Kids and Innkeeping

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We are brand new to this forum so I'm still looking around.  We are interviewing for an innkeeper position. This is our retirement dream but it's presented itself to us about 10-15 years early, so kids are involved. The owner is looking at possibly charging us a monthly lease fee and letting us run the business, pretty much hands off from what I understand.  There is a big house on the property with an innkeeper quarters - one bedroom, and 3 guest rooms upstairs. There is also a log cabin on the property that is 2 bedrooms.  It is also a wedding venue so its has a great earnings potential, which is why we don't want to pass up this opportunity.

We have 3 kids between us though, ages 11, 13 and 15. My girls are with us every other week and we get his son every other weekend. The only hesitation I have about this venture is our kids. How to live and work there with kids involved. I would love to hear from others who are in similar situation or grew up in that environment.  Is it proper to let the kids room hop to empty rooms or we all live in the cabin when we have the kids? How do we make them still feel like they have a home when they are with us?

I just feel like the experience of getting to help and take ownership in a family business will far outweigh the negatives. Thank you in advance and I'm enjoying reading all these posts!

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birdwatcher's picture
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I don't know if its too late for this....but we bought one with teenagers and it was seasonal; and it was very very hard...kids just complicate it more I would re-think it. from someone who has been there.

Hillbilly's picture
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I think you all ran her off. She hasn't responded to any posts.

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Madeleine's picture
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Hillbilly wrote:
I think you all ran her off. She hasn't responded to any posts.

I don't think she's even logged back on.

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Breakfast Diva's picture
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I think probably what happened is that they have latched on to the 1 positive response, because it's what they really wanted to hear in the first place. Most people people just really want to be told it's ok and will ignore the other advice.

I'll just confirm what most of the others have stated here. It's not because you have children that's the major problem, it's because with this specific situation, it's that your children will not have have place to call their own.

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I hope we didn't run her off.  The goal was to give her information from people who have lived this life.  I wish I had talked to someone with young children about raising them at a B&B and heard about the various issues that you don't consider - like never being able to go camping again with the kids because that's when we make our income; like kids getting upset when you yell out the window to get their bikes and stuff out of the yard because guests are coming up the driveway; or they plan to have friends over to play basketball in the mid morning/middle of the day (because our guests all go out for the day) and we get that one couple who only wants to sit on the deck ALL DAY LONG so the kids are inside for the day and they are ticked they can't do anything; or when our son has a basketball game that one of us can't make because we have 5 check-ins and that's the game he's high scorer.

I would list out all of the stuff that you normally do as a family, days of the week and times of day that you typically do those, and then think how you and the kids are going to feel when all of that changes.  And the not having their own room thing is huge - at least my kids can take friends to their room and hang out - that won't be possible if there are guests in the room right beside them when they're room hopping.

 

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Every day is a challenge. surprise

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An Old Tavernkeeper's picture
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We had an opportunity to move from corporate life to an antique mall owners early in our married life. Then a few years later we made the choice to move to a new state and takeover an existing BnB that had a very elderly owner who had to sell.

At the time our kids were 1, 3, 5 and 7. Now the oldest is in college and the youngest will be in eighth grade in the fall. I have enjoyed reading this and find many of the comments valuable but if I was to start writing all of my thoughts it would be a novel in three volumes.

However if you would like to contact us via the messaging we would be happy to discuss anything and everything that is on your mind. We would even have you and your family here to visit if you wanted to see how it all works for us.

But do not be afraid of doing this. To wait until the kids are on their own means you will not have the eyesight or the back strength that you do now. It is not easy but I think it has served our children well.  The oldest was given a scholarship to go to college as part of their Honors Program and received another to be a runner on the college Cross Country team and the track and field team. The other three kids seem to be on a similar path.

They learned by seeing us work that life gives back what you put in to it. Before dad just got into the car and then returned from the office with a paycheck. They fully understand the link between work and success.  They have gotten to meet people from all over the world, a US Senator, radio personalities, people just like them from far away and people a world different from them who live 50 miles from here. And they have gotten to meet them up close, hear their stories and see the connections that happen at the breakfast table each morning.

I you want to be an innkeeper then do it, you will find a fit for each child as time goes on. And you wont have have to change diapers like we did when we started out here at our inn.

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gillumhouse's picture
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But did your kids have to play "What room am I sleeping in tonight?" We are not suggesting wait until kids are grown - several on here have kids. It is the fact that the OQ is one bedroom from the description and the kids will not only be be house hopping (which some of my grandkids do - BUT they have their OWN ROOM in each house) but room hopping also.

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Welcome from one of your old BBAV Presidents!

Madeleine's picture
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Did you have your kids sleep in the guest rooms when they came to see you every other week?

