Bub and I were recently in a cafe with another mummy and her newborn. My little one was sitting at the table in his highchair playing with some toys, my friend's little one was in her pram capsule beside the table.
We weren't in a fancy pants cafe but weren't in a "family restaurant" either; we were in between -- somewhere where you would you get your morning coffee or grab a quick bite to eat with the kids. It was nice and staff were friendly (mostly).
So you can imagine my utter surprise when the waiter carried our hot coffees over the top of the baby capsule and then proceeded to place them in the reach of my 11-month-old.
I was pretty annoyed, as you can imagine. To anyone who knows me, you know I'm not backward in coming forward in regards to child safety. So I asked him politely not to carry the hot drinks over the newborn and not place said hot drinks in the reach of my child.
" " (nothing!).
He just looked at me and walked off.
So it got me thinking: this isn't the first time I've had to do this, and it isn't the only issue like this I've had to raise in restaurants. Now I'm not the kind of person to kick up a fuss, I am happy to wait longer than normal for a meal, and I rarely tell the waiter that a coffee is cold or bitter. But if there is potential for a child to be scolded by boiling hot water, than I'm going to speak up.
I thought that these waiting techniques were common knowledge, you don't have to have certified training to understand that passing hot coffees over a child is not okay! I worked as a waitress to support myself through university, and my family owned a restaurant when I was younger and never was this an issue for us. But perhaps there are just some waiters who simply don't have common sense around this area.
So it is time I wrote down, on behalf of all the parents dining in restaurants and cafes, the Rules of Engagement to waiters and waitresses around the world informing them just how to wait on families in their restaurant.
8 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
1. Don't carry any hot food or drinks over babies or children -- this includes their heads, arms, legs and babies in capsules
2. Don't place any food or drinks in the reach of children in high chairs or children sitting on their parent's laps
3. In fact, don't place any crockery or cutlery near the child. If you feel obliged, placed a napkin there -- they can't stab themselves in the face with a napkin
4. When getting a drink for a small child, ask the parents if they would like it in a plastic cup -- with a straw. This will help prevent a disaster both on the floor and all over the child
5. If you are going to put a baby in a high chair, make sure the high chair has a crotch strap otherwise the baby will just slide straight out the bottom
6. When bringing a drink or food out to a small child, ask the parents if they would like it in front of them or the child. Sometimes parents like to control the amount of food or types of food their children eat
7. If possible, bring the children's food out first. They are less patient than adults and if they're hungry and waiting... well let's just say you don't want to wait on a hungry irritable child
8. If possible, don't sit kids near the buffet, a fancy water feature or the main walkway. Kids are kids and are going to move around in their seats or drop bits and pieces on the floor. Do you want to trip over cutlery or trample tomato sauce into the carpet? But at the same time, don't put the family in a dark corner of the restaurant -- after all, "nobody puts baby in the corner."
And a last quick note to parents in restaurants:
Make it easier on staff. Ask for plastic crockery if you need it. Don't let your kids climb underneath your or anyone else's table. It is a restaurant, not a play area. And make sure they aren't running around in bare feet. It is a restaurant and glasses and crockery get broken all the time. Plus you don't want to find bits of squished up pumpkin in their toes two days later, or worse, have a screaming child because they've trodden on broken pieces of glass.
If both wait staff and parents work together, then a family dining experience can be that much more enjoyable for everyone!
The piece was originally posted here.
What have your experiences been like in restaurants? Please share...