35 Phrases Our Moms Said All. The. Time.


Mothers. We couldn’t have been born without them. With Mother’s Day here, we take a moment to consider just how important mothers and mother-figures are to our upbringings. They teach us important lessons like how to share and how not to poke our siblings’ eyes out. All these things our mothers taught us are important, so I’ve created a list of 35 phrases and lessons from different mothers.

Sometimes these things stick with us for the rest of our lives. To this day, whenever I’m running late and about to step out my door without brushing my teeth, my mother’s voice will come into my mind, unbidden: “There’s always time to brush your teeth.” Part of me groans, but another part of me knows it to be wise and true advice. So I do a 180 and trek back to my bathroom to scrub those pearly whites.

I had no idea that I would think about this pithy phrase so often as an adult, and I wondered if others around me learned similar lessons or phrases from their mothers. So, I asked my coworkers, classmates, family and friends about what their mothers taught them. Here are some of their answers.

Mother and daughter hugging outside things our mothers taught usPhrases of Wisdom

  1. If you read when it’s too dark, you’ll strain your eyes
  2. Accentuate the positive, eliminate all which is negative
  3. Sponges stink when left in the sink
  4. Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right
  5. Listen to your body
  6. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger
  7. Always buckle up, it’s not worth the risk
  8. Don’t bleed on the rug
  9. Do what will cause the least suffering in life both for yourself and for other
  10. Wear shoes!
  11. The world is always wrong when you’re tired
  12. If you don’t ask, you don’t get
  13. You’re not allowed to say you don’t like something until you try it
  14. Don’t answer the door in your PJs
  15. Never show up to a party empty-handed

A mother with her child looking at a map things our mothers taught usPhrases we just can’t get out of our heads

  1. We’re off like a herd of turtles (when you’re leaving very slowly)
  2. We waited for you like one pig waits for another (When they didn’t wait to start eating dinner)
  3. If you don’t find something to do, I know some toilets that need to be cleaned
  4. That bed isn’t made, it’s schnoodled
  5. “Hurry up!” “Okay, okay! I’m coming!” “So’s Christmas.”
  6. Shush your bucket

A mother and children dressed warmly things our mothers taught usReal life lessons

  1. How to be an active listener, and to appreciate people’s life story
  2. How to apologize even when it’s tough
  3. How to be thrifty and watch my bank account
  4. How to drive and jump-start a car
  5. Don’t drive over cardboard boxes
  6. How to have faith and pray
  7. Always bring a book if you’re traveling
  8. Positive body image and self-confidence
  9. How to tie my shoelaces
  10. How to say please, thank you, you’re welcome, and I’m sorry (and mean it)
  11. How to find fun even in chores
  12. Remember to eat healthy and exercise
  13. Always say “I love you” when you say goodbye
  14. Always be careful

And if that wasn’t enough for you, there’s this classic compilation of common phrases used by moms:


In gathering these things our mothers taught us from all the people I interact with daily, I heard so many inspiring and heartbreaking stories about mothers. The mom who gave up a career in the CIA to stay at home with her child. The mom who told stories to her hospitalized daughter, and instilled in her a love for writing. The mom who was technically just a friend in the ward, stepping in because the daughter’s mother had recently died. The mom who set an example of who not to become. All the mothers who are flawed but still try their best.

Hearing all these stories and lessons reinforced something I already know: mothers are so important in our lives. I’m so thankful for my own mom, and for all the times she told me to go back upstairs and brush my teeth (my teeth are thankful too). I’m grateful for all these things our mothers taught us, whether they be silly phrases or meaningful life lessons.

What have you learned from your mother or a mother figure in your life? Let us know down in the comments!

Kelly Burdick is an English undergraduate student at Brigham Young University and an intern at Mormon Hub. She loves stories of all kinds and can frequently be found admiring trees.