10 Tips For A Good Tip When I Take My Kids Out To Eat

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.

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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.

  • Jay - The Dude of the House - #3 always makes me crazy. The only thing I hate more than having to ask for extra napkins is after asking for them when they return with 1 or 2. Seriously? I usually need more than that for myself.ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie Fraley - We left a $15 tip on a $36 bill just last night because our waitress was awesome and hit most all of these points! The place was packed, the staff was working super hard, and they were all still so nice. And our food came out hot (all 4 plates!) and was delicious. Your list should be mandatory in food service training.ReplyCancel

  • Casey - UGH. YES. Why do I have to chase them to get the check? Or worse, just get my card back to sign the thing? They want us to leave. We want to leave. Let’s all just work together on that. This rules.ReplyCancel

  • Tara - Oh my gosh, yes. We always tip 20%, but if a waiter went out of their way to do any of these things you better believe they would get more!ReplyCancel

  • Kate - Love this!! Just went on a beach vacation with my 2.5 year old, and while some restaurants and wait staff were less than accommodating, one waitress stands out as the best I’ve ever had. When said toddler started having a no-nap meltdown, she went out of her way to bring us crayons, coloring pages, and all of our food asap. Amazing how something so small truly made my day…and saved ME from a meltdown!ReplyCancel

  • Melanie Davidson - Regarding #6, a local restaurant we frequent does actually sanitize the high chairs, and takes the extra step of wrapping the tops with saran wrap so there is no cross contamination from the bottom of the next chair when stacking. It’s glorious.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Yes. Why do they always set all the food RIGHT in front of the grabby toddler? Probably because that’s the only space on the table that’s clear…for a reason.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Lecoq - I would also add to stop passing plates of hot food and drinks OVER my child…. ReplyCancel

  • Tabetha Knapp - Very good points. As a mother I am with you 100%. I would love to write a blog speaking to some customers from the server, with tips and ideas on how to make it a mutually pleasant experience! ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Jean M - I am the oldest of four, and I remember a waitress crying and thanking my mom for her tip, but the waitress greeted each of us children, cut our straws to fit the child-sized cups, and put extra chocolate in our milk! (I’m sure there was more, but that was 20 years ago!)ReplyCancel

  • Moira F. - Jeez. Entitled much? What is with these parents who expect the entire world to cater to them and their children? You are no more important than the next customer. What an insult to food service workers to think your measly tip entitles you to make demands of them them as if they’re your nanny? Why don’t you save everyone the time and trouble and bring your own damn cups with lids, extra napkins, and whatever else you think everyone should fall all over themselves to bring to you because you weren’t prepared. Typical American self-centeredness.ReplyCancel

    • Albert - I agree Moira. So many parents these days seem to think that the world revolves around their children. Not so long ago when I was a little one, I was expected to sit quietly and eat my food. Running loose, grabbing and flinging food, or doing anything other than exacly what my mother told me to do would have resulted in a punishment.ReplyCancel

      • Jill - At what point in this post did I talk about letting my kids run loose, and grab and fling food? Take your agenda elsewhere.ReplyCancel

        • Mandy - Oh SHEESH. The entire post was about things that are a part of the server’s job (I ask for extra napkins too! AND cups with lids when I want something to-go! Does that make them MY nanny too?). All of this is just in reference to a table that has kids there too. I was a server for years, and I wasn’t bothered by any of her points.

          Also, I’m one of those people without kids at restaurants that people generally think are judging them because their kids are being crazy. (Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not – depends on the parents’ behavior.) But again, nothing in this post had to do with any of that.

          See, this is why I don’t read blog comments. Boooo, internet.

