Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dining Out Toddler-Style

     Like so many of us, I worked for a time during college and graduate school in the restaurant industry. As is the case with most wait staff, I wasn’t thrilled when a family with young children was seated in my section because such patrons tend to leave both a huge mess and a meager tip. I remember in particular one family who left a mess that took me a good thirty minutes to clean up at the end of the night - we’re talking papers shredded and thrown everywhere, goo mashed into the carpet, and condiments smeared on the walls - and about a $2.50 tip. Thank you so freakin’ much.
     It’s those memories that make me so anxious about taking my own children out to a restaurant. I don’t want to be those people. I will go to places that don’t meet these criteria, but these days I prefer my restaurants to have tile floors, be noisy, and be self-serve (i.e., order at the counter, etc.). Then I don’t feel so weird about hunching down under the table to pick up the chunks that have migrated to the floor.

     Is it just me that does this??? Seriously, I'm thinking about getting one of those little crumb sweeper things for the diaper bag.

     Since most kid's menus consist of junk food, I bring my own unless I'm going somewhere where I feel comfortable ordering something off the menu for the babies. Maybe that makes me a jerk, but I don't really care. I'm not about to ruin all of the good work I've done on developing their healthy eating habits for the sake of a stranger's feelings.

     It is after much experimentation that I feel ready to tell you what I believe to be the best meal to pack for a toddler. I have selected it both for its clean-upability and lack of refrigeration requirement. Are you ready?... Wait for it...

Peanut Butter Sandwich and Box of Raisins

It's simple, and there are no vegetables, but that can be taken care of with the meal at home. But you know what? I'm still thinking about the mess we're making the entire time we're eating. Come on, am I the only mommy who worries about this?

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  1. Oh my goodness, now I am going to worry a thousand times more than I already do, b/c I am just thinking about the mess. Haven't really thought about a bigger tip than usual, and that people may not WANT us to sit in their section. Oh goodness. My problem is they only have so long of a window, hence the mess int he floor. I feel like I am terrifed they are going to get fussy so I am constantly putting things in front of them (cheerios, pieces of food, etc) the entire time we are seated, hence the mess. And I REALLY don't have fussy babies. They are really well behaved normally. I am just afraid. And sometimes it can take forever after you sit, order, eat. Toys they just want to throw down too...

  2. With our dairy and soy free diet eating out has been extremely rare. But I can totally see myself being the sleep up type Mom with a little mini broom and dust pan =)

  3. I feel like I am already there with just puffs and toys! :) I am constantly making sure there is nothing left behind (and Ive never worked as a server). It makes me cringe when people do leave stuff everywhere when they leave!

  4. Mandy, I didn't mean to make you worry MORE, lol! I know what you mean about the window, and that's why I like going to places where we don't have to wait on service. Panera is a good example - the babies and I sit and start on their lunch, and the hubby goes to order the food.

    someday, I can only imagine how hard it must be to eat out with your restrictions.

    April, it's just about general courtesy, right? It's hard to believe that some people NEVER think about how trashing their table might be a little inconsiderate to the person who has to clean it up.


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