Monday, March 11, 2013

How to Clean for Pesach (Passover) in One Day

You've started cleaning after Chanukah?  Used your snow days to tackle the attic for Pesach?  Almost done?

Yawn.

Here's how to let Pesach become a fun holiday again, one you don't dread.  But my method has a few ground rules:


1. If your children (or you) regularly eat chometz in odd places, like bedroom closets, and those places are not cleaned regularly throughout the year, you cannot clean for Pesach in one day.

2. You will need the help of one able-bodied adult.  This may or may not take the form of paid help - more on costs in a moment.  It can be a friend, an older kid (feel free to bribe) or a relative.  You can't do it totally alone, unless you live in a tiny condo and are the sole occupant.  I have a cleaning woman help me.  What should you delegate to your helper?  Whatever you hate to do.

3. Some people spend money because they don't want to spend more time, and some people spend more time because they don't want to spend more money.  Adjust my suggestions based on your budget and personality.

4. If you have young children, they will need to be out of your hair for the day - but remember, it's ONE day.  By "young" I mean too young to be truly helpful.  Teens should stay and help, unless their job is keeping your younger kids occupied.  And they won't mind staying since it's only ONE day.  In fact, they will be bragging to all their friends how little they had to help.  Help for your younger kids can come in the form of paid help, or a friend or relative - or your teen.  Have someone take them out to a museum, out for a pizza lunch, whatever.  Just out.  Of.  Your.  Way.  For the day.

5. For those of you that are concerned/curious about the halachic aspects of my suggestions, these ideas are based on talks I have heard from Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst of Chicago and Rabbi Baruch Hirschfeld of Cleveland.  If you have family customs that are stricter than mine, it might take you longer than one day.

6. These suggestions are based on your typical single family colonial home.  If your home is much smaller or larger than that, adjust your expectations accordingly.

7. I am not addressing WHEN to clean.  This will largely be impacted by where and how you cook.  If you have an alternative place to cook that is kosher for Pesach, you can cook in advance and clean literally 2 days before the Seder.  If you don't, you will want to do your cleaning day a few days in advance so you can cook in your newly Passovered kitchen.  What and where your family will eat during those few days is not within the scope of this piece (heh heh).  Ok, kidding, you will have to leave one space (garage, basement) not-clean-for-Pesach where chometz is still allowed.  The morning of the Seder, this should take half-hour to clean up, max.

Ready?  Let's go.

We approach the house as though it's concentric circles, with the dining room and mainly the kitchen as the epicenter.  We start with the peripherals, since they are the easiest.  In my home, here's where we eat: the kitchen and the dining room; occasionally in the family room and living room; chocolates and nuts by guests in the basement (note: neither of those are true chometz); and anything else is contraband.  The kids are not allowed to eat upstairs.  Do they sometimes?  Yeah.  We'll deal.  I don't allow them to eat all over the house.  Not because I'm Pesach-obssessed all year (I think it's a big mistake to be) but because it's gross.

9:00 am: Basement

Since the basement is a place where chometz generally doesn't happen, I don't clean it.  Plus, even if chometz did go there, every now and then (not telling how often) the basement gets vacuumed.  So it's gone.  No need to move furniture on the off-chance.  I go down there, I give a quick look-see, peek under beds and pull out any large anything I can see, and we're done.  Shalom.

Estimated time: 15 minutes.

9:15 am: Upstairs

Since the upstairs is a place where I don't allow chometz, any children who have offended during the year are responsible for their own clean-up, after which I inspect.

Estimated time: 15 minutes

At this point you might be wondering about organizing, emptying drawers and shelves, and cleaning.  But maybe you forgot that this is about Pesach.  So that's why I didn't mention it, and that's why I don't do it.  I organize throughout the year, and sometimes after Pesach.  In my opinion, the WORST time in the world to organize is before Pesach, when it gets attached to so much other stress.  In fact, I think it should be illegal.

