The Server’s Guide To Dining With Kids

My current workplace is a real hotspot for parents, whether they have new-born bubs or five school-aged kids in tow – I have watched in awe of these superhuman mums and dads managing to feed AND entertain both their kids and themselves with minimal disturbances to other patrons. I am yet to sprout any offspring of my own so I can only imagine how difficult it must be to enjoy a cup of coffee, let alone a meal with a tiny human being to coordinate! However, the following are some tips I have observed in my years of serving mums and bubs…

1. Locate Legoland!

Most child-friendly restaurants and cafés will have a toy-box stowed in the corner. The unspoken etiquette (like a Doctor’s surgery toy corner) is to share the toys, and encourage sharing with other kids if the toys are limited. If there are building blocks involved ensure any future town planners aren’t constructing cities/trip hazards in the aisles.

If the establishment doesn’t have any toys on hand, ask the friendly staff if they have any colouring pages and pencils – we keep a whole drawer of printouts and crayons to keep idle hands from touching cutlery, and baby Picassos from leaving fingerprint paintings on windows and mirrors!

2. Give your server a heads up

If your little one hasn’t quite grasped coordination yet, let your server know and we will do everything in our power to make sure your child is able to eat or drink comfortably! If your toddler hasn’t mastered cups yet, let us know and we will gladly put their babycino in a takeaway cup with a lid and straw. And if they haven’t graduated to adult cutlery yet? We might have some spare oyster forks or teaspoons – they are the perfect size for tiny hands and mouths!

3. Don’t be ashamed of spills!

Hey, kids will be kids. They haven’t figured it all out yet, and mistakes are sure to be made. If your little one has a spill, don’t be afraid to speak up! We have a duty of care to you and other patrons to ensure no one is endangered by slippery surfaces or small mounds of food. Just let us know where the mess is and we will clean it up as best we can while you’re there – a full-scale clean-up will be performed once you have left so don’t stress, we know what to expect from kids!

4. Dispose of wet wipes appropriately

There is almost nothing cuter than a cheeky toddler laughing and gurgling with half a babycino smeared across their face! Not so cute, however, when the wet wipes used to tidy up bub are left scattered on the table or floor… This tip is mostly in aid of a certain server who is regularly afflicted by cold and flu, but my colleagues don’t particularly enjoy touching used wet wipes and tissues either so please be considerate of where you dispose of these items. Dedicated bins aren’t always obvious or available but servers are happy to dispose of your waste if you ask! Placing your used items within another napkin or on your finished plate is the unspoken etiquette here.

5. Captain Obvious says, have fun!

Smiling families make for happy service: when you’re having a great time, servers bounce off those vibes! Have a laugh, ask for a family photo (if it’s not too busy), and enjoy your adventure out with your little ones. It doesn’t have to be an unimaginable task bringing your kids out for a nice meal, or even a coffee catch-up with friends. New-borns normally sleep through the entire outing, and even if they get too restless most establishments offer takeaway options.

Being a parent – whether you have a fresh-from-the-oven bub or a gaggle of cheeky toddlers – doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal time or social life. Your wellbeing is a priority too!

Article published on Parenting Social 101.

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