After eight years of sweaty hands and heart palpitations before packing up a car for a visit to my mother-in-law’s house at holiday time, I figured enough was enough. How could this sweet, little old lady with the rheumatoid arthritis and wig cause such fear and trepidation? Coming up with some strategies was an essential move. What was the most surprising part of the trip that year? The approach actually worked wonders!
Note: The bottom line while you’re implementing these tips is to really and truly learn to appreciate your MIL. After all, she did give birth to your husband and you are forever thankful to her for that! So, although there will always be problems because of a general lack of commonalities, goals and cultural pursuits, we just sort of have to give up that fantasy and let our MIL be herself.
Top Tip #1) Be aware that your MIL’s mood may be directly affected by the weather and act accordingly.
At the slightest hint of a cloud be prepared for your MIL to label the entire up and coming twenty-four hour period as, “A pitiful waste of an excuse for a day!” She may then plop herself down in front of the tube (with an expressionless glare) for the next eight to ten hours. Make sure you pack a great book and whatever you do don’t bother her! Just kind of tip-toe around until the sun peeks through the clouds (at which point only your shadow will be at risk).
Top Tip #2) Keep quiet when watching quiz shows with your MIL.
Try not to shout out any answers or questions correctly when watching Jeopardy! or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with your MIL. You have observed her biting off the head of her better half for doing so. She’ll be certain to surprise you, however, in the category of Pop-culture as the E channel is often running in the background all day long. When she nails the answer to the question, “What was Courtney Love’s favorite dog’s dessert?” marvel at her knowledge. And you will be truly impressed, to be sure!
Top Tip #3) Hide all toiletries in your suitcase.
Especially if Mom’s expecting company, or she may likely do it for you by simply stuffing them under the vanity (even if you haven taken care to organize them meticulously). Avoid this recurring routine and make it a policy to conceal all cosmetics by simply storing them in your suitcase after each use.
Top Tip #4) Be conservative with the TP.
If you’re not careful you may accidentally use too much toilet paper and your MIL’s plumbing may get plugged. (Oh no!) “Now I have to change the @$%^ seal!” she’ll bewail … therefore, make sure to follow green-minded celeb Sheryl Crow and only use a single square each time you go.
Top Tip #5) Always make the bed when staying with your MIL.
Of course this is common sense and goes without saying. However, since your husband is most likely to sleep until noon, by the time he actually gets up and about you may have completely forgotten about the state of the sheets. So, dart in there when he slinks into the shower and neaten and straighten to perfection. Oh, and when you are ready to go back home? Strip of all the layers, offer to do the laundry (Mom will decline so no worries there) and fold the blankets neatly upon the mattress.