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.
Today is the last day of our Hawaiian adventure with our seven month old – yes, she turned seven months while we were here! We can’t believe how fast the time has been flying by and this was such a nice way to get away and spend some valuable time together as a family. Brian and I really wanted to get away, just us so we could focus on our family and we talked to a lot of people to get tips on traveling with our babe. There were a few things we really loved and then there were a few things we also learned. Here is a list of our tips if you have a baby and are looking to get out of dodge.
- I am convinced we did a good thing by traveling before she is too mobile, although she’s been crawling for about a month and pulling herself up, so she really doesn’t want to just sit still. I would have gone a little earlier if we would have known she’d be crawling now. It’s hard to tell when that is though, so I think we did the best we could. I would recommend traveling between 5 and 6 months to others.
- Feed baby on the way up and especially on the way down.
- Wrap some toys in wrapping paper, so it gives baby something different to do. The wrapping paper tends to go in their mouth, so if you’re worried about that, perhaps there’s some soy based paper out there. I don’t worry about stuff like that too much any more – trying to take more of the second baby approach.
- I remembered when I was little and we traveled with my baby sister that the Continental flight attendant gave my sister a balloon with sugar in it when she was going ape, so we brought balloons and picked up some raw sugar at Starbucks in the airport. She had so much fun playing with that dang thing!
- Our babe is at the stage where anything but her toys is fun, so every time we go to a restaurant, we ask for a spoon and a straw – hours of entertainment. We ran into another couple with a baby here and they said they went to Target and raided the $1 bins to buy interesting non-toy things for their baby…smart, very smart.
- If you want to get any sun time at all, it’s imperative to have a sun tent for baby. We used this one, but you could use a multitude of other options.
- Time Zone – this was a learning for us. In hindsight, it would have been better to travel North, South or East. West was pretty tough and Elle didn’t really adjust to the time change ever. Brian woke up with her between 4 and 5 and then I’d get up around 6 and he’d take a little nap. We managed fine, but it would have been smarter not to have to deal with that.
- Bring friends or family – another learning for us. While we had good intentions by wanting to spend time with just the three of us, but it would have been so nice to be with another couple with a baby so we could swap nights watching them while they sleep and the other couple could go out. Grandparents would have been another good option.
I hope those tips are helpful for some people when planning their next vacation. With all that being said, our trip has been fun, but very different from other times to Maui. We are all leaving more white than we’ve ever left Maui – trips to the pool or beach were much more scarce than usual. Because we weren’t just laying in the sun the whole time we came up with a few other fun things to do. We took a drive to the upcountry to the Maui Winery. It’s a quick elevation gain, so Ellie and I were a little uncomfortable toward the top, but on the way up, she was all giggles: