The countdown is on, Pesach is coming.
When you read that sentence, did it make your heart start palpitating and you started breaking out in a cold sweat?
Or did you feel a thrill of excitement and burst of adrenaline for this incredible, all encompassing Jewish holiday that wraps you up in a world of its own; where regular life ceases to exist and family and meals become front and center of your life.
Yeah, that really is possible – or you can at least get closer to the latter reaction.
Pesach is a lot. It really is. There’s so much to do and so much to buy and so much to prepare.
Now, as I’m preparing to make Pesach in my own home for the 14th year, I’d like to share my top Six Sanity Tips for Pesach, in the hope that they offer some help in some way to some Pesach-makers.
#1- It starts at the roots, it’s the foundation. It’s the most important and fundamental rule that will make all the difference in everything I do: I must love pesach.
Yes, love it.
If the feeling isn’t natural, I repeat “I love Pesach” over and over again until it becomes a part of me. I repeat it again and again. And then again. Starting the day after Purim, I think it while I work, while I walk, while I drive and just about any other time of day or night.
And it really happens. Try it and see for yourself; you will convince yourself. You will love Pesach.
Especially considering the fact that it comes back every year, rain or shine, it’s integral to have a healthy relationship with it.
You must love it.
And to make sure you really love it, buy something new for yourself every year or do something special for yourself; it doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be something that gives you a positive association with the workload. (Think a new book, chocolate stash, manicure, purse, shoes, costume jewelry or whatever makes you happy and fits your budget.)
#2: As much as it’s important for me to love Pesach, my kids need to love it too; and really, that’s all dependent on what they hear me saying – which goes back to #1. If I become a ranting and raving chometz guard, we will all hate Pesach together.
Do things that give the kids positive associations with the preparing; be creative with suppers and meals for the days before Pesach – as in, forget the rules and do what works. Can you imagine, nothing says best mother better than allowing cereal and milk for supper!! For three days straight! Double points if it’s Shabbos cereal! It’s just a few nights; everyone will be ok. Their emotional and mental health is top priority over here. Buy some new games or books that are special just for Pesach.
Whatever it is that works, it has to be in line with making the kids love Pesach and not leaving them wishing it went away and so they can get their normal mother back.
#3 I believe that my cleaning help is just as certified and qualified to do the Pesach cleaning as I am.
If you don’t have regular help, hire a company, group, someone, anyone. Your sanity costs a lot more money than the cleaning help; and it is alot harder to fix or replace your sanity if you lose or damage any of it. .
Remember that the mitzvah is to get rid of edible chometz you can see. Food doesn’t fly and crumbs don’t jump. Just clean. And save spring cleaning for a calm day in July.
#4 Pesach is not the time for me to patchke and fuss with new recipes; I save that for during the year when there’s actual ingredients to use, instead of attempting to use (lousy) makeshift replacements and substitutes. The first year I made Pesach I made 5 different types of sweet potato/potato combos. Rolled, layered, scooped – you name it. They all had fancy names and they all tasted the same. All the work for nothing.
Unless fussing with elegant and delicate foods is something that gives you joy and it’s really your thing, just make the food you like and the food your family will eat. No one needs to know what your menu is.
#5 Look for shortcuts. My best shortcut is that I don’t empty a single cabinet or drawer or pantry in my kitchen. I have two self-standing plastic storage cabinets from Costco that are in the garage all year long storing all the pesach stuff and then the cabinets get moved into the house and it continues to house all the pesach stuff. My chometz cabinets get spring cleaned on random days in the year when it’s not Yom Tov season and it’s not spring. True, it’s additional clutter to have two cabinets brought into the kitchen; but pick your poison. Go for the one that will give you less work.
#6 Lists. Paper, Google docs, excel or whatever works. But make those lists and plan ahead.
You can shop around for people’s ideas – but most importantly; make them your own.
There are so many different ways to do it; cooking everything before Pesach, kashering after Purim, kashering the day before or kashering on Erev Yom tov. There’s no wrong way. Find the right way that’s right for YOU. Do things because they work for you, not because they work for your friend or sister or mother or grandmother.
Make Pesach yours. Make it your own.
And I can gaurantee you, you will love Pesach.
You may come to the Seder tired, but there’s a difference between tired and resembling something that the cat dragged in or tired but full of pride and joy and a sense of accomplishment; that you made it without destroying anyone or anything in the process.
And then you can actually be present at the Seder; you will enjoy the time with your family and your food, and actually feel the depth of this holiday celebrating our freedom. You deserve it.