We are in full-on Pessach mode here. After finishing the bedrooms and bathrooms, last week, I have now moved on to the front of the apartment where the chametz REALLY is ie kitchen, dining room, the couch which my children eat on ALL THE TIME despite my repeated pleas for them not to.
My kids don't know this yet but I am letting them enjoy Pretzels and cheerios for a few more days before they get banished from the house (the food, not the kids obviously!) On Friday, my wonderful cleaning lady is bringing her vacuum so we can tackle the couch and chairs and after that, chametz will be kept to a minimum.
We joke around that Pessach is really two weeks, because I end up getting rid of all the cookies, etc so early and usually "turn over" my kitchen way before Erev Pessach. It's a lot of work but I am sticking with my schedule and hoping to thereby avoid any panicking or marathon cooking/cleaning at the end.
I was talking to some friends and family, many of whom are not going to be home for Pessach and are doing minimal prep. I told them that I am not really jealous/resentful of them going away or "having it easier." My husband grew up going away for Pessach. While that is definitely one version of "freedom", he is not as familiar with the labor of love, the efforts but also the benefits that go along with being home. To me, making Pessach is part of running a Jewish home. I grew up with that and have very fond memories of Pessach in my parents' house (aka apartment).
There was the preparation before: washing dishes for hours on end in the bathtub comes to mind..although by the end of a long day we were usually soaked and having too much fun and wound up breaking things. The sedarim and meals- the food, the company, the singing. There was the annual trip to the zoo. Not really part of the laws of Pessach, but a strong family minhag nonetheless. And of course, the clean up after- wrapping everything in newspapers and putting it in boxes. I have a vivid memory of one of my sisters labeling the boxes very late at night and writing captions like: "Milchig dishes...and some pots. Who cares?"
While my kids can't really participate in Pessach prep like that, I look forward to sharing this process with them as they get older. Pessach is about family and I do feel a bit sad that our own little family cannot partake of the joy of being with extended family for the holidays. So while I soldier on, with my trusty Bount paper towels and lots of Mr. Clean and Clorox, I know that I am also setting the framework and creating memories of what Pessach means to our little household, hopefully for many years to come.