Let’s start off by saying that if your in-laws give ample notice before they step on your welcome mat, you’re in pretty good shape. In many families, in-laws are notorious for popping up at a moment’s notice, but that’s another topic for another day.
It doesn't matter if your mother-in-law (MIL) and father-in-law (FIL) are arriving in two hours or two days, you surely want to do all you can to make sure your apartment is as presentable as possible. Do you worry about what your spouse’s mother will say if the cleanliness of your space isn't up to her standards? Does she have the audacity to conduct a sneaky dust test with her fingertip as she slyly strolls through the apartment?
We understand that your place might never be spotless from top to bottom. And honestly, who has time for that? But if you’re focused on doing at least a little tidying up before the ‘rents make their debut, here are some crafty and creative ways to quickly get your pad in better shape.
Focus on surfaces that tend to gather a lot of dust and fingerprints – TVs, computer screens, table tops, toilets, and mirrors. Grab a cleaning towel, spritz it with your favorite all-purpose cleaner – a really good smelling one – and do a lap or two around your apartment wiping down every surface within reach.
Sink full of dishes? Either wash them quickly or load them into the dishwasher. Those who don't own a dishwasher (or even if they do and it's already full) sometimes resort to stashing dirty dishes in the oven. Odd choice, but this should be your last option only if you know for sure there are no plans for a home-cooked meal. Just know that if MIL decides to test your baking skills on a whim, the jig's up. If you do end up giving in to this last minute trick, don't forget to return the dishes to their rightful location once the in-laws have left the building.
Scented candles will be a savior. The earlier you light them up, the better. No scents on deck? Here’s an easy alternative: boil a small pot of water and add slices of lemon or lime. No fresh citrus on hand? Sprinkle in some cinnamon or nutmeg. Learn how to make do with what you have!
No time to get all your odds and ends completely out of sight? Group like items together. Random pens all over the apartment will appear disorderly, so gather them in a row on a side table instead. You can do the same by neatly stacking or lining up items like shoes, books, magazines, bathroom products, pencils, crayons, etc.
Is one of your bedrooms just a complete disaster? Close the door and forbid anyone to enter. If the door locks, even better.
Throw junk mail in the trash. Any other mail should go into a junk drawer, assuming there’s room.
Will the in-laws be making their debut at night? Light dimmers will work wonders to keep your mess from taking center stage. Not only will it hide your mess, but it'll set a calming ambiance.
No time to sweep, mop and vacuum? Vacuums actually work pretty great on hard surfaces too, not just carpet. Just test out a small area first to make sure it doesn't scratch your hardwood, tile or another solid surface.
Grab a grocery or trash bag and take a lap around the apartment gathering items that need to be trashed.
You can also use this bag trick to gather items for certain rooms. So if the living room is littered with items that belong in the home office, collect them in the bag and place the bag in the office to organize later.
If the visit is really last minute, grab a basket or bag, gather everything that’s out of place and place the basket in an inconspicuous area like the laundry room, utility closet, bathtub or on top of the fridge.
Got pets? Give every sofa and chair a quick brush to get rid of pesky hairs.
Empty the trash. This goes for the kitchen, bathroom and wherever else a waste bin might be located. Essential oils, carpet freshener, and cinnamon all are great for making an empty trash can smell good.
Are the in-laws already en route? Power up iTunes, cue up your favorite three to five songs and press play. Vow to have your apartment looking new and improved by the time the playlist ends. You will also work up a good sweat, so pat yourself on the back for mastering the art of multitasking!
If time runs out and you’re still not finished cleaning, strategically place the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the living room or hallway. Then declare, “Oh, you just caught me in the middle of cleaning up!” This message will convey that you acknowledge the mess and you're tending to it. Hey, a little white lie never hurt anyone.
Does this list sound exhausting or even unrealistic? Here’s a radical idea: don’t clean at all. Welcome your in-laws with open arms. But if you see them giving your space a major side eye, politely let them know that you are a busy person and, on any given day, this is what your apartment looks like. Let us know how that goes.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Creatista