Bad Mom Advice: Runaway Kids May Just Hate You And Stupid Babies Get Enough Presents

largeWelcome to my weekly Bad Mom Advice column where I attempt to answer all of your parenting questions as only I know how — with zero degree in early childhood development, but with the experience of raising four kids and not having any of them in prison – yet! Plus, I back all my advice on numerous scientific research, which may or may not include me making fun of your dumb kid behind your back and drinking a bunch of wine! Welcome to Bad Mom Advice!

I have gotten some angry E-mails from you readers about me missing a couple weeks of Bad Mom Advice and I am SORRY! It’s the summer, I swear, my kids are all home and making me rescue baby frogs from the pool and it’s so hot and my AC broke last night and  you guys should really have more sympathy for ME. POOR ME. But anyway, yes, I will be better. Onward!

If you had to pick one item that you bought or purchased when you were pregnant that you couldn’t live without, what would it be? I’m expecting my first baby in September and I also have some baby showers coming up and I need to know what your number 1 “must have” is. 

Babies don’t need nothin’! They need some clothes, less clothes if it is disgustingly hot like it is right now, diapers (cloth or disposable) and breast milk or formula. Like Koa recently illustrated, so many of the things we buy for babies they just don’t need. Fancy strollers are nice, but umbrella strollers are tiny and lightweight and if your baby pukes all over them you can always buy a new one for under 30 bucks. Super fancy crib bedding is nice but as a woman who once spent SO MUCH MONEY on Jacadi bed linens and Dwell Baby Bedding this is really more for the parents who want a cool looking nursery. Your baby don’t care. My babies didn’t even sleep in their cribs until they were about a year old, so until then I had really lovely crib bedding that was never slumbered on. One thing I bought with my second child that totally revolutionized my life was a Stokke Tripp Trapp™ highchair. With my first child, and until I wised up with my second, they were using like typical highchairs you get from any baby store, you know the plastic kind with the padded seats and the plastic removable tray. And I HATED them. For me they were near-impossible to get really clean. I sort of treated them like disposable items and when one got stained or smelled off I would toss it out and get another, wasteful, wasteful, wasteful. When I bought my Stokke it was a lot of money – like to get one totally outfitted with the seat cushion and the baby seat they cost around 350 dollars – yipes!- but by the time my second was old enough to eat people food I had blown about 300 bucks on high chairs anyway. The Stokkes look really cool, have no derpy looking baby animals on them, and you can get them totally spotless and sanitized and you will never find ants under the seat cushion – DO NOT ASK. Plus, when I was done having babies I gave mine to my sister and maybe one day we will have grandbabies using it. It’s the sort of item you can save for future generations.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 7.05.50 AM(Photo: Stokke)

They grow with your kid and are totally height adjustable and I loooooved mine. Yeah, they are pricey, so make a generous grandparent get one or if you wanna buy one as a gift, make a mess of friends go in on one with you. It was probably the one item I bought for my kids that I felt was totally worth it. For shower gifts, I like getting things for the parents. babies are cute and because they are cute they get enough fabulous prizes, Gift certificates, delicious food items, gift baskets filled with a nice bottle of wine and movie tickets for when they finally venture out of the house or a mess of candy or DVD seasons of  TV shows that have nothing to do with babies for those nights when baby just won’t sleep. Booze. Booze. More booze. And candy.


It’s finally happened.  Despite my parenting, despite the toys, games, ice-creams, and bedtime stories, my 7 year-old daughter got angry enough to threaten to run away from home.  Unfortunately, I do not have the details on what might have upset her, but I would guess her older brother was involved somehow.

She got as far as the yard across the street, glaring back at my front door with her face knotted in the cutest, angriest pout and her hands folded across her chest.  This lasted for an eternity of a whopping thirty-two seconds.

I knew from that it was a hollow threat, but her older brother didn’t see it so clearly.  He actually went across the street genuinely concerned for her.

My questions are:  What warning signs might there be if there’s a next time?  When does the threat become more-serious?

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  • Véronique Houde

    Here’s my advice for the baby:

    - As Eve says about the stroller, you DON’T want a gigantic stroller. They’re a pain in the ass to put in the car, they don’t navigate stores very well, they’re not as manoeuvrable, and after 6 months, you’ll chuck it and buy another one. Think of day-to-day use. Avoid the ones with the big wheels (even if they look so awesome of that you’ll use it to run every day), test it out in your trunk to make sure that it doesn’t take up too much space.

