Week 2: We’re making progress, but not there yet. It sometimes feels like we’ll never finish it all.
Your Home: Slow but Steady
Yael Wiesner, home management consultant and author of “How Does SHE Manage?” (Feldheim Publishers)
At this point in our Pesach cleaning, we shouldn’t be washing windows or filing papers or even painting. We need to clean for chometz, and that’s it. Decluttering and spring cleaning are only going to slow us down. If you don’t have clarity on what’s necessary and what’s not, check with your rav.
I like to finish the bedrooms during the first week of Nisan and then move on to the living room and dining room (Pesach cleaning only). We’re able to move quickly through all these areas because we’ve already cleaned cabinets, closets, and other areas. I make my meat and chicken order and put it in my freezer, which has already been cleaned. When the groceries arrive, I store them in a room that’s already Pesachdig.
Since the children are often around, I make sure to schedule in activities for them, like arts and crafts projects, so I won’t get frazzled by their boredom. I also plan where and what to feed them (for example, pita sandwiches, which make less crumbs than bread, and potato or kitniyos-based meals, with lots of vegetable sticks). I arrange for the younger set to be out when I want to do my heaviest cleaning. When my children were small, some friends and I organized a round-robin for the week before Pesach. Each of us took a turn watching the kids, and the remaining mornings we had free babysitting.
Finally, remember not to compare notes with your friends! Every person is individual; while one woman will already be turning over her kitchen, you may still be scrubbing out the pantry. If you stick with your Pesach schedule, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is up to.
Your Children: Accept Their Work — and Them
Rabbi Allon Yisroel Bruckenstein, Jerusalem-based educational psychologist
Parents often ask how to get their children to help out with the cleaning. Your own attitude toward cleaning is a major contributing factor. If your children see that you despise cleaning or get frustrated, they’ll understand that cleaning is unpleasant and must be avoided. If, on the other hand, your attitude is calm and positive, they’ll be eager to get involved as well.
We need to keep in mind that our children aren’t miniature adults. As adults, we have the ability to forgo eating, sleeping, and other needs to reach a goal. Children haven’t yet developed that skill, and at a certain point they’re going to lose steam. A ten-year-old will last longer than a three-year-old, and a teenager even longer, but they all need breaks. Be sensitive to your children’s needs, and have realistic expectations.
Another point to keep in mind is accepting the job a child has done. Often we’ll look at the work and think, “I’m going to have to do the whole thing over.” Be careful — they’ll sense what you’re thinking even if you don’t say it. If you’ve asked your child to do something, you have to accept it as it was done, even if the candlesticks aren’t sparkling or the bookcase still looks dusty. If you can’t, don’t ask for their help. And don’t wait until they go to sleep and then finish the job yourself — they may very well notice and feel discouraged from helping in the future.
Your Marriage: Your Knight in Shining Armor
Mrs. Yitti Bisk, marriage educator
Do you find yourself saying to your husband every night, “I’m so nervous, I’m never going to get everything done,” and hearing him respond, “Come on, it’s not such a big deal. You always manage”?
The first step to avoiding this common scenario is to clarify to yourself what you really need before you open your mouth. Ask yourself, “Am I trying to get my husband to pitch in and help, or am I expressing my feelings and just want validation?” Once you’ve got this figured out, give him clear direction: “I just need to share my feelings with you and feel understood” or “I could really use your help.”
Many husbands like to feel that they’re helping their wives, and not that Pesach cleaning is their job. Let your husband feel he’s your knight in shining armor — and thank him for everything he’s doing. Showing appreciation is an amazing tool to getting the work done, and it puts you in a better emotional space as well. Be specific with your thanks and praise!
And don’t forget to connect with your spouse on a daily basis. A walk around the block can do the trick if your cell phones are off and you’re both present. Even if it’s just five minutes at the end of the day, take a few minutes to reconnect.
Your Ruchniyus: Make It Happy
Rebbetzin Devora Berson, popular seminary teacher and lecturer
The challenging aspect of Pesach cleaning is preventing ourselves from getting so caught up in the details that we forget that Yom Tov is coming! Our true goal in Pesach cleaning isn’t getting those toothpicks between the floor tiles, but rather coming closer to Hashem through the zman cheiruseinu. When a person’s work is purposeful, it’s manageable, whereas avodas parech, purposeless work, can kill a person. If we remind ourselves as we work that this is our contribution to our family and to Klal Yisrael, that can give us the emotional wherewithal to keep moving.
In our house, some of the goals are also fun ones. As soon as a room is finished, we hang up Pesach signs: “No chometz allowed” on the doors of each bedroom, kids’ projects in the dining room, and a full panorama of matzoh-baking photos in the kitchen. Each room takes on a festive feel, and we gain a sense of accomplishment.
Another one of my goals is to make a Pesach craft project for the Seder with the kids. We all enjoy arts and crafts, and this allows us to take an afternoon off and have fun. We’ve made personalized place cards for the Seder table, laminated so they don’t get ruined; napkin rings from “matzoh paper”; little crowns to remind ourselves that we’re bnei melachim. One year we made a clock with hands that pointed to each step of the Seder, which we moved throughout the night. Instead of a sense of drudgery, we all experience joy as we progress toward the Seder.
(Originally featured in Family First Issue 332)
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