Do parenting and innkeeping mix?

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11/18/2013

Hello everyone,

I am an aspiring innkeeper. I posted a question about raising capital to purchase an inn in the "aspiring innkeepers" section. Now I have a question about raising children.

Do any innkeepers here have young children? If so, do you have any advice or warnings? It sounds like innkeeping is so demanding that finding time to read a book is impossible, let alone raise a child. But I am hoping that someone will tell me that it can be done!

My husband and I do not have children yet, but we hope to start a family in a few years. We both have "desk jobs" that make us miserable and we think running an inn would be a good fit for us. I would only want to invest in a property that has a track record of turning enough revenue to allow us to hire at least one staff member, more depending on the size. Hopefully most of the cleaning would be covered by staff (though I have no objection to doing it) and we would cover marketing, guest relations, budgeting/accounting, and property maintenance. 

We make a really great team and I can say that with confidence -- we've been restoring an old sailboat over the last few years, which may not be as hard as running an inn but it is a challenge! We've had lots of "serious" conversations over the process, but have always been on the same side and are still very much in love Smiling  AND we lived aboard the thing for 2 years! In the winter! We're talking less than 100 sq feet of space and no shower!! 

But I digress... We aren't at the point of purchase -- far from it -- but I'm researching as much as I can now so that I can prepare one way or another. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated! 

Arks's picture
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Speaking of growing up in an inn, I was talking to a friend over Thanksgiving whose parents ran the largest motel here when he was a kid. He said his job, when he was little, in the 1950's, was taking all the used tiny bars of soap left in the bathrooms and shredding them with a potato peeler. They used that to do the laundry!

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Innkeep's picture
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Arkansawyer wrote:

Speaking of growing up in an inn, I was talking to a friend over Thanksgiving whose parents ran the largest motel here when he was a kid. He said his job, when he was little, in the 1950's, was taking all the used tiny bars of soap left in the bathrooms and shredding them with a potato peeler. They used that to do the laundry!

My dad was a general surgeon back in the day before disposable gloves.  So, one of my Saturday jobs was to wash the gloves, check them for pinholes, powder them, wrap in a piece of cloth, then put them in the autoclave (sterilizer).  We also did the same thing with needles and syringes.  Sometimes you'd run the tip of the needle over a pumice stone to get any burrs off the tip.  Back in those days you really could get a shot with a dull needle!  I'd get paid 25 cents per Saturday.

gillumhouse's picture
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And I thought getting paid a penny  for 100 potato bugs captured (and killed) was good pay.

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10/07/2008

Stuff happens. If you are a parent you know this. How to deal with stuff happening AT HOME which is ALSO WORK is a different story than any other business. Of course it can be done. Being a single parent CAN BE DONE. Being a latchkey kid CAN BE DONE. Being in the military and on deployment with kids missing out on a mother or father CAN BE DONE. It all CAN BE DONE.

Is it recommended? No.

Is it successful? Depends on you. (not relatives, not child care, you).

Would I do it again? I would recommend separate quarters/building, but then when I say that then that means I AM NOT HERE where they are...I am at the inn, vs with the kids AND the inn.

Owning an inn is a difficult choice in itself. Being sick every day with morning sickness while you are cooking and serving guests? Not such a good idea. Babies crying in the night, and the day at a B&B, because that is what babies do? Not such a good idea.

Having them help at the inn? Then having them HATE THE INN, not such a good idea, but hey it is easier than the crack of dawn milking cows on a farm.

Meeting people from around the world, or do you want them to be apart form the guests? Respect the paying guests privacy? A hard decision and a very fine line.  Will you allow kids who then play with your guests? or er, babysit their kids? A hard decision and a very fine line.

There you have it, from an innkeeper with two kids. One who actually drains all the energy and happy part of me, and sucks me dry with "issues" The other goes to school each day and does not do the former.  Are you guaranteed not to have a special needs child? or an overactive child? or a overly sensitive child? NO.

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Hillbilly's picture
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10/22/2011

My wife and I love what we do. We have 2 kids and they have grown up living in a Bed and Breakfast. At times its a lot of fun having the kids around and helping out where they can. Its kinda a team effort. Other times I feel very sad for them. Its hard for kids to be kids. They always have to be quite and sometimes thats a really hard thing to do when they have friends over. Because most Inns are 7 days a week its hard to find good quality time with your kids. Sometimes its hard to get to school functions, sports and so on. My wife and I have it worked out pretty good. If a guests needs something I do most of the running so she can stay with the kids. As they get older I hope this will change a little. But for now it works good.
If you do this, this is what I suggest.

1)Make sure you have someone who can take over duties when you want to spend time with your kids and go out for activities.
2) If you can, have a second living quarters away from the guests. ( This is for the privacy of you and your guests, not just a room! )
We live in another property right next door. When the house came available we new it was a must if our kids were going to be able to have some kind of a normal life outside of a Bed and Breakfast. Im not sure we would be doing this today if we still lived in the Bed and Breakfast.

