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JBloggs

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I just wanted to bring up a subject close to my heart. You know the saying about being in a city of 10 million people and being alone...at times I feel like innkeeping is this way. People come and go, daily, we are so busy we can't think, but at the same time we are isolated. Even within our own family and/or marriage there is a gaping hole where we have to be "on" all the time and acting the part, you know the one - where innkeeping is the greatest thing since sliced bread...it is just ALL fun.
We do have comradery here on the forum - thank goodness for the forum where others understand our day-to-days moreso than those living in and around us.
I guess at times I just feel like this IS a life sentence and there is no way out, not for a long time anyway. I feel like it consumes me. It fills my every waking thought.
But we plug along, just longing for a day to do nothing. Last night eating dinner was nice and I said aloud, You know, I wonder what it is like at the end of the day to just BE and not have to be ON and be something to/for someone else. Other jobs have that, at the end of the work day...we never have that. Yes we have the satisfaction of making guests happy - we strive toward that as the end all in this business. But as soon as we clean a room and make the bed we need to do it all over again. Maybe I am too goal orientated, wanting completion of a task more than doing the mundane day in and day out and repeating it like working on an assembly line.
I am not depressed. Just some thoughts I had today and wanted to share with you, as some of you are feeling the same way and I wanted you to know we understand, truly we do. We're all in this together.
Keep your stick on the ice.
 

MooseTrax

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Very true. We try to plan some time to get out together without the phone so we can just be another couple having dinner. Yesterday I walked into the local bookshop and they know me from buying things for guests and they call me by the inn name. I gave her my credit card and said, laughingly, 'That's my real name.' Sometimes it's like being someone's father or mother when they are in school. You're not yourself, you're so and so's parent.
Also like being a new parent obsessed about the baby, we need to realize that without the other person the baby wouldn't be here so we need to take some of the focus off the baby and put it back on the support system that keeps us going.
We noticed that when we bought this inn the sellers were no longer friends with each other. Married, but just barely.
 

gillumhouse

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Oh how well I know that feeling. I felt it more surprisingly enough when the kids were growing up. Totally isolated. I worked graveyard shift and the world moved on day shift. Anyone I could make friends with worked days. Then I had to be Mom during the day and do all the stuff non-working mothers did because I "was home all day" and my parents taught me that is what mothers did. DH came home from work and went into his workshop - even the kids are telling him now that they thought that was forbidden territory (he FORGOT that he needed to invite them in because the door was shut).
I was so used to his ways - when he was not working the workshop was his "home" - that when I opened the B & B I thought of it as "My workshop" but was blessed with having gotten involved withthe City. That has been my salvation. The stuff in this City, MABB, and Rail-Trails get me out enough that I am no longer isolated.
As to Joe's job never getting done - that is why I always hated housework. You can spend all day getting a house clean and shining and 5 minutes after the kids come in you say, Why did I bother!
I also thank goodness for the friends I have made on this Forum.
 

The Farmers Daughter

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I understand that completely. I have often used the analogy that innkeeping is much like parenting except the 'children' never leave, they are simply replace by new ones. (minus the disiplinary needs and the college tuition).
The cooking, cleaning, laundry, upkeep etc is all the same.
 

Suzie Q

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Yes. Business is very good right now, but that also means I am extra busy. We have 2 guest rooms and work full time, night shift. I have been taking some time off lately, because I NEED to! I would LOVE to take a week off, with nothing to do.
Hubby does help some, which is greatly appreciated, but then again, he has his "off days," and other things he feels need to be done, not necessarily in my kingdom.
C
 

EmptyNest

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I too understand where you are coming from. It is exactly why after 6 years, I decided I had enough. And...I didn't work on the daily / monthly basis you do.
I did try to do other things outside the B &B and was deeply involved with our state association..but it was still part of innkeeping. And, I think all those problems I had to deal with state wide probably contributed more to my burnout than my actual B & B.
But none the less, I enjoyed the first 5 years immensely...but by year 6 it all started going down hill. When I didn't look forward to greeting guests at the door, and felt it was all more a chore , and when I just wanted to be alone in my house with my husband...then I knew..it was time to close.
Good luck to all of you. Please do take care of yourselves. Take some time off, do something other than think about guests from time to time.
 