9:30 am: Garage

The garage contains a big job, which is my spare fridge and freezer.  I empty everything that's left in the big freezer, which is not much because I've been slowing down on the buying, and consolidate it in my small kitchen freezer.  I leave the freezer open and turn it off to defrost.  Later, my cleaning lady will clean it.  She does a regular cleaning job, same as a good cleaning any day of the year, except we clean the rubber seal very well in its grooves.  The spare fridge I have her clean and wipe down with some spray cleaner of some sort.  Voila.  It's now kosher for Passover.  No lining of shelves, no nothing.  If I have some food items that are not used up (there's always jelly and pickles) I designate one drawer, put all the stuff in it, and tape it shut.  It gets sold with the chometz.

The rest of the garage involves just looking around and making sure there's no chometz.  No organizing.

Estimated time: 45 minutes.

10:15 am: Bathrooms

The only thing I am concerned about in the bathroom is toothpaste that might contain chometz.  I find out which brand is ok to use for the current year, put the other toothpastes aside in a place that I am selling (we'll come back to this), and make a note to get new ones (and new toothbrushes).

Estimated time for all bathrooms: 15 minutes, max.

10:30 am: Family room

My main job is the family room is usually the couch but this year we have a new couch where the cushions don't come off.  I LOVE THIS COUCH!  We take the dustbuster and vacuum the crevices where we see stuff.  Here's what we don't do: move furniture away from the wall that doesn't get moved all year.  Wash toys.  Organize board games.  Sort CDs and DVDs.  Move the piano.

Why don't I wash toys?
1. Because my children don't eat while they play.
2. Because even if they did, I periodically sort and organize my toy closet and if there were a piece of birthday cake, it's gone now.

Estimated time: 15 minutes.

10:45 am: Living room

My main job in the living room is the couches.  Since we sometimes move furniture around, I move the furniture, me or my helper(s) vacuum under them, we pull all the cushions off the couch and it gets vacuumed inside.  Ditto for the comfy chairs.  Done.  Don'ts: wash curtains.  Dust lights.  Rearrange the mantle.

Estimated time: 30 minutes.

11:15 am: Dining room

This is a big job so I'll break it down into pieces.

1. Bookshelf.  We take off the shelves all the "benchers" - little booklets that are literally used during the Shabbos meals and actually could contain challah.  Do we clean them?  Nah.  We put them in a closet that will be sold for Pesach.  We wipe the shelves where they sat.  Time: 10 minutes.

2. Folding chairs.  We have a little nook where we keep folding chairs.  We take out the chairs, and, using a blowdryer, blow around them to blast out crumbs.  We wipe down the inside of the closet.  Time: 15-30 minutes to remove, clean, wipe, and replace.

3. Buffet.  I have two sides of the inside of the buffet: one side I will use for Passover dishes, and one side I will sell.  The side I will sell I don't touch at all - I just tape it shut with masking tape.  The other side I empty, wipe down, replace.  I also blowdry and wipe the top, then cover it with a clean tablecloth.  Time: 15-30 minutes.

4. Dining room chairs.  I (or my helpers) bowdry the crevices of the chairs, then wipe them down.  Time: 15 minutes.

5. Dining room table.  I open the table without the leaves so any crumbs that may be lurking fall through.  I wipe the leaves and put on a tablecloth.  Time: 10 minutes.

Total dining room estimated time: With lots of wiggle room, 1 1/2 hours.  (Really less because you and your helper are working simultaneously, so let's settle on one hour.)

12:15 pm: Break for lunch

1:00 pm: Kitchen 

Here, too, I am going to break the job down into parts.

1. Oven.  This job I definitely delegate to my cleaning help.  She cleans it just as she would all year, and then we will run the self-cleaning cycle, but before we do, I clean the cooktop, because I put the grates of the burners into the oven during the cycle, which kashers them.  Time: 1/2 hour cleaning. 
While self-cleaning cycle runs, we move on.

2. Fridge/freezer.  We empty everything out into laundry baskets so my cleaning lady can clean on the inside.  Some stuff I toss, some I put into little containers to put back in the fridge, some I give away.  Don't move fridge away from wall.  Time: 45 minutes.

3. Tables and chairs.  Ditto for blowdry/wipedown method mentioned above.  I move the kitchen table away and sweep under it.  Wipe down kitchen table and put plastic disposable tablecloth over it, which I tie under it to keep it anchored.  Time: 15 minutes.

