Many many of my friends and their families have a hard time with Pesach. I know, it seems like a tricky holiday. After all, there are so many rules and things that we can't eat.
And I know that some people reading this can't quite relate to the way that I keep Pesach - since I'm not overly stringent about certain things and I do eat kitniyot. But this is what my family does to keep Pesach and how we make it as interesting and fun as possible...because I want my kids to LOVE Passover as much as I do.
So here goes, my get-kids-to-love-my-favorite-holiday rule:
say YES to as many things as you can.
Chocolate cereal that mom won't buy any other time of year (even tho it's the matzah stuff)? Yep, it's Pesach!
Potato chips for snack? Yep, it's Pesach!
REAL maple Syrup AND chocolate chips on your matzah meal pancakes? Why not? It's Pesach!
Ice cream for a snack (or...even, gulp....breakfast)? Yep, it's Pesach!
Israeli chocolate spread on matzah? (or even...on a spoon) Yep, it's Pesach!
Basically, I make it about what you GET more than what you don't get.
I make as many playdates at OUR house as I can, I bake brownies and offer chocolate spread on matzah for any meal they want.(Oh, and I clear the house of all chametz, of course. So it's just not there if they ask. They can look in the cabinet and take anything they see...out of sight, out of mind.)
Meals are simple - we do eat a lot of fish and potatoes, but everyone likes my Farfel-Cheese Casserole which I make at least once. I always make a few batches of matzah brei as well, which goes over pretty well. We eat eggs for breakfast and sometimes for dinner or lunch. I don't worry as much about nutrition except for one key element: lots of fruit. I splurge and get as many kinds of fruit as my kids will eat. (Gotta keep them...um...regular.) I make sure that every meal has a piece of fruit attached to it and while I'm happy to offer all that junk food they want, I still suggest a pear or apple as the FIRST idea for a snack. Sometimes they take me up on it!
This year we went to the zoo, and we packed a picnic, which we ate before we went in. This worked because even though I put all the stuff in the cooler, it was pretty hot and I would have worried about it if we tried to leave it in the car while we walked the zoo. The kids had matzah crackers with cheese, carrots, macaroons and clementines. I brought a big bag of potato chips and salads for the grownups. It worked great and no one went hungry. (Including the goose who tried to crash our picnic. He got the leftovers...)
We are not as absolutely strict as some people so I usually schedule one trip to New York Slices where they make matzah pizza and one trip to Max and Benny's for their Pesach menu (we didn't get there this year) which breaks up the monotony of eating at home, too. But even if you don't do that, my method would still work well.
The other problem is that so many other people around my kids don't actually keep the holiday. I generally solve this by doing as much fun stuff as a family as we can (want to watch a movie? Sure, it's Pesach!) and inviting other kids to our house for playdates instead of the reverse. The other kids don't seem to mind matzah with cream cheese and it keeps my kid away from having to explain anything.
Side note: This year I made THESE amazing brownies from Marcy Goldman's great Jewish Holiday Baking cookbook and I plan to make them every year....so good. Seriously. You wouldn't believe they're Pesadik.