An Open Letter to Parents Who Dine Out…

…With their children. 

As a server, we’re constantly barraged with requests, complaints, and challenges. But one thing is the bane of every server’ existence. Families who dine out. 

Sure, your toddler in the high chair is cute. Cute as hell. In fact, we’ve never seen a cuter kid if it’ll get us a bigger tip. But we don’t like your kid when you leave a huge mess for us to clean up. Here’s the thing: 

We’re your servers, not your slaves, maids, or cleaning crews. While some say it’s our job, it really isn’t. Making sure you have a good dining experience is our job. A reasonable cleanup when you’re done is our job. Cleaning up after you’ve let your child pitch their tiny snacks all over the place so they get ground into to carpet or torn up their kids menu into tiny bits and strewn them about under the table IS NOT part of our jobs. 

So parents, here’s a few friendly tips from your servers for the next time you dine out with children that will keep us all happy, and not forever hating your offspring. 

1. Don’t bring snacks with you like Cheerios, Froot Loops, puffs or any other small tidbit that your child can litter the floor with. They get stepped on and ground into the carpet. It’s not fun to avoid an edible minefield. 

2. Don’t bring Skittles or M&Ms either. As annoying as it is to clean up the above mentioned snacks, the hokey doesn’t even pick these up. Splurge a little and spend the whopping $2.99 for an order of fries or mashed potatoes. Your server will love you for it. 

3. Sugar caddies and packets are not playthings. Give your kid your phone or a tablet to play with like the rest of parents these days. And if your kid does still happen to get into the sugar caddy, please clean up and organize it again. 

4. If your kid has torn up the kids menu, take the time to stuff it into the throw away kiddie cup okay? Little bits of paper on the table, seat, and floor are not fun to pick up. Or better yet, don’t let them tear it up. 

5. The world is their playground…the aisle is not. Please keep your kids in their seats. It’s difficult enough carrying heavy hot plates, multiple drinks or even trays without a moving obstacle course. 

6. Yes, you can have a new set of crayons or the other colors we have. Just don’t expect them right away if it’s busy. You’re not my only table tonight and I may have to put in someone else’s food order, refill drinks, or greet a table first. 

7. The same goes for the little drink umbrella or other toy like item you’ve requested of me. Please take it with you or clean up after your kid and don’t leave it on the floor. 

8. Copy and paste that for silverware, napkins or anything else that can somehow get under your table or on the floor around you. If your kid dropped or threw it, please pick it up. I don’t leave a mess in your house, please don’t leave a mess in ours. 

9. Your kid is crying? We generally don’t care. Babies cry. It’s just one more noise in the place. That being said, if you’re ignoring your kid for a long time while they’re crying, then we care. Because then it’s a nuisance to other customers as well as us, and you need to find something to quiet your kid down. Just don’t do it with the sugar packets. 

10. Please don’t change diapers in the booth.  It’s gross. Just don’t do it. That’s what the diaper changer is for in the handicapped stall. And please throw used diapers away. We don’t want to touch that shit. Pun intended. 

11. On the note of bathrooms, please make sure your kid doesn’t play with the toilet paper roll leaving a trail behind them or strewn about the stalls. If I haven’t iterated it enough: just clean up after your kids! 

12. Booster seats are booster seats and high chairs are high chairs, and baby carriers go in the slings or hammocks, not the underside of the high chair. Know the difference and know which one you need. There’s nothing more annoying than the time consuming act of having to go back for the item you really meant. 

13. I appreciate that you want your child to learn how to order by themselves, but if they’re shy and it’s a busy restaurant at prime meal time, save it for another day. I don’t have time for it. Order for your kid and let’s continue on. 

Don’t get me wrong. We like kids. We want you to dine out with them as a family. We just like them well behaved and not leaving us a mess. If, after all that I’ve said, you still leave us a mess to clean up, be a doll and leave at least 20% tip, if not more. It’s what we call hazard pay. But I for one would rather have 15% and no extra mess to clean. 

If you’re a server and have a suggestion to add to this list, please leave a comment below! 

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