Notes from Interview w/ Dylan Vitone 9/21
Our final interview at this stage of our design process was with Dylan Vitone, father of three (a daughter, 4 1/2 years old and twin sons, 1 year old.) Highlights from our conversation with Dylan, including feedback on our three concepts, below.
- Dylan is an extreme case, with a young daughter and two babies. The major struggle in their house is coordinating the different routines of his three children, and ensuring that each feels okay.
- At his house, there is a small window between daycare and bedtime. The family gets home at around 6:00pm, and the babies are in bed at 7:30.
- It’s hard to manage the twins, who need a lot of attention, with a 4 1/2 year old who is doing gymnastics on the couch. “My babies and my daughter need different things, and it’s a struggle to make my daughter’s needs feel important when the babies take up so much of our time and mental energy.”
- Dinner is an ordeal as well — babies in high chairs, throwing food, daughter complaining about not liking food. “We try to start the boys off with things they can feed themselves, as a way to empower them. They mostly just throw it at us. Then, we feed them the rest of their dinner. My daughter complains she doesn’t like the food, even if it’s her favorite. It’s just her way of exerting some power over what she’s eating.”
“My daughter is literally amazing, but kids are just assholes.”
- After dinner, the family takes a walk around the neighborhood, his daughter reads license plates and his sons get calmer and sleepy. They do baths every 3 days, and all the kids bathe together.
- With his daughter, Dylan and his wife read a lot. His sons have no interest (as of now) in reading. When they put them to bed, they read one story and then his daughter reads/tells one story to her brothers. While this is nice, her stories are often energetic, and don’t do the best job of relaxing the twins before bedtime.
- After the boys are asleep, Dylan has about an hour to play with his daughter. They have a ritual of making Italian sodas and building lego structures.
- At bedtime for his daughter, Dylan gets her into bed and starts telling stories at around 8:30.
“8:30 is the start of Mesmarelda stories. Mesmarelda is a purple witch, in case you were wondering. She’s a good witch. My daughter likes to hear stories up until the point where she’s just a little scared, and then I leave her in the dark. It sounds crazy, but she likes it.”
- “Routine is a big deal. Kids really thrive on consistency. Maybe it’s because we are so consistent, but when the routine is off by even 10 minutes, the kids are assholes for the rest of the day.
- Calming his daughter down at the end of the routine is hard.
- When asked what it means to be a good parent, Dylan’s first response was “being present.” While his kids are young, however, he isn’t able to necessarily note the things he would look for in an older kid to know he’s doing it right — empathy, understanding, etc.
- Dylan loves the hour he gets to spend playing with his daughter, and considers it a privilege.
- “I like the idea of facilitating conversations. It’s hard to get kids to talk about what happens during the day, drawing feels like a good way to do that.”
- “I often build stories around objects so that she can activate them with her imagination. We also draw a lot of books in our house. Transferring some of those stories to a physical form (book) feels right to me.”
- “I’m a big fan of physical things. Not a fan of screen time at all.”
- “The connections between these components feel a bit forced to me. Do we really need to pull all that activity?”
- “We used to color together.”
- “It would make me feel like a shitty parent to outsource the things I’m supposed to be doing.”
- “Transition between spaces and tasks are hard. A tool to help lead my kid through spaces and encourage her to move from one place to the next would be interesting. We do a lot of scavenger hunt-y things in our house. I wonder how this might be made to be a type of scavenger hunt. For example, the fairy is drowning in the bathroom, let’s go save her!”
- “How do you make them connect with the object, to want to take care of it and listen to it.”
- “If the ball turned colors to tell my daughter it was time for bed, she’d just hid the ball in her closet. If my daughter’s Pink Baby said she was tired and wanted to go to bed, my daughter would want to take care of her.”
- “I’m interested in the idea of things you’re (my kids) are empathetic to that modify their behavior. That makes sense.”
- “Taking care of things is something she’s really into at this age.”