Question about opening a B&B while having children at home

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Hello,

My name is Jeff Cartman.  I am in the process of creating a bed and breakfast in my home in Minnesota.  In our home, all of the bedrooms are on the second floor and close together.  I am wondering how to keep my three year old secure at night from the other guests. The only thing I can think of is to lock his room at night but I know that is legally a fire hazard.   Did any of you ever have your own kids while running an Inn and have any advice?

Thank you for your time.

Jeff Cartman

Morticia's picture
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Realize this has probably run its course but I was thinking of these points this morning:

Friends are raising their child in a B&B setting. Private rooms are on the other side of the house, away from guest rooms but guests are allowed into the public areas (living room, dining room). Kid was front and center as a youngster, less so as a teen. Jobs included greeting, showing guests to rooms, setting tables at breakfast. Lots of excellent reviews with kid front and center. Parents put kid first. Have help at all times. Take vacations every year. Do things together even in peak season.

Other friends, no longer in business, have three kids. All common spaces shared. You eat breakfast with the kids as they get ready for school. Kids answer door, help with luggage. Not sure of layout of guest rooms vs family bedrooms, but small house. They specialized in family getaways. Lots of beds in each room, toys, games, etc.

Our vacation: stayed at lovely inn. Three kids on premises. Kids had friends over. All afternoon, kids yelling in yard, running in house, being kids. Very annoying. Can't imagine what it's like all summer. However, very quiet at night. Other than playing outside, never saw kids. Family lived in basement.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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One of my very good friends was horrified when we bought the B&B because she grew up in one.

She tells us they were made to sleep in the basement in the summer but had a lovely big house in the winter.

Rethink the house.  Is there a family room or other removed room that can be made into a small seasonal apartment?

P.S. the B&B she grew up in is still operating.  they can be a good investment.

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We have a large B&B with a full apartment for us and our kids over the garage - no access from guest side to our family's space.  And this still was extremely hard with a 3 & 5 year old that need to just be kids.  I can't imagine anyone doing this with guests in the rooms next door.  Kids get up at night - your guests won't be happy when they are woken up by kids crying or running down the hall to your room.  And I can tell you that I was nervous at first just having guests in our house with our little kids and they were safe on our side of the house.  I would never let guests be near my kids.  And you have to have space for your kids to have their own space.  We've been open over 10 years and many repeat guests have never seen my son except when he's out back mowing the lawn.  He doesn't want to interact with guests and we don't make him.  Our daughter interacts with some guests but they are guests who have become like family.

I would urge you to think about this for your kids sake (their emotional well being) as well as their safety.  You don't know who the hell these guests are, keep your kids safe.

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MtnKeeper wrote:

We have a large B&B with a full apartment for us and our kids over the garage - no access from guest side to our family's space.  And this still was extremely hard with a 3 & 5 year old that need to just be kids.  I can't imagine anyone doing this with guests in the rooms next door.  Kids get up at night - your guests won't be happy when they are woken up by kids crying or running down the hall to your room.  And I can tell you that I was nervous at first just having guests in our house with our little kids and they were safe on our side of the house.  I would never let guests be near my kids.  And you have to have space for your kids to have their own space.  We've been open over 10 years and many repeat guests have never seen my son except when he's out back mowing the lawn.  He doesn't want to interact with guests and we don't make him.  Our daughter interacts with some guests but they are guests who have become like family.

I would urge you to think about this for your kids sake (their emotional well being) as well as their safety.  You don't know who the hell these guests are, keep your kids safe.

"I would never let guests be near my kids."

We have had people breach the boundaries being nosy, like the "old man" I found in our kitchen, which we keep locked most of the time unless we are going in and out... ie in our innkeeper side of the house, and addressed him with a stern "WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN HERE?"  He replied "I was just looking around..." "THERE IS A PRIVATE SIGN FOR A REASON"

What if I was not there and this old man wandered into our daughters bedroom? We cannot possibly "patrol" the premises 24/7, and then we have to leave our family under lock and key? MtKeeper you found a terrific way to do it. Well done!

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Well I guess we scared him off because he has not questioned or commented on our postscrying

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Hope he sees it as construction input rather than trying to scare him off - if you ask input from people who have lived it, you should pay attention to it.  Obviously they need to do what they want for their family, but I can't think of anyone who would want to stay at a B&B where a 3 year old was sleeping right next to them.  Sounds more like an Air b b than a traditional one.  And in response to what others have said -- my kids would rather die than run this B&B and it's extremely successful.  They lived through us not being able to go to things because guests didn't check in when they said or the occasional guest who claims they booked for the wrong day and you can't get ahold of them and have been waiting around all night rather than going to the movies with your kids, etc.  It can be very difficult on family life unless you gear your B&B to be a family based business and/or one that leaves notes and does self-checkins, etc.  I guess it can work, but as the majority of posts said, it sounds unlikely from the get-go.

TheBeachHouse's picture
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We have a separate apartment with a deadbolt on the door in between "the inn" and "the apartment."

Consider an addition, even a small room off of yours.  

Lots of good suggestions here, like an adjoining door, or an extra door in the hallway.

