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My listing advertises that I can supply a pack and play, a mini-arms reach co-sleeper (for babies 0-6mo), lend an umbrella stroller, and stock a corner of the apt with some toys and books. I do this at no additional charge and I don’t charge for children. Out of 80 sets of guests in the past 2 yrs, I’ve only had 4 families with babies/toddlers stay with me. The reviews from these families raved about the amenities, convenience of not having to bring their own stroller, organic baby soap/shampoo in bathroom, etc. I do this because it’s easy as we already own all this crap and I love the idea of being able to share my resources and ease the difficulty for others traveling with babies.
Why can’t I get more families to book with me so I can keep them away from the hosts who really can’t accommodate them? I think if hosts could make it really clear to families where they were welcome, maybe they wouldn’t be so eager to stay with hosts who really don’t want them?
I’m in an urban area where there are tons of stroller families in the area (everyone moves to the burbs when the kids start kindergarten but the hood is filled with babies), a block away from the most popular “baby/kids boutique store” in the city, lots of quality restaurants that are kid-friendly. Should I put baby friendly in the title of the listing or would that scare off people without kids?
In my unrelated business, I have always referred away potential clients when I felt there was someone else better equipped to do what they wanted. Made many friends that way. Many times those same clients returned with work I was able to do. They did not forget that I helped them that one time. Yes, we are competitors but better we all survive.
Just let the other hosters in your area aware of your niche. They will refer.
I’ll tell you something. I don’t know the stats, but I’d be willing to bet that your location in and of itself is not at the top of the lists of most young families. Most probably keep traveling to a minimum, as raising children is expensive and traveling with them is a hassle. When they do want to take family trips, they aim for destinations suited to their needs like Disney cruises or maybe quiet/rural destinations where they can stretch out and decompress. We sure don’t see a lot of families with strollers on Hollywood Boulevard! They’d be torturing themselves.
That said, sometimes, people will need to travel to urban Chicago to see family, business, or otherwise and will need to bring the children along. In those cases, I am sure they are overjoyed to know that offerings like yours are available, which is why you get such positive feedback. The small percentage of guests with small children doesn’t surprise me though. Seems about right. i would just keep doing what you are doing, because you are clearly doing it right!
Maybe it was because I am in Hawaii and had twins, but traveling with babies was just exhausting… You couldn’t really enjoy yourself as tending to them is a full time job. Chicago is the type of place where you want to go out on the town. Go have pizza, listen to jazz, go to the Art Institute. You can still do those things with strollers and such but… lugging babies, strollers, diaper bags, car seats buckling and unbuckling… and getting myself and them in and out of cars was just… in a word… draining. Plus babies tend to be fussier on the road… they have been pulled out of their familiar routines and places.
I host mostly families as I am near Disneyland Paris. I provide a cot, high-chair (these are required by vacation rentals regulations where I am) nightlight, all kinds of toys and books. We like to spoil our little guests. I also have “Kids-friendly” in the title of my listing.
Out of 50+ stays, I think I had to install the cot only three or four times ?
Most parents make their 2 yo kid sleep in one of the standard single beds, only the youngest ones require a baby bed and I am not sure that families with babies travel a lot.
We are masochists or idiots and we have dragged the babies to Culebra, Puerto Rico (which required a flight + prop plane), Big Island, Maui, Miami (twice), Portland (3 times), Alaska, Mendocino, Bay Area (5 times because that’s where family lives…) The oldest is 3.5 and the other is almost 2.
The thing about traveling with little kids is that you have to do all this domestic labor without the convenience of home nor the assistance of childcare. So we come home after 10 days completely exhausted and desperate for the nanny to show up… Infants are easy – asleep all the time, strapped to my body and I just do my thing. But now that they’re awake, running around, and actually talking, they are the most demanding, high-maintenance, free-loading, whiny travel companions ever. But I loved to travel before kids and I can’t let go of that addiction/fantasy that I can still do this. We are trying a resort for the first time in Dec and hoping that makes things more relaxing.
For the first about five years I had no assistance with my twins. My family lived on the mainland and I couldn’t afford childcare. On my own, but I really cherish every one of those baby times as they fly by so fast that the next thing you know, they are in college and there is no one to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for or drive to tennis practice.
I’ve always wanted to ask you about how you raised kids on the Big Island and your kids went to good colleges and sound like they are thriving now. There are a few places I’d love to consider moving to but I hesitate because the school systems aren’t great – did you supplement at home and your sons were well-prepared for college? I think there are clear benefits to growing up in interesting, non-conventional places and I’d love to pursue if I thought my kids’ future options wouldn’t suffer.
I think so many people are under the assumption that our public schools totally suck and while some of them do, we have to remember that our schools are staffed by mostly really dedicated professionals. Teachers are not in it for the money, they do it because they are passionate about what they do. As a sub for all the schools around here, K-12, I can see first hand how grueling the school days are for these kids. I see how hard the teachers work. The curriculum isn’t bad now. The standards have really tightened. They aim to have K reading, which is vastly improved from even when my kids were K.
I did not supplement at home and although there are private schools here (only one now) that was not even an option. We also have charter schools… A couple of Waldorf types. Also not an option. I worried about middle school, but found that the teachers there ran a tight ship and worked as a team. They were very nurturing. High school might have been a bit lacking, but as my son said, “school is like life, it is what you make it.” He acknowledges he was a lazy student in high school and could have done better. But it was adequate enough to get into college. Kids from our local high school have been accepted into all the best schools including Harvard, Berkeley and UCLA (my alma mater, go Bruins!) So it isn’t about the place… It’s about what you put into it.
My sons say the best thing they ever did in high school was robotics. Robotics teaches them problem solving skills and promotes high levels of cooperation. For both boys and girls! My sons now mentor the high school team when they can. In their senior year, the team finished in their highest place ever. One son was the captain and the other was the programmer, but it is really a team effort to build a robot that does well in competition. So robotics can definitely be credited with my sons’ success. It seemed like a good majority of the kids in their robotics class went on to attend good colleges.
And also – and this is key-- it is about parental support at home. And I don’t mean being all over them all the time about homework and grades. I mean about believing in them and constantly reinforcing their belief in themselves. Telling them, “you can do this, you can be whatever you want to be.” And also another key is to push them to apply for everything they can. It’s a numbers game and if they keep throwing noodles against the wall, eventually something will stick. Once they get one thing (as my sons did) it boosts their confidence and they apply for the next thing. That looks good on their resume and then they apply for the next thing. It’s a snowball effect! My kids received trips and scholarships this way even if they were not straight A students. They were always encouraged to apply for everything, even if they thought they didn’t have a shot. Winning something like this creates a sense of self motivation as well.
Also… Writing skill is KEY!!! I evaluate and review freshmen apps and scholarship apps for my alma mater, and the essay is the only way we have to really get to know you. If you give me a poor essay you will get marked down no matter how impressive the rest of your academics are. Make the most of it on all your applications! Writing in college is a constant and good writing will make the difference between a mediocre student and an outstanding one.
Getting the study abroad opportunity was a game changer. Living abroad changes you for the better. They loved it so much I will probably lose one or both to Japan and Korea eventually full time.
I feel like also here in Hawaii the kids get more opportunities than if they were attending large mainland schools. There’s less competition for things, and most people don’t even bother to apply!