Nina Montalvo Carr, from the US, said she is on “mummy duty” for the summer as her husband, who is a Marine, is away.
She suffers from anxiety and finds going out with all her children can be a “chore”, but she wanted to surprise her kids with the treat of eating out.
“I was willing to take control of my anxiety and do it,” she wrote when sharing her story on Love What Matters Facebook page on 15 June.
“As the kids went to the restroom before it was time to leave, a woman came up and asked me: ‘Are all these kids yours? They are so well-behaved. I can’t believe it.’”
Carr said she and her husband work hard to teaching their children how to behave out in public.
She told the stranger they were her children and thanked her for the kind words.
“We chatted a little and then she went back to her table with her family,” the mum wrote. “10 minutes later our waitress came up to clear our table and shared: ‘Your bill has been paid for by a family here at the restaurant who has noticed your beautiful well-behaved children and all they ask is that you pay it forward.’”
Carr said she immediately started to cry.
“I cried because this is exactly what I teach my kids,” she wrote. “Surprising people and paying for either their meal or coffee.”
She then asked others to do something to pay it forward and continue to pass on the kindness.
Her post had more than 20,000 likes and thousands of comments from people who were touched by her story.
“What a great group of kids,” one person wrote. “It’s hard work and you and your husband are doing a great job. Teaching them kindness early on is so important. Karma is good sometimes. Glad it came back this sweet way to you and your family.”
Another wrote: “Such a beautiful and inspirational story, thank you.
“Thank you for putting your kids ahead of the anxiety, certainly not on the ‘easy list.’ You did a brave thing getting out there with them.”