What is the optimal timing for turning my kitchen over for Passover? I’m trying to figure out how to feed my family through the weekend and still be ready for guests Monday night.
Scrubbing on a schedule
I hate to break it to you, but there probably is no optimal timing. Get everything ready too early, and you’re spending days shooing kids away from countertops and crumbs. Wait until the last minute, and you’re a nervous wreck and rushing around making everyone crazy anyway.
If you have young toddlers, you may want to pre-make enough food to get through the weekend, and even put things in disposable storage containers so as not to make more dishes. Little ones are not going to understand what’s going on anyway, so as long as they’re fed, they’re fine, and you can make your own schedule. In this case, aiming to do most of the work on Sunday and Monday seems easiest and most practical.
If you have older kids, you can actually engage them in the process and even get their buy-in to help. Getting kids to put stickers on different parts of the kitchen that have already been kashered can be a great way to have them understand visually what they can and can’t touch. When I’m ready to clean the cabinets, I take all the remaining bits of snacks and put them in a bin for my kids to dig through and help themselves. Just with the leftovers we still have from Purim mishloach manot, they could probably manage to feed themselves through the weekend and be fine. It may not be the healthiest week of their lives, but the experience does create some pre-holiday intrigue.
I’m hoping to have a lot of the work done in my kitchen by Friday, with a plan for simple Shabbat meals that don’t make crumbs and have minimal clean-up. Then I can finish the cleaning and kashering Saturday night and Sunday morning and be ready to cook Sunday night and Monday. That may feel too last minute to you, but it’s the best arrangement for my family, taking into account when I have back-up with the kids and how much time I actually expect to spend cooking.
My main goal is to do Passover prep in a way that doesn’t make my kids hate the lead-in to the holiday. A clean house is important, but so is a happy family that actually wants to celebrate together once all the preparations are done. There’s also no shame in a couple days of take-out before Passover, or cold cereal, or whatever will allow your family to be fed and your kitchen to be as stress-free as possible.