I love dining out with my family, and I do it often. It’s one of my favorite ways to bond with them after a long, busy day. Sometimes we all go out and enjoy our favorite Mexican or Chinese place together. I also love the bonding time I get when I steal one child away and we have each other’s undivided attention as we sit at a little bakery, cafe, or fast food joint.
The beauty of going out to eat for parents is that we don’t have to cook or clean up, and kids usually enjoy restaurant food more than home-cooked meals (little shits). Less work, less complaining, and coloring at the table are more exciting than eating at our dining room table. I get it — have fun kids! — but I am very diligent about one thing: manners.
I am not just talking about chewing with your mouth open, using your napkin, belching at the table, or talking with your mouth full. I want my kids to know other people are there to enjoy their meal too and the people working at the restaurant also deserve to be respected. That is a large part of having good manners, after all. I don’t expect them to be perfect little robots, but I consistently remind them to demonstrate good behavior.
Our kids certainly don’t learn manners in one outing, and as adults, we should be leading by example while dining out. Here’s how I’m helping them develop manners:
Leave a decent tip.
We all know kids make a bigger mess, so a bigger tip is in order. Waiters and waitresses depend on their tips to pay their bills. (And this is where someone in the comments points out that one time their drinks took too long, or their bread wasn’t warm, and honestly having a truly terrible server is quite rare, so don’t be a jerk.) They are on their feet for miles, carting heavy trays of food and drinks in/out of hot kitchens, refilling drinks, bringing extra napkins/spoons/condiments, and cleaning up the table for the next guests. It is a physically, and mentally, exhausting job. Be the kind of person who makes their day and leave a nice fucking tip.