B”H Pesach is going well – my husband, two older daughters and team of helpers changed the kitchen over, and cooking is well under way. A few random thoughts:
A number of people have blogged about how to keep your children engaged at the seder. My thoughts on this:
Get them enthusiastic about Pesach to start with. If they are in schools where they are learning about Pesach – great! Half the job should be done already. If not, and even if they are:
If finances allow – a new outfit/pair of shoes/hairband does wonders for increasing anticipation for girls and small boys. Some new books, which you show them and then put away for yom tov (ideally Pesach themed), or toys (which saves you having to clean your other ones!) can also contribute to the excitement. I took advantage of the Feldheim sale a few weeks ago to stock up on books.
Get them to participate in all your preparations – cleaning, shopping, cooking, errands, sorting laundry – kids can join in all of these at some level. Balance the “help” which younger children will give you with the fun they will have, and cash in on the real help which your older children can provide. Put on some music, open the Pesach chocolate and do it all together.
Get hold of Pesach CDs – we have a few, with catchy songs and story lines. We put them on after Purim- the older kids and I know them by heart, but still get something out of them, and the younger kids seem to be enjoying singing along with the songs they have learnt in school.
Make sure there is plenty of food!! The changeover period can be quite difficult for this – snack on chametz in the garden, eat Pesach crisps/yogurts, bake some extra Pesach cakes for immediate eating. We are very fortunate that one of the heimishe caterers here opens up a cheap takeaway/diner in a local simcha hall for the few days before yom tov. It’s a treat, but it’s reasonably priced and it makes a lot of difference to the stress levels all round. This year there were also a couple of options available locally for catered, eat in Shabbos hagadol packages.
When it comes to erev Pesach – involve the children in preparing the seder plate, laying the table, etc. We stop at chatzos hayom, after which time you shouldn’t do any melacha you can’t do on chol hamoed, and sit down for a hot fleishig meal, followed by a sleep. Most of our children are now old enough that even if they don’t sleep they will rest then. The baby is at the age where he can be “cuddled into submission.” Then when we get up, we can have a snack and do any last minute cooking before showering etc for yom tov. At the seder, I feed younger children when they are hungry, rather than waiting till the meal. We have been at a seder (run by a rabbi!) when the grownups were also hungry and the hostess served tea and biscuits after kiddush!
We made a Pesachdig Shabbos and it was a good chance to try a couple of new recipes. We particularly enjoyed these zucchini pickles from 101 Cookbooks ( I left out the mustard seeds, and actually the chili because I didn’t have any yet) and a three layered vegetable kugel from the Aish website.
Wishing everyone a kosher, meaningful, peaceful and lovely yom tov!