ginocat

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It certainly is a different life. I don't feel any more trapped than I would working in an office but life is certainly different. I make sure we have our private space and that I don't have to be on duty after check-ins but we don't entertain either. That's because I'm too tired and my home is my office so I can't have friends and family interferring with that. I need to have life run smoothly to ensure I don't burn out.
I DO feel that I can make time for myself. I do not have to be "ON" for the guests once I have them in. There really is no reason for guest to bother me in the evening. At this time of the year I shut my phone off and let the answering machine pick up in the evenings. I think it's important for everyone in this business to set parameters so that you have a life. Maintain check-in times, anticipate guest needs BEFORE they have to come looking for you. Let them know that you are not available. If I didn't do all of the above I doubt I would have been in this business 18 years.
We are lucky to be in a tourism based community so that most of our friends are working long hours and have visitors around them all day as well. Socializing is done in the off-season when we have time to play.
 

Samster

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Thank you, Joe, for sharing these thoughts and words with us. We do become so tied to this business and there IS a lot of "on" time. I think my dh and I are doing a good job of spending free time together. For me, I think that I need to make more of an effort to do things with friends regularly and take time for myself to get a manicure or pedicure or go to the library or go for a coffee. Just grab an hour here and there where I am not running a biz related errand! I think I wouldn't have the feelings that I want to run away from home as much. lol! I fell into the same trap with a hideous corporate job though. I just wanted to come home and chill after 12 hour days and then there was doing work on the weekends. ugh.
The difference was that I was out in the world every day. Maybe that is what you are feeling? It is sloooooooooooooooow here now and even now I am feeling housebound. So, I have been trying to get out for short trips and not have an "inn" agenda when I'm out and about. I need to do this when there are guests here too. But the phone does come along :) We had a rare dinner out with another couple last Thursday and a chucklehead called wanting to pack 7 people in a room for 4. Ack! At least we could laugh about it with our friends.
I'm so involved with our community right now that it cuts into the few hours that I do have free and I'm committed to that for at least another year. But I will be very proud of the accomplishments that my group will have made in that time. I'm sure that I'll stay involved but hopefully not in the same leadership capacity.
There are days when I just want to crawl under the covers and watch movies all day :) Hang in there! We all know what you're feeling......
 

gillumhouse

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And when I do not have guests I am tending to my Lord & Master. I think that is why I am ready to even consider selling the B & B - I am tired of having to work around someone who does not understand beyond his own wants and needs. I can do whatever as long as he gets what he wants. I was having s decent day until about an hour ago... Should have known it was too good to stay that way.
Bright spot of the day - my cousin/brother (before anyone goes off on the WV family angle, I do not have a big brother and he has no sister so we have adopted each other) called me from Germany. We have decided that in May of 2011 He is going to bring me to Germany and I am going to stay for a month. I am going to fixate on that!
And it is Sunday so tonight is chocolate pudding.
 

