I have been very fortunate and have expressed my gratitude over the years that I truly enjoy my in-laws. I liked when they came for visits and whether they came for a long weekend or a long three-week visit to Virginia – it was always a good time to be had. We often made plans to do things for special occasions when they were there like going to see museums in D.C.
They came up every year for Christmas and the house would be packed to the gills with people, decorations and more. It was great to get up in the morning to the fresh scent of coffee brewing and the family gathering into the kitchen for bacon, eggs, toast and coffee. The dull murmur of conversation that grew – especially when the children came along. The rush of getting the Christmas shopping done and finding a spare corner to wrap gifts in. So what do you do when the in-laws come to visit?
Summer time is a primetime for in-laws to hit the road and come to visit you or for you to hit the road to go and visit them. When it comes to summer time visits, your relationship can set the tone for how your visit will go. For example, if this is the first summer visit to spend with the in-laws and you don’t know them very well – take the tact that you want to put your best foot forward.
You don’t want to change your entire schedule to cater to theirs, but making the effort can be worth it especially in the early years of marriage. This works well if you are visiting across several state lines. If you live locally and your in-laws are nearby, then plan a weekend at least once a month that includes the extended family on either side. This is a way to make them feel included while still maintaining a sense of control.
It also allows for a balancing between your home and theirs. Friends of ours live local to both sets of parents. They have a weekend for his parents, a weekend for hers and then two weekends a month that are theirs. They never worry about leaving anyone out and over time, both sides have developed a great deal of affection with the routine.
No matter whether your in-laws are local or out of town, making specific plans can also help avoid awkward moments where people sit around wondering what to go and do. There’s nothing more aggravating than sitting across the living room from family members with everyone going I don’t care to the options presented for what they can go and do.
However, at the same time that you are making plans, don’t hesitate to make plans that allow them to go off on their own – particularly if they are coming in from out of town. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law both love to shop, so often on their visits they would take one or two afternoons to venture off to the area malls, shopping centers and town center areas to shop. This worked out great for them, because I enjoyed the downtime to myself and they loved to shop.
Now that we live locally and near each other – they will often include my daughter on their shopping expeditions (she has the shopping gene!) and they are never insulted when I am not interested. However, on those rare occasions when I feel the need to shop – they are hilarious to shop with so despite my dislike of the activity – we do have a good time doing it with them.
Another great rule of thumb when your in-laws are concerned is food. Most people can connect over a meal. Whether you are discovering what they like or dislike or you are learning how to make a new dish – food is a great unifier. My husband is a great cook so he enjoys making experimental meals (he’s on a fish kick at the moment and makes a really divine lime pepper salmon that I’ll have to share) and whenever he’s coming up with a new dish – he calls and invites the family over for dinner.
By the same token, there’s a lot of meals that I make that my sister-in-law will call and request for me to make whether it’s my Dr Pepper Steak or my strawberry, low-fat, low carbohydrate cheesecake. My daughter is learning from both of us and our nephew is not adverse to the idea either. They will both make their specific requests whether it’s the lemon pepper chicken, the home made balsamic fried rice, the grilled tilapia with lemon butter or our nephew’s absolute favorite of firing up the outdoor grill and cooking ears of corn, baked potatoes and rib eye steaks!
See what I mean – food provides conversation, requests and unifying warmth for the whole family. So learn what your in-laws like and make a meal that brings them back to the table.