Why Mom Was Right About Everything

By Ali Luke

November 12, 2008   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

When you were a kid, your mother gave you lots of good advice. And like most kids, you probably ignored a lot of it. But whether you’re sixteen or sixty now, try revisiting some of those wise things that mom said: they’ll help in all areas of your life. Here are just a few examples:

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Sure, there are times when you just want to blurt out what’s on your mind. Maybe your friend’s done something stupid – or maybe your partner’s bad habits are driving you nuts. But how many times have you lost a friend or hurt your partner because you spoke in anger and said something cruel?

If you can’t trust yourself to say something nice, then it’s wise to keep your mouth shut. You might have to tackle someone’s behavior – but do this gently, when you’re feeling calm.

“Wash your hands before eating.”

How many of us make a point of always washing our hands before eating? When you were a kid, prone to grubbing around in the mud, picking up snails and worms, and following it up with a spot of finger-painting … mom almost certainly made you wash your hands before a meal.

Now you work in an office, or have a nice clean home, you don’t need to bother, right?

A number of experts suggest that you might be very wrong there. For example:


    • “The phone comes out as the germiest object in the office, followed by the desktop, keyboard, mouse, fax machine, and photocopier.” (Dr. Germ)


  • “It’s very easy for hands to spread bacteria all round the kitchen, because we touch so many things, from food to fridge handles, towels to can openers.” (Eat Well, Be Well – Cleaning)

Finish your dinner before you eat dessert.”

Could you do with losing a few pounds? If so, going back to some of the rules that mom had when you were a kid can help. Eating a healthy entrée is better for you than filling up on chocolate fudge cake: only eat dessert foods when you’ve had a proper meal first, and you’ll be less likely to overindulge.

How about following some of these rules too?

  • No snacks (except fruit or nuts) between meals.
  • Soda as a special treat, not an every day drink.
  • Candy limited to once or twice a week.
  • Eat your vegetables.

“Brush your teeth at least twice a day.”

Do you brush your teeth twice a day, every day, for at least two minutes? Or do you find it too much of a hassle? Getting into the routine of regular tooth-brushing (after breakfast, and just before bed) will help prevent costly and painful visits to the dentist.

There is no better way to prevent bad teeth than brushing teeth. It’s such a basic oral hygiene procedure that everyone knows about it. (Brushing Teeth)

In the UK, one in ten people don’t even brush their teeth once a day. (ShortNews article.)

“Tidy your room.”

Stop reading for a moment, and have a look around your room. How tidy is it? Is there more clutter than you’d like? Are you always “about to get around to tidying up”? Do you find yourself wasting time hunting for important files? Is your stapler never where it should be?

When mom nagged you to tidy your room, she knew what she was talking about. Can you enjoy your work when your mood is being dragged down by piles of clutter? How efficient are you if you have to regularly hunt through all the mess to lay your hands on the one thing that you need? Set aside some time this week – even just fifteen minutes will help – to tidy up. Too busy? Then you definitely need to do this, as the state of your desk is eating up time and energy which you can’t afford.

“Write thank you notes.”

When you were given birthday presents, I bet mom made you sit down and write a bunch of thank you notes. You might have grumbled (I know I did), but there were a couple of great reasons for it. Firstly, it’s plain old good manners. If someone gives you something or does you a favor, you should thank them.

If that’s not motivation enough for you, consider this:

“I will also grudgingly tell you the hidden secret of thank you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to give an encore performance.” (How to Write a Thank You Note)

And if someone’s helped you out in a business context (perhaps they’ve interviewed you for a job), writing a thank you letter is an excellent way to make sure they feel appreciated.


What other wisdom did your mom have that you know would help you out today? Share some of her great advice with us in the comments – and let us know what you’re doing to follow it!

Written on 11/12/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university. Photo Credit: sir_scutter
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