Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by for the transcript of Episode #146. If you’d rather listen to this episode than read 8,000 words, you can click the player below or learn how to get our podcasts on your phone (for free) here.
[Intro theme music begins.]
John: I’m John.
Sherry: And I’m Sherry.
John: We like home stuff.
Sherry: We like talking.
John: And we like the occasional game show sound effect. [Pulsing sound effect] So welcome to Young House Love Has A Podcast where we have deep and not so dumb conversations about DIY, design and life at home.
Sherry: Today we’re taking you behind the scenes of our first summer renting out the duplex. What went well, what went wrong, and what we still need to work on. Plus the exciting conclusion to a three year renovation and why we bought knifes for our kids.
[Intro theme music ends.]
Sherry: [singing] Ra-ra-ah-ah-ah, Roma-roma-ma. Gaga, ooh la-la, back with a podcast.
John: Do you think our listeners waited all summer for an impression?
Sherry: I mean, I really feel like they expect one. And I give the people what they want.
John: But do they want one?
Sherry: Nope. Let’s get to all the rental details. We have so much to talk about, the projects we’ve planned at our house, and the Real Simple project, and planning our bathroom makeover. That’s all going to be in this episode and future episodes because we have so much to tell you. But first, the exciting conclusion – that’s right, I said conclusion – to my Invisalign saga.
[Climax reveal sound effect]
John: I looked it was in Episode 20, so that was October of 2016 that you first started talking about getting Invisalign.
Sherry: Right, this podcast is three years old. And my Invisalign is almost three years old. And I’m very excited to share with you that during my last appointment, which was just a few weeks ago, he looked me square in the eye…
John: I think he was looking at your mouth.
Sherry: Square in the mouth. [laughing] He looked into my mouth and declared “We’re done with Invisalign.” I was gleeful. I was thrilled, and he said, “It just isn’t working for you anymore. I recommend four months of braces.”
John: [Laughs] Such a high high, followed by such a low low.
Sherry: Such a low… to which I said, “No thanks. I’ll just take retainers. We’ll freeze this mouth just the way it is.” I can’t do four months of braces. My mouth is over it. It’s like when you’re nine months and one week pregnant, and you’re just sort of like, “I’m done.”
John: Your mouth is three years pregnant.
Sherry: My mouth didn’t know it was going to go through all this. And not to get a baby at the end.
John: Our podcast is like, I don’t know, five minutes in, and it’s already off the rails.
Sherry: Off the rails. So anyway, the point is Invisalign is done. I said, “No, thank you,” to the braces. He was totally fine with it. He said it was just cosmetic at this point. It’s not like I can’t chew food, which was part of the reason I got Invisalign, I had such a bad cross bite, I was biting my cheek. So like all the mechanics of eating are okay now. And one tooth just refuses to drop down. [laughs] He thinks I had a “trauma to the face” that caused this tooth to fuse to the bone and it will not move. So all that is to say I have an unfortunate mouth but Invisalign is over. I now have permanent retainers and night retainers that I have to wear. I’m getting the night retainers later this afternoon. And so the update is just that. I’m a beauty school dropout.
John: Hey but you know what’s good news everyone?! Not only is Sherry done, it means we’re done talking about it.
Sherry: Right. This is the last episode about Invisalign.
John: Until I decide to get Invisalign.
Sherry: [Laughs] No, please never do.
John: You’ve had it enough for both of us. But let’s turn our attention to what it was like renting the duplex for its first summer season.
Sherry: So last time you guys heard from us, we had never rented to anyone. Now we come back three months later and we have hosted 23 different families, because it’s a duplex (so we’re renting each side). We’re basically running a mini hotel.
John: It was like diving into the deep end of being Airbnb hosts.
Sherry: It’s like, if you had no kids, and then you went to twins, that’s what having a duplex is because you have double the stuff to do and double the people to manage and book and remember to send whatever to. So there’s like a lot going on mentally. There’s also physical work. And we wanted to just keep it real for you guys, we’re not going to sugar-coat it. But we also know it’s an exciting thing to do. Like, we are very grateful for this experience. But it was not like, say, a day at the spa. Like it wasn’t a manicure and a pedicure.
John: No, I think it surprised us by where the sort of physical and mental energy was required, like some things we expected going in and some things we didn’t. So we wanted to sort of walk through how the summer went just for those who are curious about it, but also for those who either are considering doing a rental like it, or who already have one and just want to like compare their experience to ours. You know, we still are newbies as much as we’ve had like an intensive training program by having straight bookings from mid-June right through Labor Day, it still feels like there’s a lot to learn and things we could improve on as well.
