She arrives and greets the kids with open arms and loads of kisses. She sets her things down and after visiting with the family for a bit, she begins to unpack. I tuck the kids in for the night and make my rounds checking the house and tidying as I go. To my horror (cue the horror music), my once empty counters are filled with her things, my bathroom chocked full of her beauty supplies and my closet strewn with more of her belongings, my refrigerator and pantry overflowing with the food she brought along for herself. My breath thick and choppy, nerves fired up, I pad my way back to my bedroom and sit.
The next few weeks are going to be hard.
Household items begin to relocate, processes are questioned and adjusted as she tries to control our household. I find respite in driving slowly to the grocery store or sitting at the library with the kids a lot longer than usual. Oops! I forget something at the store, I'll be back! Oh darn, I forgot to pick that up, I'll just run out and get it! Anything to get away. I might even sit in the car for a half hour before going in, so I can steal my nerves against the impending storm of corrections of shoulds and shouldn'ts.
The comments and opinions so easily tossed out about how things should be and the utterly constant state of correction is overwhelming, I would prefer to walk on glass. I walk around with a dark and gloomy cloud over my head but you wouldn't know it, what with my smile and head nodding and thank you's and all.
Mother-in-laws are hard.
Here are few ideas for how to handle/survive your mother-in-law:
- Smile. A lot.
- Act/be interested in her stories and knowledge.
- Ask questions. She would love to talk about memories and the family history.
- Ask for her help. It will make her feel needed (don't all mom's want that?) and useful.
- Ask if she needs anything from the store.
- Remind her that she does not need to do the laundry, then express appreciation for her help.
- Do not discuss/defend/explain/justify/ your family's parenting/lifestyle choices
- Keep up your normal routines, let her join in so she can enjoy the kids
- Never discuss money or financial issues. Never.
- Express light concern for her incessant complaints about life. Throw in an ear-to-shoulder, furrowed brow look. Lean towards positive reactions and ideas with a hopeful expression.
- Let her treat the kids. Let her spoil them a bit, then reel it back in with a firm statement of your request. And a smile.
- Most importantly, remember that for all her comments, judgments, corrections and opinions, once she goes home you and your family will live how you please, thank you very much!
Good luck, you can do this.
Share this with a friend who has a mother-in-law coming to visit!
Help me out, what survival tactics can you add to the list?