    • Jill - Are you kidding me? Am I entitled to service I pay for? Yes. So is anyone who takes their wallet and their business to a restaurant, with or without children. This isn’t about me being more important. This is about explaining a few ways to make our visit to a restaurant more enjoyable for both my family AND the server. And by all means, please remember to bring your own extra napkins, as well.ReplyCancel

      • Laura Griffith - I have to agree with Jill – asking for extra napkins is NOT a sense of entitlement. My inlaws who have no children and are in their 60′s ask for extra napkins (regardless if the kids are with us or not) It’s not demeaning – it’s your job if you’re a waiter or waitress to do the majority of these things whether or not children are present.ReplyCancel

    • Shar - She doesn’t sound entitled. Servers typically seem like the entitled ones to me considering all they are hired to do is…SERVE. Measly tip? You do maybe an hour of work for 20% of the check when the people doing real work in the back of the house get nothing. We don’t expect nannies. We just expect some common sense, courtesy, and brevity.ReplyCancel

      • cathy - Well Shar I can see that you have never been in the service industry….work for an hour and your think everyone that we serve gives a 20% tip??? Boy I see PTA in your future. To be honest I have taken my child and my grandchildren out to eat many times and they were always on their best behavior because they knew what being in a public place meant. If they needed sippy cups I bought them and I’ve never seen in 25 years of working as a server (in my younger days) not giving napkins upon request. Get off your high horse lady and believe me you think you ARE ENTITLED :( People actually cringe when they see families come into a restaraunt and it’s not the wait staff it’s the OTHER CUSTOMERS!!!!!!!!)ReplyCancel

    • SwearyLefty - Agree with Moira! What is it with some parents who have this entitlement complex? Your child is not the centre of the universe.

      Whilst I agree with some of what the blog says; ie clean high chairs. “Take my kids order, quick!” Excuse me? Is that before other paying customers who came in before you?
      How about parents teaching their children manners and appropriate behaviour in certain places? Okay, before I get slagged off, I don’t mean ALL children are bad and ALL parents ignore them; but I was taught to sit quiet and eat my food. Any behaviour that wasn’t appropriate would be dealt with. We knew when we went out, we didn’t cross the line or was punished.ReplyCancel

      • kelly - where did she say before the other customers? i’m pretty sure she was talking about the time when a waitperson would normally ask about appetizers. or perhaps simply before she herself ordered. i don’t understand how anything she wrote would give the impression that she wished for her children to jump to the head of any line, or be served out of turn at all.ReplyCancel

  • Chris - Canadian Dad - #1 x’s a billion! We always read the online menu before going out, so we can order at least the kids stuff right away. Also, holy crap, you get lots of comments, lol.ReplyCancel

  • Janae - Albert. If the world doesn’t revolve around children, the future of this world… Can I ask whom it revolves around? They’re our only hope, because all the other generations that were apparently the most well behaved little children screwed it all up. So I say the world does revolve around children. Not you.ReplyCancel

  • Krista - We take our kids out for breakfast weekly, usually to the same place. The waitresses there love the kids and because our kids are used to being at restaurants, they behave pretty darn well. We’ve always been lucky – almost everywhere we go, servers are usually sweet to the kids. However, I always chuckle when you get someone who puts the hot plate of food right in front of my toddler. You know – chuckle in the ‘what are you thinking?’ sort of way…ReplyCancel

  • Billie Cubic - If at all possible take that tip one step further and ask for a manager so you can let them know what a gem they have and that you’ll be back and spread the word because of it. Sadly sometimes taking that extra minute or two to do their job right gets them criticism from the boss for being slow. If you can’t do it right then make an effort to call the place later and do it, you’ll keep the good ones around a lot longer if you do ;-).ReplyCancel

  • Deanna Costa - On the reverse side having also worked in the food service industry & raising 4 children, I am appalled out the behavior of PARENTS while dining out. Don’t let your kid stand in their chair bothering other patrons, don’t let them run around like they own the place, don’t make the person cleaning up after your kids have to grab a vacuum, mop & bucket, a dozen towels and a squeegee in order to clean up after your kids after you have left, if your child and/or you are having a cranky day, choose drive through to make EVERYONE’S life easier. Successful dining out goes both ways!ReplyCancel

