Mamas of SF: Seven Questions for Jeni Axline

Editor's Note: I'm a huge fan of the Parenthoods app and if you're raising kids in the Bay Area you should be using it. I met Parenthoods co-founder Jeni last year when they kindly featured me on their blog, and in that time the community they've created has grown like crazy! Jeni's story is a lot like many working mamas who decided to pursue a different path once their kids came, and its fantastic to see her hard work pay off for the benefit of families around San Francisco! —Lesly

Name and Age
Jeni Axline I’m almost 28 years old. (laughs) Wait, I don’t know where that came from! I'm 34. 

What neighborhood do you live in, and where is your hometown?
My neighborhood is called Lone Mountain. It’s by University of San Francisco but I usually just say Inner Richmond or Laurel Heights because no one really knows where Lone Mountain is. 

My hometown is Seattle, Washington, sort of.  My dad was career military in the Air Force, so my formative years were in Guam and Japan and then we moved to Seattle when I was in high school. 

Tell me about yourself.
I went to the University of Washington, and after graduation out of five good girlfriends, four of us decided to move to San Francisco together. It was still the start-up bubble 1.0 when we were in college, and right when we moved the bubble burst, which was a bummer because we all thought we would get these awesome jobs in start-ups and it was a little harder than we imagined it to be. 

I worked in finance for a while until friend started a business and brought me on as the first employee. That didn’t take off, but someone on our board brought me over to what was then VideoEgg, now known as Say Media. I was there for seven years, and I grew out their advertising operations department into a global team. They were very good to me and helped nurture me from an individual contributor to manager and then eventually a director.

While on maternity leave I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back. I was enjoying being at home. Siobhan (Quinn, co-founder of Parenthoods and one of Jeni’s college friends), came over to visit and I was talking to her about how difficult it was to meet other moms—just even to get out of the house. My husband took the car to work everyday, and I would stroll over to Target two blocks away. I didn’t even have anything to buy, I would just go get a tea downstairs at Starbucks and we’d walk the aisles. 

It was really lonely and I couldn’t find any good sites online to connect with moms. I felt they were all kind of super-national, one-size-fits all. And I didn’t find anybody that was relatable. And maybe people were on there but they weren’t talking. Or they were in other states, or whatever and the meet-ups that I found, I couldn’t get to on foot. 

Siobhan had taken a sabbatical from Foursquare, so we put our heads together and Parenthoods was born. We applied to Y Combinator and got in and that really helped us with fundraising.  Today we’re live with the mobile app in San Francisco but we have big plans. 

 Jeni (left) with baby genevieve and Parenthoods co-founder siobhan

Jeni (left) with baby genevieve and Parenthoods co-founder siobhan

Tell me about your family! 
My daughter Genevieve, we call her Evie, is twenty-two months old. She is a Leo. And that really scared me when I found out she was going to be a Leo. But now I love it. She’s just so energetic and fun. My husband, Keith Axline, used to work for Wired and now he’s at Medium. He edits the Vantage blog there and he’s also their photo editor.

What tips do you have for parents raising kids in San Francisco? 
If you have the means I would outsource as much as you can. For instance, we order a lot of food. It’s not something that we like to do but we’re just so exhausted at the end of the day where we can’t make food a lot. And I don’t know if that’s the right answer. For a while I felt like ‘Oh we’re eating out too much. We’re spending too much money on that,’ but, are we gonna be happy parents? I think it’s just like cutting yourself some slack. 

One thing that we’ve started doing is date nights during the week, just because it takes the pressure off. There’s some really great family-friendly restaurants in San Francisco, so instead of waiting for the weekend we make our weekdays a little more bearable and break the monotony of going to work, coming home, spending a few hours with Evie, and doing it all over again the next day.

What’s your favorite stroller friendly restaurant in San Francisco, and your favorite family activity? 
We just found a new place that I really like and it’s called Tia Margarita. And it’s in Richmond and it’s a sit down Mexican restaurant. I don’t think they have high-chairs but they have booths. There was tons of kids there when we went on a Saturday. They get brownie points for the booths and the bonus points for the full bar. 

We usually walk there to the Farmer’s Market on Clement Street every Sunday. They have face painting and there are so many kids running around. We grab a coffee and a breakfast burrito and sit in the sidewalk seats so Evie is able to run around while we eat and come back and forth for bites. And then we stroll up and down and get our groceries for the next week. 

In one word, how would you describe raising children in San Francisco?