Edited to add: I feel like I need to clarify this post because, for whatever reason (which is no one’s fault but my own), my tone here has been taken by many to be demanding and entitled. Please know I never intended that to come through. I could list a million excuses about why I wrote it the way I did, and I feel like most of my regular readers who are used to my sarcastic writing style get it, but I know not everyone who’s reading this now “knows” me, and I can understand the confusion.

I have a ton of respect for servers and the food service industry. I worked as a server for years. I always try to be a great customer, especially when my kids are with me. This list of “tips” was simply that. Just some suggestions, some ways that could help me make the server’s job AND mine as a parent easier when we take our kids out. I’m in no way saying all of these things HAVE to be done. I’m not demanding them to happen. I’m just saying if they did happen, even just a few, that would really rock, I’d totally appreciate it. But if they don’t? I am not saying I will leave a big mess, be an asshole to you or not tip you. I’m not condoning letting kids run wild in restaurants or asking servers to “babysit” my kids. 

I’m truly sorry if this offended anyone. I swear, that was never, ever my intention.

***************************

Let me start this post by saying that this isn’t about how to get A tip from me when I take my kids out to eat. I tip fairly when fair service is provided, whether or not my kids are with me. This post is how to get a really good tip from me when I take my kids out to eat. Because if you can make my life a little easier when I’m dining out with them, and get my food to me hot and fast, then I’m probably going to throw some extra dollars at you.

OutToDinner

One of my favorite pictures with Kendall, back when I only had one kid to deal with at restaurants. Now I just drink margaritas straight from the pitcher…. when I’m not pregnant.

1. Take my kids’ order fast. We don’t need time to look at the menu for the kids. Stand there for 30 seconds while we glance over the kids menu and decide between chicken nuggets or pizza. Then get their order in quickly. We have approximately 5-10 minutes of  “Hey, this place is cool! Look at all the shiny fun things! Yes, I’ll be very good, mommy,” before they start whining and wanting to climb under the table. Please help me get food in front of them by the time that window is up.

2. Don’t forget the grown ups! If I’m not ready with my order when I place the kids’ order, please come back and check on me shortly after. Quick delivery of the kids’ food does me no good if they’re done eating it by the time I get mine.

3. Always bring me extra napkins. Yes, we will always need them.

4. Always put my kids’ drinks in cups with lids. You’ll thank me for this.

5. Don’t place hot (oven or spicy) items within arm’s reach of my grabby infant or toddler. Because duh.

6. Give me clean highchairs or booster seats. If you notice it’s grimy and crusty from the kid before, take a minute to wipe it down. I’m aware it’s not going to be sanitized, but it would be nice to not have to peel the food off with my fingernails before putting my own kid in it, you know? This is probably easier if you take a few minutes after clearing a table to wipe down used highchairs and booster seats before putting them away.

7. Clean our table as we go. Please know that the more that’s left on our table as we eat (empty plates, unnecessary silverware, dirty napkins), the more will likely end up on the floor. I do my best to keep that from happening, but it’s a million times easier if it’s just not there to begin with.

8. Acknowledge my children. Listen, you don’t have to sing nursery rhymes with them or do any magic tricks, but if they say hi to you? Say hi back. If they ask you a question, at least acknowledge them. They are your customers, too. You would never ignore an adult at your table, so please don’t ignore a child.

9. Don’t write me off. I worked my way through college as a waitress, and then kept at it for a couple years after I graduated. I’m very familiar with the food service scene. I think it’s why I’m quick to tip really well when someone does a fantastic job. But if I can tell you’ve written me off as a “table with kids” the minute you seat us, I’m going to write you off. I will work to make your job easier if you work to make mine easier, too.

10. Help me help you get us out of there. Don’t make me chase you down for the check. And once you drop it off, please don’t make me find you to give you my credit card. In fact, chances are I’ll have it ready for you to swipe before you even bring us the bill. Please take it, run it, bring me the receipt. I want to leave. I want to take my kids out of there. I want for you to turn this table over. Help me help you.

