Great advice (i.e. bossing) dispensed by my mother

April 11, 2016

It only takes five minutes to run a brush through your hair, clean your teeth, throw on some lippie

As a tribute to mothers everywhere, I thought I would share advice my mum has given me over the years  and some of the lovely readers’ contributions as well. So for the sake of this column, let’s call it “advice” not bossing, which it is, and something at which Ruth Bernard (Mum) excels.

In no particular order, some advice from my mother:

  • Long before MasterChef, my mother was a great proponent of “presentation is everything”; it only takes five minutes to run a brush through your hair, clean your teeth, throw on a clean shirt and some lippie (my mother is 80 and is still always immaculately groomed);
  • Bone handled knives should NEVER go in the dishwasher, they should ONLY be hand washed;
  • If you have your health, you have everything – eat well and exercise regularly and laugh as much as you can;
  • Always keep at least one bottle of French champagne in the fridge to celebrate unexpected good news;
  • When invited to a party, always RSVP and never turn up empty handed – take a bottle of wine or a cheese platter and write the host a thank you note afterwards;
  • If you can read you can cook – learn how to cook at least one dish really well;
  • When you’re wiping up, put things straight in the cupboard NOT on the bench and THEN in the cupboard, that’s “double-handling”;
  • ALWAYS wear sunscreen and a hat;
  • Vanilla essence gets rid of bad smells in your fridge/pantry/anywhere;
  • Whether you’re in a relationship or not, always have your own life and earn your own money;
  • Sophisticated women have a signature scent. My mother’s was Arpege by Lavin for many years and she’s also been known to wear White Linen by Estee Lauder. Get a scent;
  • Speaking of linen, buy it sparingly – linen clothes usually require handwashing and are a bugger of a thing to iron;
  • Travel – see as much of the world as you can;
  • Serve food from the left and take empty dishes/plates from the right;
  • Own at least one very chic cocktail dress that highlights your best attributes, killer pair of heels and a classic handbag;
  • If you’re about to lose your temper, take a deep breath and smile. It can often diffuse a difficult situation;
  • Good jewellery should be worn everyday – not just on special occasions;
  • Try to be resilient – life is full of up and downs and it will help you weather the difficult times;
  • If you’re invited to a fancy dress party, dress UP not DOWN;
  • Respect people’s privacy;
  • Try clothes on before you purchase them. Just because they look good on the hanger/in the magazine doesn’t mean they will once you put them on (and vice versa – don’t judge them on the hanger);
  • Do a St John’s ambulance course;
  • Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

Right, noted thanks Mum. And Happy Mother’s Day – you’re my rock. Here’s some great contributions from our readers:

Melinda Bolitho

Nobody is better than anyone else. We are all human and make mistakes, don’t hold a grudge 🙂

Deborah Disney

Don’t die. That pretty much sums up all of my mother’s advice over the years. I wasn’t even allowed to have a bike when I was growing up! 🙁


Always give the benefit of the doubt

Michelle Beesley

Mum always said , ‘ Wear a bright lippie … It will brighten your day.’ It does. Be the best version of yourself that you can be! Be kind to elderly people as you’ll be old yourself one day.

Heather Hopley

Clean up your mess as you make it. Wash up as you cook/ bake etc. I have tried to follow this advice all my life and it does help to make chores less painful.

Karen Marken

My Mum told me “There are no stupid questions”. Always be confident and asks lots of questions.

Madelaine Howe

If you don’t ask him out he will get a girlfriend and the first thing she will do is get rid of you- I asked him out been together 11 years now (:

Britt Butler

A thing for everything and everything in its place. I still here this ringing in my head when I put something on the table when it should be in a cupboard!


You’ve got arms, legs and a heartbeat, use them! For when I was lazy in my teenage years.


Follow your passion! From people, places to jobs, it will fill your life with happiness

Ros Mayes

Smile and the world smiles with you: Frown, and you frown alone! She had an aversion to pessimists.


My mum used to say to me that love won’t feed you when you’re hungry, I guess what she was saying is that you have to use your head too and not only your heart

Donna Law

Don’t stress about housework, it is the most patient thing in the world, it will always be there waiting for you when you get back, and if the dirt on the floor is bothering you, wear shoes.

Lyn Richards

Always wear clean underwear in you’re ever unexpectedly taken to the hospital…I think she said in case I get hit by a bus. Just quietly though mum probably the first thing I’d do if i was hit by a bus is crap my pants….lol.

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Alexandria Bernard
With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.

Alex's voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.