Sherry: Right. We’re walking away with ideas to make the next season even better. We’re also planning to do a series of posts about like the cost of running an Airbnb and also the things we learned on the blog. So there’s going to be a lot of stuff around this just based on all the questions we’re getting and all the experiences we want to share, and John, how would you describe it in a nutshell? Like one word, what was the rental season like for you?
John: In a word I would say “successful-ish.” [Sherry laughs] If it was two words, I would say “mostly successful.”
Sherry: Mine would be “neurotic/amazing.”
John: So we’re not good at the one word thing. But I think the point is that looking back we can consider the summer a large success in terms of like, it went mostly smoothly. I don’t think there was any big disaster or like a major hiccup that we can really point to. I mean, there’s one story we’ll tell that was…
Sherry: … it was a high stress moment.
John: Yes, that’s for sure. But again, in retrospect, it was just fine.
Sherry: Right. It could have been really, really bad. Like I had to go for a walk to cool off. But it turned out fine.
John: Yeah. And I think the guests were all great and nice. I mean, we did rent to like a few family and friends, but most of the renters were people who follow Young House Love. So people who were familiar with the renovation of the duplex, and so it was cool to see people in there who were really excited to see it in person, who were really excited to see Cape Charles in person. So that was a really fun payoff for us to actually get to share this town with people. I mean that’s the whole reason we wanted to do this in the first place.
Sherry: Yes, we were incredibly lucky because I think our followers are awesome. And they treated the house really nicely. And they were thrilled to be in there. And we heard from so many people who were like, it was one thing to watch it on the internet, but it was another thing to stand in those rooms and see all the details in real life. And of course, houses look better in real life than they do in pictures. So it was extremely flattering to hear how much they loved it in person. It like made my little mom heart beat an extra beat. Is that what happens when you’re happy?
John: Sure it does. Well, and I think we also had a pretty damage free summer. I mean, we’ve heard so many horror stories both from you guys in the months leading up to the rental season, about like the terrible things that renters did to your places. And we heard horror stories throughout the summer from other places in Cape Charles, like our cleaner said she had to go to house the other day and someone had thrown up in the bathtub and not cleaned it up.
Sherry: Like beer barf. Like a grown up. Not like kid barf.
John: Yeah, but we didn’t have anything close to that. And I think a lot of that was because like I said, most of our guests were people who had followed along with the renovation. So they went into it, I guess maybe treating it nicer than they would a typical rental or any other rental they weren’t familiar with, you know? If it’s just some random house they found on Airbnb or whatever. So I think that did help us for sure.
Sherry: Yeah, we have to recognize that not everybody has that. And everybody has different rental experiences. But by and large when people are like, “Oh my gosh, all my comforters got stolen,” or like “Someone stole my good sheets. What happened to you?” I’m like, “Well, someone accidentally stole a stool and then they mailed it back to us.”
John: Yes, the husband packed it thinking it was the Ikea stool they had at home.
Sherry: But we provide an Ikea stool in the bathroom for little kids to brush their teeth, so it was just a mix up. They mailed it back to us. [laughing]
John: Easy mistake. No big deal. I mean, there was like normal kind of wear and tear like wall scuffs, a couple wine glasses got broken, but again nothing that I would like rank on the scale of a disaster by any means.
Sherry: Right. I mean we had to replace like one salt shaker because it broke.
John: Actually probably the biggest disaster to stuff was caused by me.
Sherry: [laughs] Right, that’s true.
John: We went in one morning before the cleaners got there just to sort of check on the place and start to refill some of the things because we provide stuff like shampoo and conditioner and body wash and detergents and soaps and you know, all those kind of consumables that people need in a house.
Sherry: Coffee, sugar.
John: Yeah, so I was refilling the laundry detergent that had gotten low and we bought these like giant, I don’t know like two gallon-
Sherry: Oh, I feel like it was like five gallons.
John: I don’t know these giant bulk detergent that you get at Costco. I picked it up out of the supply closet, you know, the locked owner’s closet where we keep all the extras, and it just happened to slip out of my hand and fall to the floor which generally would probably be no big deal but the way it hit it split open the entire bottom of it. Like across the entire bottom seam and detergent just like bled out over the entire floor in the dining room.
Sherry: By the time I entered the room [laughs]
John: … it was like a crime scene but like blue blood.
