Getting organized for the Passover

March 29 marks the beginning of Passover this year.

March 29 marks the beginning of Passover this year.

If you are Jewish, it is a week when family and community come together to celebrate the Exodus.

The hallmark of this observance is the removal of all leaven from the home, which represents when the Jews had to leave Egypt in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way to remove the “puffiness,” or arrogance and pride from the soul.

The preparation of the home for Passover is no small undertaking. Leaven includes anything made from the five major grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt.

Also, in order to correctly lay the groundwork, the kitchen must be prepared. Counters need to be scrubbed down, stovetops and refrigerators need to be wiped clean and shelf-liners should be cleansed. Whew!

The good news is you can get the house prepared without losing your mind completely, even if you work full time.

The secret: break big tasks down into smaller five or 10-minute increments and enlist the help of others. The five pointers below will help you get started.

And even if you’re not Jewish, but are on the lookout for smart ways to get a head start on spring cleaning, these tips are useful.

1. Commercially Clean. Every time you watch TV this week, use the two-minute commercial breaks to make a little headway on kitchen cleanup.

Arm everyone who is watching TV with a sponge. At the start of every commercial break, head into the kitchen and scrub one thing. By the end of the evening, you should be in much better shape than you started — and you still get to enjoy your shows!

2. Break the Task Down. Any large project when viewed head-on is daunting and leads to feelings of inertia. Rather than thinking about “getting the house ready for Passover,” break it down into smaller, bite-sized tasks.

If you first give the counters a good scrub, it’s easier to see that simple tasks can be knocked out of the way quickly. Stack up enough small tasks, and lo and behold, you’ll have completed the big project.

3. Eat it Up. Passover this year starts at sunset on March 29. A great way to make sure the cleaning out of all the food in the house is a simple process is to eat up what is in the house in the time leading up to the holiday — not just bread, cookies and crackers, but also leftovers in the refrigerator and freezer so that there will be more room for the dishes you will be cooking.

4. Forced Spring Cleaning. It is great to extend Passover beyond just the food in the kitchen. Consider this your opportunity to do a spring clean in the kitchen and maybe even the dining-room areas.

Think about how you can simplify and organize. Anything you have not used in over a year, like the lemon zester or apple corer, but is still functional, consider donating to a soup kitchen.

5. Simplify After the Holiday. Once Passover has passed and you are back to doing your regular grocery shopping again, streamline the items you stock in your kitchen.

Do you need three different salad dressings? Is it really important to have five different shapes of pasta in your pantry? Make a few changes to simplify now, and this time next year you’ll have a lot less to go through.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to