  • Johnson - While you make valid points, I can’t help but write you off the moment you sit down as a “table with kids” unless you change my mind midway through service. I honestly try to do all the things you say naturally when I serve people with kids because it makes things easier for both of us. I usually figure what you said as a kind of unwritten playbook and understanding between parents and servers and usually we can coexist normally. Ever since I started serving, I recognized a giant gap in civility between customer and server as far as what one thinks of or how they treat one another and the way you write this article makes me think that there will always be this gap no matter what. That your server is just a slave for you to help your dining experience go well for YOU so YOU don’t HAVE to drink 3 or 4 margaritas just to get through dinner without strangling your child. It’s not my fault your child is simply a child and likes to climb on the table or throw cheerios all over the floor or dump out the sugar packets. That’s what kids do, but it’s your job as a parent to teach them not to do that and be respectful. That your server is just someone you throw money at when we’re done slaving for you depending on if we did a good job like some corner street prostitute.

    If the kitchen just got a 20 top dinner order put in before I put you and your kids food in, your food isn’t their primary concern at the moment so be understanding if it takes an extra 10 minutes to get your food out. All your mindset says to me is that you’re not responsible if YOUR kid starts doing obnoxious shit because their food isn’t there.

    I’ve had too many people verbally tell me “Well you would have gotten a better tip if you did this… or that…” and the majority of the time it’s not my fault, but a lot of the times it is and I’ll be the first to admit when I mess up. Usually if food comes out wrong or something I’ll go right out to the table and admit my mistake because people are so quick to think servers have to be perfect or no tip will be left at all. But there are a lot of times where I simply get stuck at a table answering a million questions and while I’m standing there I notice around me 3 or 4 tables getting sat in my section which is obviously going to delay service to every table I have. One of those 3 or 4 tables might be you and your children. Or maybe you might have already sat down. At this point, you and your children aren’t my number one priority. At this point I try to help out everyone equally and while I may be shorter than I am usually, that doesn’t mean I’m ignoring you.

    You are not special. I’m not there to make your job as a parent easier. That’s your job. In fact, I think it’s your job to make MINE somewhat easier because you say you were a server for so long, you know how it is to serve people with kids and doing so is probably the last thing we as servers want to do. Don’t order a million chocolate milks. Don’t let your kids play with our sugar caddies because you forgot to bring them crayons. If they’re screaming or crying, take them out of the damn high chair or just pay them some attention. Don’t sit there and let them cry because that’s what they do. They obviously want something, just give it to them, don’t rely on me to relieve their problems. If it’s another chocolate milk they want, fine I’ll get it, but for the love of god, give them something to do. I get asked daily to give their kids something to entertain them with. If you ask me to appease your child in such a way then don’t ever go to a restaurant again.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had many people who are super easy, quick, not demanding, etc. I know exactly how to work a table with children so I try to anticipate needs and work with you. But I’m not there to squeeze an “extra few dollars” from you. I try to serve everyone equally so if I don’t pay you enough attention you think you deserve because you have a child, don’t throw me those extra few dollars. I don’t give a fuck. I would just prefer if you tip me for however you think I did. If I did a shitty job, then don’t tip me that much. Most of the time, I know when I did a shitty job. When I get triple sat with large parties in a large section, I already know the service for those new tables is going to be mediocre at best but I do try to make it so that’s not the case. If you think I was awesome, then please have the tip reflect that.

    Long story short… too late… If you really want to be a nice person, throw a few extra few dollars anyway. As a server, I always tip more than what I should when I go out, even if I think the person didn’t do much (unless they were really a shit server). As a parent and previous server, you should understand how it is to wait on kids so maybe you should tip more depending on how much your kid destroys the table.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - For one, the margarita thing? It’s a joke. I try to keep a sense of humor. I’m sorry that didn’t get through to you. It’s clear you’re not understanding my tone, which typically borders on sarcastic. I’m not implying that severs are my “slaves.”

      OF COURSE I understand there will always be extenuating circumstances when going out to eat. OF COURSE I’m understanding when my server is slammed.

      These are simply “tips.” These aren’t demands. Just ideas. Mainly I frequent places like Chilis with my children, places that hire young kids for their first serving job. They genuinely don’t understand some of these things. That’s more who it’s aimed toward.

