Getting Your Kids to Help with Pesach Cleaning

Cleaning Supplies for Spring Cleaning
Image by Chiot’s Run via Flickr

Passover is coming and we need all the help we can get.

Sometimes we forget why kids should be involved in the Passover preparations.

  • They’re learning important skills.
  • They’re learning about the holiday.
  • Even the most resistant children want to feel needed.
  • You’ll have more time for yourself—and the kids.
  • You won’t end up in an asylum.

Make a list of the jobs that need to get done. Don’t forget daily jobs, like sweeping, cooking,  and supervising small children. One year, my son offered to hang all the laundry in the weeks before Pesach.

Break jobs down into manageable segments of about half an hour each. Then gather the family and divide up the tasks. I let the kids choose.  This can be tricky because sometimes a smaller child picks a chore that is too challenging. Since I don’t like to refuse a genuine offer, I suggest that the child do part of the task, I do it with him, or I partner him with an older child. Sometimes, though, they surprise me.

If kids refuse to choose chores, pick for them or tell them they will get the jobs that are left.

Once chores have been divided, the children can make up a chart. Add your own errands and chores, so they can know your schedule. Take kids with you on errands if you can. My 13-year-old watched me bargain down two shoe salesmen last week. Think how much money I could have saved if my mother had taught me that skill.

Tips to Encourage Cooperation with Kids

  • Don’t overdo the spring cleaning.
  • Lower your expectations even more if you have small children. Expect to be interrupted frequently.
  • Assign a start and end date for each job. One year my kids finished their rooms a day or two before the holiday, leaving me with several extra loads of laundry.
  • Make sure each child knows what his or her job entails, including cleaning up afterward.
  • Ask kids to prepare a play or a quiz game for the seder, or plan a family trip or party.
  • Plan fun activities to break up chores, like the library, park, or museum.
  • Go over the chores at the start of the day. Singling out one child sends the wrong message.
  • Turn off the computer and TV during cleaning sessions. This helps adults too. 🙂
  • If a child resists, try to find out why. She may not know where to start. When my 8-year-old resists, I interrupt his activity, take his hand, and firmly guide him toward the chore. It works best when I don’t talk at all.
  • If the child does a poor job, plan your reaction carefully. Is it because of inexperience? Responding harshly may lead the child to resist more next time. But ignoring a shoddy job may get you more of the same in the future.
  • Project the idea that this is a joint campaign. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s not.
  • Work to music.
  • Offer a communal snack after a cleaning session.
  • Turn on a timer and have everyone work for a set amount of time.
  • If you run into problems, try not to respond in the thick of things. Schedule a meeting for a time when everyone is calm.

How have you encouraged your kids to get involved in Pesach preparations?

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips. Today my daughter worked on a necessary task (not really for Pesach though) while I tackled the laundry/storage area which was not child friendly at all. Together we got a lot done. Where staying closeby isn’t an option, I will set a kid up with a quiet activity (listening to a book on tape, looking at books) or playing outside if the weather is nice.

  2. thanks for the tips. i think it’s so important to involve kids in the things we want to pass down to them.

  3. Last year I posted a schedule for every day. It included lots of cleaning time, some homework time (feh!), mealtime, and downtown. And a couple of fun outings as well. It helped.

    Another thing I do is write down every single thing each child does on a list. The intention is to read it at lunch on the first day of the holiday.

    I am very matter-of-fact about getting their help. I expect help and they know it. They aren’t always willing, but they do what they have to do.

  4. Great list of tips! I like the one about turning off the computer.
    Here is a great link for Pesach cleaning, which I’ll have to remember to post on my blog:
    http://www.ravaviner.com/2009/03/how-to-do-your-pesach-cleaning.html

  5. You have come up with some really great suggestions for tackling what feels like an insurmountable job. And, of course, I LOVE how you’ve found meaning in the work too!

  6. LOL – The idea of the toddler “helping” me clean is pretty funny. He’s really good at sweeping, right now – he’ll take his little kid room and carefully spread out everything in my dustpile back onto all corners of the floor.

    Ugh.

  7. I see I haven’t responded to comments. Well, I hope all of you are managing with everything at thsi point.
    Tzipporah, I remember my oldest, who was very playful. As I swept, he would try to crawl into the pile. I swept the pile away,and he followed. He thought it was the funniest game! But letting them “help” at this age really does make a difference later. Don’t do everything when they’re asleep.

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