Over a recent discussion with the 4 year old about radiators, my daughter was amazed to learn that not everyone has heating including her very own Nan who lived without it when she was a girl.
She was so incredulous, it got me thinking about some of the other gadgets that my mum never had, which my daughters (and I!) now take for granted.
1) No Central Heating
Our central heating comes on at 6am and if I’m forced to get up for one of the kids before this time, I’m cold and grumpy.
I can always remember my mum telling me about how she used to get ready for school underneath the bedcovers in her freezing bedroom, with ice on the inside of the windows.
Apparently, there would be one main coal fire in the main living room which my Nan would have to get up early to light and a small electric fire in the “best” room which was used only when there were visitors. My mum had to re-light the fire when she got home from school.
2) No Fridge or Freezer
It’s another gadget that we all take for granted right? I can’t imagine not having a fridge, and my husband would never tolerate warm beer. According to my mum they used to put milk in a bucket of cold water in the summer to stop it going off!
I’m guessing that there were daily trips to the shop as nothing stayed fresh for very long (unless it was freezing cold outside).
If I’m stuck for the kids’ tea, there is always something lurking in the depths of the freezer. Hopefully a portion of Spag Bol, but often a pizza or fish fingers and chips. I don’t know how my mum coped with sorting out our dinners daily before my parents bought their first freezer in 1978.
3) No TV
My parents didn’t have a television until the 1960s when they were about 11. Then of course pictures were all in black and white and there was only a couple of channels to choose from.
We have 3 in our house now, which feels a bit greedy. I can remember the launch of Channel 4 and 5 which seems laughable to the selection of channels that my kids now have access to. Along with being able to connect to YouTube which is vital so that the toddler does not have to suffer the upset of sitting through adverts.
Yes it’s a luxury but more than anything what I’d love to know is how were children back in the ’60s entertained and kept quiet without resorting to the likes of Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly?
4) No Phone
If I go out and forget to take my mobile phone, I feel lost and cut off from the world. How will people contact me? How will I see my emails? How will I see who’s done what on Facebook?
So it seems completely alien to not have a mobile let alone a landline phone. My mum says her family had a party line; a shared phone line with next door. If the neighbours were using it, my mum’s family couldn’t.
5) No Washing Machine and Tumble Dryer
I do at least one load of washing a day. It is like painting the Forth Bridge; NEVER ENDING. With a toddler and a 4 year old in the house (plus a muddy golfing husband) there is always something that needs washing.
So HOW did our parents and grandparents cope without a washing machine? Did everyone sit around wearing a protective apron I wonder?
Mum says that my Nan did the washing ONCE A WEEK in the kitchen sink and apparently it was a “stressful day.” Errrr….Yes! And if she wasn’t at school it would be my mum’s job to turn the handle of the mangle to squeeze out the water.
If the weather was too wet to hang out the washing on the line, it would dry on a clothes horse in front of the fire.
We only got our tumble dryer 3 years ago and already I can’t imagine going back to hanging our clothes up around every room in the house to dry.
6) No Shower
Like most other people, I have a shower on a daily basis. It wakes me up in the morning and I can’t really function until I’m showered and dressed.
So how bizarre that my mum only ever had a bath and hair wash once a week! When she was little, if the bathroom was too cold the bath was put in front of the fire. Her hair would be washed over the kitchen sink on Sundays after the traditional roast dinner.
I just hope for my mum’s sake that the kitchen sink was scrubbed out of all the left over carrots, meat and peas first.
7) No Car
According to my mum there was only one family in her street who ever had a car, it was so alien that all the kids used to just stare at it.
What about going to work? Getting to the station? Getting to the Supermarket? Doing the dreaded school run?
I guess everything was much more local then. Everyone worked locally, everyone shopped down the road and everyone went to their local school. (Don’t Start Me on This!)
I could go on with this list, but we may be here for some time. I can still remember my parents buying our first microwave and now I use it several times a day (when the toddler wants her warm milk, she must have it that instant).
And when you think about it, most of these gadgets that our parents never had and we now rely on are all vital in that they save us the most precious commodity of all: TIME. We are so busy with work and other things now that we could never find time to go to the shops every day to make a fresh meal every evening or spend a whole day washing a week’s worth of clothes.
What Will Our Kids Not Believe About Us?
As strange as the lack of shower and washing machine are to us now, it makes me wonder what our kids will find bizarre when they’re older about the things that we never had. Will they find it unbelievable that we grew up without an IPad, laptop, DVD player and computer?
I guess you never miss what you don’t have, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to gadgets that you can then never do without. I could never be without my mobile phone or laptop or tumble dryer now.
This has been an interesting exercise and one that I’ve enjoyed talking to my mum about. If nothing else, it really makes me appreciate that the next time I’m dealing with a mammoth meltdown from the toddler or I’m not sure how I’m going to juggle work with the kids, I can at least still wash myself and my hair in the shower instead of in the kitchen sink!
Any other gadgets that I’ve missed? Any that you can remember not having as a child that you couldn’t be without now? I’d love to hear from you. x