You hang up the phone, cheeks sore from smiling (apparently a smile can be conveyed through our voices), throat sore from so much optimism, and then the reality of the call hits–your in-laws are coming for a visit. Your mind instantly goes into list-making mode–groceries to buy, cracks and crannies to scrub clean, and then it goes blank. But before you stress about the impending visit, remind yourself that your in-laws love you, and that's why they're coming to stay (theoretically).
Prep work: Your house is a home, not a museum, and chances are, your mother-in-law doesn't really own a pair of white gloves. Don't pull your hair out trying to make every room in your house immaculate (more for you to sweep up). Clean the house like you do normally, and now that it's spring, open a few windows to give your home a fresh, sweet-smelling ambience.
If your husband's parents are staying overnight, prepare a place for them. Think of the things that make you comfortable when you're staying away from home, like fresh sheets and towels and a clear space to set up your bathroom toiletries. Remove any clutter from the bathroom they'll be using and the room in which they'll be staying (or the living room where you'll put the blow-up mattress). Meal Time: Are you a gourmet chef? If not, this is not the time to experiment. Serve the dishes you know how to make and perfect, and serve them "family style." You are, after all, a family. Going to extra pains to serve individual plates will make more work for you, taking you away from socializing with the rest of the group. Who knows, maybe you'll bond over passing the potatoes.
Everything in Between: There is plenty to do in the way of showing your in-laws a good time while they're in town no matter the season or weather. If you're having trouble coming up with ideas, make a list with your husband of activities you both enjoy and discuss which would also be entertaining for his parents. Get outdoors and take a walk in your neighborhood. Mothers love to be able to picture where their son is living. Stay indoors if you prefer to get a cooking lesson from mom of your husband's favorite dishes when he was a kid, or pull out the wedding album and remember your happy day.
The overarching theme is be yourself. When you open your doors and your schedule to your in-laws or any guests for that matter, you welcome them into a slice of your everyday life. Even if you do take special care to vacuum underneath the couch (just in case…), acting at ease in your day to day routine will put guests at ease as well and encourage them to feel at home in yours.
Written by: Erika Fifelski is the West Michigan Woman magazine editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses. (And yes, she does move the couch to vacuum when company comes to town). Photo: Muris Kuloglija Kula