Should you clean up after kids in a café?

The Gold Coast has really lifted its game in the café and restaurant stakes in the last few years. When I moved here from Sydney six years ago, there were a handful of places that were worth spending your hard-earned money on a weekend for brunch.

Now, there are little pockets of delectable goodness popping up every other week on the sidewalks of Burleigh, Tugun, Currumbin, Mermaid and Miami.

I love taking my family out for breakfast – it’s the ideal way to support the local economy, enjoy our incredible weather and get a break from the kitchen.


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But sometimes, other diners can ruin it for you.

This happened when my friend took her kids to a café in Burleigh over the weekend. As she and her mum packed up the kids – twin toddlers, and two kids aged 3 and 4 – she noticed another patron staring at them. She ignored them and they walked to their car, but the other person followed them.

“Your kids made a huge mess, you know,” the person said. She looked pointedly at her children and added, “It doesn’t matter how many kids you have or how old they are, you really should clean up after yourselves.”

My friend was so shocked she didn’t say a word in reply – she just huddled her kids to the car, slipped into the driver’s seat and burst into tears.

Now, this might be controversial, but here’s my question: if you take your kids to a café or restaurant, why do you have to clean everything up afterwards?

Isn’t that the whole point of going out – you pay good money to eat in an establishment, for the privilege of not having to prepare food, cook and clean?

I say this as someone who always cleans up after my family when we eat out. I’m there on my hands and knees, scooping up spilt spaghetti, dusting toast crumbs off chairs and using a packet of wipes to clean the high chair and table.

It’s ingrained in me to leave it spotless. But why?

Yes, it’s the decent thing to do, to have manners and not leave it in a disgusting state. No, I’m not saying it’s cool to walk away and leave your table in a complete filthy mess for the staff to clean up.

But we shouldn’t have to leave it in pristine condition, either. For some families, especially mums, it’s literally the only meal they’ll have in weeks that they don’t have to prepare themselves and clean up afterwards.

So perhaps it’s time to challenge some ingrained behaviours and expectations – and next time, leave the wipes in the bag?

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Its a good point. I have 2.5y.o. toddler but I can’t leave a mess after we leave. Yes we pay for the meals etc BUT if you’d be in waiters role how would you feel cleaning up after someones kids compete disaster ?! Just need to think about others sometimes too.

Yes. You should tidy up after your kids as well as ensuring that other paying patrons do not have their outing ruined by rude kids. It is nice when there is somewhere the kids can play and the mum relax. That doesnt mean you need to wipe the benchtops but just leave the place as you woukd at home. Otherwise some cafes may become adults only as a lot of overseas resorts or cruise ships advertise now.

I own a cafe, and we don’t have problems cleaning up after people (children or otherwise) however it depends on the mess, and we’ve seen some beauties. I am a Mother too and would never leave a restaurant or cafe with my kids food all over the floor, napkins ripped apart and chairs knocked over .. it’s just wrong and disrespectful, the cafe is not a playgroup or playground it’s a dining establishment with Food Health and Safety Obligations. A bit of mess we have no issues with, a disprectful mess with no care factor is another thing, remember there are other people wanting to enjoy there meal too not be overwhelmed.

Oh my what a dilemma!!! Yes its how we get brought up and isn’t it a great way too… yes you may go out and enjoy cook free time! however if the kids leave a mess under the table its only courtious to clean up the most of the mess as its not the cafes responsibility! We don’t mind doing so but the most has to come from the diner! This behaviour kids learn will not be a good one for later! It really bugs me personally off. I se people just leaving their rubbish on tables and expect the cleaner to do their job – is it their job??? They do it because they have to but its still is a nice gesture to help – its not breaking anyones style but contributing to a bigger picture! If the cafe does not get around to cleaning the mess straight away how bad does it look on the next diner and really only reflects bad on ones self for leaving it in the first place! You wouldn’t leave the house like that why at someones elves place/cafe! We can all do our bit to keep things nice and enjoyable for all!

As a cafe owner and manager it is part of our job to look after you while you are dining. It is very definitely our job to also clean up after you leave. We understand kids are messy and this is cool too. What is not cool is cleaning up 30 opened sugar packets, squashed sultanas that have been brought in from elsewhere, just to name a couple. Over the years I have been left to clean up children’s vomit and s*** in high chairs. I have also had some mothers change nappies on tables. It’s really all about manners. Use them and teach them to your children.

As someone who has worked in hospitality for many years, the staff are sympathetic to the mess that children and patrons create. But it is frustrating that some patrons believe our jobs are to clean up after you. Our job is to provide good service, food and refreshments in a great atmosphere. If you do create a mess which will result in a poor waitress getting down on her hands and knees to clear the space for the next customer. Maybe throw $10 in the tip jar on your way out? And when it comes to being paid the industry is rife with exploitation. If you are getting a $10 breakfast somewhere and the wait staff doesn’t speak English as a first language, then good chance they are not getting penalty rates. Please support local business and bring your family and friends, just have some consideration for how your enjoyable breakfast came to be.

Clean up after your kids. Would you spill your food on the ground and leave justifying that you paid therefore its the establishments mess? No. Teach your kids the same.

I work in the front of house at a family restaurant. We have all sorts of customers and alot of them are young families. Ive noticed some people go incredibly out of their way to clean up after themselves, them, I always try to encourage to not stress about a bit of mess. But sometimes we get customers that it seems is pure negligence the way they let their young children throw food and carry on. It can make other customers uncomfortable. Sure we get paid to clean up but within reason. It doesnt hurt to install good manners in children from an early age and it’ll only promote the liklihood of beautiful caring adults in the future.

It’s called education, you either have it or you don’t