In honor of Father's day we are excited to mix things up a bit with our first Noble Dad interview, featuring Cree Lane Jones. Cree is a former middle school math teacher, phD student, and founder of Define magazine. He is the husband to the talented designer, Amanda Jane Jones and fantastic father to the adorable Miles & Jane.
Aside from being crazy smart, Cree also shares in the responsibilities that come with parenthood. Amanda and Cree consider themselves a team and in our opinion are a shining example of how to rock parenting together.
Although Cree admits that juggling his studies and family is difficult he believes it is worth every dirty diaper to be able to be present for his children on a daily basis and hear them call him Dad.
1. Tell us a little bit about what you do and about raising Miles & Jane…
I am a PhD student studying economics at the University of Chicago. As a graduate student I have a pretty flexible schedule and so I am able to spend a lot of time at home supporting Amanda with her work and spending time with Jane and Miles. This past year I was able to spend about 25 hours a week on campus and then spent the rest of my time running errands with the kids, going to the park or the zoo, and otherwise just enjoying being a Dad.
2. What does healthy living mean to you? How does that influence how you raise your children?
Healthy living to me means having a healthy work-life balance and spending time doing the things that are the most important. Amanda and I both work hard at what we do, but we also really value spending time together as a family and supporting one another. This has enabled us to really prioritize our kids and spending time with them separately and together as a family. This means that I don’t spend my time volunteering for extra things on campus or getting together with friends when I could be home with my people. This philosophy has brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction and is helping me build a strong relationship with my kids.
3. What is your absolute favorite activity to do with the kids and as a family of 4?
There is a window of time every morning when Jane wakes up and climbs into our bed and Miles wakes up and we bring him in with us. The four of us will lay there together for 10 to 20 minutes, almost every morning without fail. During that time Miles will get his drink, Jane will have a sippy and then ask to hold her brother. We will talk about our day ahead and just really enjoy the quiet start to our day together.
4. You and Amanda seem to have this whole dual parenting thing down. Can you tell us more about how you are able to maintain a healthy and happy marriage as two very busy parents?
We support each other. We always make the other person our top priority. And we talk through our disagreements. It definitely isn’t easy for us to manage my graduate studies, Amanda’s successful career, and raise two beautiful kids, but as long as we communicate with one another, ask for help when we need it and look out for each other we have always been blessed to be able to either get everything done, or to be inspired to know how to prioritize what are the most important things to tackle first. And the latter always includes popcorn parties, family beach walks and date nights.
5. You are currently getting your PhD and just launched the gorgeous Define magazine with Amanda. How difficult has it been for you to juggle working, being a student, and a father? How have you made it work?
It has been difficult, but we have been able to do it because we work together as a team. We each have time blocked out to get our work done. When I am on the clock I have to be incredibly focused and efficient with my time. But, when I am home with my kids, it is totally worth it! I love spending time with them and I am so grateful that I am in a position that I get to feel like I am helping provide for my family by hanging out with my kids while I carve out time to support Amanda in her work.
6. Talk to us about your parenting style? What kind of Father do you strive to be?
I strive to be like my own parents. I remember my parents always being incredibly supportive. They were honest and kind. They provided me with good counsel but also gave me space to make my own decisions and mistakes. As a father I always tell Jane and Miles how much I love them. I spend as much time as possible hanging out with them and taking an interest in what they are doing. As they grow up I want them to always be excited for me to come home, to always want to tell me about their day, and to always feel comfortable to ask me for my advice and counsel. And to always feel loved.
7. Did you always want to be a Father? Is there anything about being a parent that has surprised you?
YES! I have always wanted to be a dad! Even though I thought that I would enjoy it, I am surprised by how much I love it. Even the parts that you wouldn’t think are the glamorous parts about being a dad, like changing a blowout diaper, or having a toddler explode into your room at 3 in the morning to ask for a drink of water, I still find joy in interacting with them and getting those extra late night snuggles. I was also surprised by fizzy poop. I didn’t know that happened.
8. What has been your favorite part about fatherhood so far? What have you learned from Miles & Jane?
I don’t think I can pick one favorite thing. One of my favorites is walking in the door after a day on campus and hearing Jane’s feet as she sprints down our long hallway to give me a big hug while she shouts “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” I have learned from them how wonderful life can be.