    - For your high seat, YES it needs to be easy to clean. It also helps to buy one that is adjustable, that will grow with your kid so that they can continue sitting in it at the table when they’re a bit older. My sister and I have the Lux model which you can easily throw the padding in the wash and will grow with your baby. We love it.

    - The most practical clothes you will find is at Walmart. Yup, I said it. The cheap clothes is a lot more wearable, easily washable and you’ll end up putting it on your baby a lot more than the really cute adorable outfits from Mexx and Baby Phat couture ;). You need onesies, onesies, onesies and more onesies. And pyjamas (for the colder months).

    - I personally never used a diaper genie. Just use your garbage and change the bag every two days. It’s fine ;).

    - Don’t get too many toys – your kid won’t play with them. He or she will be more fascinated by your remote control and phone, and will categorically refuse to play with that awesome caterpillar toy that makes 5 different sounds ;). They’ll just clutter up your home.

    - Books are really nice gifts – something I never thought of asking for. Cuddle time before bedtime is a lot more awesome with a cute little cardboard book that your child won’t be able to rip apart…

    - For baby products for the bath, don’t waste your money on high end products. They make absolutely no difference. You don’t need baby sunscreen, and the aveeno line is cheap and works awesomely for babies.

    - A really nice fuzzy blankie is a must and makes for a nice present to be offered by your friends. Your baby will drag that thing around everywhere.

    - Swaddlers are awesome!!! A lot more practical than having to wrap your child up in a blanket and having it undone after an hour.

    - If you plan on making your baby’s food later on, a baby bullet is awesome. Might make for a nice gift ;).

    • Eve Vawter


    • Véronique Houde

      yeah you just end up waiting until it’s full of poopie diapers and it smells like ass.

    • Eve Vawter

      I could never understand how to change those cartridges so we never ued it. so stupid. I have so much diaper genie anger

    • Véronique Houde

      WOW thank god I never got one then!! Wouldn’t want to live through diaper genie anger!!!

    • Harriet Meadow

      I love our diaper genie, but then again my husband is the one who changes the cartridges because I have no clue how.

    • MoD

      Same here! Some of my family laughed at me when I put it on my registry. It was gifted to us at my shower. And we absolutely, 100% love the thing. And I haven’t a clue how to change it. My husband changes it every couple of days.

    • Amber

      It seems like people either love them or hate them. I loved mine. I never had any problem emptying it or changing the cartridge and I never noticed any smell from it which was awesome because I’m super sensitive to smells.

    • Alex Lee

      I need to include “Diaper Genie Technician” on my resume.

    • Justme

      I liked the high chair that just attached to the regular kitchen table chair. It saved space and got my daughter used to sitting through an entire meal at the big people table.

      I would add a portable swing to this list. Those big huge ones look awesome…but what if you have a two-story house or need the baby to be contained/quiet for 15 minutes while you shower? We bought a small portable one that we could carry up and down the stairs or park in front of the shower. Genius.

      Swaddled are the best.

    • MoD

      Seconded on buying the smaller swing! I bought a big swing based on reviews and what a mistake. You can barely navigate around the thing. The only bonus is that I can plug it into the wall and I didn’t want to mess with batteries.

    • MoD

      Everyone’s “must have” baby item is so different. Ours was our cheap $30 bouncer chair. Baby slept and napped in it constantly, and it was an easy place to set him down. He’s growing out of it now. But, damn, we talked about buying a second, just so we could have one on each floor of the house.

    • C.J.

      My eight year old still sleeps with her fuzzy blanket. I bought it for her for her first Christmas. She carried it everywhere until she was five. She named it wanky when she learned to talk. Definitely got our money’s worth out of that one. I’m starting to think she might take the darn thing to collage!

  • Jayess

    Guys, I was a pretty well-adjusted kid but my whole damn childhood all I wanted to do was run away. I have no idea why. I couldn’t actually bring myself to do it, because I was way too practical (where will I sleep? what will I eat? How will I protect myself), but I became the kung-fu master of hiding from my family and making them think I ran away. For example, climbing onto the roof of the house and hiding behind the chimney where it made a sort of clubhouse with the next house over. Or, tucking myself just under the retaining wall right outside the front door so that any one looking for me out the front door would have to take a dozen steps forward and look directly down to see me, so it seemed like “nope, J’s not out front.”
    My mom lived in constant, constant fear that I was going to do it one day. I never did. I knew my parents loved me, I knew that running away was probably not going to work out so great for me, and the idea of becoming a homeless child was not so great. I think that a lot of kids entertain the idea of running away at least briefly (come on, independence! what more do you want as a kid?) but if your home is truly a loving one, they’re never going to make it further than the park down the street.

