8 Rules For Family Dining From A Former Restaurant Server

8 Things Parents Need To Understand About Eating Out With Kids

family dining
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My grandparents owned restaurants while I was growing up. And once they got out of the business, I, ironically enough, found myself five-kids-deep with my husband whose entire family owns restaurants in our small town.

I was a server for many years in the family diner, but after having five kids, my serving roles were relinquished to mom-duty roles.

So let’s clear the air about some expectations when it comes to dining out, shall we?

1. Your children are ALLOWED to be children.

Kids are allowed to be kids. I don’t care what anyone else says on this subject. Children are allowed to breathe, scream and cry in the same space that adults do. If you disagree, there’s a kid-free bar down the street I’d be happy to direct you to. 

2. Please, breastfeed that baby.

I was always one of those nursing mothers who praised other moms for their ability to pull out a tit and nurse their baby anytime and anywhere. I wish my anxiety didn’t prohibit me from exploring that same level of badassery.

So I will just say that if you are one of those nursing mothers who prefers to nurse without a cover while dining, by all means, do it. Everyone else is already eating, I don’t see the issue with feeding the most vulnerable that’s in the house just because someone else experiences some minor discomfort from their inability to look away.

If someone harasses you or complains to me because another mother is nursing their child, I will gladly serve that dickhead customer their plate in the bathroom where they’ve strongly suggested a baby should finish their feed.

I got you, girl.

3. Only assholes don’t tip.

Lets get one thing straight, tips are how servers make their living. If there is some sort of accidental occurrence where you truly don’t have enough to tip, I’m not a cold-hearted bitch and I won’t scold you for not tipping. But if you treat me like crap, order everything off of the dang menu and then leave the place looking like a losing game of Jumanji with no tip, you are a worthless excuse for a human being.

I have my own family, and this whole $2/hour for serving jobs just isn’t going to cut it without customers having the decency to tip. I can tell when I’ve done a great job or a poor job of serving your family. If I’ve gone above and beyond to assure you’ve had the service you need, tip me fairly, please.

4. PLEASE ask me for everything you need at once.

If you see I’m sweating bullets and frantically running my behind off, please ask me for everything your family needs all at once and not little by little if possible. (My kids are camels too, but would you really allow them three refills on their drinks before dinner at your own home?) Please trust me when I say that, if your server is running rapid, he/she is not being lazy with your table. Have some grace.

5. I’m respecting you by asking permission.

I know how much children love sugary drinks and sweets. And sometimes, they can try taking advantage of what was already promised when the situation practically begs them to do it. (For example: “Now who is having dessert today?”)

If a child personally asks me for a refill on soda, another side or dessert, I will always ask the parent if that’s alright. I know sometimes they’ve already approved what was asked before I’ve reached the table, but I want to make sure I’m not going to send you home with a bigger bill than expected or kids with a never-ending sugar high.

I know what it’s like to be poor, and I know what it’s like to feel like you can’t speak up in an awkward situation when your kid asks something of your server that you didn’t okay. I’m trying to make your life easier, and I’m not second-guessing because I disagree with multiple kid-refills on soda.

6. Take your crap-diapers home.

This is not a sub-station inside of your local gas station. If you are sitting down to eat, a server is taking your order and handing you your food, it is a restaurant and should be treated as such.

If you leave your child’s dirty diaper on the table when you leave, I (and the rest of the staff) will FOREVER remember you. I have enough crap diapers to deal with at home without adding your kids’ rump and dump into the equation.

Not to mention, you will forever be the “shit-tipper.” (No pun intended.)

7. I will clean the kids’ mess.

I have been the mom fretting, sweating and occasionally swearing while I try to swiftly clean up the mess my kids made while dining. So please, just get out of there! Part of the serving job is cleaning up after your family when you leave. I understand kids and the messes that come along with them, and I don’t mind cleaning the extra applesauce or mac-and-cheese from the surface of the table.

(Of course, with that in mind, please treat the restaurant only how you’d allow your place to be treated.)

8. I’m trying.

Servers may not be miracle-workers like doctors or scientists, but most of us bust ass to be successful at what we do. We hope that your family has the best dining experience possible.

But at the same time, most of us are a little bit spicy because it’s the type of job that calls for it. So while we aren’t all assholes, we also won’t take your family’s sh*t just for a $5 tip.