Sherry: It just looked like John took seven gallons of milk except fill them with detergent and went bowling with them like there was a streak, there was such a volume of it [laughs].
John: Well, because I ran it to the sink to stop the dripping, so there was also a trail from the dining room into the kitchen.
Sherry: Gallons and gallons of soap on the floor. And much like I imagined an I Love Lucy episode or like a Three Stooges episode, we were racing to get all this soapy goo off the floor. And let me tell you, it’s not easy to pick up soap. We were using cups, we were using paper towels, we were using actual towels, and it took a very long time [laughs].
John: Yeah, so that was probably the most damage that was done to the house. I mean even our cleaner commented at the end of the summer that our house had fared really well compared to others that go through their first season.
Sherry: Yes. And again, we recognize that part of that was that we’re very lucky to have an audience who watched us fix this house up, and treated it with a ton of respect. I think there was one other factor though. So if you don’t have a blog and a house you’re fixing up on the internet, but you’re opening an Airbnb, I think the second thing that we did was super helpful. I basically went into it and I looked at all the ways it could get wrecked, and I tried to mitigate them. Like I was very risk averse in the things I brought into the house. One example would be that we bought these marble hexagon coasters from Target. They’re my favorite. We have them all around our house. And then when I was in the house, I was moving them around and I kept dropping them on the floor, and I was like, “Ooh, a heavy marble coaster makes like a little ding in the floor.” And I was like, “Forget this. I’m not giving people like stone Frisbees.” [Laughs].
John: Yeah. Like a blunt object.
Sherry: Right. So I went back to Target with them and I switched them out for cork coasters. Another example is that when we stay at Airbnb’s, and I have little kids I would notice that I’d run around the house and put all the like ceramic breakables up. And so if you stare at the duplex (we did a video tour that you guys can watch, I’ll put that in the show notes) make sure you notice the finishes and the materials I used because it’s very intentional. There is like a fake Fern on a side table that’s in a really light like balsa wood planter, not a ceramic one.
John: Well, and we generally left a lot of the surfaces uncluttered and clear. One so that they were useful to renters, like we want them to have room to put their things. But also so that we didn’t have a lot of objects that could get lost or damaged. Even the cleaner when she came to look at the house back in April was like “I like how uncluttered this house is, it will make it easier for us.”
Sherry: Right? Exactly.
John: But I mean not everything was perfect. Like we got some stains on some towels that we couldn’t get out. We had a pillow got something on it, we just ended up having to toss it. Like a throw pillow that got something, I don’t know, maybe toothpaste. So it wasn’t perfect, but again, nothing was a huge deal.
John: But we did say there was one thing that did register on the Richter scale of probably the closest thing to a quote unquote disaster that we had.
Sherry: The peak stressful moment of the summer.
John: And the funny thing is, I don’t think the renter was even aware that it had happened. It was just something that affected us.
Sherry: Yes, we saw it. We freaked out for what could have happened, and then we mitigated it before disaster struck.
John: Yeah. So it’s not going to sound that bad, probably to some people. But we walked by the duplex one evening, and this was after we had actually just seen the renters out at a restaurant. We had finished our dinner at the restaurant, and they were just arriving. So we knew they’d gone out to eat and we had even gone and got dessert and watched the sunset and done some other things. So it was like an hour or so later that we walked back home and going past the duplex, we noticed the front door was wide open.
Sherry: And the light was on.
Sherry: And it was dark. So I could see the bugs swarming in and also I could hear the air conditioning fighting to keep up because it was a very hot summer night. And so I just went up there to check because I thought “oh my gosh, if they’re all at dinner for hours and they come home to a hot house with bugs in it, that’s going to be a disappointment for them.” And I also was worried about like, what if a cat got in? What if someone went in and robbed them and took their stuff? Or what if someone took our stuff like the TV walks away down the street?
John: Yeah, I think our brains filled with a lot of what ifs about what could happen. I mean, the bugs and the AC was one thing, but it’s just like, with the front door open, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I mean, it’s a safe town and everything but that doesn’t mean someone won’t take advantage of a situation like that. And again, they could take something of ours like a TV or take something of theirs too – like it could have become much more of a situation than it started off as.
Sherry: Right and seeing the light on was confusing because wide open door and light on made me think, “Well, someone’s got to be home.” But then I was like, “We saw them at the restaurant, they weren’t even seated yet. I don’t think anyone’s home.” So I just kind of approached the door and I said, “Hello, hello.” And no one was there. So I just closed the door firmly and ran back to my house. And we debated messaging them but we didn’t want it to sound like we’re staring at them from one house away or like we’re mad?