    Of course, you’ll still have a heart attack. Sorry, Mom.

    • CB

      I did the SAME THING. Well, not rooftop-level of same, but I definitely hid around the house, in the gangway, all over the place. The farthest I got was the park two blocks away. And the same things stopped me–I knew my parents loved me, and I also knew that I would die horribly on the streets.

      So snarkily, I think the solution for the second letter writer is to watch the episode of SVU where Ann Veal (her?) is the leader of a homeless children’s gang and they all get raped and/or murdered, because that will scare any kid out of running away.

      More seriously, I think the solution is probably along the lines of all things to do with kids–love and support and reasonable boundaries/discipline, open dialogue, and bringing in experts if it gets to be a pattern or truly concerning.

    • LET

      Hahaha love the Arrested Development reference & how have I never seen that SVU episode??
      Yeah, my sibs & I pretend ran away all the time & essentially picnicked in the yard while imagining we were living off the land. Totally lame!

    • Alex Lee

      SVU, Ice-T, and Bad Mom Advice. My worlds have collided gloriously

    • Jayess

      Just whatever you do, don’t let them read “My Side of the Mountain.” That was the book that almost made the running away a reality. Nothing like “this is what edible plants look like” and “how to build a magical forest home.”

    • Eve Vawter


    • SusannahJoy

      I ran away for a week when I was 16. My parents were definitely freaked out. My brother, not so much. He later told me that he understood exactly what I was doing (testing my limits and whatnot, experiencing some freedom and rebellion) and mostly he was just pissed because it didn’t occur to him to run away first.

    • Aldonza

      I used to pack a small suitcase so I could run away. I never actually told my mom I was going to, or really was mad or sad enough to, I just really liked packing for it. It was fun to think about what I would bring if I was going to run away. As an adult, I do take a strange pleasure in packing our emergency kits…

  • Ligeia

    The Tripp Trapp chair is awesome!

    • Eve Vawter

      I am glad you agree it really was my fave baby item EVER

    • CMJ

      Oh god that high chair is awesome…and so practical looking! (Not even in the market for one)

    • Eve Vawter

      YOU HAVE ONE WHEN YOU NEED IT, sass has it

    • bookworm81

      We currently have the Tripp Trapp chair that my mom bought for my sister which makes it over 30 years old. It’s been in constant use by kids since then and it still looks great. At this rate my grandkids will be able to use it and it’ll be an antique!

  • Hibbie

    Swaddling blankets (either traditional or the velcro kind) can be indispensable. If your baby needs movement as a soothing mechanism, hold him/her and bounce on a large exercise ball. It’s pretty inexpensive and works wonders.

    • SusannahJoy

      That’s genius! I’m so cleaning our old exercise ball and bringing it inside!

  • SusannahJoy

    Ok, so EVERYONE keeps saying how big strollers are too much of a pain. I actually disagree. We have a Bob jogging stroller. It’s pretty big, although I guess it isn’t super duper huge. It’s insanely maneuverable, super easy to fold up and unfold, and we can actually put our newborn in it (which you can’t do with an umbrella stroller). Also, my husband is a runner (the crazy kind of runner, like 30+ marathons and wants to do Bad Water (google it) one day), and has dreamed of running marathons with his kid for like, forever, so we needed a jogging stroller. Once the kid is a bit bigger though, we’re totally going with an umbrella stroller for day to day use.

  • thisshortenough

    When I was about 6 or 7 I got in a fight with my mam and ran away. We lived in a cul-de-sac so I went up the road around the corner, around the next corner and then hid behind a car because I knew that if I went really far I’d get in trouble later. I was found by my child minder who happened to be walking by and brought me home, saying my mam was getting in the car and was looking for me.

  • Valeri Jones

    Baby towels! You need baby towels and nobody EVER buys them for you for your baby shower. And wash cloths, too. Because who doesn’t need a million pictures of their child – from newborn to toddler – in those adorable hooded towels with the bear head on top?!

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