Cleaning, General

5 Things To Do Before Your Mother-In-Law Visits

She calls and says she’s in town, and on her way to stop by. You have anywhere from 10-30mins before she’s there; WHAT DO YOU DO?

Here are my top 5 things to do when my mother-in-law is on her way


Let me preface this by saying, I am one of the luckiest women in the world. My mother-in-law is absolutely amazing. She truly cares about me, as a separate person from my husband. She actually DEFENDS me when he is upset or trying to ask her how to approach certain things. She asks about my mental health, my relationship with her son, how my family is doing. Yesterday, she dropped everything last minute to drive 45minutes to my house, JUST to watch my children so I could go to a therapy appointment. My husband was working, he didn’t even get to say hi to his mom. She did this for ME, and she’s done so much more. I know not everyone has this great of a relationship, and I definitely don’t take it for granted.

That being said, let’s get down to those panicky moments when she calls and says “Hey, are you busy?”

     1. Throw all the dishes in the sink/dishwasher

This is probably the most important for me, personally. I have two children right now, 4 and 16 months. And a husband who has coffee and breakfast every morning. It is not uncommon for my house to be littered with dirty dishes as early as 8 am. When I get that phone call, I quickly walk around the house picking up silverware, plates, sippy cups, any spare dishes. We’re blessed enough to have a dishwasher, so I just load it and start it up. When we didn’t, I would rinse all of the dishes and put them in the sink, so that there wasn’t dirty food clumps or sour milk left on them.

2. Quickly gather trash, and take it out if it’s full.

It may just be me, but the FIRST thing I notice about another person’s house is if the trashcan is visible and full. I don’t have a fancy pantry or cabinet, so my trash can just sits at the end of the counter against the wall. I have an open living room/dining room/kitchen area, so I run through these areas grabbing candy wrappers, extra papers, napkins, etc and throwing them into the trash. If it’s full, I’ll quickly take it out and replace it. The LAST thing I want her to think is that I’m too lazy to take out my own trash or pick up after myself.

3. Wipe the kid’s hands and faces

If you don’t have children, that’s one less step to worry about. Fix your hair, brush your teeth. If you DO have children, QUICK! Get the wipes, dive in the closet. Do a diaper change, wipe faces, check behind the ears. Fix their hair, put on clean clothes. Don’t forget the bottom of the feet and inner earlobe! One of the FIRST things a grandmother likes to comment on is the appearance of the kids. I’d much rather hear how happy they look than, “Oh, what have you been eating today?”

4. Light a candle, spray an air freshener, or perfume!

Do something that makes the house smell clean! I like to light a candle as soon as I get the call, and blow it out a few minutes before she should arrive (to avoid the ever obvious burnt smell that comes after putting one out). Sometimes I’ll even spray the fabric in the house with febreeze, or run my perfume down the entryway and hall. Anything at all to make the first smell be a pleasant one.

5. Sweep under the table

This is another big one if you have kids. There is nothing that makes a house look dirtier than dried and leftover food or cereal under the table from breakfast. (Yesterday, it was 5 pepperonis on the floor from pizza for lunch. No, I didn’t get to them before she did). A quick sweep can help give a cleaner appearance than you might have if you’ve just eaten a meal or wiped down counters.


Inevitably, I will miss something. Or she goes into the ONE area I stashed everything in. My mother-in-law is extremely helpful anytime she visits, and we can expect that if she’s left alone for more than 5 minutes, things will be cleaned. If there’s nothing for her to clean (my personal goal when she visits), she’ll de-clutter. Or reorganize cabinets, fold laundry, pick up the kids toys. Heck, one time she rearranged their beds to give them more room in the middle (my two boys share a room).
You’ll never get everything perfect, but these are a few tips to help make the moment you open the door slightly less stressful.

Do you have a routine to run through before an unexpected visit? Let me know in the comments below!

5 Things To Do Before Your Mother-In-Law Visits - The Southern Smiths: What to do with the house, the kids, and yourself!

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