Why making the bed matters, according to a former Navy SEAL Commander

Why making the bed matters, according to a former Navy SEAL Commander

I love this time of year in part because I love hearing commencement speeches. They provide wonderful perspective and inspiration. The really, really good ones make me laugh, cry and think, all the things Jim Valvano said you needed for a good, full day.

My favorite one this year provided all that and some parenting encouragement and positive reinforcement that I needed.

The University of Texas at Austin invited Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and an alum, to give the commencement address and he hit it out of the park by detailing the 10 valuable life lessons he learned from Navy SEAL training. (See the video below.)

The first lesson he listed: make your bed every day.

Seems simple, yet in our home, it is a source of tension. We expect my tween to make her bed daily and, despite years of trying, it is still not the habit we hoped it would be. When I wrote an article for a magazine on 4 battles parents should let go, several experts said to give up the struggle that comes with making the bed.

I was tempted to giveup the ghost and I wrote about the struggle here, but I just couldn’t wave the white flag of surrender.

Then Adm. McRaven offered graduates his list and validated the importance of making your bed.

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed,” he said.

“Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”


He continued, “If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

This made me think of the idea that how you do one thing is how you do everything. That’s a tough concept at any age, but it is so very true. Even just planting that seed now in the minds of tweens and teens can make a huge difference in their world.

“And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”


Thank you, Adm. McRaven, for reinforcing my belief that making the bed matters, for bolstering my belief that insisting my tween do so imparts valuable lessons.

This is just one of Adm. McRaven’s great 10 lessons.  The one about being a sugar cookie I think would be especially valuable to tweens who are You can read the text of the speech here or watch it below.  If you get a chance to watch it with your tween or teens, please do. (The 10 lessons begin at 4:30.)

What was your favorite lesson from Adm. McRaven’s speech?

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Filed under: Home Life, Parenting

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