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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

10 Things Waitressing Taught Me About Motherhood


It can be funny how random skills you learnt from a past job can come in handy as a parent. In my past life- aka life before kids- I worked in our family's restaurant for more than 10 years and since becoming a Mom I sometimes catch myself laughing at some of the parallels I see between working in the hospitality industry and raising kids. Taking lessons learned from my years as a waitress and applying then in situations I encounter as a Mom can be downright comical. See below for the 10 things that waitressing (unknowingly at the time) taught me about motherhood. Ah if I only knew then what I know now... ;)

1. You'll never eat when you really want to and your food will probably be cold by the time you get to it.
When I was a waitress I never ate when everyone else did- at normal meal times- I ate when it wasn't busy and everyone else was fed. Now as Mom that same logic applies. Eating dinner with the hubby doesn't always happen and the kids get fed first (or sometimes I'll eat while I nurse and hope Liam doesn't become the catch- all for all the morsels that fall off my fork as I try).

2. You'll learn to like eating cold food or at least not be as picky since it's the only chance you'll get to eat it (see #1).
Most days the only thing that I would consume while it was still hot was the first sip of coffee in the morning and maybe a few bites of toast. Now if I can now get through an entire cup of coffee while it's still hot I'm thrilled. Drinking my cuppa in no way resembles those coffee commercials I see on TV where the lady takes a long, slow sip and savours her caffeinated beverage (I call false advertising!); usually there is some flurry of activity going on around me in whatever combination of family members are awake and my coffee is definitely not the perfect degree of hot to emit lovely swirls of steam. Smoothies have become my friend since they require minimal work to eat/ no chewing is required, I can consume them while driving (because some mornings that's the only hope I've got to eat while sitting still without interruption), and BONUS they are already cold.

3. You'll become a multitasking extraordinaire sometimes giving the impression that you have eight arms doing things at once rather than 2.
When you work in a restaurant every table thinks they are the most important in the place. And somehow people seem to forget that you are not a robot who can do everything at once. How familiar does this sound mamas??? How many days do you have one family member hollering from one direction, and the hubby from another (add in other family members and pets based on your family who all want your attention RIGHT NOW) all while you're trying to prep a meal, change over the loads of laundry, and prevent world war 3 from erupting between your kids. You get dizzy spinning in circles trying to deal with everything at once. Where are those other six arms you keep hidden when you need them? 

4. There is no such thing as a scheduled break.
Just when you thought you were about to get a few precious minutes to eat that now cold meal we talked about and maybe- just maybe- go to the bathroom, the next rush arrives. Ah yes, sometimes it can feel like your body has forgotten what it feels like to sit down. And I challenge all Moms to remember the last time they went to the bathroom without company and/ or without interruption. When you finally get a few precious minutes you have to do a rushed mental tally of what you need/ want to do the most: do you want to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, or sit down for a few minutes? (You can only pick 2 and you've got 10 seconds to decide and 2 minutes to get them done). And I don't know about you but even when I do finally get to have a break during nap time, my brain is usually editing the to- do list in my head and pencilling in what needs to get done next (and there's never a guaranteed set amount of time to get them done). Where's the off switch for my brain so I can enjoy a few comatose minutes of sitting still without my own brain interrupting???

5. Just when you think you're about to get a break the next rush begins.
See above.

6. The customer isn't always right but they sure seem to think they are.
When I was a waitress there was the occasional- ahem- interesting customer who was out to make a point that they knew how to do my job better than me, faster than me, and could have done so all while reciting Shakespeare. We all have our critics- little and big- who like to think they have the amazing solution of how we can do what we do better. Whether it be your little one instructing you how to do something to their exacting specifications, your spouse suggesting that if you only did this thing differently (insert task) you could have more time to do that thing better (insert another task), or a family member or friend giving you their opinion about something, sometimes you just wish life had a mute button. And believe it or not, sometimes Mom really does know best. So there.

7. Whatever you just cleaned will only get messy again.
As a waitress you clean up table after table in what feels like an endless cycle until the end of the day when you reset everything for a few hours before the restaurant re- opens the next day and the cycle repeats. As Mom, you will clean and re- clean in an endless cycle in the vain hope that whatever it is that you just cleaned will remain that way for more than 30 seconds. At the end of the day you might even get to enjoy a clean house for a few hours (the kitchen being ground zero for kiddie chaos), but some days that doesn't even happen since you're too pooped out to care any more (let's face it, the cycle will just begin again tomorrow!). 


8. You never know what you're in for from one day to the next.
As a waitress the day of the week, time of day, and weather can be an indication of what the day may hold but even then it's an educated guess. You never know how busy it's going to be or how your customers will be- friendly? picky? grumpy? high maintenance? Hmmm, sounds a little like a day with kids, no? There is no way to know from one day to the next what you're in for. One day the kids are in a great mood, cooperative, and eat well without challenging you; you might even get some bonus work done around the house or enjoy a less than chaotic play date. The next they can be clingy, grumpy, and defiant. You're constantly having to adjust and readjust your expectations for the day and find ways to make the most of the good ones and get through the tough ones without going crazy.


9. You will keep the liquor store in business.
At the end of a tough day of waitressing I would often come home armed with a bottle or wine or other adult beverage to help ease away the stress of the day. The same logic applies after most (all?) days of being a parent. Let's face it, our younger selves would indulge on Fridays and Saturdays, but now as Moms and Dads our jobs are 24/7 meaning that we potentially need to calm our nerves and wearied bodies seven days a week (just in case you ever have to justify another bottle of wine, remind yourself that you're making a valuable contribution to the economy. So go ahead, treat yourself, you deserve it). 


10. Just when you thought you're done for the day.... you're not.
When I was a waitress the thing I probably hated more than anything was when people would walk in minutes from closing. HATED (it really is cruel to show up at a restaurant right as it's about to close, it just made everyone's work day longer and I bet your quality of service may suffer just a little). Now as a Mama, I'm never really 'off', but I consider the hours after bedtime before I go to bed as my time. These precious hours in the evening are used to get all the tasks finished that I started during the day or simply couldn't attempt with kids in tow. I can finally relax and sit down without jumping up every 30 seconds. I'm pretty lucky to have 2 kids that settle well at night, but on those evenings when my little missy decides she wants to party waaaay past sunset it can be tough to unwind and enjoy what's supposed to be my kid- free time. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but having some time at the end of the day away from them to get things done without interruption or distraction is blissful.

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