The best thing about having your own place is that you can do what you like. When you were a kid, your mum would chastise you about the mouldy coffee cups languishing under your bed and the dirty underwear attractively hanging over picture frames. Now you are all grown up and married, and have moved into your very own home, you can leave stuff all over the floor if you like, can’t you, because it’s up to you? 

Wrong! Because, it doesn’t matter how old you are; how much money you earn; how many people call you ‘boss’ at work- when you know your parents or in-laws are about to visit, you feel a certain urge to run round your home and put things in cupboards. If you have ever experienced that heart-sinking feeling when your lovely mother-in-law queries if you really thought it was a good idea to buy a cream carpet, you will know what I mean.

There is no doubt at all that if your mother-in-law is not overtly running her fingers over your dusty banisters, she will be checking out your lime scale encrusted loo in private. Horror of horrors, she may even start going through your cupboards, “just to look for the bleach, to give you a hand!” It is actually even worse, when you genuinely think your home is clean and tidy and you then find the in-laws degreasing your cooker and cleaning the grouting with a toothbrush. They smile and say it is “no trouble”, because they “know you are busy”.

You need a strategy to cope with these smiling assassins. Apart from cancelling any invitations for the next twenty years, you could also keep everything pristine all the time, so you will always be ready for anything. Since that’s not likely to happen, I recommend prior to the visits that you stuff all those clothes and letters from the Readers Digest that are lying about, into a big black bag and temporarily house it in the wardrobe. Then get HELP. Get the place thoroughly cleaned before the in-laws descend, and if you live in London, that’s easy to achieve from the small but friendly London Cleaning Company. Then, when their eagle eyes inspect your nooks and crevices, they will have nothing to gossip about at all when they go home, other than your marvellous achievements in life.