5 Things that Working in a Kitchen Prepared Me for Fatherhood

Recently I was introduced to Scary Mommy. It's my new favorite blog to follow. If you're a new parent it is worth checking out, they tell it like it is and don't sugar coat it like friends and family tend to do. If you're a seasoned parent then it's a good laugh.

One post recently by Bugs, Dirt & Mommy was about how being a server prepared her for motherhood. She tells it from the front of house side.

So here's mine take from the back of house.

I've always said everyone should work in a restaurant at least once. One year of service, minimum. Whether it be front or back of house, put in your time. You'll learn valuable skills for living on your own and, clearly, take those lessons in parenthood.

I spent years in kitchens. One major chain and a small golf course. I appreciated having both experiences of the structured chain and the unstructured golf course, I took lessons from both.

1. Take care of your servers. If you can keep your servers happy it makes their lives a whole lot easier. You've all heard horror stories from servers, so making things easier on them is the best thing you can do for them. I know I would never want to deal with customers, I have a huge respect for servers. In an unstructured restaurant the tip out can bend in your favor if your servers like you.

How does this translate to parenthood? Help your partner. As much as you can. If your wife is the front line of the war of parenthood then it's your job to be the cavalry. You do everything in your power to help behind the lines. If she's made supper and is busy changing diapers then you do the dishes. The more you can help out the team the better it is for everyone. Remember that point about the tips? Ya it translates here, happy wife = happy life.

2. Teamwork & communication. The best way to be a good team player and have a winning team is communication. You can see it in sports, gaming and restaurants.

I was always a shy kid, in my first restaurant job I was told by my managers that I had to "find my voice". It's tough to work as a team when your front line can't hear when you're ready to put food up in the middle of a dinner rush.

Since finding my voice from the back line I moved to the front line, worked by myself in a kitchen, coached soccer teams, organised strategies in games and now moved in to more of a leadership role in my current career.

Nowadays it helps me rally troops when it's time to get in the car every morning to get the kids to day home and us to work on time. "Finding my voice" was one of the best things I took from my experiences in the kitchen. I don't know where you ladies are but thank you Jen and Carmen.

3. Working under pressure. Dinner rush. As far as I know all restaurant employees have a love/hate relationship with the dinner rush. I know I did. You're standing there, station fully stocked, knifes & towels at the ready, waiting for that first family to be seated. Before they are seated 7 more have come through the door. Then you hear it, that printer starts to spit out its first bill of the night. Here we go! Three hours pass by in a blink of an eye and you're exhausted, sweaty and jacked full of adrenaline.

I actually miss the rush, but it's part of the reason my wife and I love to host the big dinners. While it's only a service to a few families, it still brings a similar rush. It's also the reason I can handle two kids screaming while two dogs are barking because the delivery guy is at the door. I now thrive off the rush of pressure. Deadlines don't stress me out. My wife has also figured this out, if she wants a project done she'll schedule a party and tell me it has to be done by then.

4. The dish pit. If you've never worked in a restaurant you've never seen "the gunk". The slurry of a three hour rush of dishes with scraps of food. The stuff that ends up and the bottom of the sink. The stuff you have to scoop out by hand at the end of the night. Not many can handle it. My wife and coworkers at my office job gag when I reach in, scoop it out of the sink and slap it into the garbage bin. When you can deal with touching soggy food that has been in and around hundreds of different peoples' mouths anything that comes out of a child is easy.

5. "If you've got time to lean you've got time to clean". This is a mantra not only in kitchens but most retail jobs as well. There is no such thing as downtime. If you're not doing anything important, you're cleaning. Kids are no different. There is always something to be cleaned. High chairs, toys, bathtub, playroom, the house, the car, the yard...you get the idea.

With that said I share Bugs, Dirt & Mommy's opinion of getting your kids into the industry. Front or back of house there are lessons to be learned. Cooking, cleaning, teamwork, leadership, friendship, etc. Things you need to know to survive on your own. The service industry is a goldmine of life lessons. While they might bitch about it at the time like we did, it will end up being beneficial. I implore all parents to do the same.