Tim_Toad_HLB

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Thanks for sharing such salient and mostly unspoken things for many of us.
We have similar thoughts and internal discussions like this ALL the time.
Despite how much we disliked working for others and answering to the "man", we do miss the normalcy of a routine life where our personal privacy was much more of our choosing. The spontaniety of the little things like running out for a dinner and a movie are missed, but we were such workaholics and the "go-to" employees for others that when we look back, we didn't do as much of it then as we fantasize about doing now.
We're in a good situation as we could sell our property as either a personal residnece or as a B&B and that gives us some comfort and a sense of security. The opportunity to expand and add at least one more room is there, but we feel that then we'd be locked into working off the expense to do so and the property would then probably only be able to be sold as a B&B. We have plan A, B, C and D to fall back on if necessary and our pre-purchse research was solid, so we feel comfortable about the future however it comes to fruition.
We both despise the sometimes falseness and somewhat superficialty we must project to our guests, but they are expecting a certain level of friendliness, camaraderie and "upness" from us each day. Even when they aren't offering the same.
Thankfully, we're both generally upbeat and optimistic people so that makes it a little easier to simply be in a good mood more often than not.
We just had a neighbor pass away this week who had embraced like we were her own kids from the day we moved in. Both of our moms died too young and she filled a big gap in that way only moms can do. It was a tough week to shield our true emotions from the guests who really aren't here for anything but their own enjoyment, so our grief was expressed only in private.
Many of our friends have accepted our new lifestyle and will still offer invites to functions but they all know what to expect on a day when we have check ins.
Having dogs has always been a part of our life and as innkeepers needing space and our own time together, they have always helped us ignore some chores that can get done later and go for a nice walk or hike to the mountains. There are literally thousands of miles of trails and no crowds within a half hour drive of here, so we make a point of getting out a couple times a week.
We get an enormous lift from the expressions of gratitude and enjoyment of our guests, but I'm not sure it would be any different if we owned an auto parts store and Joe had found the little part he needed on our shelves and got his car running again.
A couple of the strategies we've employed to keep our sanity with the less than perfect guests has been to simply learn how to ignore the little niggly aggravations, try to remember that ALL guests leave sooner than later and that people are people and we can't expect them to mold themselves instantly into our vision of the "perfect" guest. Humans just aren't built that way.
Ginocat brought up some good points about having things together enough so that the need for after hours contact is minimal and that has been our experience also. We try to fully cover things during the check in process so that our guests can really be pretty autonomous and it works fairly well. There are a percentage of people who lack the decisiveness and independence to fully utilize our abundant information center themselves, and we probably do more handholding than we need to, but we knew there would be folks like that going in.
Our helpfulness and WILLINGNESS to be helpful is one of our biggest assets and is mentioned in nearly every review on any venue we're listed on. We don't feel its a "needy" type magnet, just another amenity our guests appreciate and make use of. It feels good when guests like these two the other day not only told me I was "batting a thousand" on all the recommendations I had offered them over three days. They also wrote similar praise in our guest book and without either of us straying from our policy of even mentioning TA while they were here, they posted one of the best reviews we've ever received right after getting home.
I can easily forget about a lackluster, emotionally closed off guest who we place in our "just helping to pay bills" category when we get a couple like that who stay at B&Bs all the itme and express that this thing we work so hard at was the best B&B stay they'd ever experienced.
 

aieechihuahua

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Thanks for opening this door for us , Joe. I have enjoyed reading all of these posts.
We all have to learn to turn off. I think my pining is of a different sort than yours because we take "mental days" often. As soon as we feel the burnout coming we block the first available day(s). We start five days off today. My hub asks - "what do you want to do?" My answer..."Nothin". We thought, a few weeks ago when we planned this time off that we would go to Vancouver Island or something, but we decided on a staycation instead, just so we could enjoy this environment we created for others, for ourselves.
What I really want sometimes more than anything is alone time. Really alone. We spend 24/7 with each other and that can really be a drag, especially when one of us is getting burnt out or having a bad attitude day. I love him very much, and we are still best - best friends, but alone time is priceless too. Our wedding anniversary is coming up. 29 years on Aug 29 - nine of them together at this inn, which has been our home for 24 years. It is obvious we are committed for the long haul, and when one of us is done with this - we will both be done. But right now it is the absolutely BEST job I have ever had, and we thank God every day. Well - almost every day. I love it when he goes golfing.
Everybody - take time off to shut off. Your mental health is more important than a day's worth of revenue. Or even 5 day's worth. And it is very hard to be grateful when you're grumpy.
 

birdwatcher

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What a great subject. We are a seasonal B & B and fairly new so we have not been as busy as we really want to be so its been a rough 4 years. My husband worked part of the time outside the home leaving me with all the work and it was not really that much fun anymore although I prefer it better than the corporate world in an office 10 hours a day without even the remote feeling of escaping outside. At least Innkeeping is a different beast every day wether there are reservations to take, guests to greet, an even to plan, gardens to tend to and sometimes after a hectic weekend A DAY OFF doing absolutely NOTHING.
Its harder for me to take the load off, I seem to always feel guilty, but I know that I need it if I am so exhausted that I am falling asleep researching something on line.
We check in guests and pretty much after that they are on their own, there have been times that they come to the main house for info, but mostly we put some info in their rooms about things and the thing that we say is that quiet time is 11PM-7AM...that means quiet time for us as well. We've been lucky as we've had such wonderful guests. Is it a life sentence? I think that any job is a life sentence and there will be times when any job seems to be a chore. Selling advertising for 15 years....that was just such a tedious and mundane job after all those years I suppose it depends in wether you consider that a successful career or just a JOB. I think that Innkeeping is a calling.
But thanks Joe. I feel more isolated when the Inn is closed, we are rural and out of the way and when we are closed in the winter...we are totally isolated and with eachother. At least with the Inn we meet different people, you definantely have to be a people lover to last in this profession.
 

swirt

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Thanks Joe, I do understand your feelings. It seems like as soon as we made the decision to sell, we feel that pang more and more. Once you glimpse the end, it is hard to sit in the here and now patiently.
 

