The Best Life Advice We Learned From Mom, According to Real Simple Editors

Mother knows best.

Mother teasing daughter in kitchen whilst making smoothies
Photo: Gary Burchell/Getty Images

Moms are full of wisdom. Whether it's something less consequential but extremely helpful, like the best way to fold a fitted sheet, or something more complicated with emotion, like how to navigate heartbreak, it's often true what they say: Mother knows best. Many of us, however, don't always realize this when we're younger, and it's often not until later in life that we really come to appreciate all those one-liners, friendly reminders, and life lessons our mothers bestowed upon us.

So, for this Mother's Day, we asked Real Simple editors to share the life advice from their moms that has stuck with them most over the years. Between lessons on how to treat others, skincare reminders, and home project advice, we can all learn a thing or two from these motherly musings.

01 of 11

"Never underestimate the impact of a hand-written letter."

"As a kid who grew up with the internet and social media, my mom's adamance about the importance of hand-writing letters was a big cause for eye rolls. But now that I'm an adult, I love sending and receiving letters to cut through the mundane mix of bills and mail-in ads. There's nothing more thoughtful than receiving a thank you, birthday, sympathy, or 'just because' card, and I save every single one. Thanks, mom!"

—Lily Gray, Home E-commerce Writer

02 of 11

"Take care of your skin."

"How many times over the years did my mother tell me to use sunscreen and retinol? Let's just say a lot. Her gentle reminders sunk in, and I am regularly complimented on my skin—as is my mom. She's in her 70s now, and her skin is still gorgeous."

—Jenna Helwig, Food Director

03 of 11

"Never leave the house without some lipstick."

"My Mom (hi, Sally!) always used to tell my sister and me this. At the time, it kind of annoyed me, but now that I'm older, I get what she meant. It wasn't really about wearing makeup but more that you should 1. Always do something for yourself, and 2. when you look good, you feel better, more confident, and ready to take on the day and whatever comes your way. So, while I don't always wear lipstick, I'm never without my eyelashes because they make me feel pulled together."

—Heather Muir, Beauty Director

04 of 11

"Troublesome people are people in trouble."

"My mom said this all the time. I'd learn later that she didn't coin it, and that there are a lot of versions. Mandy Patinkin's mother-in-law's was, 'Hurt people hurt people.' But I like my mother's. It's empathetic—another word my mom taught me by being it. Many of the life lessons she taught my brothers and sisters and me were about showing simple kindness and empathy. What this one means to me is that when people act badly toward you, or just in the world, it's probably because someone treated them that way. Show empathy and you may break the chain. Especially with kids. So she didn't get mad when I was home late after rescuing a drunk friend at a party in high school. And when my brothers brought all elements of rebellious boys home for a hang after school, she'd welcome them and feed them and charm them. No matter what they seem to be up to, look for the good in people, she was saying, and they'll show it to you."

—Lauren Iannotti, Editor in Chief

05 of 11

"Handsome is as handsome does (or beauty is as beauty does)."

"This advice is a poetic reminder that actions speak louder than looks, and others are attracted to good character, not vanity."

—Lizzy Briskin, Food Editor

06 of 11

"The way people treat you has nothing to do with you."

"When my mom told me this for the first time as a teenager, I thought she was insane and completely incorrect. It has taken decades of living, various life lessons in between, and similar messaging from other sources to confirm that she was right. Looking back, the bad treatment I got from friends or family usually had a lot to do with them and their insecurity, or a hard time they were going through in their life. I remember this every time I encounter something similar in my present day."

—Rachel Center, Product Reviews Writer

07 of 11

"Never give up on a bow."

"My mother and I share a love for wrapping presents. We love to find wrapping paper in a fun print and pair it with a beautiful, thick ribbon tied into a show-stopping bow. When you start to tie a bow—whether with a thin curly ribbon or thick heavy fabric—it usually doesn't look great in the beginning, so it's easy to give up and say, 'I'm not good at this!' But my mom always encouraged me to stick with it and carefully fluff out the ribbons and rearrange the loops, and the once pitiful-looking bow turns into a beautiful one. This wrapping advice has spilled over into life advice for me because when I start something—whether a hobby or a new job—I might not excel immediately, but my mom's advice rings in my ear, and with patience and rigorous attention to detail, I usually surprise myself."

—Erin Johnson, Senior Product Reviews Writer

08 of 11

"Always lend a helping hand."

"Growing up, I always saw my mother giving to people. She would help strangers, family, and friends with whatever she could. It didn't need to be monetary, but whatever she did would just come from her heart and so naturally. She did this quietly and without hesitation. I knew that this was a characteristic of hers but it wasn't until after she passed that I realized how much she positively affected everyone around her. People from all over came by to pay their respects, people I'd never met before. They each told an amazing story about how she'd helped them in some way.

I'll never forget the moment when the garbage man came to collect the trash and asked us why there was so much garbage this week. He assumed there was a party but we explained it was due to her passing and the constant company we had coming over. He paused for a moment and began to tear up. He told us that she would always give them water and snacks when she would see them and would always ensure that they were taken care of. Right after that, our neighbor stopped by and told us that when they first moved in, their boxes hadn't arrived yet and they mentioned not being able to cook. My mom immediately went into the kitchen and cooked food to last those new neighbors a week until their boxes were delivered. I was so moved by her love and generosity. She taught me, without words, to be selfless and to give from my heart and that one person can make a huge impact in someone's life."

—Muzam Agha, Photo Director

09 of 11

"Measure twice, cut once."

"I own the toolbox in my family (husband and three sons) and it's because of my mom. She taught me to never rely on others when I can do it myself, and probably better. She shared her passions and creativity with me starting at a very young age and to this day—30 years later—I still hear her voice in my head every time I start a home project."

—Brynn Baker, Content Manager

10 of 11

"If it still hurts after third period, then call me from the nurse's office."

"I could count on one hand how many times my three sisters and I got to stay home from school because we were sick. (That is fewer than five out of a possible 9,360!) If it didn't need to be cauterized, girlies were healthy enough to go to school. And I totally fell for it, and continue to: If I wake up feeling sick or full of dread, I just need to set foot out the door, put myself in motion, occupy myself enough that I'm not fixated on not feeling well."

—Rory Evans, Executive Editor

11 of 11

"Keep your shoulders pushed back and your head held high."

"My mom was adamant about making sure all of her children had perfect posture, and she will still correct slouched shoulders whenever she sees them. While this often annoyed me growing up, I now see how much her posture lessons have affected the way I carry myself in the world—both literally and figuratively.

When I was younger, I was always one of the tallest girls in my class (easily towering over all the pre-pubescent boys) and it was easy for me to feel embarrassed about this, about standing out so much. But my mom's advice contradicted the lessons that a lot of young women receive growing up: to make themselves smaller, less 'distracting.' Instead, my mom taught me to always stand tall, confident, and proud. Now, whenever I feel my body start to slouch in defeat when I'm feeling embarrassed or inadequate, I'll take a deep breath, roll my shoulders back, lift my head up, and carry on as best I can."

—Morgan Noll, Digital Associate Editor

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