We are now in crunch time. Everyone is thinking about Pesach and starting to get down to work. Tensions are high, and it can be hard to keep our cool. Sometimes, it feels as if the hardest part of Pesach is trying to get your kids to help out. But we also need help keeping our perspective and getting through this time of year.
Here are a few things that you need to know about Pesach cleaning and keeping your cool with your family:
1. Things will go wrong.
Richard Carlson, in his book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, said something so simple, yet so profound, that it has always stuck with me. To paraphrase: electrical appliances break, toilets overflow, and heating and air conditioning systems give out. Children will get ear infections, stores won’t always have the item that you need when you need it, and you will burn dinner at least once in your lifetime. Furthermore, there is never a good time in your life for this to happen. There is never a good time for your stove to malfunction or your sink to clog.
Let’s take this one step further. I can almost guarantee one of the above household misadventures will occur before Pesach. I speak from experience (my refrigerator died a week before Pesach last year). Be prepared. Have the number for your plumber, electrician and pediatrician handy. Have babysitters lined up, and extra food ready to preempt any cooking disasters (or make sure you have a good neighbor who is going away for Pesach and cleans out her fridge for you! Thanks, Dina!)
2. It’s not personal.
Many mothers get really upset when their children don’t help them clean. They take it as a personal affront. You might ask how I know this. It’s because I am one of those mothers. I try to constantly remind myself that most people do not like to clean. It’s just not high up on their list of fun things to do. Kids are the same way. They are truly not interested in cleaning, and certainly not invested in it the way we are. We need to remember that our kids are not ignoring our pleas to help because they don’t care about us or how hard we work. They just really don’t like to clean. Try to avoid the lecture, “No one cares about me or how hard I work!” It often leaves kids confused, “Huh? Who likes to sweep? What does that have to do with how I care for my mother?” Or it only reinforces a child’s negative image of him/herself. “I must be really selfish if I don’t want to clean the house…”
3. Avoid accusatory language.
As mentioned above, this is a super busy time of year, and tensions are often high. It’s best if we can avoid the following:
“What are you doing? I just cleaned the table!”
“You are eating again? Without a plate or a napkin?!”
“Your bathroom is not cleaned yet. You told me you were going to clean it!”
“The table needs to be cleared.”
“I need to know a time when the stuff you don’t need will be cleared out of your bathroom.”
If you know that it is really hard for you to stay calm when cleaning for Pesach, then you can try this: “Guys, I appreciate all your help up until now. For the most part, your rooms are clean, and we are well on our way to a fully cleaned and organized home for Pesach. I am going to try not to drive you all crazy, but I can’t promise that I will always ask nicely for your help. Try to be understanding, and cooperate as best as you can. I will really appreciate it.”
So there you have it—just a few ideas to keep in mind, which will help you keep your cool as we move into the Pesach season.