Tips for a Pressure-Free Pesach

– Make lists of things that need to get done. Put the lists in a notebook or binder with dividers so you can create sections for cleaning, shopping and menu planning. By keeping your notes in a designated spot, you will avoid having to make multiple lists that may get lost. Use this notebook to streamline preparations for next year.

– Create a timeline of tasks by working with the end in mind. When you plan your schedule, work backwards. For example, begin by writing “First Seder” on April 8th. Ask yourself what you want to get done on the morning of the Seder. If you want to set the table, buy flowers and prepare Seder activities with the kids, then all the cooking must be done ahead of time. For the cooking to get done, you must schedule when to shop for groceries. Before you shop for groceries you need to plan menus, and so on.

– Break down each chore into bite-size pieces. Assign a time and day for each chore or activity, such as grocery shopping or cleaning yom tov clothes. It’s important to assign tasks in bite-size pieces so that you don’t get overwhelmed.

– Understand the difference between cleaning for Pesach and spring cleaning. Set your goals and be realistic; this may not be the best time to clean your drapes. Evaluate how much time you really have to devote to getting ready for Pesach and leave spring cleaning tasks for after the holiday.

– Involve your family. Divide up the chores and delegate each task to a family member. Young children can clean their own toys, bookshelves and games. To make it fun, hide money or kosher for Pesach candy between book pages or under the sofa as a reward for cleaning.

– Plan simple meals and, if necessary, cook in bulk. Leave complicated dishes for shorter holidays like Shavuot. Some of the best dishes require no more than three ingredients. If you have a lot of cooking to do, double recipes and freeze the extra in food storage bags.

– Explore the wonders of a crock pot. Even if you haven’t kashered your oven for Pesach, you can still get a head start on the cooking. Designate a small area in the kitchen for Pesachdik meal preparations. Prepare ingredients for soups and dishes like chicken, meatballs or roasts. Cook the food in a Pesachdik crock pot, transfer to a container, aluminum pan or food storage bag and freeze.

Tips were culled from materials from Rivka Slatkin, Sarah Zeldman and Esther Simon, all of whom are professional organizers.

This article was featured in the Spring 2009 issue of Jewish Action.
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