Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Love - Hate Relationship With Spring Cleaning

by Janis Brett Elspas

Welcome to the not-so-tidy room our four kids share.  Don't you just love all the Baby Blues comic strips our youngest son has plastered on their door as if they were wall paper?

Now that I've opened this post with some comic relief, let's talk about something serious.  I almost hate to admit it:  I both adore and despise housekeeping.  Yes, that's right.  I absolutely hate and love it more than words can express.  I mean I really can't stand it, but at the same time I just can't get enough of a high off of spring cleaning in particular.  How can that be?   You might be wondering.

No, I haven't been sniffing too many household cleaning fumes lately.  I'm not a perfect Martha Stewart type, either, though I aspire to be the reworked scaled down version of this iconic woman in my own neighborhood.

If truth must be told:  The real reason I'm doing all this Martha-style homekeeping now is that it's almost Passover.  Which for me means I'm in the last lap around the track of pre-holiday cleaning at home with slightly more than a week to go before the 8-Day Festival of Unleavened Bread begins the night of March 29th with our First Passover Seder.

Like Jews the world over, I am commanded to make sure that every single crumb -- all the chometz* -- in our home is completely banished.  I actually start getting anxious about this annual super dooper cleaning of the house marathon each December.  After decades of preparing our own household for this, I've learned from experience not to wait till the last minute to start scrubbing up a storm.  You really do need to get a move on that far ahead to have any chance of having the house spotless before this spring festival occurs.

In fact, I think non-Jews have us Chosen People to thank for all the energy and excitement of spring cleaning and the neurotic sideshow that usually come along with it.  Yes, it can be a a tad bit of a drag moving out the furniture to find lollipop sticks, Legos, popcorn kernels and all kinds of other schmutz ** under the couch.  But if it weren't for this mandatory pre-Passover cleaning, I'm not so sure I would be cleaning so thoroughly.  What's worse -- I wouldn't find that favorite piece of jewelry I lost right after the last once-a-year full house spiffing up spree.

A thorough house cleaning also answers those questions that I wouldn't be able to answer otherwise.  For example, my hubbie loves kasha varnishkes*** and is always asking me why don't I ever make it for him.  When cleaning out the freezer yesterday I discovered a half dozen boxes of these frozen Jewish delicacies each on a different shelf there -- I finally knew why.  Now DH will be having kasha varnishkas every night almost up until Passover starts because I need to use up everything that has leaven in it, which would include this favorite pasta dish.  Just follow these 10 Magical Steps to a Clean Freezer to avoid similar experiences at your house.

Likewise, I wouldn't know that our cabinets or our carpet, for that matter, are actually both white if I didn't clean them with such zest as I do just before spring arrives.  This year the wall to wall rugs in the dining room and our formal living room (which masquerades as a toy room) were particularly disgusting.  To find out how I did it, check out this other post to find out the secret to removing the blackest stains from white carpet, without the use of harsh chemicals.

Yes, I honestly cannot stand all this crazy cleaning -- which from the looks of the picture below showing what the kids' room looks like right now -- I should be working on at the moment, instead of writing this blogpost.  But the other truth is that totally cleaning the house at least once a year is worth the effort, if only to revel in the white cabinets and carpets for a very short while. 

Hebrew/Yiddish Glossary
*Chometz - In a nut shell, this includes all the foods and drinks Jews are commanded not to each during Passover. Basically everything with leavening, such as bread, cake, cookies or anything else made with any kind of flour, grains, rice, it also includes fermented items such as beer and things made with corn syrup.
**Schmutz - Any dirt or dust lying around the house that is not edible. I also include anything I want to throw out, including all the kids' stuff strewn throughout the house.
***Kasha Varnishkes - An Eastern European ethnic dish from the old country made with bowtie pasta which is tossed with sauteed and seasoned chopped onions and buckwheat.  It is forbidden to eat this delight for Passover because of the pasta and buckwheat which counts as a grain.

What are your own spring cleaning horror and success stories?  Please leave a comment and tell us all about it, being sure to leave the link to your own professional blog if you are a mommy blogger like me.

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