Tips for Surviving a Visit From Your In-Laws

Tips for Surviving a Visit From Your In-Laws


Even if you get along with your partner’s parents just fine, having them come and stay is stressful. Here are some tips for surviving a visit from your in-laws.

Advanced Reconnaissance

The person whose parents are coming for an overnight visit owes it to their partner to give a heads up regarding parental sensitivities, from food preferences to taste in television programs.

Set boundaries you both can live with and resolve to present a united front on non-negotiable items. Before their parents visit, decide together who has permission to drive the kids around or take them swimming, where safety is the top concern.

Have an Escape Plan

If you have kids, your in-laws will want to spend time with them. That might give you and your partner an opportunity for a long-awaited date night. Once the kids are safely in bed and the in-laws know how to reach you, it should be possible to grab a few hours out without too much worry.

If you’re not comfortable leaving the kids with the in-laws, plan to give each other some break time. One person can get away to handle grocery shopping for a few hours while the other stays home with the kids and the guests. Then, switch so the other partner can take care of their errands too. Trading shifts is a terrific way to get things done without offending the in-laws.

Abandon Perfectionism

A visit from the in-laws is a good excuse for a thorough house cleaning. You’ll see your home in a new light when you imagine how your mother-in-law might see it. Consider renting a carpet cleaning machine to get the winter residue and other stains out of the carpet, and de-clutter by getting the toys into their toy chests.

That said, don’t try to be perfect. This is not a military inspection—it’s a family visit. Your in-laws may offer to help around the home. Accept their help where you can, and don’t treat every offer as a form of criticism. Try to remember that your in-laws are probably as nervous as you are about the visit.

Consider Renting Them a Hotel Room

If you have a small apartment or a new baby, hosting your in-laws can be too much to handle. Talk with your partner in advance about how to present the idea of a hotel in a positive way to your in-laws. Often, they’ll be more comfortable in a neutral space like a hotel room. The baby won’t wake them in the night, they’ll have more time to tour around, and they’ll have a quiet place to return to after an afternoon with the kids.

Surviving a visit from your in-laws is largely a matter of attitude and compromise. Decide where your red lines are and be firm yet open to compromise when reasonable. Good luck, and perhaps when the visit is over, you’ll have a new appreciation for your partner’s parents.

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