| Pesach Without Pressure |


There are many ways to make Pesach. None of them have to involve tears, extreme fatigue, or a week of pizza bagels. In this column we’ll meet women with vastly different methods, but who all share the goal of reaching Pesach calmly and happily.

Name: Gittel Kaplan
From: Beitar Illit
Been making Pesach for: Eight years
Cleaning crew: Me and my husband
Motto: If you’re getting frustrated, you’re probably spring-cleaning
My approach

 I have little kids at home, and it’s very important for me that Pesach not come along with fear, anxiety, or pressure — I want it to be a happy experience for them. And practically speaking, I have a small house, kids, and a job, and so I need a plan that works.

When I clean

 I work part-time from home, and I need to keep up my work schedule, so everything needs to happen in the afternoons or evenings.


I start

From after Purim until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, I get ready to clean. I take stock of my cabinets and see what I have and what I need to get rid of, and I prepare food for Nissan. I try to get all of the clothes shopping off of my head, taking into account which kids will need to switch sizes and what clothing needs alterations. An extra plus of doing these things in advance is that as Pesach gets closer, stores get more crowded and not all sizes are in stock.

I have a list I keep from year to year of the things I do to make me feel like my house is sparkling. All of those extras — disposing of sheimos, cleaning the exhaust fan, bringing clothing to a gemach — need to get done before Rosh Chodesh. When I clean Erev Pesach, I’m not sorting my stuff, I’m Pesach cleaning. If those things aren’t done by Rosh Chodesh, then they’ll get done after Pesach — or next year after Purim!

Out of the Box

Starting from Rosh Chodesh, there is literally no more chometz in my house (except for hamotzi on Shabbos). This way I don’t have to worry about a kid bringing chometz into a room I’ve already cleaned. I don’t want my kids to feel like they can’t run around; I don’t want to feel like if someone gets up from the table during supper, Hashem yerachem, the whole house is chometzdig. It takes off so much pressure!

I prepare a menu for the month of Nissan so I know what we’ll be eating every day. It’s amazing how much you can do with kitniyos — and there’s always potatoes! By the time Rosh Chodesh comes, my food is all prepared, at least the mains. Anything that takes time on my part is done. If I have a meal planned, that’s enough. It can be cereal and milk, but I need to know that, and make sure to have it in the house.



I start cleaning with

The room that’s least used, or that’s easiest for me to keep the kids out of. Usually, that’s my bedroom — not that the kids really stay out, but at least they won’t bring food in.

I work together with my husband, starting at night after the kids are in bed. My husband learns in kollel, and during the year, I try not to burden my husband with any housework. But for Pesach, it’s his mitzvah as much as mine, and we share the responsibility. We work side-by-side, and we try to finish one room a night. (We bed the kids down in different rooms so that one bedroom is empty each night.) Usually, that doesn’t take more than two hours a room of focused work (we try not to get distracted or answer phone calls).

If I’m cleaning a closet, I empty it, wipe it down, and wash the shelves. I check the corners with a flashlight since I’m cleaning at night and don’t want to have to recheck by bedikas chometz. Then, I put everything back in — no spring cleaning! I put things back nicely and neatly, but again, no decisions, I’m not sorting things.

Anything that’s going to get done in that room needs to get done that night. So if I’m in the mood of cleaning the trissim, cleaning corners with a toothpick, or washing the dust ruffles on my bed, it happens then or never. (That’s a plus of starting with my room… I still have energy for things like dust ruffles!)

When we finish with the room, my husband sponjas it with bleach, and we’re done! We used to do a “sponja gedolah” of the whole house when we finished cleaning, but we’ve found that it’s easier to do it as we go along.

In the kitchen

I start my kitchen whenever I have some extra time — if I find a few minutes in the afternoon, or if we finish a bedroom in less than two hours. I use the top cabinets for Pesach, but I sell the bottom ones, so I don’t have to clean as carefully. After the bottom cabinets are done, I slowly start the top ones and move things down to start emptying the cabinets I’ll need for Pesach. We have a Pesach oven, so I don’t clean my oven. My husband tells me to shine a flashlight inside and see if there’s a k’zayis of chometz. I do a bit more but don’t make myself crazy — I’m usually pretty low on energy at that point.

The bottom line

Every year I tell my husband, “I can’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to make Pesach.” And when we’re scrubbing the kitchen, surrounded by mess, he asks me, “Now do you understand why?” But I know that once those moments pass, we’ll be okay, and that sitting at our table on Leil Seder… there’s nothing like it in the world.


Tip: Write notes from year to year. I keep all of my notes on the computer — that way, they can’t get chometzdig!
Double Duty:  As I clean, I try to look up the creams and shampoos — or at least write them down on a list — so that I don’t have to be busy scrambling to look them up on Erev Yom Tov.
What keeps me motivated: I enjoy spending quality time with my husband as we clean. It’s a great opportunity for us to catch up after a long winter.
The strangest place I’ve ever found chometz: No place is too strange to find chometz!


(Originally featured in Family First Issue 487)

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