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Tales from a Waitress: Keep Your Kid at Home

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Instead of hating the messenger, we decided to find out what it is that drives others crazy when we take our children out to lunch or dinner. We don't really want our families to be publicly hated, right?


During the holiday season, more parents dine out with kids than ever before. "Kim," a waitress at a popular chain restaurant, enlightens parents on what you should (or should not) do with your kids...

Momlogic: When eating out with kids, how much do you suggest parents tip?
Kim: If you have a good server, the very least you should tip is 15 percent. Anywhere from 18-20 percent is best if you liked them.

ML: And how much do we tip for ... crayons on the floor?
Kim: An extra dollar.

ML: Food squished on the floor?
Kim: Make it $3.

ML: Dumping milk on the wait staff?

Kim: 10 bucks should do it. If your child is a nightmare for your server, and they still kept a smile (I'm always good at that) tipping them more is always welcome!

ML: What is your pet peeve about waiting on families?
Kim: When parents don't take responsibility for their children. I can't tell you how many times kids would leave the table and start chasing each other right in middle of the restaurant, and their parents act like it's not even happening. Also, and I'm not lying, parents would let their kids draw on the tables and glass windows with crayons and not stop them. It would drive me crazy, because I would be the one scrubbing it out at the end of the night.

ML: Do you just hate kids?
Kim: I like kids -- it's not them, it's the parents. Don't bring your kids if you can't pay attention to them.

ML: What could parents do to make it better for those around them?
Kim: Be aware of what your child is doing at all times. Get a portable DVD player with headphones maybe, so they can watch a movie.

ML stares blankly at Kim's young, adorable face wondering if she is kidding or not. It appears she is not.

next: Journalist Who Threw Shoe Asks Bush for Pardon
33 comments so far | Post a comment now
Uly December 18, 2008, 9:31 AM

Portable DVD? Talk about not teaching your kid how to act like a human being at the dinner table! Crayons and paper is as far as I go. Mostly, we just adapt to the fact that we have to talk to the kids.

redmum December 18, 2008, 9:49 AM

I remember one pal’s wedding reception in a restaurant, this child was allowed to sit on stairs were waitresses were trying to get past to serve tables.

Aside from the annoyance to people trying to work, but on top of it all, it was dangerous for a child to be left sitting at the bottom of a spiral staircase.

I have brought my child everywhere with me but then she wouldn’t misbehave which i suppose is a combination of me not letting her and her own personality.

CICI December 18, 2008, 9:51 AM

Its part of customer service and what this waitress does not relazie. If it were not for the kids the parents may not even be there. Children are half the reason parents eat out. And to complain is useless, evevyone deals with the kids in a different manner. sounds like she has no children or if she does they are the most well behaved kids in the world. Your only a child once and childen are to be heard and seen in this day and time.

redmum December 18, 2008, 10:02 AM

It isn’t about having or not having kids, its about kids needing to be seated because at the very least it is dangerous for them to be running around a restaurant for them and everyone else.

If your kids won’t keep seated you should probably think of something else to do.

Anonymous December 18, 2008, 10:18 AM

not everyone can afford a portable dvd, twit! besides, i can afford one and i would not bring to a restuarant….but my kids behave pretty well while out to eat, and on the occassions that they don’t we take turns taking them outside so that they can run around or whatever without getting dirty looks.

nic December 18, 2008, 11:00 AM

hi, i’m a waitress at a very busy restaurant. I completely agree with the portable dvd player. we aren’t a kid friendly restaurant meaning we welcome them but we don’t have paper and crayons or a kids menu. Anonymous, she isn’t a twit for suggesting that. Not everyone gets up and takes there kids out. I’ve had larger parties move there tables beause the mother thinks it’s cute that their kid is banging the silverware on the wine glass or that they don’t notice their kid screaming. Pay attention to your kids,I make $2.38/hr not enough to wait on people let alone be a babysitter:)

Barb December 18, 2008, 11:43 AM

I agree that it is unacceptable for kids to run around or draw on anything other than paper.

