Here’s the deal with kids (for the most part I am referring to children under the age of 12, but in some cases this may apply to older children) in salons. As a general rule, unless the child is the one having a service, most salons ask that you don’t bring them to your appointment.
Is this because beauty service professionals are evil, child-hating-Krampus-worshipping people? Not at all. Most of us love kids, have kids, and all of us used to be kids. I am a single mother of a 10-year old boy. I am a nail professional and a small business owner. I have had to bring my child with me so many places, so trust me, I get it. I managed a salon and spa for five years, a small hair studio for two years, and have had my own business for three years. I’m writing this piece with the 10 years of observations from the industry and as a mother. So here’s why I discourage my clients from bringing their kids to the salon:
1. It stresses your service provider out. Sure he/she may talk to your sweet little cherub as if they wish to adopt them but inside they are screaming “GET OFF THAT CHAIR, IF YOU BREAK THAT, THAT’S $500 TO REPLACE! AND IF YOU KEEP LEANING ON YOUR MOM I MIGHT ACCIDENTALLY CUT HER!” We are nice to your kids because we are in customer service, and that’s what we do. But please know: Your child is a HUGE distraction. We will spend most of your visit worried about them breaking our equipment, getting hurt by a chemical, and every time you turn to speak to them, you are moving your body, making us pause our service and wait for you to be done speaking. Not to mention, our liability insurance may not cover unattended children. Distractions combined with starting and stopping an appointment will not only get you a sub-par result, it could possibly make your provider run late for the next client, putting them behind the entire day. So it’s much more than a minor inconvenience.
2. It ruins the experience for others. Many people book beauty services not only for personal maintenance, but for a nice respite from their busy life and possibly from their own children. Salons spend time curating an environment for people to enjoy. Your child’s loud iPad, whining, arguing with a sibling, you yelling at your child to “Get off that/don’t touch that/stop complaining/we’re almost done,” is just plain bloody annoying and unfair to others who are paying for a quiet service time.
3. I don’t want to get sick. My kid is home sick and I didn’t want to short cancel so I brought him/her with me. OK, so maybe your heart is in the right place and you respect your service provider’s time, however, a kid too sick to go to school is too sick to be in another public place. If you short cancel due to your child’s illness yes we will lose out on the income of that one service. But if your sick child spreads germs, and gets us sick, we can lose out on much more than the income of one service. Have respect and stay home. We do not get paid sick time, we cannot afford to get sick, and most of us will gladly waive a cancellation fee under these circumstances. Follow these rules for yourself when you are ill as well.
4. I am not your child’s beauty school instructor. If your client’s kid is super into beauty and thought he/she would love to come, this is great. I love kids that love what I do. But if my kid wanted to be a brain surgeon, I still wouldn’t let him attend my lobotomy. Instead you can encourage passions at home, watch YouTube tutorials, buy DIY kits aimed at kids, and spend time together exploring this.
5. Desperation. We’ve all had clients who are desperate for a service. They may have a big event the next day, cannot reschedule, and literally have no other option. This happens, we get it. So if there is no other foreseeable solution besides going to your ex’s wedding with bad roots or a broken nail what do you do?
a. Give your provider a heads up. It will ease the anxiety of being surprised by kids, it will give them an opportunity to let coworkers know, and it also gives them the opportunity to offer you an alternate appointment time. Maybe they can come in early before others get there, or maybe something else opened up that you can go to that you didn’t think was available. We all know that communication is key in any successful relationship, and you know you are closer to your beauty providers than possibly even your best friend, so just talk to us.
b. Be prepared. Even the best behaved children will get bored watching a parent receive a service that’s an hour plus long. So bring an iPad with headphones, books, or coloring materials. Pack some snacks and water. Bribe them ahead of time. Lay out rules that the salon is not a playground. Children need to know their boundaries ahead of time. And you know your child, so plan accordingly.
c. You’ve done everything in your power to make this a successful visit and everything is breaking down. You gave you service provider a heads up, you packed a survival kit, and your child is a holy terror. What now? You give up. You apologize, end your service, pay your provider for his/her time that you reserved, and you leave. It sucks. You’re upset, your kid is upset, and we are upset. But perpetuating a failed attempt is not good for anyone.
Please know that I’m not writing this to make anyone feel bad. When my son was a baby I wanted him to meet my stylist who was near and dear to my heart. I didn’t even think twice that it was a bad idea. But on the 10th time I had to stop my haircut to tend to him, I realized I had messed up.
Most of us do things with the best intentions, and most service providers won’t tell you to stop bringing your kids because it’s uncomfortable for them. They like you, and want you to keep coming, but would prefer you do it alone. And as a parent, you know if your kid is able to attend or not. I have a handful of clients that know their kids are on the guest list. They can sit and have conversations, be adorable, follow rules, and add to the experience, not detract. Their presence is enjoyable and not stressful. Want to know how my clients know this? We’ve discussed it. I encourage you to have these honest and open conversations with your clients as well. Your salon will benefit from it, trust me.
Richael Corr, The Glitter Lab, Dover, N.H.