I know a few on here who have kids and live in the Inn. My hats are off to you to be able to do this and still have business with small kids! Smiling

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Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

This may come across as crass but I would like you to think of the implications of trying to have a child after you have purchased the inn.

Of course, in any life there can be events that happen that mean you are not at your best - accidents, illnesses, death in the family, etc.

But, pregnancy can be planned for. 

Also, if you have a child who is not an angel it's best to know that before buying and committing to a job with little down time. This can include a kid with medical issues, emotional needs, physical disabilities or a kid who is just plain old obnoxious.

Do you want your in laws and parents raising your child? Do you feel their values are yours? Are their parenting skills what you would do in the same situation? Are THEY on board for everyday child care, perhaps curtailing the life they want now that their kids are out of the house?

I know a lot of grandparents who would not even consider moving out of town once the babies come along. I'm not one of them. I would resent my kids planning for my undivided attention and availability for child care as part of their business plan.

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gillumhouse's picture
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Or you could have one that gets blessed with EVERY drop of stubborn bullheadedness on BOTH sides of the family in one little package. Granddaughter # 4 was the poor thing that got it ALL.  The ONLY thing she has going for her is MY family is not in that mix as she has enough with what she got!

gillumhouse's picture
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Sorry - it duplicated. Thankfully, granddaughter #4 did not! (Her aunts are twins - and blessedly MY handful twin likes being an aunt and has no desire to pass HER wonderful characteristics on.)

Hillbilly's picture
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I know a lot of grandparents who would not even consider moving out of town once the babies come along. I'm not one of them. I would resent my kids planning for my undivided attention and availability for child care as part of their business plan.

 

Agree!

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10/07/2008

Bob wrote:

I know a lot of grandparents who would not even consider moving out of town once the babies come along. I'm not one of them. I would resent my kids planning for my undivided attention and availability for child care as part of their business plan.

 

Agree!

My parents are this way. My mother is not grandmotherly in any sense of the word. Unless the kid wants a vodka and cranberry and cigarette while they watch tv.

The other parents are in New Zealand, and dislike Americans, so there ya have it! We do what we do, never ever rely on anyone else. I think innkeepers are THIS WAY. Every last one of us! SELF DETERMINED to the bone.

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11/18/2013

Thanks everybody for the feedback! I'm encouraged that it can be done -- however difficult. I suspected as much, since many careers are demanding but people continue to have kids. Still, I want to be as informed as possible. Thanks again!

Bommelhoeve's picture
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NO

Wait I change my answer.

YES

Like Fire and Gasoline

TheBeachHouse's picture
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06/24/2013

My friend grew up in an inn.  she said she lived in a tiny, cramped apartment in the summer, but a huge, spralling mansion in the winter!  

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Madeleine's picture
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TheBeachHouse wrote:

My friend grew up in an inn.  she said she lived in a tiny, cramped apartment in the summer, but a huge, spralling mansion in the winter!  

We live in $10,000 worth of a million dollar house all the time...

gillumhouse's picture
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Socks is on a trip right now with her twins. She home schools them and became an innkeeper because she heard it was hard work. She wanted her kids growing up knowing what hard work was. They were 4 when she started this. They know what it is to earn money by working.

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06/08/2010

Hi!  We have a seasonal cottage/canoe outfitting business with 16 cottages.  We also have two boys (11 & 16).  Our business is very seasonal - unfortuantely we're busy when the kids have time off - over the summer.  It is guilt producing for me.  On Friday and Saturday - if they're not on fire I don't really have time for them.  The rest of the week is less intense but still busy & there is no "going home" for the day.  The phone can and will ring, people can and do come up to the house, someone would really love to get an ice cream before bed, etc.  We have a luxury that many on the board don't in that our house (such as it is!) is separate and that is a huge blessing.  I think it would be difficult to have my family & guests all under one roof.  But I haven't done it so no way to offer any insight - except again I'm in awe of the people who do such a beautiful job of it.

I honestly don't know if I could operate something like this on a year round basis.  My hat is off to everyone who does it - no way is it for wimps!  On the other hand, my husband points out that for much of the year we do have lots of time for the kids and most all parents work.  He doesn't think the kids are getting the short end too much during the busy season.  My kids are also older and can make mac & cheese or cereal if I don't make dinner -  they also don't want to "play" like they did when they were little guys so sometimes especially the oldest doesn't mind flying under the radar some of the time...

I think it would take extra planning and finding the right property with what you felt was adequate space for kids to grow up and be loud and messy and all that other kid stuff!

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11/18/2013

Thanks for sharing your story! It sounds like you an your husband are doing a great job. 

It seems like there are many variables here: whether the inn operates seasonally or year round, the age of the child, how much help we hire, etc. It's also possible that we would have two sets of grandparents nearby, which would help tremendously. I guess I'll just have to wait and see how all of these variables work out.

I feel encouraged -- I was really afraid that everybody would say "No, you basically have to choose between your dream career and having a family." It's great to see a couple making it work. Thanks again!

Madeleine's picture
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I have not done this but the original owners did. They raised 2 kids here.

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