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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
j December 18, 2008, 5:02 PM

I think anyone who is offended by the DVD comment is not who she meant the suggestion to be directed to because you all sound like you look after your children. The ones who don’t pay attention to their children and let them run wild, they would probably let their child watch a DVD. They are not interacting with their child anyway. I have four kids and they know how they are expected to act at a restaurant because going to a nice restaurant is a privledge and it is one that can be easily lost if there is bad behavior.

geen December 18, 2008, 5:22 PM

I was eating out and the kid at the table next to us had a dvd player. THAT was such a pain to have to hear while eating. Also, not everyone thinks your kids farting and burping tricks are cute.

Just Me December 18, 2008, 5:43 PM

I understand why the author would suggest a portable dvd player……ONLY for those parents who aren’t willing to put the effort into controlling their children. I wouldn’t do it, but I would never let my children stare at a dvd player in the car either!

MomandWaitress December 18, 2008, 6:43 PM

As a mother of three and a waitress I wanted to weigh in on this topic. I agree that you should pick up after your child, I do when I take my 2 year old out to eat. Which is not that often, it’s not a easy age to manage while out dining. You don’t have to worry about preparing your meal or doing the dishes, someone is waiting on you, the least you could do is pick up the mess that your child created, or put back the sugars that they threw everywhere or the salt they dumped out all over the table. Your child should not be allowed to run around the restaurant. It is very unsafe and I myself have been bumped into while holding a tray. Thank goodness I didn’t drop it. If your child just takes off on you, that’s one thing but if you are sitting there allowing them to run around then I believe you should stay at home. As a mom and waitress, I do believe crayons and a few small toys are enough. Anything that makes noises and is loud should be left in the car. You also need to respect the other diners…..which also means taking a screaming child outside.

Valerie December 18, 2008, 7:42 PM

I think it’s part of being a good waitress to except your customers, big or small and cater to their needs. Besides, of it wernt for those customers, you wouldnt be paying your bills that week now would you! I served for 5 years at a very busy restaurant and was a darn good server. Wating on children is part of the job, deal with it! Work your butt off and then complain when you get home! Jeez, people these days are just plain picky and lazy!

reid December 18, 2008, 8:55 PM

I will never forget one night my wife and I with my then 4 yr old daughter showing showing up for our dinner reservation at Shula’s (Orlando) - a fairly upscale establishmet. Given this is not a place that caters to young children It was about an hour from the last seating. The hostess gave us a look - and then sat us far from any other table.
I could hear the waiter saying - I DO NOT want that table with a kid.
A waitress relunctantly agreed to take our table.
We asked for a wine list and immediately ordered a nice red and a nice white - about $250. You could hear the waiter who blew us off trying to get the table back … lol!
Our daughter could not have been better behaved. In fact a number of the wait staff stopped by to speak to her - she is that much of a joy!

The young lady likely made as much on our three top as she had made all night.
All young children are not “ba ba kids”!

Anonymous December 18, 2008, 10:27 PM

I agree with the running around thing but should I get a broom and dustpan out to clean if they spill a little on the floor? NO. that is why I am going out to eat in the first place—so I don’t have to cook and clean up after. I am not talking about a kid dumping an entire plate on the floor, but a drop here and there is no big deal. Besides I never see the waitresses cleaning that up…I see the busboys doing it. Perhaps your bad attitude towards waiting on a family with kids throws through in your service and that is why you are not getting great tips.

Reese December 18, 2008, 10:29 PM

Valerie—personally, the most kids I got was on “kids eat free night” that night of hell where there are kids everywhere and you get a sweet 5% tip on a 20.00 tab. So no, most of my money did not come those customers. And I don’t think anyone is arguing that its not our job to wait on kids. It is. It isn’t our job to babysit them.

I have a two year old, and having been there, I do what I can to make it an easier experience for everywhere.

The world would be a little better if parents started treating parenting as a job THEY chose and not a pastime.

anita jones December 19, 2008, 1:01 AM

hey i waited tables for 30 some years, and i had kids of every kind, but i have never had a problem with keeping the kids attention and u are a personality you are selling just as much as how u tend the wants and needs of the consumer, and it was your “the waitress” duty to do make each and every person they wait on feel they were special, and had a little personality, and further more, most families these days have very little money to go out with kids, so they should all enjoy it, and feel special, so u girls can always go another direction in life, because the family is the consumer, and it is a treat for them, and i think it it should feel it is as well, and you will have no trouble getting great tips, and repeat customers, and that is important, so think about it is what i say, hey !

Valerie December 19, 2008, 2:30 PM

Well Reese, I agree with you on your point that parents should take more responsibility of their children, especially when out in public because that is their job. But it’s also the waitresses job to cater to every one of their customers demands, because that it their job. They applied at that restaurant, kid friendly or not, they knew what they were getting themselves into when they accepted that position. It’s in their job criteria to make sure their cumstomer is always happy! And seriously, whats a few hours out of your night having to cater to kids really going to set you back? Maybe make you a better and more patient person, and make those families experience in your restaurant awesome so they back, therefore bringing your boss more buisness. Isnt that your job as a waiterss? It shouldnt matter how much money your going to make off that table, you’ll get more tables, what matters is that you do the best job you can and that your table recognizes that. Yes, I have a two year old as well, and whenever we do go out to eat, I make sure I clean off my own table and I stack our plates up just to make the servers job that much easier. I dont expect recognition for that nor do I expect anyone to do it for me. I know what it’s like to be a waitress, and it’s not easy. I also know how it is to be a mom and thats harder, believe it or not! But I worked my butt off at my restaurant and it showed when my regulars came in just for me! I guess what Im saying is just do your job and stop complaining about things you cannot prevent. If you dont it, get a desk job!

jill December 19, 2008, 4:10 PM

At a wedding reception years ago, my date and I sat at a table with a small family. The parents did very little to keep control of their kids, one of which stayed under the table the whole time. Before we could be served our food we noticed a smell coming out from under the table. We looked under the table and saw the little girl that was under the table, poop under the table. The poop was everywhere including her parents shoes. My date and I thank the couple for letting kid S*** all over someone’s wedding reception and left.

Sasse December 19, 2008, 7:43 PM

I am a mother and a waitress. I work at a family friendly restaurant, and I get kids everytime. I have seen parents bring in portable DVD players, and that did surprise me, but I can’t imagine suggesting it as a way to make your children behave. When my children were younger, I would always try to clean up any mess my kids left on the floor….that is not what the waitress is paid for, but if for whatever reason, I couldn’t, I definatley tipped her for it. I have taught my children from a young age how to behave in public, and that is what is lacking today. So many parents think it’s “cute” for their kids to run amok, and not only is it not cute, it’s not safe, especially in an eating establishment. Most 2 years old can’t handle sitting at a table for two hours, so if you are going to a dinner where you know you will sit and visit for awhile….you should leave your two year old at home, not only for your own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the other patrons, but for your two year old!!! Teach your children how to behave in public, and there will be no complaints. Know how to act in public yourself, and you can better teach your children!

Anonymous December 20, 2008, 12:55 AM

Very well put Sasse!

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