John: Yeah, I didn’t want to feel like we were chastising them, like, “Excuse me, you need to watch the door and make sure that it’s closed.” Because I can kind of understand it. Like when you have your family at a house you’re not familiar with, like, maybe someone ran out the front door at the last moment didn’t close it fully, or like a kid came out and the parents thought they had closed it. You know, I’m sure there was a very rational explanation for it. I didn’t want to make them feel bad. I mean, maybe that’s me being overly sensitive of their feelings. But we ended up not telling them about it.
Sherry: Because we thought if there was an issue, like if we got a message, like there were a bunch of bugs, or why is the side of the house so hot? We could say like, “Well, actually, we didn’t want to tell you because we didn’t want to make you feel bad but the door was left open for a few hours and we closed it as soon as we saw it.”
John: “No worries.”
Sherry: You know, or my other thought was like what if they say, “My laptop’s missing.” Then we would say, “The door was open and we closed it for you.”
John: Maybe we should have told them. I don’t know.
Sherry: I know. Maybe we should have. We went back and forth.
John: That was the whole thing though, it became this like big, stressful moment for us because we weren’t sure how to handle it. Like what was appropriate. We were having all these worst case scenarios run through our minds.
Sherry: And it is actually very probable that a cat could walk in and just pee everywhere.
John: You do have a cat that loves you, one on the street.
Sherry: I have a cat that loves me and loves the duplex and is trying to get in it all the time.
John: Our children have named it Emily.
Sherry: I don’t know where Emily was that night, but I’m very grateful she didn’t get in.
John: She might have gone in and come back out. Who knows? Maybe she had the time of her life in there. But anyways, I think that when we look back at the summer, you know, there were other hiccups, but that was probably the biggest event for us. And again, it was something that turned out to be nothing in the long run. It was just a kind of fire drill for us about how do we handle this as hosts? Because that’s not something that you can really prepare for. Like in all the scenarios we thought of going into this summer, I don’t think we had a game plan for something like that.
Sherry: Well, it’s almost like that every single thing that pops up, it’s a learning opportunity to figure something out. And every single time we got a question about something or a concern about something, we tried to just deal with it and mitigate it for the next time. Like there were certain things that happened once and then we were like, “Ooh, there’s something we can do to keep that from happening again and again.”
John: Yeah, like we had a couple of people mention that the front bedroom got really bright in the morning because the sun rises on that side. And we have blinds and curtains there. But we realized, okay, maybe we should put blackout curtains in there so we can help future guests not have this issue. So like halfway through the summer, we ordered some blackout curtains and snuck in there on a Saturday and hung them.
Sherry: And it was so much better because it felt like we were being proactive and we were responding to our guest’s needs. On the other side of the coin, whenever people praised us for something, we wanted to make sure we continue to have that thing. Like there were so many reviews and messages that were like it’s so nice to have all these towels to have the coffee and sugar, everything we needed was there. And it was helpful to do that because we did actually have another snafu which was that on a very, very hot night we learned from the power company knocking on our door that the transformer on our block, which the duplex also gets power from, was overheating.
It was like bubbling over and they had to fully switch out the transformer but they said, “You’re going to be without power for a few hours.” And one proactive thing was that we did is that we texted our renters and said, “Hey, in the junk drawer there is a flashlight.” Because John and I were super thorough before we opened the duplexes and we bought two flashlights for each side. So we were able to message the people staying and say, like, “Hey, there are flashlights in the junk drawer.” It felt like a nice host thing to do to say like, “Here’s an object to make this better.” And it did only take a few hours and then the power was back on. Nobody got hot, the fridge stayed cold. It was fine in the end.
John: Yeah, again, I think everything we’re mentioning is not any major event. But I feel like I still want to impress upon everyone that it was still a fairly high involvement summer – at least more high involvement than I expected. And I think the big areas that required our presence, both sort of physically and mentally, were like actually responding to renter requests or questions, you know, mostly through the Airbnb app. There are also like a lot of messages you exchange as people are arriving and have questions about like, you know, recommendations for the area. Or where something is in the house?
Sherry: Check out questions too.
John: Yeah, so I feel like probably on average I exchanged maybe like three to four messages per booking per week.
Sherry: And there’s two sides being rented out, remember we have twins.