4. Small appliances: sandwich maker, toaster.  I put them in the pantry, where I have all the chometz to sell.  I don't clean them at all.  Actually, I move them to the garage where my kids will eat their meals till seder.  Time: 5 minutes.

5. Cabinets.  I designate a few drawers and cabinets that I will be using the week of Passover, and empty them.  I put the contents into other non-Passover drawers or in the pantry I will be selling.  My cleaning lady/kids clean out the insides of those drawers and cabs that I will use by wiping down with some cleanser.  Voila.  They are now kosher-for-Passover.  I use masking tape to mark the "chometz" domains and move some stuff to the folding table in the garage that we will be using temporarily.  Time: maybe an hour.

6. Cooktop, counters, sinks.  These get cleaned really well, like a really good regular cleaning.  The sinks get taped off for the next 24 hours to prepare for kashering (which my husband does).  The counters will get kashered too the following night.  The cooktop gets covered with foil and then I replace the grates that went through the self-clean cycle.  Time: 30 minutes.

Total kitchen estimated time: 3 hours.

It's now four pm and your house is clean for Passover.  Mazel tov!  When your kids are all home, they will take their backpacks and empty them outside of any crumbs.  You will then throw them in the laundry and, if you have a mudroom, your kids are each responsible to clean their own cubbies.  Estimated time: depends on how pokey your kids are.

The last item is the car.  This is most definitely a place that I'd rather spend money than time.  I take my car to a local car wash (yeah AlPaul) and for $20 all our chometz misdeeds therein are erased.  But even if you tackle the car yourself, there's no need to remove seats or anything drastic like that.  You vacuum and remove visible chometz.  Dirt's cool, so just leave it there.  Estimated time for car: 1 hour, tops.  This is also a great thing to delegate to your kids or cleaning help.

Enjoy your holiday!






52 comments

52 comments:

  1. What about all of the drawers in the kitchen? Somehow I imagined every last thing coming out and all of the drawers being vacuumed or wiped.

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    1. Nah. I clean only what I use, which is like 5 drawers and 2 cabinets. It's only for a week.

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  2. I always stop using my sink (for hot water) the evening before before, because I like to spend one day cleaning the kitchen/downstairs, and then kasher that same night. I'll still use the sink for cold water during that time.

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    1. I contemplate that approach every year, but I like having the hot water available to wash the fridge shelves and other stuff I'm cleaning. One day, maybe.

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    2. That's what I use my laundry sink for.

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  3. Love the concept and I'm with you in spirit. In actuality -for me at least- the basement thing takes a lot longer b/c it needs to be cleaned out (aka...lot of accumulated stuff needs to be thrown out...)or I won't have anywhere to store kitchen chometz. Also, I find that cleaning out my pantry and cabinets, drawers etc, even though I don't do all of them, takes a wee bit longer than your 3 hr allotment. My Rav agrees also that refigerators/ovens etc don't need to be moved and that inaccessible chometz is botul. Have never seen your blog before -love it and love the concept! Have a great Yom Tov!

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    1. I don't clean out my pantry. I keep all my chometz, even continuing to stock up on pasts and cereal the week of. I sell it all. I clean out one drawer and one cabinet to use for Pesach food, and keep some in the basement in boxes. Welcome to the blog and enjoy your chag!

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  4. After reading this, I think you are preparing for Passover all year long, based on your restrictions of where people can eat. I remember growing up with rules like this, but my wife comes from a different tradition and so we have many fewer places where we can say "No chametz allowed up here all year, so no need to clean."

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    1. Agree. We are pretty lax about where food can travel, so we have to clean more.

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    2. Should be workingMarch 11, 2013 at 3:29 PM

      Tesyaa, since you have said you don't feel inwardly very committed to O practice, how do you discipline yourself to do this thoroughly and not just skimp and cut corners? (I mean this sheerly curiously, not disrespectfully, as a corner-cutter myself in matters of cleaning in general.)

