Friday, January 27, 2017

5 Parenting Lessons Learned from Serving Fish Fries at Pigeon River Brewing

While my full-time job and motherhood forces me into a reduced role at the brewery, I’ve continued to waitress/bartend once or twice a month. It a.) gets me out of the house, b.) gives Nate a chance to experience the mind-numbing hell joy of parenting alone in the hair-pulling mayhem of the witching hour precious evening hours, and c.) gives me a little jangle in my pockets.  Recently I’ve recognized one more benefit to my waitressing gig: It makes me a better mom. Pushing through a packed Friday Night Fish Fry with demanding customers has given me the skills to push through chaotic evenings with challenging toddlers.

Here are 5 tips on parenting through chaos as learned from Pigeon River Brewing Co:
1. Recognize Your Rush Hour

Friday nights at the brewery are typically busiest from 6:00-8:00. This is a time when we servers expect to kick it into overdrive.

For our household, our “rush hour” starts around 5:00pm and winds down once the kids are in bed. I used to think I was doing something wrong because the babysitting grandmas reported the kids being little angels during the day while I experienced little devils through the evening hours. Then I started paying attention to the days they stayed home with me or the days when I stayed at my parents’ for the evenings. I’ve tried feeding them earlier, and I’ve tried having an activity to distract them, but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of the caretaker or other steps taken, like clockwork at 5:00 ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.

For some families the rush hour might be getting ready for school in the morning or right before naptime, but whenever it is, the first step is recognizing it.

2. Be Prepared

I’m ashamed to say it, but there was a time when our wait times for fish fries stretched well over an hour.  If you haven’t come out for a fish fry in a while, let me assure you that we’ve addressed the problems! By moving to a location with a larger kitchen, adding more hands on staff, and spending more time prepping for busy nights, we’ve significantly cut down our wait times.

At home, while I generally suck at pre-planning meals, I have recognized that the best nights are the ones when I’m prepared with dinner. Crock-pot meals are great if you have the time earlier in the day. Quick meals like grilled cheese, eggs, and spaghetti are also staples in our household.

I’ve also recognized that just as we need more hands on staff during busy seasons at the bar (ie: Lent), I need extra help to get through the rush hour during busy seasons at home (ie: new baby).
3. "Hanger" is Real, so take Complaints with a Smile

It’s seriously entertaining to watch a customer walk into the brewery with a chip on his shoulder, snapping at his partner and throwing shade on the waitstaff. Serve him an appetizer and a drink, and soon he’ll be laughing and at ease. (This phenomenon can be observed in both males and females.)

Come to think of it, hangry toddlers and hangry customers are a lot alike. Did the pre-schooler just take the toddler’s seat? Aw, hell no! Cue the tantrum!

Don’t hold hangry outbursts against the kids, and don’t let them get under your skin. You losing your cool could derail this whole night. Smile, hand them some chocolate milk and food to tide them over until dinner, and watch the blood sugar rise while the tension subsides.

4. Lay down the hammer

That said, there are times when you have to lay down the hammer. Crabbiness is one thing, but as an owner, I won’t tolerate customers disrespecting our servers, and they know they have the discretion to kick out unruly customers. (Fortunately this is an extremely rare occurrence—we love our customers!)

Kids need to know their limits, too. Being hungry and tired isn’t an excuse to be disrespectful, and this momma doesn’t tolerate bullshit.
5. Kick Back

After a busy night waitressing, the most rewarding part is having a drink with co-workers once the dust has settled.

After the most chaotic parenting nights, it’s an incredible feeling to tuck the little monsters into the bed and do a silent fist-pump as I tiptoe downstairs to crack open a beer with my hubby.

 Stop in to the brewery tonight for a fish fry! (Click here for a menu)

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