John: Yeah. So not a crazy amount. Some people have more questions than others – but that is something that you have to be present for. Like you have to be able to respond because one thing at least Airbnb does, is it sort of evaluates your abilities as a host based on how quickly you respond.
Sherry: Right. If you’re slow to respond Airbnb will not allow you to be a super host. Things like that. So it’s pressure and you also don’t want your renter to ask you something and have to wait 24 hours for the answer.
Sherry: So we were definitely more attached to our phones than we expected because we wanted to be good hosts.
John: Yes. I’ve told people like I had my phone on ring all summer instead of vibrate.
Sherry: Right. And we used to have Do Not Disturb times. And John’s phone is the contact phone. So he took it off Do Not Disturb because like, what if there’s a leak or fire in the middle of the night – we don’t want it to not disturb us!
John: Right, exactly. And I think that’s sort of the other thing beyond just like the basic questions and inquiries you get. The other big part of that summer was just sort of that like mental weight of feeling on call. Fortunately, we didn’t have anything that was an emergency or super time sensitive come up. But especially at the start of the summer, I really felt that stress and anxiety of having to be available for people in case something happened. Because, you know, we’re new to this and we have heard all these horror stories. We have pictured all the things that can go wrong.
Sherry: Guys, you want to be scared, open an Airbnb and tell the internet about it, and they will come forth with their horror stories to scare you out of your skin.
John: Yeah, and so as people were arriving those first few weeks, I was just bracing myself, I guess for the thing that would go wrong or even just like the thing we overlooked. Like what if we forgot to provide X? Like the most obvious thing, and the people are going to sit there and be like, “Um excuse me, you don’t have a dishwasher?” I mean, like, that’s a terrible example.
Sherry: No, well, one week we got a message that a railing was loose. And immediately my brain jumped to the indoor railing and somebody falling in the liability or some kid getting hurt. And it was like, I went to 10 in that moment of fear. And then from reading it more carefully, it was the back railing of the house, which is like three steps up and like a vinyl no-rot material.
John: Yeah, it was just that the handrail on the back steps was a little bit loose.
Sherry: So we had our contractor who installed it, tighten it. It was not a very big deal, except that he sent someone to the wrong side of the duplex. That’s another thing that comes up a lot. You have to keep track of which sides are which. When we clean and turn over the duplex I have to remember if I did something on one side, but not the other. So there is the extra confusion of doing things twice or figuring out which side needs your help.
John: Yeah. I also felt like I held some anxiety again, more so at the beginning of the summer, and it sort of alleviated as the weeks went on. But just worrying about the guests having a good time, which I don’t know maybe that sounds dumb, like it’s not really my responsibility that they enjoy themselves. But you know, we have told people about how great this town is. Most people would not be vacationing there without having heard it from us, at least you know, the people staying in duplex.
John: And so I felt like not only did I want them to enjoy the house, but I wanted them to have a good time in the town.
Sherry: Right. We wanted the weather to be perfect for everyone every single day.
John: I know, I was like anxious if it was a cloudy day.
Sherry: Yeah, but as the days went by we realized, “Oh my gosh, we can’t take that on. Like we can’t control that. We’re in charge of the house. We can fill it with things to make their experience enjoyable.” Thankfully, from the feedback, a ton of it was about their appreciation of the things we provided.
Sherry: So we know that was, like, a good choice – because it seemed like people really enjoyed those things.
John: Well, and people really enjoyed Cape Charles, which I knew they would but I was just worried that like maybe only we like it. Like maybe this is the thing our particular family really likes and other people are going to come and be bored because it’s not your typical busy, you know, Jersey Shore beach town.
Sherry: Right. There’s not like a big boardwalk and a huge like condominium and like…
John: … a big arcade and mini golf and all that stuff
John: It’s a nice slow little beach town. So as we started to get the positive feedback, and we were reassured that we didn’t have some major oversight, I think I could let go of that mental weight – but still the idea of being on call for most of the summer was like very present in our brains.
Sherry: Like John would be in the ocean and the phone would ding. It has a special ding for an Airbnb message and I would run towards the ocean where he was and I’d like flag him down and say like, “Airbnb message! I don’t know if it’s important or not! But we should check it!” You know, like you get trained to…
Sherry: Panic immediately. [laughing] And then you’re relieved when it’s not an emergency. But I feel very fortunate. Like this is not a complaint. We are so lucky that nobody called and said, “The house is flooded!” “The house is on fire!”
John: No, no. But I think it is something people should be aware of if they’re going to do this that they are taking on the stress of that. Or like the the weight of that job of being someone’s host, even if you’re doing it from afar.
