Like most females of the Jewish persuasion, few things have caused me more stress than the idea of cleaning for Pesach. In past years, I’ve tried different strategies for dealing with the whole freak-out ‘overwhelmed-ness’ that is preparing for Pesach.
In the UK, my favourite strategy was to try and outsource as much of it as possible to my cleaner, and then just do a few crucial bits in the kitchen.
When we ran out of cash for luxuries like a cleaner, I had to come up with another strategy, so for a couple of years’, God made sure we moved house a little while before Pesach began. One year we moved in just after Purim, so I kept as much chametz as I could out of the bedrooms, and my kitchen was so tiny, it didn’t take much to clean it.
The next year, we moved house literally three days before Seder night, which was actually a really dumb move, as it left me with two houses to clean for Pesach. The next year, I tried the ‘start cleaning after Chanuka’ super-organised approach, which was actually another really dumb idea, as nothing I cleaned three months in advance actually stayed clean, so I ended up just doing everything twice.
The year after that, I tried going down gears, and decided I was actually going to listen to the famous dictum that ‘dust is not chametz’. It cut down the work to be done tremendously (even though I felt a bit guilty for not cleaning the top shelf of my built-in bedroom wardrobes, where no human had ever even been before.)
But even though I had less physical cleaning to do, and I was deliberately trying to be more laid back about the whole exercise, I still felt pretty stressed about everything. I mean, even if you cut corners on the cleaning, you still have to turn your kitchen over; you still have to shop; you still have to cook, and if you’re cooking a Seder into the bargain, it’s a lot of work.
Last year, God made me really, really sick a couple of weeks’ before Pesach, and I literally have no idea how my house got cleaned. I think my husband and kids did it, with minimal input from me, but somehow, it still all got done. I was too ill to stress last year, and I was just grateful to be fulfilling the holiday, however minimally.
This year, my cleaning for Pesach approach seems to have transformed itself, yet again. Hard as I tried, I simply couldn’t manage to get myself stressed-out over it all. I started a couple of weeks’ before Seder, and I was working my way through the house in a fairly orderly, low-key way, when God sent me another mysterious virus that completely knocked me off my feet for almost the whole week before Pesach.
I felt rotten. I barely had energy to cook supper, let alone industrial-clean the space behind the fridge.
You’d think this would all be pretty stressful, but for once, it wasn’t. Instead of stressing, I just got on with whatever small bits I still could do, and with the help of my family, things again got done on time, and to standard.
The house was clean, the chametz was banished, the seder was cooked, and I even managed to clean a mirror or two, into the bargain.
I was pondering how I managed to stay so laid back this year, and I think it’s connected to all the ‘sedating Triple Warmer’ stuff I’ve been doing the last few months.
It really seems to have taken my hyper-anxious ‘fight or flight’ reactions down a whole order of pegs – which is great! It’s the first year that I actually didn’t mind preparing for Pesach. So many times in the past, the whole ordeal has caused me such huge anxiety that I couldn’t help resenting the holiday, for all its holiness.
So here’s my tip for next year, 11 1/2 months early, so you can’t say you weren’t warned in advance: start now, sedate your Triple Warmer meridian at least a couple of times a week, and you too can sail through your cleaning and actually enjoy your Pesach, into the bargain. Here’s to redemption!