Your daughter may not be ready to say this, but we found one who is. Enjoy these sweet words from a smart college senior. And easy with the ‘I told you so’s.’ You’re still a role model.

By Maria Davison

For the last few years, my sisters and I have found ourselves spread out across the country. My older sister just recently started her first job in a new city. My younger sister is about to head off to college. And I’m about to begin my senior year of college. But this summer, before the last of us girls heads off to college, we got to be together for a few weeks on our family vacations. Our trips usually involve plenty of time cooped up in the car. So this summer, to keep busy, my sisters and I all read a little book called Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone.

In the book, author Becky Blades collected 269 succinct, witty pieces of advice to give her daughters as they left for college. Blades’ oldest daughter just graduated from a little university called Harvard. So yeah, we can probably all benefit from a few of these things.

My sisters and I heard our own mother’s voice echoing many of the sentiments in Do Your Laundry. As we sat together in planes, trains and cars, we wrote our own list — an addendum from our mother’s wisdom. She thinks my sisters and I don’t listen, but we caught a few things here and there. These are 10 things she was absolutely right about.

  1. Never leave your wet towels on the floor.
    They start to mold. And it starts to smell, especially if it’s carpet. And it’s always worth the time to just hang it up. Basically, clean laundry makes for a nice-smelling home. Dirty laundry makes for a foul-scented one.
  2. Never consume anything the color of Windex.
    It’s not a color found in nature. And if it can’t be found in nature, you probably shouldn’t eat it. I’ve never missed out on anything truly delicious and I’ve avoided many embarrassing blue tongues.
  3. Dress professionally and others will treat you like a professional.
    I had a teacher in high school who assumed my mom was a lawyer because she always came to school functions dressed in business attire. My mom isn’t an attorney, and if she had to check a box on an employment form, it would be “stay-at-home mom.” (To be fair, she spends much of her time out of the home volunteering at school and serving on non-profit boards). On Blades’ list, the 92nd item is “Not everyone judges you by your appearance, but some do.” Dressing like you mean business makes you seem more credible.
  4. Ask questions.
    Ask a lot of questions. Ask good questions. Ask questions even if you think you know the answers. The answers might surprise you. Basically, be curious and your world will be more interesting, (Blades, No. 184).
  5. Don’t wait until the night before to start a big project.
    Even if you’re positive you can finish it in a night, and even if you can, it won’t be nearly as good as it would be if you started earlier.
  6. Buy an iron. And use it.
    Your mother will be delighted if you ask for an iron as a birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah/graduation gift. Wrinkled clothes aren’t cute. If you want to look snappy, iron that skirt and blouse before you leave.
  7. Everyone needs a copy editor.
    Our parents both received journalism degrees and have keen eyes for catching grammar mistakes. Parental revisions on grade school assignments were torturous. As we got older (and stated applying for internships and jobs), we realized how impossible it is to catch our own mistakes. Let someone else take a look at anything you write before you send it in. Also, as point No. 154 in the book says, don’t correct another person’s grammar, unless she asks you to.
  8. If you’re feeling sick, drink more water.
    Many ailments are caused by dehydration. Try a big glass of water before panicking that you’re sick.
  9. Buy clothing in neutral tones.
    Black, beige, gray or navy will probably never be Pantone’s color of the year. But they never go out of style. Black is the new black (Blades’ point No. 91). Buy colorful accessories and layering pieces so you can make many distinct outfits from a few nice skirts, dresses and sweaters. And don’t forget Blades’ fifth piece of advice: separate your colors when doing laundry.
  10. Don’t burn bridges.
    Think about that one irksome (choose one: professor, classmate, co-worker, sorority sister) who causes you to vent for 20 minutes about how she IS. SO. ANNOYING. That person could reappear later in life as your (choose again: neighbor, boss, sister-in-law, child’s friend’s parent).

    It’s not easy to admit these things. I can already imagine what my mom will say when she shares this on Facebook with her friends and random high school classmates. But I’m sure in a year, when we have another year of life experience, my sisters and I will sit around and add a few more things our mom was right about all along.

    do your laundry or you'll die alone book in laundry basket

    You’ll find more memorable mom-was-right counsel in the book DO YOUR LAUNDRY OR YOU’LL DIE ALONE: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening, written and illustrated by Becky Blades. Preview the book HERE.

    maria davison and family

    Maria Davison (left) is a senior studying convergence journalism and art history at the University of Missouri. She is pictured here with her wise, amazing mother, Patricia, her older sister, Laura, and her younger sister, Clara.


  1. Snarkfest August 11, 2015 at 9:51 am - Reply

    I am trying to love this post harder but I can’t. It’s fantastic!

  2. A Dad Amidst Wise Women August 11, 2015 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Great commentary. Wisdom for the ages.

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do your laundry or die alone author becky blades

Becky Blades, Author of Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone, and contributor to Huffington Post,, Scary Mommy, and Grown & Flown.