Tonight I took the girls to dinner at a restaurant by myself. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I just didn’t want to cook a meal at home and clean up after it, so I talked to Ellie and Piper about it advance and they were in a good place. Ellie is at the age where she can relatively behave herself, minus the fact that she still feels the need to yell everything she says, a la her uncle Chad – love you Chad! We went to the local Mexican restaurant we’ve been to many times because that’s where they said they wanted to go. Overall, it was just fine – I can’t complain. But the whole experience got me thinking – why don’t they have a playbook for servers for handling tables with young kids? I know we’re not the only ones – I see them everywhere we go. Normally parents aren’t brave or dumb enough to go by themselves with two kids under four, but I think there some tactics servers could use to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone, including themselves. I want to make sure to include the fact that I served tables for many years, basically from when I was 18 to somewhere around 23 or 24, so I get it. No one ever told me back them what to do when I get parents with young kids in. I wish I would have had some sort of training or playbook for those types of situations. If I were to make one, it would go a little something like this:
- Bring a stack of napkins pronto
- If there’s a kid under 1 or 1 and a half, bring a spoon and a straw for them to play with – a paper or plastic cup with ice cubes isn’t a bad idea either
- Remove the condiment section altogether – let me know you’re doing it and that you’re happy to leave anything I need
- Have something at the table for the kids to munch on as soon as possible – Mexican restaurants are good at this
- It’s ok to talk to the kids – they have voices and can speak
- Fill their drink cup half full – I have yet to encounter a restaurant with kids cups that are too small
- Don’t set a sharp knife or a scalding hot plate right in front of my child, not to mention my glass of wine or cocktail – it will only result in more work for you
- If there are toys or coloring things or anything else around to keep their attention, bring it. We went to an Italian restaurant recently that brought a little thing of pizza dough for the girls to play with – effing brilliant!
That’s it. I think most of these things are relatively easy, especially if it’s a slow night, which it usually is when us parents come to dine at an ungodly early hour. Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes you hard working servers – this just might help you survive my toddlers a little easier and would almost certainly result in more dinero in your pocket.