There are a few key things that you need to be aware of, before going over to your MIL’s place. First of all, know in advance that you will be making mistakes, but this is actually good, because you will take specific, and copious notes that will provide you with plenty of material for your Daughter-in-Law Solutions Worksheet, and you will be able to prevent many-a-future D.I.L.Z! (Daughter-in-Law Zings) by simply filling in your I.N.C.S. template! (Identify the problem, note what was done and said, create a rule title and set up a solution!)

I actually started to look forward to getting zinged by my MIL so that I could create more rule titles and solutions. I always get a kick out of how great the rules actually work, once I put ‘em into practice! Now remember, a lot of these rules are universal in nature, but some of them are quite specific but the key is to remember that I.N.C.S. for D.I.L.Z. will work like a charm!

Okay, so here are a few tips to get you started, from my personal files.

1. Compliment The Way Your MIL Keeps Her House

Tell Your MIL how much you admire her spotless home – as there is nothing that will be more music to her ears than someone who finally expresses appreciation for all the hard work that she does everyday to keep the place like a shiny scrubbed apple – and it’s true - you can really eat off the floors! (And my kids often do, unfortunately!)

2. Say Nice Things About Your MIL’s Cooking

Even if your MIL boils her spaghetti for about 10 minutes longer than necessary, tell her how delicious it is (although you almost complimented her on the mashed potatoes). Ask her to write down exactly how she makes her sauce, and take special note of weather she uses Contadina, or REDPACK and where to get the best prices for said ingredients. She will love a thrifty DIL! Then, have your husband get in on the action and have him whip up a batch next time your MIL comes to stay. Have him freeze it in little Tupperware containers just Mom does at home and both mother and son will be in 7th heaven!

3. Do the Dishes When Visiting Your MIL

Your MIL won’t actually say so, but she will secretly be glad that you hopped up from the table to clear, rinse and load the dishwasher. After all, it has been more than a few years that anyone has offered to help her in the kitchen. There is an added benefit to this – as you quietly excuse yourself from the table, you can then quietly sit back and take mental notes of her interests, likes and dislikes, (as the dinner conversation continues) and cleverly weave them into the conversation the following morning over cheesy-eggs and frozen pancake toast!

4. Always Make the Bed When Staying with Your MIL

Of course this is common sense, however since your husband is most likely to sleep until noon, by the time he gets out of bed you may have completely forgotten about the state of the sheets. So, dart in there when he slinks into the shower and neaten and straighten the bed to perfection. Oh, and when you are ready to go back home? Strip the bed entirely, offer to do the laundry (she will decline so no worries there) and fold the blankets neatly upon the bed. You will get unspoken bonus points for this!

5. Be Prepared to Be Enticed by Lots of Sugary Temptations when Visiting Your MIL

Ahh, you’ve been so good with your diet… you bought a 12 pound bag of protein powder at Costco, dragged that silly over priced Torso Track out from under the bed and wiped off the dust bunnies, and have been avoiding carbs like the plague. However, when you step over the threshold into the lair of your MIL, Candy Land here you come! There are cookies and cakes on every table, pudding in the fridge, ice cream in the freezer. And around every twist and turn your MIL will sweetly siren, “Have some Colachi!” or, “You just have to try this cheesecake!” SIGH! And you do… after all, when in Rome! Don’t beat yourself up, just throw a set of 5 pound weights in the car, do a small amount of resistance training in the morning before she gets up, and offer to take her dog for a lot of walks during the day to help burn off those extra calories you’ve accumulated. Just get back on track as soon as you return home – no harm done!

Please visit Sally “The MIL Manager” Shields on the web at for contest giveaways, free bonus gifts, The DIL Rules newsletter, 44 Top Tips Cheat Sheet, free music … and more!

Author's Bio: 

Sally Shields is an award-winning pianist, composer, speaker, and author of The Daughter-in-Law Rules: 101 Surefire Ways to Manage (and Make Friends with) Your Mother-in-Law! She graduated with honors from the New England Conservatory and was a recipient of the Boston Jazz Society Award. Winner of the 17th annual Great American Jazz Piano Competition, her articles and transcriptions are featured regularly in Piano Today Magazine and her book, Modern Jazz Piano, is the standard theory manual for several music programs, including Princeton University. Her children’s song “It’s Christmastime, Once Again” was a finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and her music is currently featured on the ABC TV daytime drama All My Children. When not traveling and performing around the world—most recently with bestselling author and musician James McBride—Sally (a vegetarian) lives in New York City with her husband (not a vegetarian!) and their two children.

Note: Although the relationship with her MIL was rocky at the outset, with the implementation of the devices outlined in The Daughter-in-Law Rules, the two now enjoy a special bond—which got even better, interestingly enough—after her MIL found out she was writing this book!