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Why Parents with Small Kids Are Disliked at Restaurants

A good friend of mine schedule weekly play dates at least twice a week. After letting the boys play for about 2 to 3 hours, we go out and have lunch at whatever restaurant we fancy that day.  Wherever we go, we usually always get booted to the back of the restaurant or we get bad service.  They must not like us 🙂 (yes, it’s a smiley face)I used to be food server at some point during college.  So I could somewhat understand what my problem is. From a former waitress’s point of view I would have to say the following are the 5 most common reasons many servers don’t like to serve parties with small children:


1. The noise – each server is assigned a specific station. Usually the station involves a group of tables close to each other. This means that if children are noisy in one table, then you might have unhappy customers in another.

2. The mess – there is a good chance that your table will be left in a completely messier situation than normal, which will take a little longer to cleanup. If the restaurant is busy and you want to make money, you won’t have time to wait around for the bus boy to clean it up. You will do what you can to get it clean, which is a complete pain in your butt.

3. The demands – it’s hard to tell what your little one is going to need or want. Parents will often have you running around more times than you have to, getting straws, cleaning things up, more napkins, etc. Don’t get me wrong, because I know that a lot of adults ask for a lot of other things to, but this is just something to be expected when there are children.

4. The time – time is very valuable for servers. The faster a table is turned over, the more money they make at the end of the day. When there are children at the table, the parents take a lot longer to order, there is a lot more fuss with the food, and getting everyone situated into the actual eating phase.

5. The tips – most people tip based on the total of the bill. Kids meals usually cost a lot less than an adult meal. So if you have 5 small children, you are working twice as hard, for a lot less … how do you suppose the server will feel in the end?

Have you ever felt mistreated in a restaurant?

Lexie Lane

Lexie Lane is the creator of voiceBoks.com, owner of Social Media Panel, and co-author of the book, The Blogger's Survival Guide Tips and Tricks for Parent Bloggers Wordsmiths and Enthusiasts.


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  • I have never had a horrible experience at a restaurant either. I do try to avoid going out to eat during nap time whenever possible. My youngest is now old enough to enjoy coloring but as a baby I always packed a snack for him and some table top toys. This kept him happy for the most part.

  • I haven’t had any bad experiences at restaurants yet. My daughter knows she has to behave. And I wouldn’t take her anywhere that wasn’t kid friendly. But I can see the servers point of view..

  • Yeah I get this list, I rarely took my girls out to eat at a restaurant because this mum would be embarrased by the noise and mess her girls would make even though they were just being kids

  • I am generous with the service when we have out kids. BUT I will say if they are rude or treat us bad because we brought our kids I don’t. But my kids are taught how to behave if they choose not too then they know what their punishment is and we follow thru.

  • My youngest is pretty good in the restaurant. He is sweet and super easy to please…. My oldest on the other hand is like his own mini hurricane coming in and destroying everything in his path. It got to the point where even I dreaded going out to eat with him so I can only imagine how our poor servers felt! He is in school now so instead of going out for dinner I do a lot of lunch dates 🙂

  • I actually haven’t had any bad experiences with getting treated differently when I bring my daughter. My daughter usually sits nice and quietly and plays with the little toys I bring.

  • When my kids were very little we generally avoided eating out, but our kids were told if they act up OUT WE GO dinner is over! also tried to be extra generous with our tips. HONESTLY now as tweens they can be just as loud and messy–I always have the kids clean up their area the best they can.

  • We generally overtip when we bring our kids to a restaurant and the service is solid. It’s certainly a work in progress for any parent to bring their young uns out to eat. We did it often when my boys were very young, and now at 3 and 5 they’re golden when we eat out.

    Let’s face it. The server is there to make the guests feel at home. And parents of young kids should do everything possible to be a good customer — keep the kids in check, bring distractions to keep them happy, don’t let them go all Lord of the Flies on everyone, etc.