Visiting in-laws soon? The annual trip to visit your other half's side of the family may leave you feeling anywhere between slightly anxious and absolutely stressed.
Either way it is a situation that most of us are not completely comfortable with and can often leave you feeling at least nervous anticipation.
As much as you love and adore your spouse, your relationship with their family, on the other hand, may be a different ball game all together.
The internet is full of hair raising tales of clashes between partners and in-laws, but whether you love them or hate them, they are your family of sorts and it is important to maintain a good relationship for both the sake of your partner and kids.
By the time you have a family of your own, you are likely to be the expert at dealing with and negotiating with your own parents from years of practice. However it’s all new territory with the in-laws.
Whether you are the outspoken type who has a tendency to overstep the mark and hurt people’s feelings, or the quiet type who says nothing and lets resentment build; maintaining a relationship as well as trying to impress or keep up appearances with these parents who are yours through marriage, can be difficult at best.
Everyone’s family is different, but this article will guide you through the do’s and don’ts, so you are not left overwhelmed, exhausted or left standing with egg on your face.
First of all, it would probably be a good idea to review manners with your kids. As much of a fantastic job you probably did bringing them up, this is one of the only opportunities their grandparents get to see them throughout the year.
Make sure they remember their pleases and thank you’s, and no vulgar comments about the hair on grandmas chin or grandpas bad breath.
Any tantrums and bad behavior will leave you feeling embarrassed and overly stressed, and leave a bad impression to the people who don’t see them often.
If all goes well and the kids behave perfectly, you are not going to make a good impression if you yourself don’t behave!
This rules out heavy drinking, and even if your in-laws are boozing all evening it is probably best to politely decline.
Waking up with a bad head and no memory, while the in-laws give you sideways glances all morning muttering something about dancing on their antique oak dining table is not going to be a family visit you or your spouse will care to remember.
Leave the drinking for the girls'/ lads' nights out when your back home.
Have in mind some low key- family activities you can do when you arrive that are suitable for all members of the family.
A picnic or visit to a local park is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and won’t break the bank. It would be wise to have some back up ideas for the kids to do too, in case of rainy days or evenings.
Things like fly it quiet packs, DS portable gaming console or a Kindle (my favorite!) are lightweight and may save you many bored tantrums. These are also good for the journey traveling to and from your in-laws.
No matter how smoothly things go when visiting in-laws, bear in mind that your partner is likely to be feeling slightly stressed by this visit too. If they only see their parents on these annual visits they are probably going to be hoping that things go as smoothly as possible.
This added strain may open the door for bickering or arguments, avoid these at all costs. As well as being unfair to your hosts, having a domestic feud in front of your partner’s parents will never look good- ever. Visiting in-laws is stressful enough without being embarrassed as well!
As the old saying goes, fail to prepare and you prepare to fail. Make sure you bring with you everything you are going to need as well as a bit extra, this includes toiletries, money etc.
Take into consideration any additional activities on your trip will require extra clothing unless you plan on borrowing mother in- laws knitwear, although I’m sure she might have something to say about that!
My final piece of advice- just grin and bear it. However uncomfortable these kinds of visits often are, they are essential for keeping family bonds between your spouse and your children and their grandparents.
Bear in mind that your spouse probably feels the same way when visiting your family and let’s face it, it’s their turn next!