10 Ways Working in Hospitality Prepares You for Parenting
I’ve come to realize that I should have majored in Early Childhood Education since the internet has me convinced that I’m supposed to be my toddler’s teacher in addition to mother, cook, maid, and chauffeur. After further reflection, however, I know that my experience in the hospitality industry did in fact prepare me for my life as a stay-at-home-mom. Here is how!
1) It’s a 24 hour operation.
You might get to work before the sun comes up in the morning, and leave after it has set. Did the sun even happen today? You might work over night. Is it unhealthy for your body not to have a regular sleep schedule? Probably! Holidays and weekends are just more work days. Similarly, children expect you to be on call 24 hours a day and you still have to take care of them on weekends and holidays. There is no time off at this job.
2) Guests and children alike, are extremely demanding.
Hotel version: My dog is staying with me, but he’s allergic to other animals, so I need a room that has never had a pet in it. We need a balcony because we’re claustrophobic, no connecting door because of the noise, not a far walk, but not close to the elevator because that’s noisy too. We must have housekeeping service every day between 11:05 and 11:15, and please send a classic Italian opera singer to sing us to sleep every night.
Toddler version: For nap time I will require chocolate milk, water WITH ICE, two stuffed animals, a truck which I will promise not to push the noise buttons on (but I will do that as soon as you leave), the gray blanket, a night light, and two stories. When you tell me to go potty at the beginning of this, I don’t need to. But once we’re all done and I’m tucked in, I will get up to go potty, and then require two more stories to go back to bed.
3) You get used to being blackmailed.
In hospitality, you regularly get threatened with a bad review on the internet. Don’t give them the freebie they want, the room upgrade, etc. and everyone is all, “I’ll be writing a TripAdvisor review about this!” My toddler won’t do things like go potty or put on his clothes, without the promise of a chocolate. Which is worse, cleaning up his wet pants or having a child hopped up on sugar? The choice varies from day to day depending on how desperate I am.
4) You try to make people happy but they can’t decide what they want.
The baby is screaming. I give him his milk cup, he throws that. I give him his water, he shoves that away. Here, want this muffin? Louder screaming. What do you want from me?!? This is probably the road to, “I want to see the fireworks at both of those parks but they’re at the same time and I just DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!” Life is full of hard choices. You have to pick one.
5) You master multi-tasking.
Yes I can answer phone calls while helping a front desk agent, sending chocolates to an unhappy guest, booking a dinner reservation, checking the weather for next weekend, and reviewing tomorrow’s arrivals. Now I utilize this to read to a toddler as I change a diaper while constantly handing something new and hopefully interesting to the baby so he won’t roll over and cover everything in poop.
6) If you do something special once, they expect it every time.
“Last time I booked a standard room but I got an upgrade.” “Last time we went to Target I got a new toy!” I’m so glad we were able to do something extra special for you last time. We’ll keep in mind that we can’t give you nice things without ruining all of your future experiences.
7) You’re frequently the victim of the true fact that misery loves company.
Hungry, hot, tired people are never pleasant to be around, but as this is the vacation that they have saved for and planned for months, they expect it to be all rainbows and unicorns. When it isn’t, they will do everything in their power to make sure that you are miserable too. At least a stranger mocking you, cursing at you, threatening you is something that you can trade stories about with you co-workers at the bar later. When a teething baby is ensuring that you too can’t sleep or eat or shower in peace, it is actually soul-sucking.
8) How may I help you with your most annoying questions?
My toddler’s new thing is to ask if EVERYTHING will hurt him. It’s kind of concerning, and we keep asking if anyone or anything does hurt him, and he says no, but he keeps asking if… the wipes, macaroni and cheese, his shorts, that book, the dog, the tv, a picture, this stuffed animal, a banana… will hurt him. No. No none of those things can hurt you. Some people never grow out of asking ridiculous questions. They get on vacation and they no longer see signs or have the ability to read, so they’ll ask if they’re going to get charged the $7 for the bottle of water in the room that had a big tag on it saying it’s $7.
9) Everything is always broken.
People abuse hotel rooms because it isn’t their stuff. Children abuse their homes because they don’t care that it’s their stuff. The end result is the same, you get used to a very long list of stuff that needs to be repaired, replaced, cleaned, or touched up. Good luck keeping up. Which brings me to number 10.
10) You learn to admit defeat and lower your standards.
You come out of training so excited to be a part of creating magical memories and perfect vacations for people. Your expectations are less realistic than the hoards of guests about to come break your spirit. Soon enough you won’t be surprised when a guest shows you a picture of something horrible in his room because you know that housekeeping has an impossible job to do. You stop feeling bad about putting someone in that room all the way down the hall with a terrible view, because it’s summer and the hotel is sold out so someone has to take the crappy rooms.
Likewise you get that positive pregnancy test and plan for your perfect life with your perfect children. Only to find that your perfect children are in fact little breathing bulldozers who destroy everything and are crazy needy, you can’t possibly do all of the toddler activities that you see on Pinterest, and the house will never fully get cleaned because while you clean one room they are messing up another. And eventually you come to terms with the fact that none of this is life or death, so this is just what we’re going to have to live like for the next few years.