I have a question: How do you feel about parents who pick up the floor?

I ask because I have a 1-year-old who munches on Cheerios or other foods like that, but some inevitably end up on the floor. My husband and I will usually just quickly pick up the ones within reach. It takes five seconds and we THINK it helps the staff. However, at one restaurant, the waitress came running over to say that she’d take care of it. I’m not sure… is it wrong? I know the best-case scenario is that they don’t fall on the floor, but it happens with a 1-year-old, and I appreciate kiddie menus and crayons so that we can go out to dinner now and then.

Can anyone weigh in on this?

nic December 18, 2008, 11:54 AM

nic - you did choose that job.

Katie December 18, 2008, 11:56 AM

Barb, I do the same with my one year old… after all, we already have the baby wipes in the diaper bag right? lol
I was also at a restaraunt where my daughter made a floor mess, as I was grabbing it with the baby wipe, the waitress ran over and said that she would do it. I thanked her, but told her we didn’t expect her to clean up after our baby. I think its the right thing to do… always. To our surprise, she said that was the first time in her 20 years that she’s had a parent clean up the floor! We always tip at least 20% to, if we can’t afford that much, we don’t go out.

Anonymous December 18, 2008, 12:36 PM

Parents need to be responsible and watch their kids. It’s not the job of the waitstaff to babysit your kid because you’re too lazy to do it.

Tina December 18, 2008, 1:42 PM

i am always responsible for my kids. MY kids are not your responsibility, but how can you say bring a portable dvd player????? i can’t afford one, granted i bring toys, but i’m not going to sit sit my kids in front of a movie to make your life easier. granted i always go to family friendly restuarants, but anonymous is right, you did choose the job.

Anonymous December 18, 2008, 2:03 PM

So, a portable DVD player is supposed to help our children develop better manners while eating out? How insightful! This waitress MUST also be a mom, right? Not!

Get Real Girl December 18, 2008, 2:23 PM

A DVD player is very inappropriate at the dinner table. Sure don’t let your kids run around the place, but dropped crayons and food are just things that happen. It is not worth an extra $1 for you to bend over and pick it up. Although I TRY to pick them up when out with my kids. I don’t see how anyone going out to eat is asking the waiter to babysit. Also, NIC you picked your job..don’t like it quit! If you absolutely don’t want to wait on kids work at a bar or some adult only place! BTW adults drop food too!

Anonymous December 18, 2008, 2:46 PM

Katie you are one of the VERY few parents that tend to their children. And you’re right, if you can’t afford to tip don’t come out to eat. I’m also a waitress, I’m a people person and enjoy my job but we are NOT babysitters. You would be surprised how some adults and children leave the area where they are seated and eating. My question is……would you eat like this at home and leave the floor/table/area a huge mess?
~ liz

Barb December 18, 2008, 3:08 PM

Thanks, Katie and Liz. I’m glad I’m not alone in my thinking that picking up FEELS right; we’ll continue to do it. We enjoy going out to eat and we want it to be a pleasant experience for everyone (our family, other customers, the staff, etc.).

Jennifer December 18, 2008, 3:14 PM

The portable DVD player idea is absurd. If I saw that I would wonder what kind of parent can’t handle interacting with their child long enough to sit through a meal.

My husband and I eat out often and I get so annoyed by kids that don’t know how to act in a restaurant. I believe that parents should be teaching their kids manners.

I am the oldest of 4 kids and we grew up eating out at restaurants. We were always well behaved and knew how to order off a menu. This article is really aimed towards people that don’t teach their kids manners.

Devilish Southern Belle December 18, 2008, 3:40 PM

She doesn’t sound so unreasonable to me (except the portable dvd player would definitely be a no-no). I figure if I could keep my rowdy kids seated and occupied without tearing the place up, anyone should be able to!

Reese December 18, 2008, 4:00 PM

I was a waitress for a long time and now I have a kid-I feel like I can comment on both ends.