Any way we could see a floor plan?   There might be a way.

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where i am it tends to be a set up of 2 houses with people who are a family ie a terrace - with say ground floor and basement of one house is family, ground floor and upper bedrooms for guests - 2 sets of doors that lock with a pin code for in and out (ie so can't lock yourself out). plus a lot of old victorians so often a servants staircase.

Morticia's picture
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The folks who opened the place I now own started off with only two rooms of their own personal space. They shared the kitchen and common space with the inn and their personal bathroom was nowhere near their bedrooms.

They did this with two kids who were around 5 & 6.

They second year open they added on a 1000 sq ft apartment with 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, living room, kitchen, dining room and office.

There were reasons for that. Their kids. Their sanity. Their private time as a family. Their marriage.

The kids are now out of college. They've been by to visit. They have good memories of living here.

Really think hard about how you'll function as a family if you have zero private space.

We've stayed at places where the innkeepers had their bedroom as their only private space. Which means the guests (us) were very uncomfortable not having any space to relax. The innkeepers had friends over, watched TV in their pajamas, etc. Where do the guests kick back? Only in their bedroom?

We felt like we were intruding.

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Yes but

When we started had a ten year old son and my mother, but a different operation as a tiny mom and pop motel so was able to incorporate several former guest rooms into our living space, so it gave us ample space and separation from our guests.

I've only been a guest at one bed and breakfast, guess all have their own types of guests as where I stayed about half of the guests were children.  Rooms had interior door latches, I don't remember any way to lock the room when I was out for the day. I was not aware of any meal options, just a large country breakfast, no need for lunch after that breakfast, sure hope one day I can manage a return visit.

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Jeff, I will agree with the others that the arrangement sounds far from ideal, and that you should really consider some creative ways of re-designing the house so that you can have a private family section isolated from the guest areas.

But I will disagree with the others that this is complete no-go -- rather, it's all about the market: the types of guests you are trying to attract, and the expectations you set for your guests, but also what you can expect from your family, and what you expect out of the business.

Consider that sites like Air B B and Couch Surfer have revealed that there is a clientele out there for all kinds of crazy lodging arrangements...

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Hillbilly's picture
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OnTheShore wrote:

Jeff, I will agree with the others that the arrangement sounds far from ideal, and that you should really consider some creative ways of re-designing the house so that you can have a private family section isolated from the guest areas.

But I will disagree with the others that this is complete no-go -- rather, it's all about the market: the types of guests you are trying to attract, and the expectations you set for your guests, but also what you can expect from your family, and what you expect out of the business.

Consider that sites like Air B B and Couch Surfer have revealed that there is a clientele out there for all kinds of crazy lodging arrangements...

 

You are correct! There is away to make it work. But my point is for their kids. It's not a good life for their kids. They will regret it later if they live among the guests their whole lives. If they plan on passing it down to their kids their kids will be so far from wanting anything to do with it. It can work, but their kids will hate them for it! That's why we had to buy the house across the street. Best thing we ever did for our family. Now the kids are starting to think it might not be so bad. But living in the business was horrible for them.

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Hillbilly wrote:

OnTheShore wrote:

Jeff, I will agree with the others that the arrangement sounds far from ideal, and that you should really consider some creative ways of re-designing the house so that you can have a private family section isolated from the guest areas.

But I will disagree with the others that this is complete no-go -- rather, it's all about the market: the types of guests you are trying to attract, and the expectations you set for your guests, but also what you can expect from your family, and what you expect out of the business.

Consider that sites like Air B B and Couch Surfer have revealed that there is a clientele out there for all kinds of crazy lodging arrangements...

 

You are correct! There is away to make it work. But my point is for their kids. It's not a good life for their kids. They will regret it later if they live among the guests their whole lives. If they plan on passing it down to their kids their kids will be so far from wanting anything to do with it. It can work, but their kids will hate them for it! That's why we had to buy the house across the street. Best thing we ever did for our family. Now the kids are starting to think it might not be so bad. But living in the business was horrible for them.

Everyone has to choose what is best for their family, and many times there is no choice. Kids getting up at the crack of dawn before school in all weather to bring in the cows to milk and other farm chores every day of the year may sound harsh as well. But at least they can hoot n holler if they want to, kick a can, rev the john deere, toss a cow patty at each other.

You have to weight the pros and cons. If you don't have a separate living space for your kids to be kids, for them to projectile vomit and cry in a high fever, for them to fight amongst themselves (kids fight? really? yeah all the time) and you are not there to go and referee and tell them to pipe down when you are handling guests, cooking breakfast, out of sight... it is a recipe for disaster. 

Anything you have to do you have to do and you get by. Starting out putting kids among guests is a huge mistake, for EVERYONE. If anyone tells you it is a great life, they are lying to you. Space is paramount, their own space, separate space.

Yes, I am speaking from experience.

OnTheShore's picture
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I defer to Hillbilly and JBloggs, as my only personal experience is with separated quarters for the family vs. the guest's space. With the previous managers at our place, the separation was not as strong as it could have been, and that was a problem for them (and for the business). When we took over, one of the first things we did was to make structural changes to the house in order to better separate the private spaces from the public space, both enhancing the business while also facilitating a better experience for our family.