      As an ex-server, I’m more than empathetic to my server’s situation, and tip accordingly. But even when I was a server I never ONCE expected ANY table to make MY job easier, with or without kids. I’d argue that some of my most difficult tables were those full of demanding, middle aged business men. I’d take an 8 top with 4 kids over that any day.ReplyCancel

      • Neveah - Why don’t parents try taking responsibility for themselves and their children? The server is not your babysitter.ReplyCancel

        • Jill - Again, what point of the posts asks my server to be my babysitter? At what point do I say, “cut my kids food, watch my kids, bring them back to the table when they run off, so I can drink and play on my iPhone?”

  • Bitchy Waiter - Man, I was ready to hate this article but I have to agree with every single thing.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Nabi - Normally articles bitching about service are usually unfounded but I don’t think this author was being unreasonable for a Mom. Most parents do ask when you greet the table to stick around a few seconds so you can put the kid’s food in and in my opinion that is not a big deal what so ever. Don’t put steaming hot food in front of a baby is another no brainer. While I will admit that some parents are just total a-holes when they bring their kids out to eat I don’t think this is one of those instances. (When I say a-hole I mean one time I had to actually fuss at children who were left to roam free in the restaurant tripping servers, trying to climb on the bar and steal bar fruit ect… while their Mommies got drunk at their table for over two hours.)ReplyCancel

  • Christopher Sherrill-Moss - You are 100% right on every point. The only thing I’d add: You are the one in 1000. Most parents come into the restaurant and think of the waiter as a baby-sitter and then can be notoriously cheap. In an ideal world, we’d treat each customer with a fresh perspective because after all, everyone is different. But there’s only so many times you can watch as diapers are changed at the table, return wandering children to their unobservant parents and clean vomit before you start dreading the next table with children.

    Also, parents can set themselves up for success by taking their kids to restaurants that are equipped to serve them. 2 nights ago I was screamed at by a father because I didn’t have a high chair or kids menu nor would the kitchen make a plain pasta for his child (we don’t have any pasta dishes on the menu). Yes, we are known for our food; we have a Michelin-starred chef and I’m sure you’d like to dine here. But we also have the word “Bar” in the name of the restaurant…ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Leland - Dear Jill@babyrabies — As a non-parent who often asks to be seated away from families when I go out to eat so my meal isn’t destroyed, I’ve got to say that I would be delighted to sit near you and your kids. You’re totally doing it right. Thank you for being a great example to other people.ReplyCancel

  • Heather Prescott - As a former waitress, a current mom and current grandma – I agree with what you say – BUT I wish you would (or maybe you have – sorry) make a post like this directed at PARENTS who take their kids out to eat. When I waited tables I was in the bar area and there were no kids allowed but on several occasions I would help on the floor in the main restaurant and I love kids so I had no problems taking tables with little ones – But RARELY if ever did I get a decent tip (a standard 15% was GOOD) from a family with kids. Not only did I do everything on your list, I would go beyond – like cutting the straws to fit the cups, playing peek a boo with the little ones when they were starting to act up, bring them crackers or cherries (after asking parents permission). The problem today is with PARENTS – most parents these days are rude and selfish and think the world revolves around them and their child. Its called discipline – if most parents would use it they wouldn’t need their server to go above and beyond at the table (and this is not a shot at the author – this is directed at the majority of parents who do NOT take responsibility at a restaurant and clearly this author does).ReplyCancel

  • John Rodgers - Wow how nice of you to “throw some extra dollars” at someone who is forced to go far above and beyond what they would normally do because of your kids extra needs. I waited tables for years and I have to tell you all of us servers cringed when a group came in with more than one child. The messes that we were forced to clean up both on and under the table were insane. Most parents kind of just figure that when they eat out they don’t need to worry about the mess their kids make. It’s someone else’s problem to deal with, right?
    Let me make a couple of suggestions: If your kids need cups with lids on them and if they don’t get have them they will spill their drinks then your kids are too young to be taken to a restaurant. You should wait until they’re old enough to not destroy the table and make the waiter’s life hell. A lot of restaurants don’t even have cups with lids. This doesn’t mean they should be forced to clean up your kids messes. Secondly it’s really important for you parents to realize that your kids are not the greatest thing in the whole world. Most of you don’t seem to understand this. Maybe they are the greatest thing in the world to YOU but most of the rest of us really don’t care. We’re not here to cater to or kiss your kids asses. That’s your job. So YOU can take the hot/spicy food and move it away from your kid. It’s not our fault that he or she is grabby. YOU teach your kid how to not eat like a total pig and maybe we won’t need to waste a bunch of napkins etc…YOU are responsible for your kids behavior and if taking them out is too hard you should stay in and order pizza.ReplyCancel

