It’s that most wonderful time of the year again, when the theme of the month is clean, organize, scrub and mop. For many, the list can seem overwhelming, even for those who like to clean. It’s not that we don’t want to do it; it’s just that there is so much to do –
the bedrooms, closets, bathrooms, kitchen cabinets, fridge, oven, bookcase, and so on and so forth. Add children to the mix and full-time jobs outside of the home, and it’s hard to find the time to do it all.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed and start feeling down, with thoughts of “Why can’t we go away?” and “How can I possible do everything?” creeping in and weighing us down.
These types of feelings will just depress us and keep us from missing the wonderful opportunity in front of us. Yes, it’s true – there is a wonderful opportunity awaiting us this season: the opportunity to declutter, re-invent and reclaim our living spaces, and tackle those big jobs that never seem to get done. Because if we didn’t have to do them, odds are that in our crazy busy lives, we probably never would. We would be drowning in clutter by the time the children leave the house, and when the time comes for us to downsize, how would we ever begin throwing out years and years of accumulated debris?
I find that the best way to get things done is not to push things off. There is no later, no tomorrow, just now.
First, break down the entire job into teeny, tiny bite-size pieces. A bedroom isn’t a bedroom, but rather: under the bed, separate drawers, separate areas of the closet, window treatments, etc. Break down all the spaces in the house that way.
Next, you need to take advantage of the time you have available. Once you are already doing something, expand that task to include some extra Pesach cleaning. Note the activities that are part of your schedule and see if you can expand them to include a task. While getting the children dressed in the morning, can you go through a drawer or two? On your way out of the house, can you put in some extra time to go through the coat closet? On your way home, can you do the car? Perhaps one or two mornings a week, can you wake up thirty minutes earlier and tackle a shelf or two in a closet? While cleaning up after dinner, can you go through half a bookcase? While making Shabbos, can you spend a few more minutes vacuuming under the beds and going through the pantry?
Don’t forget the little helpers! When they put away their toys, they can expand that time to clean and sort them. When doing homework, they can go through their backpacks. When hanging up their clothes, they can organize and vacuum their closet. Children as young as six can be trusted to adequately look for chometz in a task-specific area, with clear instructions given. The older the child, the more responsibility you can give him or her.
Don’t forget the rewards of a job well done. I like to get my children a new CD to listen to while they do their jobs, and although I rarely let them chew gum in the house, I allow them to chew gum with kitniyot while they are cleaning.
Step by step, bit by bit, your trimmed down house will come together, ready for Pesach without anyone needing to run away to a hotel or the in-laws.