105 thoughts on “10 Tips For A Good Tip When I Take My Kids Out To Eat”

  1. this is all great and fine if the parents would at least make them mind their manners as we do have other tables to wait on and cant be at just one table 20 times.

  2. PLEASE Parents! don’t let your child run/ crawl around in the areas servers carry trays of food and drinks. We are not looking at the floor when carrying trays and could easily trip on your child- harming them, us, and other guests. If your sitting in a corner of the room- by all means let your child move around- but not if your in the middle of the room where we need to walk. Safety for you and us. Thanks!

  3. I have 3 kids and was a single mother for 15 years when my children were very young. I was also a waitress and waited tables for a number of years. This article disgusts me. You are a customer no different from any other. It is not anyone’s else’s job to mother and discipline your children but yours. If your children are not capable of behaving in a way that is not distracting to others do not take them into a restaurant. By the mere fact that your children will leave a much larger mess for a much smaller bill you owe the waiter a larger tip. I taught my children that if they couldn’t respect others right to a quiet dining experience they were not grown up enough to dine out. I also taught them to clean up after themselves and not expect others to clean up their mess.

    1. Missy, I feel like you read a different article?? I never said that I let my kids misbehave if people don’t do these things for me. I never said I leave a big mess. I just simply said these things would make it *easier* for me to be sure my kids don’t make a huge mess to begin with, don’t distract others to begin with, etc. And in return, I’m more likely to tip much more when that happens. It’s not at all a demand.

      And truthfully, there is no way of knowing how my kids will behave at restaurants. Because they are young kids, and that’s how their brains are wired- to test boundaries. But the only way to teach them how to behave in public is to take them OUT IN PUBLIC (to places that are child/family friendly- I’m not talking 5 star restaurants here) and work with them on what is and isn’t acceptable.

      1. You let your attitude and subsequent behavior be known more than you realize. If you don’t know how your kids are going to behave, this speaks volumes about you. Don’t take them out if you don’t know. You are not entitled to any extra service but should leave a larger tip for the extra work you create and be cognizant and apologetic, not demanding. If you require cups with lids, carry them in a bag along with activities to entertain YOUR children. You are not entitled to extra speedy service because you have kids. If this still doesn’t work, stay home until YOU can control your children.

        1. I don’t know ANY parent who can EVER predict how their children will behave 100% of the time. I have to think you have forgotten what it’s truly like to parent small children. I clean up after my children every. time. we go out to eat AND I still tip fairly. None of that has anything to do with any of this. Sometimes we stop to eat when we don’t expect to. Sometimes I don’t have extra cups for my kids. Because that’s life. And it’s not perfect, just like me and my children.

  4. Having a hard time believing you waited tables with any degree of competency during college. Otherwise, you’d know how annoying you’re being. Especially with #1 “Stand there for 30 seconds” – Umm, no. I won’t. I have places to be. Other tables, for instance. Ones that have their shit together and don’t think the world is going to grind to a halt while they decide between the chicken and the tilapia. And #2? Come back a second time to take the adults orders? No again. Not only is that inefficient, it’s also a great way to have the food leave the kitchen at different times and then you’ll scream at me. Re: #6 – You know why those chairs get so crusty? Because parents treat dining out as an excuse to be complete messes of human beings. They don’t pay attention to their kid as he’s throwing jello everywhere and the entire restaurant gets covered in a layer of filth as a result. Same with #7. You want me to clean up for you? Fine, but you’ve got to do your part by making at least a half-assed attempt to stop your toddler from making such an unholy mess. Yes, it’s my job to clean up after you but there are limits. Learn them. Know them.

    P.S. No amount of money is worth the level of servitude you’re demanding. You can keep your chintzy $5.

    1. I agree. As both a parent and a former server, I can tell you this: It is not the server’s job to make it easier for you to dine out with your children. The server’s job it to take care of as many customers as possible, as efficiently as possible. Asking a server to stand there while you decide what your precious child wants RIGHT NOW? That is the epitome of entitlement. And “don’t put spicy items in my child’s reach”??? Are you kidding me? I believe it’s your job as the parent to manage what is and what is not in your child’s reach. “Clear the table as we go so that it doesn’t end up on the floor”? No. What you want, lady, is a butler. Please, for the love of god, do not ever take your children out to a restaurant again. Every server in town will be thankful, I promise you.

