A Long, Overdue Cleanup

We haven’t celebrated Pesach (Passover) at home in 4 Years

For the past 3 Passovers (and for 5 of the past 6), I have served as a scholar-in-residence at different hotel programs. As a result, our family did just a token amount of pre-holiday cleaning at our residence. We did the cars and basic surfaces, but by comparison to the amount of time spent shopping, packing and traveling, our cleaning time was but a pittance.

(For the uninitiated, the Torah demands that a home be leaven-free on Passover. This means that it must be cleaned from all items that contain leaven (foods derived from grains such as wheat and barley), a stringency that is far more involved than standard kosher requirements. The amount of effort needed to achieve this level of cleanliness is significant.)

This year, we decided that we were going to stay home for the holiday. With a son studying in Israel for the past seven months and an upcoming bar mitzvah, we felt that we would do well to enjoy the holiday together at home.

As wonderful as the hotel programs were, there is nothing quite like being around our own seder table, interacting with our children in a quiet, private, unrushed environment in which we are in complete control over what we do, say, eat, etc.

The need to clean our home this year has created new stressors, to be sure, but it also opened new possibilities. Our home is not large when you consider the number of regular occupants (8) that it houses, and we have been making it feel a bit snugger yet by holding onto many of our kids’ too-small clothes, old school projects, etc. thinking that one day they would be wanted, needed and/or come in handy. The result has been a level of coziness that was starting to make things a tad uncomfortable.

Credit my wife for getting an early jump on things and for becoming our declutter champion. She broke through her own inclinations to keep every last thing (we all have them) and began disposing of or giving away tons of unneeded clothes, furniture, appliances, reading material and more. The result was more freed up space, better organization of all that we held on to, and a general feeling of roomy serenity, despite the looming “storm” of kitchen “turnover”, cooking, cleaning and everything else that preparing for Passover entails.

We all have clutter in our lives and it’s easy to push off dealing with it.  

While the status quo can be uncomfortable, the prospect of rolling up our sleeves and dealing with it can be even more intimidating.

Our blocks will just get in our way and do everything possible to prevent us from doing what we know needs to be achieved.

How can we strategically circumvent this innate hesitation?

  1. One way is to imagine what life will be like when you’re done. How will the situation look and feel? What will it do to your day to day living and how will it improve your overall quality of life? The answers to these questions, when considered carefully and in vivid detail, can be a real motivator.
  2. Another thought is to set some form of deadline by which to make the change occur. Ideally, tie this time-frame to an event, such as a holiday, family gathering, special visitor, new addition, or the like. The more that you can imagine the look on someone else’s face (or even your own) upon seeing the new look of your home or whatever else you are working towards, the more that you will be motivated to get the job done right and on schedule.