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    3. Pesach is very important to my husband, so of course, I'm going to respect his wishes. Since the advent of my "nonbelief", I have encouraged him to take on more tasks though :).

      Honestly, I grew up in a traditional Conservative kosher home in which my parents were very careful to change the dishes and only buy Pesach products. They didn't stress as much about the cleaning as I do in my Orthodox home, but I really have a family tradition of doing things this way, so it's not a huge problem for me.

      Every year when we bring out the dishes and the Pesach foods, all my kids exclaim over memories from previous years. The seder preparations and cooking are all about family time, and are special for that reason.

      The hardest time I have is the text of the Haggadah itself, with its literal story of the Exodus and the emphasis on Jewish chosenness and Jewish destiny. I much prefer hours of cleaning to having to smile and try not to argue too much.


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    4. Oh, I forgot to add that even though my husband is very careful about Pesach, we rely on "shortcuts" like those described in Ruchi's post - not cleaning areas where chametz does not generally go, and using water mixed with household cleanser in the kitchen, since the cleanser nullifies chametz particles by making them inedible.

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    5. It's like Thanksgiving. I'm not going to suddenly tell my family that we're not going to have a turkey dinner and I'm just going to go to work that day. True, it's more work and more sacrifice than Thanksgiving, but I own all the Pesach utensils anyway, and have shopping lists and so on, so it's doable. Plus the kitchen gets clean, for once.

      I don't know how many people actually really, really believe it's necessary to go as crazy cleaning as they do - but they do it anyway.

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  5. I have always wondered where, what, and how the family is supposed to eat between the onset of cleaning and Pesach itself (we don't observe to that extent, obviously). Thanks for clearing that up for me! I like your "good enough is good enough" approach.

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    1. This year a number of the local synagogues in town are offering Shabbat lunches for the Shabbat before Pesach, so that people can get an early start on turning their kitchens over. Sunday and Monday they'll just eat for that is kosher for Passover - no big deal.

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    2. We eat Pesachdik for Shabbos haGadol when Pesach is on Monday night. Some years we go to the shul meals, but rarely. We'll eat challah in the garage, though, so we're not totally deprived.

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    3. Should be workingMarch 11, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      I will admit I am very surprised at Ruchi's pragmatic, 'good enough is good enough' approach. It seems REALLY different from the scrupulousness she has described about other practices, where the goal is to TOTALLY conform to whatever the commandment is, no matter how big a pain it is to [move the refrigerator; not shake hands with men; eat highest standard of kosher].

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    4. I just listen to what the rabbi says. When he says "this is really important" (handshaking) I comply. When he says "good enough is good enough" I agree gladly!

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  6. I really agree with some of the things you wrote - dirt isn't chametz and what you're not using on pesach needn't be cleaned at all. I also wholeheartedly agree that pesach cleaning isn't to be confused with spring-cleaning nor is this the time to reorganize the house.

    But about some other things I think quite differently. When I still had small children, I did wash any toys that would be in use during pesach appropriately (a washing machine is such a help!) since they do tend to put toys into their mouths and I wouldn't want my children to eat an iota of chametz during pesach either. Bedrooms can be done quickly and easily, but I attack kitchen cabinet corners and the fridge with toothpicks to ensure that anything involved in food preparation during pesach be meticulously clean. (True, it's all cleaned with bleach and covered as well, so I guess it is a bit over the top, but there are always those "what-if's" - what if the foil tears? what if I didn't clean all the way into the corner? This way I know I did the absolute best I could.)

    I have a small porch which becomes the pre-pesach dining room and alternatively serve legumes and/or rice as well as matzo-meal dishes indoors.

    if I had your stamina, I could probably do it in a couple of days - but I prefer to spread it out over a month and pace myself. And - the most important thing is to save your energy for the Seder night! Happy Holiday to all of you!

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    1. AFAIK, the only places you needn't check/clean at all are those sealed off and "sold" for the duration of the holiday or those places that you are 100% sure had absolutely no chametz during the entire year - "generally" clean isn't good enough.

      A truly good reason to get hyper over getting rid of chametz is the promise of the Ari that one who manages to keep away from the smallest iota of chametz during this week is guaranteed not to sin over the following year, in its entirety. And at the same time, we endeavour to rid ourselves of our spiritual "chametz" (ie temptations of the evil inclination) as well.

