Rule #32 Learn to Love Your Non-Offensive Mess

If you have followed Rule #2 Clear Your Mess, and Rule #3 Create a Personal Space, you should to accept that any other mess lying around - children's clothes on their bedroom floors, magazines you were reading and didn't put away, the vacuum needs to be done - is "unoffensive" as far as Living with In-Laws is concerned.

Of course, if you don't sort out your kids' rooms they will get terribly messy, and if you you don't put away your mags after you've read them they can start piling up, and if you don't hoover regularly you will end up with a dirty house that will be harder to clean than if you did things regularly. We are not talking about living like pigs here - we are talking about not becoming frantic and obsessive to have everything looking perfect and keeping the in-laws happy!

Unoffensive mess is a part of life - it comes and goes, and should be done in your own time, in balance. Your kids toys don't always have to be put back in the toy box after they have gone to bed - although it is good practice to teach them to do it themselves; try not to get into the habit of always keeping your house in pristine condition. You know as well as I do that a woman who lives alone with her nuclear family automatically has less work to do, less cleaning to do, and less pans to wash at the end of the day - make things easy for yourself.

Learn to love your mess! You are not a bad person if you don't empty the dish drainer after washing the dishes, if you don't hang your coat up when you come in, if you don't put your shoes away, etc. This is your house too, so leave your mark!

If your MIL complains that you are not clearing up, assure her in the most friendliest voice you can muster, that you are going to clear it up -just-as-soon-as-you-get-a-free-moment.

If she sees you sitting down afterward reading your favourite book, and says "You should finish off your work before you sit down to read!" Remember Rule #31 and say "Oh, I just thought I'd take out some time to relax. I'll get right back to work once I'm done." (and don't forget to smile!)

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