Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Impress Your Mother-in-Law

Nathan's parents came to town for Christmas, which was great because it saved me two flights with two children, and I also love my in-laws. My mother-in-law, Dana, is kind, funny, and a domestic goddess whose homemaking and motherly wisdom sometimes rubs off on me.

Graham and Ruby look really glum, but I promise they love their grandparents.

I want Dana to like me and think me worthy of raising her grandchildren, so I try to impress her. Here are some things I tried that might work for you:

1. Clean your house, but be sure not to clean it too much. An immaculate home will make it obvious that you're faking it, because no house containing a toddler (with a lazy mother) is ever perfectly clean. Instead, clean it just enough that your mother-in-law will know you respect her, and she might also be fooled that your average day-to-day level of cleanliness is higher than it is.

2. Forget to feed your baby for about seven hours. During that time, go shopping, inhale some Sprinkles cupcakes (carrot cake and dark chocolate) and visit the salon to get your hair cut (while your mother-in-law watches your exhausted, hungry baby). The key here is to share the Sprinkles cupcakes with her. Chocolate covers a multitude of sins. Also, you are showing that you are comfortable with her taking care of your children. Grandchildren can be a source of conflict with mothers-in-law; share your cute grandbabies!

My legs aren't really shaped like that.

3. Welcome basket. This was probably more of a treat for me, because I love putting stuff like this together. I remember being so excited when I heard my older sister was stressed out during finals week her first semester at BYU, because it gave me an excuse to make her a care package.

We only have two bedrooms, so to complement the overwhelming luxury of them sleeping on two twin mattresses on the floor of a room full of toys, I decided to put together a swag box. I tried to cater the contents to their interests (I know my father-in-law, Bryce, loves nuts, and Dana loves chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds). Beyond that, my philosophy in curating the box was basically, "What awesome treats would I love that I always feel guilty buying for myself?" That's where the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, lip balm, and magazines came in. Because you don't feel guilty when you're buying presents for someone else!

4. Make her finish your craft projects.

Dana makes the most amazing Christmas stockings in existence. She made Nathan's, refurbished mine, and finished the one I started making for Graham. She taught me how to embroider, and I really enjoyed it, but I was having trouble finding the motivation to finish the project ... so she did it for me (including cutting out those awesome letters). Then I realized that by making such an awesome stocking for Graham, I had inadvertently committed to making one FOR EVERY CHILD I EVER HAVE. Seeing as how Graham's took me almost two years to make (and I didn't even finish it on my own, ahem), I was panicked. That's when I sheepishly asked if she would continue making them for all my children. Dana is a benevolent crafting goddess, and she said yes. I don't know how this is supposed to impress her, but maybe my eternal gratitude will make up for my own crafting lameness.

Dana asked for a peacock, and I made her a peacock!

5. Commiserate over the duties that attend the holidays. Let's face it, in most families (okay, all that I know of, but I don't like superlatives), the mom is in charge of the bulk of Christmas. Presents, food, traditions--they all largely fall on mom's Christmas-sweater-adorned shoulders. Even if you feel like you have nothing in common with your mother-in-law, you're both women, so bond over all the work that is foisted onto women during the holidays (this post was written for daughters-in-law; the son-in-law/mother-in-law relationship is an animal I have no experience taming). Dana and I could relate to each other about how hard it is to track down presents and then manage the shipping of said presents, all while staying within the frugal pipe dreams we call Christmas budgets. If you need something to talk about during other times of the year, try these universal woman issues: finding a bra that fits, managing hair in different climates, or the fact that the #1 cause of death in girls 15-19 is childbirth.
I told Dana my secret discovery that showing some leg on even the coldest winter days will get me out of parking tickets. Just kidding; Dana told me that.

Mothers-in-law are great. They birthed your spouse, they love your children, and if you play your cards right, they might even watch your cherubim for a week while you go on a cruise.

In-laws are great. Here's Bryce playing with Graham and Dana feeding Ruby in the background.

Why is your mother-in-law awesome?

*this post shamelessly sponsored by Brownie Points & Co.


  1. Hey, my mother-in-law is also watching my babies while we go on a trip. Sadly, a cruise was out of our budget, but we're going to Vegas for a few days which I'm going to call the best thing ever. She's also letting us live with them come, Mother-in-laws for the win!

    1. The babysitting perk was actually hypothetical ... though she has offered! Las Vegas sounds awesome! Last time we passed through it was with a toddler ... so not super exciting.

  2. Can I just say your pancake art is amazing? I can't even do mickey mouse, and that's just three pancakes you don't take the time to separate after the meld together.

    1. Thank you! I recommend a condiment bottle (like this one: if you want to make intricate pancakes, although Mickey Mouse is a good foundational exercise to start with. :)

  3. 2 thoughts:
    1. I remember that awesome care package you made me with the destressing pillow spray and the gel eye mask.
    2. Are we going to get a welcoming basket?

    1. Yes, you will get a basket! Would you expect any less at Chez Albrechtsen?

  4. A few thoughts on your post…

    Most importantly- you didn’t need to do anything to impress me; I’m already impressed!

    Since you brought it up, the Welcome Basket assured your spot on my impressed ladder. Next time please include cookie butter. My favorite part? chocolate covered pomegranate seeds chocolate covered macadamia nuts. I was depressed when Bryce discovered them in the basket. Shoulda put those in my suitcase.

    Loved the clean house, the Sprinkles cupcakes, and the fact that Ruby doesn’t cry when she’s starving, just when Grandpa babysits while the rest of us midnight shop at Kohls.

    I’ve been called many things before, but never a goddess. Oh wait, it was a “benevolent crafting goddess”. That might be different. I’ll give you a “soft commitment” for 3 more stockings.

    One request- let me know I’m going to be in the “pancake art” picture so I can put on some makeup and fix my hair. And I don’t where you found that picture of me showing some leg! I thought I had hidden that away.

    Love you.


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