Your situation is almost completely different.

However, it is wonderful how it worked out for you and the kids! It's a great success story and it sounds like you were able to work out all the details.

The op's problem is getting older kids on board who don't even live with them full-time and who have no space of their own. 

Plus, there is also the concern that the custodial parents may take issue with how the kids are being treated and create side problems that will distract from running the business.

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Hello Jim and Janet,

Welcome to the forum!

I have some of your neighbors here as guests right now, from Mineral. I just checked a gal in and said "You don't know about Mineral? It is the epicenter of the Virginia Earthquake!" 

Joey Camb's picture
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think it depends where you are but I don't think "Hot bedding" is the way to go. We have a lot of BB owners where i am and they work together to car pool where they can etc. Sports in the UK tend to be on an evening anyway so thats weekends freed up.

I would not however recommend what my neighbor did which was and this is a quote "we sort of forgot about the kids" when they bought - 4 of them lived in 1 bedroom for best part of 3 years! they then had to buy a separate house which then stretched them financially as well as time wise as it needed a lot of work.

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As an innkeeper with kids about those ages who have grown up at the B&B for 9 years, I would advise you hold off.  We are workaholics both of us so the hard so work is nothing.  Running the business with my sales and especially my marketing degree are nothing, along with my culinary skills.  My husband is an awesome people person.  The most difficult part of being an innkeeper (aside from dealing with nasty guests in your house) is having kids.  Our kids hate that we own a B&B.  Our kids wish that we'd sell it.  Why - well I'll list some things that you've probably not thought of:

1 - The kids don't have their own home and can't just be kids. THEY AREN'T BUSINESS OWNERS - they're kids and that's what they want/need to be.  If there are guests out in the back on the deck, then the kids can't be out on their basketball court playing ball.  They can't be out riding the ATV around the property once the guests arrive because guests are expecting a quiet experience in the mountains.  So if they have friends over and the guests start arriving, then they basically retreat to their bedrooms and hang out there.  If you're thinking the kids will room hop, then I think that's even crazier - the kids are not only moving from house to house, but now have no idea what room they'll be in that night?  No stability will lead to issues.  And at our B&B, we have and entire house of three large bedrooms, two bathrooms and a TV room upstairs and there are just 4 of us.  You'll have an even fuller house.

2 - Do your kids play sports?  If so, how will you get to go to their games?  If it's like us, one of us has to stay here and checkin guests while the other one gets to go to games.  And if you have two or more kids playing sports, then one of you will have to pick what games you can go to.  You'll have to tell them at some point that neither of you can go.  Nothing is more upsetting for the kids or the parents to have this happen after you've been driving them to practices all year and they've been working hard.

3 - You said that you'll be hosting weddings.  This takes up your entire day and weekend went they're happening and can be quite stressful.  What will the kids be doing when you're so busy hosting a wedding?  Are they going to be stuck in the house because a wedding is going on?  These long wedding days are the worst - we've actually stopped doing them, one next month is the last one we're doing.  If we have a wedding and our kids have basketball practice, then one of us is running like a nut or begging people to drop off or pickup our kids.  We have two kids and sometimes I make several trips to the fields/gyms because their schedules are different and they can't drive yet.  Take all of the kids activities into account or they will be screaming at you one day that they "HATE THIS PLACE."

4 - Do you enjoy going to friends houses for weekend BBQs or parties.  Kiss those goodbye.  Your weekends from now on will be spent at the business.  You cannot all go as a family as someone will need to remain at the B&B.  Unless of course you're going to be one of those places that leaves out keys or codes with a note.  If that's the case, then perhaps you'd have a little more flexibility but if you're going to be more service oriented then you can't just leave the B&B unattended.

5 - When do you typically take vacations now?  Since we have kids in school, we have to take them when they are on break.  We cannot give up summer income so after the last week of June we're here every single day until Halloween.  We make big income during February break so we can't close then.  April is cold up here so in order for us to get a nice warm April vacation we have to fly somewhere warm and during April vacation that rate rises.  So can your kids miss school so that you can go when you won't lose income?  I'm dreaming about 5 years from now when both are in college and we can take vacation whenever we want and not lose our shirts doing so.

6 - Are your kids loud?  Do they get along well?  Sometimes my two aren't quiet and behave like siblings arguing.  It sends my blood pressure up when they aren't quiet as I'm worried guests will hear them.  Think about this if you're going to have guests in the same house as your own.