John: And things did come up that do require your attention sometimes. It’s not always just answering simple questions. Like one morning the internet inexplicably went out in the duplex and it was actually a day that we were leaving town. So I’m so grateful that we caught it because I could go over before we left and reset it and everything. So that ended up being a very small event. You know, it disrupted their morning a little bit. And I’m grateful that I was there to go fix it in like a minute. And also like one week I had to go over to help someone with the outdoor shower because they couldn’t figure it out. And someone actually once dropped their kids block and it slid under the owner’s closet, the locked closet that we keep downstairs. And so I had to go open the closet so they can retrieve the block. So once again, not major things, but things that we had to respond to at some point to show that we were attentive hosts.
Sherry: And it’s always things you never could guess, right. Like after that happened we were like we should get one of those door sweeps for the inside of the closet door so that things can’t go under the locked closet door. But it’s like nothing you could have done preemptively, like you had to have the issue, realize the issue, and then fix the issue.
John: Yeah. Yeah, I think the thing that probably took the most energy and time from both of us was the turnover. So on the day that people check out at 10:00 AM in the morning – and we have the next guest coming at 4:00 PM because every week was weekly rental, Saturday to Saturday. So we had had a six hour window each week to get in the house and get it ready for the next guest. And we did hire professional cleaners to do this because, you know, there’s six bathrooms, two kitchens, six bedrooms, like there’s a lot to do. We were doing like three to four loads of laundry per side each week. So we knew that’s something that we couldn’t take on just the two of us. But we also quickly learned that it was more than just two cleaners could do also. There was typically one cleaner doing each side.
Sherry: And me and John running around like crazy.
John: Yeah, we just learned early on that there’s so much to check. There’s also a learning curve that any new cleaner goes through to figure out, you know, where things go in your house. And you know what they need to check and so throughout the summer Sherry and I found ourselves spending I don’t know one, two, three hours-
Sherry: Four, five [laughs].
John: Yeah, I was going to say.
Sherry: I got an average of 10,000 steps turning over the duplex which is four miles for me. I wear a Fitbit, that’s how I know that. And nothing else happened that morning. It’s not like I go for a run and then I do that.
Sherry: We’re cleaning the outdoor grills, there are two because there are two sides. We’re blowing off the two patios, sweeping the porch, all the outside stuff was not stuff our indoor house cleaners were taking care of.
Sherry: And then we also were doing laundry because we found early on that if we didn’t help with the laundry, we almost weren’t ready at 4:00 when the next people arrived. In fact, one week, it was so close that I ran over to check one last thing in the duplex and I opened the door and people were in there. They had gone in about 10 minutes early before the 4:00 PM check in and I saw shoes on the floor. And I very quickly closed the door and ran home.
Sherry: But like that’s how tight it was some weeks.
John: Yeah, it wasn’t like that every week. But it depended on what the state of the house was. Even if it wasn’t damaged. Just sometimes it was sandier than other weeks and it took extra time to clean it. Sometimes more linens were used than others. And so it really varied week to week how busy that day was. But Sherry and I definitely found that like we were needed to get it done each week to make sure that the house was like back up to the standard that we wanted it to when people arrive. Because people had seen this on the internet, they expected something from the listing and we wanted to make sure that it met that for everyone who came there.
Sherry: Right like there were a few weeks that we’d run through at the end to double check everything and we’d realize there were like no hand towels in any of the bathrooms. They were all locked in the locked owner’s closet and we would definitely get a message about that. So we were just trying to avoid missing huge things that we had promised, if we say we provide coffee and sugar and shampoo and conditioner and laundry detergent, we have to check all of those things.
John: Yeah. Yeah, and I actually am going to talk a bit more about this aspect of it in a post this week. Sort of the lessons we learned about what you’re getting yourself into when you have an Airbnb rental like this because the cleaning and the maintenance and the turnover thing is something that we are working on trying to get better at and streamline like we feel like even though we had all this time over the summer I don’t think we ironed out our system quite yet. We still have some room to get better.
Sherry: I think it’s just very glamorous to think “I’ll make a beautiful house right? I’ll fill it. I’ll decorate it. I can do that.” But there’s a whole different skill set on top of that, that is like hospitality and maintenance.
John: Yeah. And that is not as glamorous.
Sherry: Like cleaning and refilling and dropping detergent all over the floor. Like these are all things that you also have on top of just making a beautiful house. It has to stay beautiful. And you have this panic because we only had a window of six hours every week that we could even be in the duplex.