    2. Servitude: noun ?s?r-v?-?tüd, -?tyüd- a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one’s course of action or way of life.

      Common Sense: adjective- sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts

      I’m 99.9% certain that asking someone to employ basic common sense when waiting on a table with children present (e.g.– don’t put hot or spicy plates near them, put lids on cups, bring extra napkins) is not that same as servitude.

      However, I’m sure we could open up some dialogue with the people in say Ghana or Togo that are actually being forced into servitude to confirm whether or not this constitutes as such.

  5. #5!!!! We went to a Mexican restaurant with my parents and sister, and the server was putting salsa cups in front of each person. I kept moving the one he put in front of my 5yo and he would just replace it with another. After about 3 times I finally said that the kids didn’t need them. I was distracted and talking with my family and should have said it sooner, but still!

  6. I totally don’t understand why people are calling you entitled for posting this. I was a server all through college, and this stuff was just common sense. I mean, I understand being a server realllllly sucks sometimes, but with every single tabled I waited, I was always aware that they were paying me for a service and it was my job to provide service…to the entire table…including the children.

  7. I think I get what you’re trying to say. When I was you get, before I had kids there was plenty I didn’t do as a waitress for families that never really accrued to me so something like this would have been helpful. On the other hand I think the reason you’re getting so many rude comments is because the way you worded your post did sound a little more like a complaint than a tip. I think you could have used most of the same information and not have received so many negative comments had you approached it differently.

    1. I can agree with that, Cara. It seems my “voice” is not coming through as I intended, especially to people who don’t read me regularly. I honestly feel terrible that it’s being interpreted as me demanding these things and complaining.

      1. I’m really sorry about the wave of crappy response. I’m new to your blog but it seems like you are not at all “entitled” or sloppy with your children. I think it’s really cool that you’ve taken the time to address the comments even the negative ones. I hope you don’t let any of the harsh words get to you. There’s absolutely no reason to get all heated over what you said. Even if it was taken wrong, there’s still not enough there to make such wild accusations!

  8. Ooooooh a couple of extra dollars for waiting on you hand and food? NO THANK YOU. Clean up after your own children and don’t make the server bend over backwards cause you decided to bring your children. I don’t have anything against children in the restaurant, but don’t expect a server, who can probably make more money with their other tables, stand while you decide to eat.

  9. “Jesus. How DARE YOU ask me to WAIT ON YOU. As a WAITRESS. I have more important things to do than to serve your entitled ass. I’m a WAITRESS. Why would I WAIT ON YOU? You can shove your measly tip, even though I work for tips!”

    As someone who waitressed for years I honestly can’t even begin to deal with the ridiculousness that these people are spewing. Get a freaking grip people.

  10. I partially agree, both as a mom and as server. But I would argue several points. I will not bring you extra napkins unless you ask for them. I will not waste them if they are not used. I will not automatically put your kids drink in a cup with a lid, my daughter was drinking out of glasses in restaurants at 1 1/2. I will not take your childs order first unless you ask me to, my child eats with us, as we eat together as a family. You move your books/crayons/ipads/etc out of the way before I come with the food, then I will set it down as far away as possible from your child. If not, then your going to have to deal with it. The rest of these are just good serving tips, they have nothing to do with waiting on children.

  11. I see that you have mentioned several times in the comments that you believe that people who are new to your blog, or who don’t read you regularly, may have misunderstood your “voice” or “tone”. I have to be honest with you and say that I do not agree. I check your blog several times a day (for new posts) and think of myself as a loyal reader, but I still think that you may have missed the mark on this one.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that LaTisha. Thanks for letting me know. I did go ahead and remove that link, but I appreciate your honesty, especially since you’re a regular reader. I really do feel bad it came off that way.