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    2. How can the Ari make that guarantee? And does it work? I guess people will always say "there must have been a stray crumb", but what about people who "sell" all their possessions and go away for yom tov? Have they been shown not to sin? Again, I'd like to see a study. :)

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    3. Should be workingMarch 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

      Wow, I didn't know there were Jewish guarantees against sin. I'm not sure how I feel about that. What about free will, which Ruchi has emphasized? And I guess this requires the belief in an inscrutable God-logic, like why should an iota of chometz condemn make the difference between sin-free and sin-prone.

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    4. I'll let rena explain since she's the one who mentioned it, but I think it's an extra protection from mistakes, not a guarantee.

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    5. Obviously the Ari wasn't negating free choice or such; this promise refers to being guarded against "accidents". The rabbis teach us that G-d control events such that "accidents" happen to those that didn't themselves endeavor enough to refrain from sin.

      The rabbis also teach us that chametz corresponds to our evil inclination, being "puffed up" with arrogance, feeling that one can do as one wishes during his life in this world and doesn't owe anything to his Creator. We refrain from eating chametz to build up our allegiance to G-d at our nation's birth.

      Thus, the less chametz in our systems, the less the evil inclination has control over us. However, once we have become "immunized", so to speak, through keeping the week of pesach vigilantly, then we can be strong enough not to fall into its clutches and use all in this world only for good -including chametz.

      (The evil inclination has its purpose in this world, as well - as is told in the Talmud (Yoma 69b), that the sages contemplate killing the sexual urge but discover that the world would then be destroyed: the same force that leads many to sin also perpetuates the propagation of the world and helps forge a loving relationship between husbands and wives.)

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    6. My husband and I follow the Ari, yet we both also agree wit Ruchi's approach of doing your best and not worrying too much. The physical cleaning itself is to be used as a VEHICLE for dealing with your own spiritual chametz. Going crazy cleaning and not dealing with your internal self is not the point. However, if you use your cleaning time to search out your soul and examine your own internal accumulation of chametz, the cleaning can be extremely cathartic and good for growth. And of course this kind of spiritual work will help you from making future mistakes. When you come to the seder after freeing yourself of this "slavery", you experience so much freedom and joy.
      I hope you don't mind me sharing an article I wrote about it here - http://andreagrinberg.com/ideas/blog/201104-pesach-preparation-for-the-soul/
      For us, this approach really helps... but we still do our cleaning in a few days. We just go really intense on the last day which I actually find very enjoyable because it helps me deal with the personal stuff I'm trying to work out.

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    7. I've certainly heard of the idea of getting rid of spiritual chametz, but I always assumed the cleaning was supposed to be a reminder so that you deal with the spiritual side separately. How does cleaning help you work out personal stuff?

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    8. We are reminded not to deal only with the physical chometz while ignoring our lowly spiritual state but to deal with our spiritual "chometz"/blemishes as well so as to celebrate true freedom during Pesach. Of course, they are each dealt with separately - although the Berdichever Rebbe did claim that our scouring and scrubbing also counts as soul-scrubbing.

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  7. Since I do a thorough cleaning every week before Shabbat, I begin my Pesach cleaning two weeks before. I scan a calendar page for Pesach, and write down on each day a 'realistic' schedule of things to do including the shopping and errands, winding down to the kitchen counter and sink a few days before. The hardest is to issue the 'Decree: No More Crumbs Period'. Soon as I begin the foiling, that's it. Food preparations begin thereafter, with the Shabbat before prepared in Pesach pots et al. This enables Pesach foods for eating up until the Seder. Make lists, and remake the lists as you go along.

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    1. Hi Neshama! Welcome to the blog! Thanks for you input.

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  8. Should be workingMarch 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Can someone explain the 'selling' part? Who wants to buy a garage full of Cheerios (or whatever)?

