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How does your Mother in law always manage to drop in when your house is a complete mess and you look like a Survivor reject? Why can she never show up when everything's peachy keen?

You stand there dripping wet, doing your best imitation of a drowned cat, clutching your towel under your armpits as your Mother in law, in full makeup and heels at 6:30 in the morning, says "So nice to see you, dear, may I come in?" The kids are running around hysterically, the TV's blasting, your dishes are piled sky-high and you know your Mother in law's judging every last bit of disorder and you hate it! But what can you do? You can't very well shut her out.

No, but you can restrict her access. Just because she's your Mother in law doesn't give her the right to pry into your life. Which is exactly what she's doing with her unannounced visits.

Be proactive! Get a peephole and don't open the door when you're dripping wet. Invent a new game with the kids called "Happy time for Grandma" where you reward them for transforming into little angels the minute she hits the doorbell. If the house is a mess, say "Oh Mom, I'm so glad you stopped by. I've been dying to get out of the house. Let's go for a coffee" and get her out of there quick!

Now you can have the pleasure of your Mother in law rather than – the pain.

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