  12. Yes, there are parents who let their kids do whatever the kids want to do. We have all seen it one time or another. I am not sure how anyone got an idea that Jill is this kind of a parent from this post. There are two things that I would like to add. One – not putting a hot plate, knife of beverage in front of a baby/toddler is a common sense. This has nothing to do with parents not being able to educate their kids properly. Ask a doctor if you need to, a 1 year old’s brain does not grasp the concept of danger. It’s OK if you, as a server, don’t know this because you have no experience with kids. It’s not OK to say “I’ll put it where I want to, it’s not my job to babysit your kids.” We all learn, but in this scenario, the server can actually understand why the hot plate should not be in front of the small child, unlike the small child. Second – I love how everyone wants a screaming child out of the restaurant until they calm down, yet nobody seems to mind adults that make more noise than a wailing baby. Somehow those are just folks that need to unwind after a long week of work. Oh yes, and they are buying a drink after a drink after a drink and will tip well, unlike that baby, right? Give me a break. I have been seated next to patrons that were so loud I could not hear my own thoughts and nobody considered asking them to go outside until they calm down.

  13. I am LMAO at any one who thinks you are being hateful to servers. As you mentioned, you have now seen both sides of the table (little pun for ya!) I waited tables for many years and abided by the tips you posted above, obviously long before this post. Now that I’m a parent, yes, have that check ready for me when you bring my food. Once dinner is over my kid (21 months) wants to get up and go, so we need to leave fairly quickly. We went out to eat last weekend and our server was an absolute delight. She brought applesauce (ok’d by us first) with our drinks, brought DD’s food before ours, handed it to me since it was hot, brought extra napkins, removed items as we were finished with them, and always included DD in the conversation. We definitely threw some extra bucks her way. We’re good tippers to begin with, but I’m pretty sure she earned more than 20% that night.

  14. My sister is the mother of 3 kids, and when she takes them out to eat, she made them sit in their chairs and behave – as is customary at the dinner table, whether at home or elsewhere. Because she required this of them from an early age, they were generally well-behaved in restaurants. They always ordered their own food, said please and thank you, and acted appropriately. My sister always stacked the empty dishes as her kids were done, and put them away from her kids so they would not be thrown on the floor, as this was considered unacceptable behavior. Now my sister has raised three children into three teenagers who stack their dishes at restaurants, put their trash and napkins on top and return the condiments to the proper place on the table. If you want your restaurant experience to be more pleasurable, maybe you could teach your children proper restaurant behavior rather than demanding that the staff acquiesce to your children’s needs in order to earn a tip. They are food servers, not clowns that double as a nanny.

    1. Krista, clearly you missed the part where Jill has YOUNG children. Children who are UNABLE to order their own food. Hello, I would expect a 5 year old to sit and behave. Not a toddler. Read a little bit to become more aware of the situation,

  15. I’m a server and these are things I do because these are things that I really hope for when I go out to eat with my nieces and nephews. I don’t take offense to your article at all! It’s a very good article with advice many of my coworkers could use. :3

  16. As a mother and a past waitress, I could write a the page article on what could have done to my job easier as well as the other customers dining experience more pleasurable. First, stay home and drink your marquaritas.

  17. A more important question would be what do YOU do to make yours a table servers want to work? Yes, servers should attend to the table quickly, but are you telling me that you seriously can’t keep your own kids under control if there is a wait?

  18. I discovered this post by finding snarky comments about it. So I clicked over to read it. I could not agree more. The basic theme is: Help me help you! I have a 4yo and a 1yo and share your experiences. Thanks for the great read!

  19. Your password can be changed from the Profile section at any
    time. Please make sure you are self hosting your WordPress Blog.
    My call to travel with Word Press and not with one among
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    had the whole lot to try to to with my possessing whole control over the
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  20. If you’re going to argue with your critics that you specifically listed these as “tips” and not “demands,” you need to rewrite this article. Cause they’re coming across as the latter. “Throw some extra dollars at you”… Really? Were you really a server? Cause that’s uh…. oh yeah! DEMEANING.

  21. Interesting read. However, I don’t think all of these tips would be obvious to someone without children. You may have to speak up and request it. I was a server back and the day and if a customer had asked me, I would accomodated them. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming people know things.

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