Sherry: Because it was otherwise occupied.
Sherry: So that was also like, “Ooh, if we wanted to switch out those blackout curtains, it was like, have them washed and steamed and ready to hang because you only have a few hours to get them up.” And you’re also doing 1,000 other things in that turnover day so it was really made Saturdays, like Saturdays were our biggest work day by far.
John: By far, yeah.
Sherry: So that’s some of the stuff we learned this summer – and there will be much more in that post.
John: Yeah, and I feel like we have, well I was going to say exhausted this topic, but we haven’t because again, it was a busy summer. We learned a lot because it was something so new to us. So there will be that post coming up. We’ll put some pictures in the show notes from the summer. That’s at younghouselove.com/podcast, since it has probably been a while since you guys have been there and you’ve forgotten where the show notes are.
Sherry: Yes. Don’t forget to go there. John spends a lot of time every week getting these show notes together for you.
John: It’s practically like a Saturday turnover.
Sherry: [laughing] Well he has links and photos and info.
John: Yes. But we’re going to move past this rental topic while we get into “we’re digging” because we’re digging things on a completely separate topic. One is a gadget, well gadget might be a stretch but a thing I found for our kitchen that was a big help this summer at the beach house.
Sherry: And this week, the thing I’m digging is actually what led John to get the thing that he’s digging, and it’s a book and I made him read it. The name of the book is Simple Happy Parenting by Denaye Barahona. I’ll link it in the show notes and, full disclosure, I definitely picked it up because one of my favorite reads about kids and their minds and being creative and how they deeply play is called Simplicity Parenting. That book totally changed my world. I’ve talked about it on the podcast. I’ll link that in the show notes too. I highly, highly recommend reading Simplicity Parenting if you haven’t, and if you have and loved it, you will love Simple Happy Parenting.
John: It has all the buzzwords that Sherry loves.
Sherry: [laughs] I love anything simple and stuff about parenting. The thing that’s cool about this book is it’s a super fast read. It has photos, it has bullets, so you can breeze through it so quickly. In fact, I read it in I think like a series of a few days in the evenings, like a few hours.
John: I read it in two days. Thank you very much.
Sherry: Right. I made John read it and I feel like the only reason he read it was because I said it’s a really fast read [laughs].
John: I haven’t read your other one, I’ll admit.
John: But Sherry said that this new book Simple Happy Parenting is a good refresher or sort of pep talk to Simplicity Parenting because it is a little bit of a breezier read but also has lots of really good actionable things that you can do with your kids on this same topic of like how you can help create a happy home, happy kids and it doesn’t take all the things and toys and stuff in the world that we all necessarily think we need. So it was like a good way to get into that topic. If you don’t want to pick up the longer Simplicity Parenting, not that it’s long.
Sherry: I think you should read both if you’re listening to my advice.
John: I feel like I’ve convinced myself now.
Sherry: Some of the things I loved is that the Simple Happy Parenting book, since it’s so breezy, it covered a ton of topics.
Sherry: Like there was this really interesting part about sibling relationships.
John: Yes, I was going to say that was one of the things that was a standout for me.
Sherry: I loved that part. And it basically just reminded you that sibling relationships might feel contentious or competitive or stressful. But sibling relationships are actually the way that children learn to navigate interacting with other humans.
Sherry: And it teaches them negotiation and compromise and sharing their perspective. And so all of these things that might look like frustrating fights or competitions or pestering each other, all of this stuff that we experience as parents and think is wrong or is upsetting…
John: … or is our job to fix, or interfere with – she makes the point that these are teaching moments or learning moments for your kids. And this is their way of sort of stretching the boundaries of their personal relationships and figuring out, you know, what’s appropriate, how they can fix bad situations. And so when they are, you know, bickering or whatever, that’s actually like-
John: Yeah, exactly. It’s practice. And I think she even said, it’s like, practice with a safety net. Because with your family, these are relationships where you can maybe stretch them to their limits, and they will bounce back and you guys will still be family. So that gave me a new perspective for you know, when my children are not necessarily treating each other the way that I would like them to be treating each other.
Sherry: Right now we look at each other and we’ll be like, “Look at those geniuses over there, figuring out interpersonal relationships.”
John: Yeah, clocking some practice time. I think the other thing that I liked from this book and this is what leads me to what I’m digging was there was also a lot about eating and food with kids and you know, picky eating and all that stuff.
