Pesach will be here before we blink, and mothers across the globe are beginning to prepare. There is loads of cleaning and cooking to do, and even the most seasoned Shaatra will find it hard to complete all the work by herself. But the good news is that Mom does not need to do everything alone. Now that the kids are home for an extended Pesach break, the best way to keep them busy and get everything done in record time is by turning your family into a Pesach Prep team. That’s right – as much as possible, involve your children in the Pesach preparations in a fun and upbeat way, and your house will be ready right on time for the holiday.
NOT A CRUMB IN SIGHT
Before you begin Pesach cleaning, and before you involve your children, remind yourself that you are doing Pesach cleaning and not Spring cleaning. This means that you don’t need to dust the drapes (unless you think it’s possible that they house hametz), throw out old clothes, or organize the pile of papers and photographs in the office. If you have time to do all that, then great. But if not, remember that the obligation is to get rid of hametz and not clutter or dust. Get clear on what your goal is so you can have a hametz-free house without becoming unnecessarily overwhelmed.
Once the task is clear, you can put on some music and show your children how to get involved in Pesach cleaning. With a little patience, you can teach your children to clean. If you make sure to have a positive attitude, or even get creative and turn cleaning into a game, you may be surprised to find out that the kids actually enjoy contributing to the Pesach preparations!
Children can be trained to clean their own bedrooms and drawers. They can learn to wash their toys with soap and water and dry them. They can be taught to look for food and crumbs, and to dispose of any that they may find. True, Mom will have to supervise and look the room over for any hametz that may have been missed, but when the kids lend a hand, a lot more will get done. And to top it all off, the children will walk away with a sense of family camaraderie and purpose, knowing that they have contributed to getting the home ready for the beautiful Pesach holiday.
KOSHER FOR PASSOVER
Once the kitchen is koshered, you can enlist your children to help cook. Young children can follow simple cooking instructions. You can allow them to peel and clean vegetables, and once you slice them, they can put them into a pot of water, if it is not hot. Of course, older children can check rice, as well as help with preparing dishes and desserts.
If the prospect of involving the children in the cooking process seems overwhelming, you can find other chores for them to do, such as throwing out garbage and keeping the kitchen clean as you cook. Older children can keep the younger children busy with a project or activity while you accomplish all you need to in the kitchen.
Come erev Pesach, the house will be clean and the food will be prepared, but the table will still need to be set and the Pesach plate filled with all of the symbolic Pesach foods.
Children can become involved in each of these undertakings. They can help cover the table with a tablecloth, set place settings at each chair, and fold napkins. In addition, they can prepare plates with each of the Pesach foods that all those present at the seder will partake in. For instance, children can peel the hard boiled eggs and arrange them nicely on a platter, and can put spoonfuls of haroset into bowls for each guest. Children can make any other age-appropriate contributions and should be praised for their efforts.
Once you arrive at seder night, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s time to focus on the children and tell them the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim. Children of all ages should have a chance to say Mah Nishtanah, read divre Torah, and ask any pertinent questions.
In the days leading up to the seder, give your children the chance to become active participants in the Pesach preparations. And on seder night, when we have a mitzvah to teach our children about all that happened to us as a nation, remind yourself that involving the children is what Pesach is all about!