7 - Do you have lots of money put aside to do this?  The most common misconception is that you'll be making lots of money.  If they innkeeper is going to be charging you a lease fee, you'll need to figure out how much money you'll be able to make living this new lifestyle.  How much cash flow does the business currently generate after all of the expenses (including your lease fee) and what will that leave you.  Will one of you still be working or will you need to buy your own insurance?  Plan for a large family at least $12,000 for that out of pocket - that's what I pay for the four of us and that's not a great health plan.

9 - With regard to the weddings being a huge income potential, how much will you really make.  If you're not doing the catering, don't forget that they get all of the food/drink income so you'll only be getting the venue income.  You'll need a really good contract, really good organization skills and the patience of a saint.  Make sure there are contingencies for rain if the venue is typically outdoors.  Tons to consider for the wedding venues.

10 - What if the week or weekend that you guys have the kids is so jammed packed with stuff that you cannot do anything with them?  Think about how they'll feel about this.  And if it's a wedding business, then you won't be taking off any weekends that the son is there.  Will the kids want to stop coming over because you have no time for them?  This would be the worst case scenario I can think of.

Probably more than your asked for, but I've lived this for almost 10 years now and can honestly say that having the kids not like living at a B&B and missing out on their stuff is huge and I would never do it again.  Good luck and get yourself a good attorney to review that lease and have detailed lists of what the owner can and cannot control once you take over.  This business is hard enough without having the owner over your shoulder all the time too.

 

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All valid points.

We could really go on about this in length and make it a "how to to or how to not" book.

Other issues:

1) Illness. When kids get sick, when little, they are sick. Either really sick, or long drawn out sick. You cannot tell the guests to shove off when you have an ill child. Or up all night with one. You cannot tell the child to "hold your barf I will be right back I have to cook breakfast for guests"

2) You are asking your kids to mature early. They are required to be responsible well beyond their age and rank. They cannot have regular sleep overs, they cannot play outside and kick the ball and scream and run around, they can't, period.

3) You are also putting them at risk. A few here will recall my rabid response when (example "A") old guy goes into an area market private - our kitchen which also leads to our girls bedrooms, and has a chain across the door, to snoop around. I was livid. My daughter is in here! GET OUT!  So you will get a dog you barks when people go into the innkeeper quarters (of course you need to have innkeeper quarters that are private and lockable)

4) when you have issues, you cannot deal with them, you have people in your midst, all the time on happy holidays. you will end up stressing not only the family, and the business, but your marriage as well.

5) you will hate the business. they will hate the business and will hate you. strong term. i am using it.

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Are you saying there is a one bedroom innkeeper quarters? and the log cabin is rented for guests, not to use as owners quarters?

Are you saying you would put your children in "guest" rooms? You can't just USE the cabin or the rooms when you want to, reservations take priority. Cleaning the rooms take work and time, you can't shuffle people around.

If you don't have adequate innkeeper quarters, then by all means don't do this! If you don't have EXPANSIVE innkeeper quarters for kids, don't do this. 

You already know the answer or you wouldn't ask. Listen to your heart, don't try to negotiate. 

gillumhouse's picture
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My personal opinion: Ir is hard enough on the kids to live with one foot in each house without not even having their OWN room. This is YOUR dream, not theirs. Not being judgmental - I have 2 sets of grandkids who DO the 1, 2, 3 - shift, otherwise known as what day of the week/month is it so I know where I live tonight. Your current priority should be helping those kids grown up in as stable an environment as possible. My grandkids have "stuff" at both houses, they do not have to pack a suitcase. What you are suggesting is that the kids live out of a suitcase.

Not saying just having a stable environment will make them grow up model citizens, lord knows my kids have as our drama queen puts it - issues - but 4 of the 6 at least appear to be OK. And all we had to deal with was a late Mother with a shrine to be worshiped and the acolytes - her parents..

Madeleine's picture
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09/29/2011

We looked at several inns where the owners had kids who 'room hopped'. Take a moment to put yourself in your kids' shoes. They have to upset their routine to come to your house anyway. Now you are going to tell them they don't have their own space and may be sleeping on the floor if you're full? Plus, not having their parent available to them at all?

Maybe right now you work all the time every time your kids are with you so maybe nothing changes. But if you are going to be absent and the kids won't have a room how well do you think they're going to take this?

What kind of cooperation do you think you're going to get from them?

Every other week/weekend YOU have to swap rooms. Not the kids. The kids get the one bedroom allotted to the innkeeper. See how that shoe fits and then think about how the kids would like it.

To me, my opinion, it sounds like you might put off the dream until the kids are out on their own.

If you started this when the kids were younger or you had a proper layout for a family and not just for a couple this might work.

But you're talking about renting out 5 rooms and paying rent yourselves. If the place is charging over $200/night and you're running 75% occupancy you might have enough left over for rent and planning for college and all the Inn expenses.

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