I can only put off the Pesach cleaning for so long - eventually I will have to get to it. I just really don't want to. But I was talking (complaining) about it this morning and my little two-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands - she took a baby wipe and started cleaning her little kitchen. Good for her, at least someone is being productive.
Her cleaning gave me an idea though. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I can clean with the kids and maybe we can make it fun. Maybe if I hand each child a little kit with a spray water bottle, some paper towels, a sponge, and a flashlight, we might be able to get something done. I think I'll stick each kid's loot into one of the gazillion reusable tote bags we have laying around and hand them out on Sunday morning - the day I have decided will be our big cleaning day. And, and, I am going to take it one step further and make it a game - a treasure hunt game.
To anyone knee-deep in Pesach cleaning, this will sound completely counter-intuitive, but I think the treasure hunt might actually
involve some Hershey kisses hidden around the house. Kind of like Bedikat Chametz, but not with bread. Are you asking me if I am nuts? Cause I am pretty sure my mom will when she reads this. But bear with me. This is what we are going to do:
1. Take pictures of things your kids can clean and/or look through - for example, their backpacks, their dresser drawers, the toy box, under the couch, their coat pockets. Upload them to the computer and print them out on regular paper, or if you are feeling fancy, in color on photo paper.
2. Glue the pictures to index cards and write a clue* on the back. This way kids that know how to read can read the clues and kids that do not yet know how to read can look at the pictures.
3. The night before the treasure hunt, hide your cards, reserving the first clue card to actually hand to the kids. For example, I think my kids will start with the toy box. Since there will be three kids playing, I will hide three Hershey kisses in the toy box. Their job will be to dump out the toys, look for half eaten pretzels and crumbled cookies - and to find their kisses.
Sorry to dissapoint, but this will all have to involve some form of parental involvement, unless you believe that your kids will actually clean without just eating their chocolates. Mine are pretty young so I can't imagine that would be the case. Hey, forget about being young - I would just sit and eat the chocolates too, shoving them into my mouth with one hand while shoving all the toys back in the toy box without checking for any crumbs whatsoever. But I feel like just getting them involved in the cleaning is an important life lesson, working together as a team, helping out at home, blah blah blah. Just like they know that they cannot have dessert on Shabbat if they do not help clear the table first.
So yeah, here is where that pesky parental involvement comes in - a good idea would be to have either me or Josh follow the kids around and when they, for example, dump out the toy box, the adult will then vacuum the inside of the box and the kids can wipe down the outside of the box. You can use a dust buster or a vacuum, depending on the crumb level in your house. We will be using a vacuum, possibly two of them, in case you were wondering.
4. Once the first clue is done and all clean, the kids can find the second clue/index card taped to the bottom of the toy box, which will tell them where to go next. Rinse and repeat, until all the kiddie chores are done.
Will your house be all clean for Pesach once this game is played? No, not by a long shot. But I do believe that the kids will be more willing to not bring chametz into the living room or playroom if they know that they have already worked hard cleaning the room. Kind of like when one of the kids will spontaneously clean the toys up and then get very upset when a sibling takes out a toy to play with: "I just cleaned that! Why are you messing it up?!" And that's not even me yelling, it's the cleaner kid himself! A little validation for mommy is always a good thing.
*Here is a list of the pictures I took, the items the kids will be cleaning and the accompanying clue:
1. Toy box: "I am a big blue box where things are stored, I am so full, there's no room for more."
2. Under the couches: "At clean up time, when you think Mommy can't see, you push things underneath me."
3. Toy shelves in the porch/playroom: "We live in the porch and our color is peach, sometimes we hold things that are just out of your reach."
4. Backpacks: "I go to school with you every day, and you carry me on your back. When you come home, you are supposed to hang me on the coat rack."
5. Coat pockets: "I keep your hands from being cold, and also, sticky lollipops, crumbs and maybe even some dirt and rocks, I do hold.
5. Dresser drawers: "I hold all your shirts, pajamas and socks, I am shaped like a rectangle and I look like a big white box."
6. Under their beds: "Look under me, look all the way, I'll bet there are a bunch of lost toys here that you'll be so happy to see."
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your shirt is dirty :)