1. Stop picking on Nic. Yeah, she picked her job. But sometimes, waitressing (especially if you live in a small town) is all you have to pick FROM. 2.13 cents an hour is a joke. Factor in the crappy tips you get from people, and you are looking at MAYBE minimum wage.

2. For that fortune, you get the pleasure of smiling at rude people, serving food, getting harassed and sometimes inappropriately touched. You get to be a babysitter, a janitor, and an accountant.

3. The wages/duties imbalance fault lies with the boss, not the customer, but all people like “kim” and Nic ask is that you are considerate of the fact that this is going on. Take the extra step to unsmash smashed food. Pay attention to your kids. I was threatened with a law suit when I was carrying a tray with 6 soupbowls. A little boy ran right into me and I spilled some on him. He wasn’t seriously hurt but he COULD have been. Is it my fault? They’re lawyer didn’t think they had a case.

4. Barb—good for you. You don’t have to do that extra cleaning up. And some bosses will penalize a waitress if they don’t beat you to it. Sometimes that extra bit of consideration is even better than a tip.

If you take your kids out, and you’re wondering why people are giving you the stinkeye—you probably aren’t in control of the situation and next time you should dine at home.

Manda December 18, 2008, 4:34 PM

I was out at a restaurant the other day with my family. Granted we are all adults, and there were no children present, but we’ve gone out plenty of times with kids. We were seated by another large party who had 2 kids part of it. The baby was quiet and sleeping through most of our dinner experience, but apparently the parents thought that they should bring along a noisy loud obnoxious toy gun to the restaurant. It was one of the pew pew pew buzz lightyear toys.. The child held the trigger down for most of our meal. At one point, my sister in law turned around and nicely asked them if they could do something about the toy. Not only did they not do anything about, but they then released the child to the rest of the restaurant! They took him out of his chair and let him run around the tables screaming and pulling the trigger of this gun. At what point do you call the restaurant manager for something like this? When we take kids with us they get paper and crayons…nothing like this would ever be allowed. When they refused to do anything about the noisy gun at the end of their experience my sister in law finally found the little boys mother at the other end of the table, and told her that she was rude to bring her child out and let him run wild like that. She then told my sister in law she was rude for saying something about it!! When we have sat through almost 2 hours of their loud child, how is it rude of us to let them know about it? I believe some children should not be taken out to restaurants, but a parent should know if their child is able to handle a social situation like that, and behave accordingly. btw, I am not a mother, but it is not by choice. I am unable to have children, but I have spent a lot of time with children, and love every minute of it. Don’t judge people because they aren’t a parent. Sometimes they have more sense than you (or so it seems) when it comes to kids.

btw. that portable dvd player comment is rediculous. I would NEVER allow someone in my party to put headphones on their child at a dinner table. That is more rude than the loud child we had to deal with. If they cannot control their child and require dvd entertainment, perhaps they need a class or 2 on human interaction?? How can you expect your child to grow up and be normal if they never experience it and are kept in the fantasy world of a dvd during every meal out. They will never learn how to behave at a restaurant. I say start early, and if they can’t handle it, find a babysitter until they can. My parents rarely took us out to nice restaurants because my brother and I were loud and wild. We had to be on our best behavior when we went out or we didn’t get to go the next time. It was pretty simple back then.

Wowzer People December 18, 2008, 4:41 PM

I waitressed/bus girled it for a long time.
Seriously, you don’t let your kids run around in a restaurant it is dangerous for everyone, not just the kid or the waitstaff. Think of the other people who are sitting and maybe will get hot food dumped on them from the kids slamming into the wait staff. If your child(ren) are acting up stop it in its tracks. Just because you enjoy your kids screaming doesn’t mean other people do. If you take your child(ren) to eat out, expect that you or your spouse will have to get up and take that misbehaving child out. This allows the rest of the people, who are also paying to eat out, to enjoy their meal. My husband and I, always traded who left the table. If I was by myself and the child acted up. I would say this isn’t working and box up my food to leave.
Its common courtesy for the public. Its about teaching your child to be respectful of others.

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