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    1. See this piece from Parshablog:

      http://parsha.blogspot.com/2013/02/why-i-am-in-favor-of-selling-chametz.html

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    2. Interesting. SBW, in a nutshell, there is a sale (on paper), facilitated by one's rabbi, where the contract stipulates that any chometz taped off in x places in the home are sold to a non-Jew for the week. The non-Jew could, in theory, stroll in and avail himself of my Cheerios. But typically no one actually does. At the end of the week the chometz reverts back to its owner.

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    3. Does the non-Jew sell it back?

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  9. What should you delegate to your helper? Whatever you hate to do.

    I'm wondering how this fits in with the Golden Rule. Obviously, if you hate scrubbing the stove and the cleaning lady loves it, it's a perfect fit. But if you both hate it, well, she's your paid employee and at your mercy. But it doesn't sound that nice, frankly. I get the feeling this is not exactly how you meant it, Ruchi, so I'm not worried, just wondering if there's a clarification needed.

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    1. I realize maybe this was a silly question. Obviously, if you hire a cleaning person, the expectations of the job are laid out in advance, and as long as she agrees you can ask her to do whatever chores are needed. I'm thinking more about unpaid help, such as a daughter, son, nephew or niece. I personally feel uncomfortable assigning someone else to do the tasks I hate. (I even feel that way with paid help - go figure).

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    2. Yeah, that was sort of tongue-in-cheek. In part I delegate the jobs I dislike to my cleaning help. Of course I would never give her a demeaning or overly difficult job, and I treat her very well, always giving her lunch, coffee, etc.

      As far as my kids, I learned from my mother to offer my kids choices of jobs (would you rather clean out the high chair or blowdry chairs? bake or wash dishes?) and then I take the job they leave behind (even if I don't like it either).

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  10. Our rule is also food stays in the kitchen/dining room although inevitably things penetrate to the tv room. Still, 3 rooms and I'm preparing them to save their spouses' sanity as adults:)

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    1. Hi Deborah! Welcome to the blog. Yes - love that.

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  11. Thanks so much for this, Ruchi! Your attitude is so much more like mine about Pesach prep than about a lot of other things. One thing I discovered many years ago: during the year, I buy occasional things on impulse that never get eaten. Those wind up in the "non-Pesach" bin, and get taken out again after Pesach. The following Pesach, they go in again... So now I make a little mark on everything in the bin. I start sorting for Pesach a couple of weeks ahead, and if I find something with a mark on it that's not out of date, it either gets eaten right away or given to a food pantry. If we've had it for a whole year (or more), we're never going to eat it.

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  12. I am totally in agreement with the spirit of this post and am a big believer in keeping passover cleaning minimal and not crazy, but I'm also a big believer in not making myself crazy with my kids and their mess during the year. Generally I tell them only to eat at the table but I find the food gets everywhere anyway, think 3 year old boys and their pockets, secret picnics in the basement playroom or a good kzayis of oatmeal dried onto a shirt that got stuffed in a drawer instead of the laundry basket by mistake! When I clean for passover I seem to find stuff everywhere so I know I have to be careful. I have a similar number of kids to you but they are much younger, lots of little ones and not many older helpers. Did you really find it so fast when your kids were all younger?

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    1. You know, you touched on something here that's similar to what Larry mentioned above. Truth be told, I am into keeping certain areas of the house food-free all year, and it really has nothing to do with Pesach. The same way I don't want to make my family neurotic in the weeks leading up to Pesach and possibly ruining the holiday, why would I do that ALL YEAR?

      (True confessions time.) One of the things I am working on about myself is that I am a little too staid about needing things neat and organized. I believe that that is one reason God gave me lots of kids - so I can learn how to be chilled and put my own "needs" aside for the love of others. So yes, I have rules about where food is allowed to go, etc., but I am working on being more chilled than how I am wired. It's hard.

      That said: I didn't find it this fast when my kids were all younger, but not because of the mess. More because I had no idea what I was doing and I was doing all this stuff that was unnecessary/had nothing to do with Pesach.

      Also: oatmeal dried on a shirt that has not been in the laundry for months is inedible and therefore not a problem. Secret picnics in the basement, if neglected all year and discovered on Cleaning Day can probably be dealt with in half-hour or less. No?

