Sunday, February 18, 2007

How Did They Do It?

We are microwaveless. Not by choice, although we have been wanting to get rid of the microwave for sometime (health reasons). But this new house does not have a microwave and they one were were borrowing was taken back last week.

So here I stand, stirring a pot of leftovers instead of quickly reheating it in the microwave. And I begin to wonder if they had left overs back in pioneer days? Did they ever make an abundance of anything or did they have a better concept of just how much to make to feed their family? And there was certainly no once a month cooking! :)

Things have supposedly gotten easier for us. Electric/Gas stoves for cooking and baking instead of wood stoves. Dryers instead of hanging clothes out to dry. We even have electric brooms!

Yet with all this "simplicity" that saves us time comes an overabundance of most everything BUT time!

Take clothes for an example. We have a washer and dryer for our clothes, so we buy more clothes because we don't have to spend the time to wash and dry them by hand. And because we do not have to take the time to MAKE our own clothes, we don't care for them the way we should because they are so cheap and easy to replace. AND because we have so many clothes, we don't take the time to see if they really and truly need to be washed (many items really can be worn more than once). They just get thrown into the laundry pile which then becomes and overwhelming monster for the homemaker to tackle.

And food! We have grocery stores now which have a plethora of choices for us. So instead of working hard in the garden to produce your own food, you just run to the grocery store. You don't have to think of how to use up every bit of food because you put little effort into getting it. And if something is not used and goes bad, it is easily replaceable and nothing but a few cents is lost. Prepackaged and over processed foods line the shelves of the stores and our pantries. With a pantry and fridge full of foods, there still never seems to be "anything to eat."

Yet time, a most precious commodity, is no more in abundance today than it was back then. And yet, it seems that we have less of it. With bigger houses, we spend more time cleaning inside it than enjoying it. We spend more time doing laundry (or complaining about it) than enjoying the clothes we have. Most women like me want the time to bake their own bread and make their own clothes. To cook all their meals from scratch. If the homemakers of the past could do it, and do it without the overabundance and electronic "helpers" we have today, I know that there has to be a way that I can too.

Maybe it starts with simplifying. Do I really need all the clothes I have? Do my children really need all the clothes THEY have? Do my children really need all the toys they have? Do I really need any of what I have? Maybe if I go through and begin evaluating what I have and whether or not it is truly a need or a want. And if it is a want, is it something I want to spend time cleaning?

I read somewhere that the more THINGS we HAVE, the more things we have to CLEAN. And maybe instead of buying everything, look for ways to follow the old adage of "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I think if we spend more time investing in what we need (like growing our own food or making our own clothes) we might learn to better appreciate and care for it. We would learn exactly what is needed, and wouldn't have an abundance. We would know just how much is enough, and make only that.

Our time would be wisely spent working with our hands rather than sluggishly wasting away while we complain about our lack of time. Is it really a lack of time, or that the time we have is spent so frivolously? Maybe if it was spent working with our hands to provide for our family and keep the home, maybe at the end of the day, though we might not have the time to do all the things we THINK we want to do (you know the world can convince us of needs we don't really have), maybe we would not feel any lack of time at all. We would feel good about how we spent the day instead of wishing we had more time, or wondering where all the time went. We could see the fruits of how our time was spent in the food on the table (from the garden you grew) and the modest dress you daughter wears as she sets the table.


devildogwife said...

I have to admit that I love all my modern servants. The microwave is my friend. I like having my stand mixer and bread machine.

I don't think it's so much that the modern conveniences take away from our time, but we don't use that time wisely. Many times, the family time was everyone working on something together.

Things like the computer (which I love), t.v., and video games have taken away the extra time that we have. I know I'm guilty of being on the computer when I should be doing other things.

This is a very good post and it really got me thinking...

Paula said...

Oh don't get me wrong, I love all my modern day helpers too!! :D But it did make me wonder if all the modern day appliances have caused us to have less time because of the overabundance it produces. I will still continue to use my "servants" but I am definitely more aware of my abundance, and am now working on getting rid of it. I want to have just what I need (with a few wants thrown in there of course). But a lot of the wants I have really are useless clutter. And we definitely have more clothes than we need. :) OR than I can wash!! LOL!!!