  • Beth Horne-Bowling - While as a mom I agree with you on all points, but as one who has owned, managed and worked in restaurants let me add a few points to parents who have kids.
    If your child starts crying, whining, or generally causing a disturbance, do EVERYONE a favor and take them OUTSIDE until you have them calmed down. No one wants their meal ruined, especially those not with kids at the table.
    If your kid makes a mess, CLEAN IT UP! They are YOUR kids, and leaving a table with cracker crumbs, french fries, and goldfish coating it and the floor under it only infuriates your server. I’ve seen it take 20 minutes of valuable time that could have been spent serving many other people wasted because your kid is a mess and you are lazy and entitled.
    If your kid is too young for the restaurant, don’t bring them! Some places are NOT kid-friendly, get over it! Don’t ask a 4 star chef to make your kid chicken nuggets and don’t expect child portions. Hire a sitter. Everyone will thank you!
    And finally, don’t make your server bend over backwards for you just because you have kids. Your breed em, you feed em! You are not special, and your kids aren’t any cuter than our own. We are there to make a wage we can support our kids on, not dance because you hold the dollars! Don’t like it? Go McDonalds and make us all happy!ReplyCancel

  • Patti Rohde - I do not agree with #1 or #2 if you are in a hurry or about to have a melt down go get fast food. We typically have more that 3 tables to wait on at a time and cannot always be there while you are trying to decide what to eat and right when the adults want to order. We do the best we can and you have to know we are human and cannot always do it all your way. I have 5 children, 3 of whom are grown and I can tell you I am always patient and I teach my children to be patient when we go eat at a full service restaurant.ReplyCancel

  • Terri Magee Henderson - great post, but also please add that maybe as parents you might not want to let your kids run around the place causing a danger to the servers and other patrons. restaurants are not a playground yet some parents treat it that way and then get mad when we run into them. and we should not clean up your childs bodily fluids of any kind. clean up your childs messes too. when I took my son out, I always cleaned up the floor if he made a mess and I never left dirty diapers or vomit on the table and expected the server to clean it up. if you do not want hot plates in front of the child, make room for them away from the child. just common sense should be enough but sadly most times it is not. as a former server, moms with kids are notoriously bad tippers.ReplyCancel

  • Connie Ronholm - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Jocelyn Stonemetz - 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!ReplyCancel

  • Missy - 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.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - 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.ReplyCancel

      • Missy - 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.ReplyCancel

        • Jill - 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.

  • Erin - 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.ReplyCancel

    • Kate - 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.ReplyCancel

    • Reese22 - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Meagan McCracken Leavitt - Entitled, much? Lord.ReplyCancel

  • Leigh Ann - #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!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Austrew - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Cara - 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.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - 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.ReplyCancel

      • Cara - 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!ReplyCancel

  • Pip - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Meghan - “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.ReplyCancel

  • Erikka Brooke Curran - 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.ReplyCancel

  • LaTisha - 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.ReplyCancel

    • Jill - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Raven - Anyone who has a problem with this post obviously doesn’t have young kids.ReplyCancel

  • Andrea - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Jen C. - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Krista - 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.ReplyCancel

    • sarah - 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,ReplyCancel

  • Jaime Rae Mann - 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. :3ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Marie - 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.ReplyCancel

  • Elane Walkedin - Servers probably read your “tips” and rolled their eyes.ReplyCancel

  • Julie A Palm - 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?ReplyCancel

  • Erin - 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!ReplyCancel

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    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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  • Kate Sammon - 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.ReplyCancel

  • denise - 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.ReplyCancel

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