At some point or another even the biggest homebody aka “restaurant avoider” will be faced with going out to eat with their children. I’m not going to throw anyone under the bus but I have friends (who shall remain nameless) that do anything and everything to avoid taking their kids into a public arena like a restaurant. I get it, it’s not the least bit easy. In fact, most of the time it’s pretty damn hard. Most normal kids cannot sit still for an extended period of time unless they are coerced with an ipad and we all try not to be “that Mom” even though most some of the time we cave. You also have to deal with overwhelming anxiety you get from other patrons giving you the evil eye from across the restaurant because your kids cant mind their p’s and q’s. Have you ever just wanted to go give one of those people with their judgy eyes a piece of your mind? It’s usually an older couple who is just appalled that your little Johnny isn’t sitting upright with his napkin perfectly placed in his lap, holding his knife and fork with precision and not uttering a single word throughout the entire meal. I’m 30 something (we never speak of my actual age) and I still don’t know how to properly hold my fork and knife. Sorry Mom, those years of cotillion were a waste, you are just lucky someone married me despite my lack of ability to hold my utensils the proper way. In fact, I just realized about a year ago that I’ve been holding chopsticks upside down. I guess we know why those first dates at the sushi restaurants never evolved into a second date.
My family goes out to eat a lot. It’s actually shameful how often I opt out of cooking. If you mention a margarita and a chance for food to be served to me, I’m out the door in a split second. I have noticed that in all of our dining out experiences that most restaurants are not privy on how to cater to kids in the least. I realize that its not their job to take care of our children but it is their job to make the experience run as smoothly as possible and I can assure you that a lot of their customers are families with young children. At least at the restaurants we frequent. We aren’t exactly dining at Ruth’s Chris every night, much to my dismay. I’m talking about our local hole in wall at the end of our street. I understand that there are other patrons to tend to but the more proactive the staff is at keeping our kids at bay, the better they behave and in turn it makes a better environment for the restaurant. To clarify, it’s for the sanity of the whole damn restaurant. It drives me up the wall how dense some of these people can be sometimes and I feel like I’m really doing the restaurant industry a disservice by not sharing my notes on ways they can help a very stressed momma out. Here’s is my top list of suggestions on how a restaurant can make a Momma’s life a little easier:
1.) Bring the high chair, FAST. I know I must look like I’m having a good time pinning my child down or having him sit on my lap for the 10 minutes it takes you to retrieve that highchair but really I would like the use of a finger, preferably a hand. Also, please keep your comments to your self about my child’s size And if I ask for a highchair please don’t suggest a booster. I have a strategy here. I’m not ready to part with the high chair even if he is 40 pounds and is already starting to grow chest hair. Don’t worry, that thing is made of wood and can hold about anything.
2.) Can you please provide something other than chicken nuggets, Mac n cheese or a cheeseburger. Let’s at least make it a little exciting…. maybe? If I’m going to pay $8 for frozen nuggets and fries can they at least be in the shape of dinosaurs or trucks? Or can the mac and cheese not be from a box? And if it is, could you try to disguise it a little better by melting some real cheese on top?….. While you’re at it, could you maybe offer some frozen veggies as a side so we aren’t always forced into french fries or fruit. I think I’m being pretty fair here.
3.) Stop bringing food that could cause third degree burns. I don’t know if the chef doesn’t have kids or if he’s lost his sense of touch but sending out food that is still steaming, on a piping hot plate, is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Since I live at Mexican restaurants, I should mention how they set the plate of sizzling fajitas right by kids ALL THE TIME. How in the world is sitting a flaming, cast iron skillet in a child’s reach safe? I’m always left scratching my head at this one.
4.) Don’t bring our food out first. This one is HUGE. If you do, our food will become their food. And our food usually has something hidden in it that will cause a colossal meltdown like chopped onions or some sort of sauce that they have an aversion to. We are always accommodating their dietary restrictions at home and this our one chance to eat what WE want so please be mindful.
5.) Do not offer a sugary drink or ice cream without it being the mom’s idea. In fact, don’t utter the words chocolate milk or shirley temple and please, for the love of God, don’t offer my 4 year old a soft drink. You are opening the door for an unnecessary conversation. I already have to thoroughly explain why my child cannot have a sip of “Mommy’s juice” every time we go out, please don’t add any other drinks into the mix. As far as my child knows there is only water, milk, apple juice and “Mommy’s Juice” in this world.
And to be clear, we use ice cream solely to bribe our kids so offering it willy nilly means you are stripping us of our bargaining powers. Then there is that whole sugar aspect of it. We don’t want them bouncing of the walls for hours after our “family outing.” It really doesn’t matter, just don’t offer it. Thank you.
6.) Have the proper supplies. If your target market is family then you need to be prepared. I suggest paper menus that you can color on then dispose of and crayons (at least 3), period. And please if you are cheaping out and giving my child only ONE crayon, don’t pick the color yellow. No kids like yellow. Just last week we tried a new restaurant that gave the kids reusable place mats to color on with erasable markers. Great idea except they don’t clean the place mats. Reusable place mats for kids should be against the law. A big NO NO.
7.) Bring the booze STAT. I was watching a Mom at a restaurant with her twin boys the other day and you could tell that she was struggling to tend to everyone’s needs. She had to ask for her glass of wine three freaking times (her husband was driving so calm down people). This is completely unacceptable. Do these waiters want a Mom already on the edge to go batsh**t crazy on them? Always bring the booze in a timely manner. We are out in public with our kids for Pete’s sake.
8.) Last but not least, if you see a parent struggling, please lend them a hand. This shouldn’t even need to be mentioned but so many times I see waiters standing around while a Mom is struggling to get her two children in highchairs and her older child situated in a chair. Offer to help, even if it’s just opening the door when you see them walking up the sidewalk. Kindness goes a long way and us Moms don’t forgot things like that. It makes us “repeat customers.” Even if the food is sub par I will go back to a restaurant that went above and beyond to be kind to me and my family. PERIOD.
It’s rough out there and taking your kids in public is hard enough. Sometimes we just need a little help. Happy dining!Follow