look is iconic – minimalist, neutral, comfortable – and your children have taken on the same style. What do you look for when buying clothing and products for both yourself and your children?
I like children’s clothing to be well made, comfortable – not fussy and not too busy. It’s funny, Jane’s favorite dress as of right now is a black Alice and Ames dress that she calls her “Sound of Music dress.” I’m not sure many 4 year olds would choose black, but I get a kick out of it. She also has this black and white beaded vest that she wears year round, any chance she gets. I love seeing her taste emerge.
Say it’s a perfect summer day in Chicago, where you live, and you have an entire day off to spend with your family. Tell us about your ideal day.
We’d probably get breakfast at Plein Air Cafe, hop on our bikes and head to the beach or the splash pad. Everyone would get an afternoon nap, and then dinner at home, followed by popsicles on the back porch and firefly catching.
There’s a lot to be learned from those little humans. What have your children taught you? And how has becoming a mother changed your disposition – how you treat strangers, sit in traffic, deal with difficult work situations?
So much! I talk about this all the time. With each child, I’m amazed at my capacity to love and my desire to be better, to judge less. They have made me more compassionate, more careful and more purposeful. Everything I do, I do it for them. Cree and I sit down with each other at the start of each week and we go over our schedules and the goal is always how can we get everything done that we need to and make time with the kids a priority.
What are you currently…
Listening to? The La La Land soundtrack.
Reading? Go Set a Watchman
Cooking? I’m coming off of two rounds of Whole30, so I’m still trying to keep everything as whole as possible...with the occasional ice cream cone. ;)
Hanging on your walls? Nothing right now. We’re moving, so it’s all coming down!
Tripping over on the floor? Oh my gosh. Ha! I should take a photo. From my seat I see octonaut figurines, a yoga mat-turned-fort, about 30 markers, a mini shopping cart that’s been filled to the brim...I’m amazed at the messes they make, but I love them all the same. I think it will be sad when I don’t find Mr. Bear underneath my pillow anymore or a toy tiger in my shoe.
What’s next for you and your family?
We’re renovating and moving this summer. It’s been a bigger project than we originally anticipated, but we’re so excited. And Miles gets his own room! Hopefully we’ll have all the papers signed in the next couple of weeks and we can begin our new chapter.