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Joanne McHugh

Wit and wisdom
for navigating adulthood

Things Your Mom
Should Have Told You--
a free weekly newsletter
for people
assembling their
grown-up lives--
is here

My Mission

Becoming an adult is hard

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If you’re like most 20-somethings, you probably have a few goals–a fulfilling career, love and maybe marriage, financial security, and perhaps eventually children.


When you were in school, you probably longed for the day you’d be totally in charge and nobody was going to tell you what to do next. But now that it’s here, figuring it all out for yourself can be overwhelming.


You want to create a life that has it all, but nobody’s explained exactly how to make that happen. Worse yet, everyone seems to act like adulting should be a breeze and shouldn’t involve struggles if you are doing it right. 


I feel badly that young people today face more pressure than ever to have it all—even though nobody has ever explained how to pull that off. 


Wouldn’t it be nice if someone spoke to you honestly about the things you were likely to encounter as a young adult instead of pretending like it will all be smooth sailing? 

I'd like to help prepare you for
what to expect

When I was in my 20s, I was surprised to find that very few life experiences unfolded like I had imagined they would. 


Yet when my three daughters started to head off to college, I noticed that most of the time when we discussed their futures, I talked about limitless opportunities and focused on the upside. I avoided talking about the struggles ahead because I didn’t want them to be discouraged. Or maybe I hoped that they’d somehow magically avoid all the pitfalls.

Then I read about a golden rule that marathon runners follow—if a runner asks you about the terrain on the trail ahead, you should let her know about tough hills and how far she still has to go. In other words, instead of resorting to happy talk and telling her it won’t be that hard, you should be honest.

So I decided to be more open about the challenges and dilemmas that come along with being a grown-up. I started sharing the non-airbrushed version of my experiences as a young adult and telling them all of the things I wished my mom or somebody had told me. I'm happy to do the same for you. 

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Me with the original audience I told things to, along with the guy who made that audience possible

My Misson


Your weekly dose of wit and wisdom
for navigating adulthood

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Things Your Mom Should Have Told You is a free weekly newsletter that's like a “subscription box” full of goodies to help you assemble the adult life you’ve always dreamed of.

Every Tuesday, your free newsletter will arrive in your inbox. It’ll be kind of like acquiring an instruction manual for life a week at a time. It will include an assortment of items such as:

A ‘Thing Your Mom Should Have Told You’ Snapshot of something I wish I knew when I was in your shoes. We’ll cover a range of categories–career, love and relationships, little life lessons, and the big picture stuff. To help keep it fun, these will feature a story and a throwback photo. And BTW, if there’s anything you’ve been wondering about that I can address, shoot me an email so that I can tackle what’s on your mind.

Selections from the Book of the Month. I’m curating a Books of Wisdom collection about topics on the minds of people trying to get their lives together. Each week, I’ll share snippets from the Book of the Month so you can get a sense of whether it suits  you before you commit time and money to it. 

News You Might Be Able to Use. Back in the day, my mom used to clip articles out of the newspaper and leave it out on the counter for me if she thought it was something I needed to know. I’ll be keeping an eye out for items that may help you to survive and thrive and possibly avoid some of the potholes on the road of life.

Let me make one thing clear–if you’re looking for platitudes or preachy advice, you’re in the wrong place. I’m not going to tell you what to do; you are the only person qualified to run your own life. But if you’re looking for some practical wisdom along with a side helping of humor, Things Your Mom Should Have Told You should hit the spot. 

When read weekly, it may help you feel less anxious about adulthood.





5 Things I Wish Somebody Told Me about What to Expect When

I Became a Grown-up  

Navigating young adulthood isn’t as easy as everyone pretends that it is. Nobody explains how you actually go about building a life.  I'm happy to share some insights that might save you some trouble or at least make you feel a little better prepared for the inevitable ruts on the road of life.

Look for an email with your free download. Check your spam folder if you don't see it!

Free weekly newsletter now available


Being a grown-up involves a lot of improv. Life is a lot of making it up as you go along. You’ve probably found yourself in situations wondering why your mom (or someone else) didn’t cover how to handle it. Subscribe to my Things Your Mom Should Have Told You newsletter, and I'll drop some wit and wisdom in your inbox every Tuesday.

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Contact Me

I love to hear from readers—it helps make all of those hours at the keyboard worthwhile. Maybe you have an adulting dilemma? Tell me the things you wonder about or wish somebody would explain. Drop me a line at

Join me for Rewind Storytime on Instagram

What good are throwback photos if you don't pull them out once in a while?

Each week I feature a different theme. 

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