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    2. right the oatmeal on the shirt might be inedible but if my three year old decided to put it on during chol hamoed morning and I discovered him wearing it as he is climbing up on the kitchen counters to get himself an apple I might not be feeling so chilled.

      and yes, cleaning up a secret picnics is quick when discovered but my point is, I don't know if there was one (because it was a secret) or where it is. Since I am worried that the contents of said secret picnic could have ended up in a box that got put back up in the games cupboard so now I am not just scanning the floors and shelves for chametz but also need to go through the whole cupboard and check into every puzzle box or board game or whatever. It all takes time.

      Re: needing things neat and organized: I hear this struggle. I go back and forth on it all the time. I feel so much better when the house is neat and I feel that everyone benefits and is less chaotic when they wake up to an orderly environment but at the same time the energy I would need to expend in curtailing my kids' natural creativity and rambunctiousness to keep that up all the time would be too much and would end up in a mother who is more miserable than the one who is just frustrated by the mess, so it's a constant battle between the two needs.

      I try to enforce keeping the food in one place but the only way it could work is to make it a "discipline priority", the kind of thing I would stop nursing the baby to deal with, be prepared to follow through with consequences no matter what was going on at the time. I guess I am just not motivated enough to make this my battle of choice. Usually it's just easier to let it fly and focus my limited energies on things that are truly damaging or life threatening, or important to the childrens' emotional wellbeing (like listening to my 10 year old DD's friendship woes and not interrupting her because the toddler is carrying his sandwich off to who knows where and will start a whole tantrum if I intercept it and then the three year old will get frustrated with the toddlers' endless screaming so try to solve the problem himself by punching him and all the wailing will set the baby off screaming...). And then every few days the mess gets to me and I end up yelling at everyone anyway

      You always read in those inspirational mothering things "Cleaning the house while the children are growing is like shovelling the driveway while it's still snowing". As a resident of Canada, I can tell you that oftentimes if you wait until the snow stops to shovel your driveway you won't be able to leave your house for a week. I mean c'mon people, who heard of not cleaning your house for over 20 years?????.

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    3. Should be workingMarch 13, 2013 at 8:34 PM

      I like hearing about your parenting styles and how they fit in with your being-Jewish styles. Ruchi, I asked somewhere about whether the rigorous habitual behavior that you cultivate in Judaism lends itself to (or draws its strength from?) a kind of extreme focus on habits and routines. Your rules about keeping food out of bedrooms makes perfect sense in eithe rcase.

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  13. First sorry it took so long to comment, it was great to meet you in person while you were in Jerusalem, Israel.
    Reading this list is like a flash back of so many things: Remembering when a friend found a bagel in a shoe box in her closet, remembering how wonderful it was to have two self clean ovens, remembering when we had a basement, a laundry room.. Oh well, the advantage of living in a much smaller space, there is a lot less to clean, but a lot more to move. But we can walk to the Kotel any time during the holiday season and not worry about where to park. Enough procrastination... back to work. Chag samech.

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    1. Hi Sharon! Thanks so much for weighing in here! Likewise, it was great meeting you. I still remember finding a pretzel one year (not at MY house, at a relatives) and how exciting that was, as a kid. Of course, my relative was horrified. And equally of course, she didn't do anything wrong. She cleaned well. Things get overlooked. No one ate it of course, so we all just moved on.

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  14. This is refreshing! Thank you, Ruchi!

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    1. Always love hearing from you Nina :)

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  15. OK. After spending *almost* a whole day cleaning only *half* my house today, with the help of 3 competent adults/almost-adults, I have to say that not everyone is up to this. I happen to be in pretty decent shape, I'm in my mid-40s and feel 20 years younger, and cleaning half my house with my 3 helpers was pretty exhausting. I could handle it - and I have a list of errands for the rest of the day. But someone who is a little older, who has even minor health problems, or is going through pregnancy or is postpartum cannot do the "clean your house for Pesach in 1 day" routine. You need to add a disclaimer!

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    1. :) no promises were made! Disclaimers are actually sprinkled throughout. But truthfully, even if it takes two days - that's far better than what most people live in fear of.

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