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How to Transform Your Business Into a Parent Haven

Hello and welcome!  Today I’m sharing a few ideas on how businesses can be more family friendly.  I’ve always wanted to own a business.  It’s the main reason I studied finance/accounting in college and went on to get an MBA.  I’m just now starting the entrepreneurial journey with a couple of great partners (in addition to this blog).  We’re in the process of establishing the website among many other things.  I’ll be sharing additional details closer to launch!

We decided to start with a web-based business because it’s so much less capital-intensive. However, I would like to eventually own a brick and mortar business down the road.  It’s fun to think about what type of business that would be.  If I were to open one right now it would completely cater to parents.  My first thought is a coffee bar with an inside playground.  I’m sure they exist.  In fact, there are similar places where we live, but not exactly what I’m envisioning.

A Little Background

Let me give you a little bit of background on why this would be my first option.  I have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old.  We tend to call our 2-year-old “monster baby.”  (PS – we call him this with a lot of love.)  He is so darn cute, but he is also super busy and strong-willed.  In all honesty, the toddler years are so precious, but really hard at times.  And the terrible 2s start as early as 18 months and continue through at least 4 years old (if not 18). 🙂

When we are out and about, we search for places that will make our lives a little easier.  Whether it’s a grocery store that has fun car carts (with functional seat belts!) or a restaurant with a play area for kids.  Because as much as I thought I would be the parent with the child sitting so nice and calm at the restaurant table — it just doesn’t happen with our youngest!

I’d like to provide a caveat before we talk about how you can make your brick and mortar business a parent haven.  Caveat — I understand these options are not feasible for all businesses and with some (especially #1) it will take a cost/benefit analysis with plenty of employee or customer research/surveys.

These ideas really are just a wish list of what could make our lives easier as parents.  And you know what? Sometimes the easiest option is to stay at home.  Please enjoy! AND if you’re a business owner and find an idea intriguing, then, by all means, go for it!

On-Site Daycare

I have several thoughts on this one.  There are so many cool things you can do with an on-site daycare. Most health clubs have this idea down pat. 🙂

  1. Daycare for employee’s children.  Do you know how much easier this would be for parents?
  2. Short-term on-site daycare for customer’s children.  Perfect for spas, salons and I can see it working for grocery stores too.
  3. Combination of both a daycare for employee’s kids and customers.  Absolutely charge for it!
  4. Partner with a local daycare to operate and staff the on-site daycare.

Indoor or Outdoor Playgrounds

I would love for more businesses to take on the McDonald’s approach and include a play place.  A parent/child bar – coffee, kid-friendly drinks and snacks, WiFi and an indoor playground.  I’ve even envisioned a fine dining restaurant with a “fish bowl” in the middle with a kid’s play area while the adults enjoy a nice meal and watch their kids having a blast at the same time.

I was so impressed with this crab shack in Florida.  Great food, line dancing and a playground in the back.  Talk about a great experience.  We’ll make a point to go back next time!

Kids Activities

I love that most restaurants provide children with crayons and a coloring sheet.  Maybe even crackers.  However, some of our favorite places to go have gone beyond that.  For example, a local hamburger and shake joint that has a giant chalkboard with chalk the kids can play with while waiting for the food to arrive.  Another casual dining restaurant has an entire section in the back filled with toys.  This can really be a lifesaver.

Changing Tables

Please add a changing table to each restroom – men’s and women’s.  Even better, add a completely separate family room.   It amazes me how many family-friendly establishments do not have a single changing table.

Shopping Carts

This may sound silly, but the type of carts in a store can make or break our shopping experience.  We’ve been to stores with really great carts for kids — but the seat belt was broken in all the kid-friendly carts.  I can’t shop for what I need with a toddler roaming the aisles, we end up leaving much earlier than planned.

If I ever own a store with carts, I would make them super fun, with seat belt functionality checks often and size them so they are not gigantic to push around the store.

Create an Experience

This has a whole category of its own because of a horrible experience we had on our flight back from Florida this summer.  Yes, we were the parents with the screaming/crying toddler on our flight there.  I felt awful and I’m sure it’s never fun to be on an airplane with a crying little one.  I get it.

One lady expressed how upset she was (she was also on our flight to Florida) and suggested maybe a 2-year-old shouldn’t travel by airplane.  And you know what? We’re pretty sure she (and the gentlemen she was with) received a complimentary drink from the airline.  Turns out, on this flight home our son was extremely good.  A different lady and her son shared their toys and iPad with him.  Believe me, we had plenty of toys and electronics packed with, but they’re never as exciting as someone else’s. 🙂

Back to my point — if I were to manage an airline, I would cater to parents and children.  It would make everyone’s lives a little easier.  I’d have a kids corner with iPads, complimentary snacks, games, books and more.  Why not?  The moment the airline catered to the couple complaining, I lost all respect.  They’ve lost a lifetime customer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas.  In the comments, please let me know — do you think any of these ideas are over the top? Or are some on your wish list as well?  Do you have any to add?

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