So my first recommendation remains to look really hard at your house and try to envision some creative solution to accomplish that goal of separating your family's quarters from the guest's spaces.

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Not to mention that there are many B&B/inn guests who do not want to share common areas, or even run into the innkeepers (much less share any spaces with them or their family members). 

I know that there are folks that this probably doesn't create any issue, but you have to be mindful of your market. (Of course the whole air thing might be swinging this back around to shared spaces being okay.)

We used to stay at a place in our son's college town and the innkeepers were always in the common area when we came back to the B&B.  While I absolutely loved our hosts and the property, we felt like we had to retreat to our room to discuss the day, etc.  And their rooms, while lovely, didn't really have sitting areas. We returned there simply because it was the only B&B option in that city.

I think you have to look at the whole situation - what is good for your family (which is so hugely important), your business, and your guests.

 

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Morticia's picture
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I'd be very uncomfortable as an innkeeper not having a locked door between me and the guests. THEY have locks and dead bolts on their room doors, there should be nothing less for the innkeeper.

You can, of course, focus your business on families and not couples, but I've certainly heard innkeepers complain that guests were in their private bedrooms and they promptly got locks for all their doors! (One innkeeper's son had all his electronics stolen.)

You might think that is either silly (no locks?) Or completely normal (who locks doors?) But you get all kinds of people and you have to be safe.

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I will not take guests while my grandchildren are visiting. Do not want to mix  the varieties of guests and our quarters has no room for anyone else. ONLY if you lived in the basement would that work with a 3 year old. (Attic is out due to the rumbling over the guest rooms.) It can be done with kids - but only if OQ is totally separate.

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 The configuration of the house is very important. Not just for the child's bedroom but for your family's space ... since you have a hotel, you already know the demands that are made on you. 

 When I was traveling in Canada with family, we stayed in b&b's that were quite informal - they seemed to be homes with extra bedrooms. I sat in the kitchen having a snack across from a girl doing her homework. In the morning, people were in and out of the large kitchen eating breakfast.  I don't know where the family bedrooms were but the places I was allowed to go seemed to double as family space. I am sure times have changed since then but it was done. 

There are family friendly b&b's which I would imagine yours would be. 

As an innkeeper, I really wanted more private space.  

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Sorry but this has failure to launch all over it. Guests leave their kids at home so they can get away from them. the last thing they want is to hear a child in the room or down the hall from them while they are wanting some alone time. I understand this first hand because we tried it. We have to kids and it didnt work at all. Always trying to keep the kids from being kids was not healthy for them or our stress level trying to keep them at a peaceful level. But they are kids and need a chance to be. Please, please don't do this. It wont take long before bad reviews start flowing in about it. Then you will have the whole house to yourself. I certainly would not have them across the hall from me. We ended up buying the house across the street from us where our kids can be kids. They can run around have a dog and have friends over and not make the paying guests mad. I'm sure you already have your mind made up and will proceed anyway. But I encourage you to really think about what your doing and whats best for your child and guests. You should follow your dreams but maybe placing them on hold or finding a different location would be a great way to proceed.

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  Listen to Hillbilly.  He's been there, done that.  I wrote what could be done to make the child's room safe but he's walked in the shoes.

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I totally agree with Hillbilly. I don't know anyone who wants to stay in a B&B with a kid next door or across the hall. Next thing I expect to hear is that you are having guests use a shared bath!

sorry this s not a good idea. Have you taken an aspiring workshop? You Must!

Lee2014's picture
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   Do you have two bedrooms that are next to each other or across that are separated somewhat from the others?  If so, for the across from each other, I would put up a door between them and the rest of the bedrooms.  You keep that one door lock and it will give you the two rooms as private.  If they are next to each other, make a door between the rooms so you would have to go through your room to get to the child's room.  You could lock the door to the child's room and buy a new door and frame for the opening you make or you take apart the door and door frame from the room and put up a wall where it was.  Then put the original door in between the two rooms.  It depends on your budget and your handiness.  Either way will work and your family comes first.

 Here it is two separate living spaces.  We call it the public side and the private side of the house.  We don't have children living here now but as a child, Grandpa never let us on the public side without a grown up.

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I would not even consider having a b&b if I could not section off a section of the house which can be separate and locked off from guests. You need to not only have your own personal space, but you need to protect your child from guests and protect guests from your child. 

A young child like yours needs to be able to run, play, laugh and not be squelched all the time because he/she is disturbing paying guests. 

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Is this the first time working this extremely important part out?

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Thanks for the reply.  We have owned the home for five years and I manage a local hotel currently.  We plan on turning the house into a B&B and I was just wondering how other families have done this.  Thanks

Silverspoon's picture
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I would never consider having guests in space shared with family.  Either figure out a way to provide private space for your family within the existing structure, or build an addition.

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I thought you may be one of the spammers here, but see you have been on this forum since 2014.

You can't have a child next to guest rooms. Not for the guest privacy and not for your child's safety. There is no way that could work. No way. You need another plan. 

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