Breakfast Diva

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I definitely relate to where you're coming from. When we bought our inn, we also moved away from all family and friends. We've made some friends here, but the logistics of trying to get together are most of the time too much to deal with.
Especially now, in the busy season it does feel like a day to day grind. A different day, different faces, but the routine stays the same. I'm thankful for all the wonderful guests and am grateful that I'm busy, but it gets old after awhile.
I can also relate to Aiee's need to be alone! Oh my gosh....what I would give for some alone time! It has absolutely nothing to do with my DH, but before I was an innkeeper I had hours every day where I was alone. I loved that time to myself. It just doesn't happen anymore. Working together and being together 24/7 is wonderful at times, but there's always a tv on, talking, planning, etc. I just want to sit by myself, or do my "girly" thing uninterrupted. <sigh>
Thanks Joe for this thread...we're all in the same boat. And it's not a complaint, it's just the way it is right now.
 

happykeeper

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Read all the reponses and was touched by them all.
I do think about what it was like before and I don't see going back to working in a regular job. We do see our life as an innkeepers evolving, so we review what we want regularly. We often think that much of the work we learned before was the bag of tools and tricks needed to do what we do. I suppose that helps a lot.
One of our goals is 60 days of travel every year. We haven't hit that number yet but we have come close and there is no reason to think we won't exceed that at some point.
One thing that we have done is to try to embrace the "on" behavior. We avoid the N word and the A word, we look for the best in everyone, and perhaps most importantly, we have learned how to treat each other like we treat our guests. Consciously having "perfect guests" also makes a big difference for us.
We do look forward to an empty house after a lengthy stretch, but we have a private apartment if we need to disappear, so that helps too. We try to have a bit of alone time before retiring, so we're not always going right from a social situation to sleeping.
Often, although we are working hard, I think we have it easy compared to others.
 

JBloggs

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Thanks for the input and heartfelt comments. I often call it the bi-annual meltdown. When it all has to hit the fan for changes to be made - a restructuring of how we do things as we can get "swept up" in so much and not even realize it.
Spending time as our time after check ins has always been our goal. Which of course, is not unreasonable since we are up at 7am preparing breakfast and then at 7pm (12 hours later) feel we can sit back and relax.
It is ridiculous when you look at it like that, and then some of us still feel guilty like we need to be 'available' for guests. Worst case scenario is our guests NEVER arrive at check in. It is what it is here, no matter how much I stress it, and they are better these days about calling to let us know - but if check in ends at 7pm - we have waited for them and they call at 7pm. Better than nothing, of course. Most are out site seeing or traveling and have no clue how far point a to point b truly is.
Having it all in place for self check ins when needed is important. We cannot be all things to all people. We have all experienced missing out on something important and having the guests check in at 9 or 10pm and we really could have gone and are now resentful.
Life sentence without parole refers to the exit strategy. You cannot just toss in the towel. The amount of maintenance required on these historic homes is overwhelming, and must be done. Every single day one partner goes to work and every single night and weekend works here on this house and grounds, it is a life sentence. The list is long and it is never completed...one thing after another. We force ourselves to remember that it will always be this way, nothing will ever be perfect. We fell in love with this place and it had things that needed to be done. So we need to overlook the imperfections. But the constant maintenance is something else.
Thanks for the kind words everyone.
 

Country Girl

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OMG Joe, You hit every nail on the head. My husband and I just took 2 days off, away from here, for a much needed getaway. I was feeling totally overwhelmed with no end in sight. The isolation and lonliness of this business is so amazing! We give, and give, and give to everyone else, which leaves little to nothing left for ourselves. And when those we have given to leave, they are instantly replaced by new guests. And as much as I love this job, a break is so important to mental health and well being. Thank you so much for letting me know that I am not alone for feeling lonely, sad, and overwhelmed at times. After this 2 day break we vowed to take at least one day away every 8 weeks. We'll see if that happens, but for now, those 2 days were enough to give me my sanity back so I can face our busiest time of year.
 

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