Sherry: You know, how do you get your kids to eat something you want them to eat because it’s healthy?
Sherry: Or how do you get your kids to experiment more.
Sherry: You know, so you don’t raise kids who only eat crackers and noodles.
John: Yes. Chicken nuggets solely. And one of the tips in there, which I’ve heard before, but hearing it again, was really helpful. It was that getting kids involved in making their food will make them more likely to try it. So one thing we did this summer was we tried to have our kids participate more in the cooking of dinner. We had been trying to cook more at home as it was at the beach house. And we thought like, well, this is not only a way to occupy them, you know, give them an activity, but also get them involved in the creation of their own food. So we kind of pushed the limits of what we had been doing before. Like we actually had them work at the stove for the first time. We had them cutting things and doing things that previously had been sort of like too dangerous or like out of the scope of what children can do.
Sherry: Also stretching your boundaries with how much mess. Because I’ve heard from so many people like, “Ooh, I want my kids to cook, but the kitchen is such a mess.”
Sherry: And we just decided, it’s the summer. It’s an experiment. Do you know how much green stuff gets all over the kitchen when you have two children making two different bowls of dueling guacamole to win The Petersik Guacamole Championship?
John: You’ve never seen so much watermelon juice all over your floor as you do right after kids have cut a watermelon into cubes.
Sherry: Right. So we did kind of have to give up the idea of it’s just faster and easier if we do it.
Sherry: And shift the mindset to: we’re giving them tools they’ll live with for the rest of their lives and hopefully be more equipped chefs than we were.
John: Yes. And while I’m speaking of tools and equipping them, what I’m digging is a set of nylon kids knives that we bought so that the kids could practice cutting, but in a safe way because these nylon knives are a three pack that we got on Amazon (it was only $5 for three knives). And they’re actually quite cute.
Sherry: Yeah, they’re very cute and they’re not scary at all. And they’re a great way that kids can definitely do things like cut a watermelon. You probably couldn’t cut a carrot with them.
John: They’ve used them to cut tomatoes. They were not the most well cut tomatoes you’ve ever seen in your life, but I think it was helpful in this, like, “it doesn’t have to be perfect” concept. It doesn’t have to be clean, but they’re getting practice. They’re getting participation. Like it actually became an evening activity that they were excited about. They would turn off the TV to run in and help cook dinner. And it also had that by-product of allowing us to experiment with some new foods and sort of push their culinary boundaries. Like we made kebabs one night.
Sherry: Oh they love that.
John: Yeah, they got to pick some of the veggies and meats that they wanted to put on their skewer. And they actually ate everything on their kebab which were some things they had not tried before so we not only got them to try new foods, but we introduced a new meal for our family that we can rely on, you know, on any night.
Sherry: Yeah, it was really interesting and I think also debating what you can use the nylon knives for – like we realized these are great for cutting sandwiches in half. They really work on basically anything that’s soft.
John: Yeah, I think they’re mostly meant for soft vegetables and fruits, but we push their limits a little bit because again, they’re only $5. They have a really like sort of wide serration, so it’d be very very difficult to cut yourself with them. So you don’t have to fear if your kid flings it around.
Sherry: Right. There was some flinging.
John: Yeah and they can be thrown in the dishwasher. So I think I’m actually going to order another set to have here at home in Richmond, so we can keep that set there at the beach house. So in both places we can have the kids involved in cooking.
[Outro music playing.]
Sherry: I haven’t said this in a while but thanks for listening to Young House Love Has A Podcast.
John: And since I’m sure there are some listeners out there who missed the news that we’re back, please help us spread the word. If you know someone who already listens or someone you think might want to start just let them know there’s new episode and maybe even help them subscribe so they don’t miss the next one.
Sherry: And I’m excited to hear lots of new stories about what you guys do while you listen. Like Ashley on Instagram who listened while going over thousands of lines in a spreadsheet for an audit.
John: That sounds not fun.
Sherry: And like I said before, please go check out this week’s show notes at younghouselove.com/podcast, where we’ve got links to those books I’m digging, and those knives we bought for our kids.
John: And some pictures of us in action at the duplex this summer – including that laundry detergent bottle that I busted open all over the floor.
Sherry: It’s giant.
[Theme music ends.]
John: Welcome to Young House Love Has A Podcast where we have deep and not so dump [Sherry laughs] conversations about dump, design and life at dumps.
Sherry: [laughs] Life at the dumps. Guys, if you don’t get this joke please go to the show notes.
John: I’m still mortified.