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ParentsDecember 21, 2017

Think of parenting small children like running a B&B? Challenge accepted.

Anna Gowan heard some advice on the radio and she decided to run with it. It turned into quite a day. 

One afternoon, I heard an interview on RNZ with a parenting expert. At first I was overcome by a wave of fatigue. Not another parenting expert, I thought … and then I heard the advice.

“Treat your house like a B&B and think of your kids as the guests,” she said.

A B&B? I’d forgotten such things existed! They vanished with my first contraction, never to be seen again (along with weekend brunch, after work drinks, and my pelvic floor).

I had a magnificent time at a B&B once. We were there for a family reunion and not even the discovery that our great-grandfather died of syphilis tainted the experience.

I was so engrossed in the memory of that time that when I came to it was dark outside and the kids had eaten half a box of dry Weet-Bix in desperation. Even though I caught only one sentence of the interview, I knew I’d got the gist of their advice: To become better parents, we needed to start a B&B immediately.

I documented the results in blog-form for future use on my B&B’s website:

Week before launch:

Success is in the planning, so have watched all 12 episodes of Fawlty Towers in preparation.

Saturday at 5.30am:

First staff briefing.

“I’m so pleased to have you on board,” I say. “We have two guests checked in. Guest One is two years older than Guest Two. Remember the customer is always right.”

Co-host grunts and rolls over.


Guest One bolts into the kitchen.

“Good morning,” I say. “Our breakfast menu includes pancakes and -”

She hurtles into my crotch. I cannot speak. Co-host hands me frozen peas.


Guest Two has fire trucked all through her bed. I realise her nappy has leaked however I have to inform her that sheets are only changed every third day. This news is met with a blank stare. I am not sure she understands the terms and conditions of entry.

7.00am – 7.30am:

Discover Guest One has eaten all of Guest Two’s breakfast. Co-host serves Guest Two continental breakfast option.

Guest One complains to management and is served the continental option also.

Breakfast service finishes and guests commence jumping on the couch.


Guest One vomits two full breakfasts and a continental breakfast on the couch.

While being comforted by Co-host, Guest One drops the L bomb on him. I Google ‘what to do when your B & B guests tell you they love you’ but cannot find conclusive results.

Relocate bedroom potpourri to the lounge to mask smell.


Co-host finds empty potpourri jar on the floor. Guest Two is suspiciously silent. Her mouth is orange.


Suggest range of activities to guests, all of which are firmly rejected.

“Swing,” Guest Two says.

“But it’s raining,” Co-host says.

“The customer is always right,” I say.

Co-host takes Guest Two outside to the swing.


Have not had a moment to document B&B happenings but things are not going as planned.  Refer to a B&B advice blog in desperation.

“Normally, a B & B includes a breakfast and three complimentary snacks and drinks.”

Guest One has eaten seventeen snacks and is onto her third lunch.

Co-host is still outside pushing Guest Two in the swing. It is still raining.

“She doesn’t want to get out,” he tells me in despair. “You said the customer is always right.”


Discover Guest Two has fallen asleep in the swing.

Notice my father-in-law has popped in. On closer inspection, I discover it is actually Co-host. He has aged 25 years since breakfast. He is on his hands and knees on the grass with Guest One on his back.

“Gee up,” she says and kicks him in the ribs.

“She said you told her she could go horse riding,” he says.


Changing Guest Two’s nappy is a three-man operation. Realise we are hopelessly understaffed.

Co-host opens the nappy and both of us recoil in horror. Our B&B is not prepared for this. Google ‘what to do when your B&B guest craps out potpourri’ but cannot find conclusive results.

“I can help,” Guest One says and shoves a fluffy white towel on top of the open nappy.


I am exhausted. I cannot go on any longer.

Guest One and Guest Two are in the guest bedroom. I am lying face down on their floor.

“That was a fun day,” Guest One says.

“Swing,” Guest Two says.

I lift my head. “Please post your review on Trip Advisor.”

Co-host picks me up by the feet and drags me out of the guest bedroom.


Co-host: “Can you tell me exactly what you heard on RNZ?”

Me: “They said to start your own B&B.”

Co-host: “What else did they say?”

I am silent. Co-host finds the segment online and we listen to it in full. At the end, Co-host fills his wineglass to the brim.

“I think I may have got the wrong end of the stick,” I say. “I think the B&B thing was a metaphor she came up with for how to stay one step ahead of your kids. The advice was all about how to leave the house on time.”

Co-host refills his glass.

“That is really good advice,” I say. “Let’s try it tomorrow.”

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