7 Gadgets My Mum Never Had

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!)

 Time Savers

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?

Gadgets, Ipad, Mobile Phone

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!

Thanks Mum!

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



My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
A Bit Of Everything
My Petit Canard

0 thoughts on “7 Gadgets My Mum Never Had

  1. I enjoyed reminiscing with you, Cheryl! You’re right, we didn’t need cars, we walked to shops (no supermarkets, we had to go to lots of small shops), walked to school, cycled, or went by bus. The time everything took is the reason most mothers of small children didn’t work outside the home. I agree that your children will find it hard to believe you manage with no email, mobile phone etc. Life has changed massively in just a few decades. But I wouldn’t want to go back to those cold homes or give up my laptop and car now, either! X

  2. Funny – I was just watching a television programme about a family going back and living like they did in the 50’s and 60’s and was amazed at how much we have now compared to then! Different world!

  3. No Facebook, or Amazon, or Google, how did we manage?? No SatNavs, recorded TV programmes or 24 hour football – it all comes flooding back! This post could go on forever.

    1. I know, there are possibly hundreds of differences once you start thinking about it. How many more to come between the next generation I wonder? Thanks for reading. X

  4. I teach health professionals about physical activity and we discuss how we’ve become so inactive by designing activity out of our lives. We’re all about speed and convenience now. Your post, and your mum’s comments reflect perfectly how and why this has happened. Funny that some of us now rely on technology to help motivate us to move with FitBits and Strava etc. Great thought provoking post.

    1. Thanks for reading Juliet, I agree, there is now a paradox with technology in that it’s used to speed up our lives and save time but then we rely on it to help us get fit! Stay in touch re: blogging! X

  5. I remember dad toasting bread on a bread fork on the fire. We ate it quicker than he could toast it! Or the tin to draw the fire, or newspaper, but if it caught alight you had to let it go up the chimney, and hope the chimney did not catch fire!
    That really takes me back to my childhood. Xx
    p.s. Mum getting Chillblains from the fire, it was like pins n needles!

  6. We’ve got an old Fisher Price camera with a flash on the top and BB recently asked me what it was – it was only then that I realised she would never have seen a camera like that! #justanotherlinky

  7. It’s mad how much time has changed isn’t it? I sit down and think sometimes what things will my kids have when they are older that I haven’t had?
    Thanks for linking up to #justanotherlinky

  8. My mum and I were talking about this the other day – how there was no point in getting Marianna the Fisher Price chatter phone because she’ll have no idea what it’s meant to be! It always makes me think of the sitcom High Hopes, when the kids ask Fagin what people did before everyone had a TV: ‘Nothing. We was as bored as hell. Endless nights just sitting around, waiting to go to bed.’ Lol. x #abitofeverything

  9. Fab post. Sometimes I say we’ll tape something so then I have to explain to my kids about what cassettes and videos are. I keep telling them they’re very lucky we can watch loads of episodes of their favourite programmes on Netflix. They were stunned when I said TV programmes were on once a week and if you missed it, that was it.

  10. How bizarre, I was having this very conversation with a friend today. We were talking along the lines of how the whole technology thing isn’t scary to kids as they have never known any different. I can identify with all of those things taking place in our house – no car, no phone, black and white TV (rented not owned) ice on the inside of the bloody windows and not having a car or a shower. I cracked up at the bath section because my dad used to have the tiniest amount of bath water and be in and out within 5 minutes. He’d go bonkers if we had a deep bath. It all goes back to them having to share water with the rest of the family – waste was a terrible thing. God our kids don’t know they are born really. My daughter already thinks we are old fashioned – especially when I talk about typewriters!! Great post #abitofeverything

    1. How funny! I find it fascinating especially thinking just what our kids will find unbelievable about what we don’t have now. The mind boggles to think what new gadgets will spring up over the next few years! Thanks for commenting. X

  11. Hi Cheryl, I can’t even imagine not having any one of the gadgets you’ve mentioned apart from the central heating (which we have, but favour our cast iron wood burner). No washing machine or fridge? I never manage to hand wash clothes that are meant to be hand washed, and if we didn’t have a fridge we’d have to get a cow with the amount of milk we drink.

    We didn’t get a car until I was 15, so know the hassle and length of time it takes to catch buses to get to places. We are so spoiled these days.


    1. Really makes you think doesn’t it Debs! Like you, I barely do much hand washing so can’t imagine the stress of this weekly wash in the sink! Thanks for reading. X

  12. Having a cell phone when I was in high school would have made life so much easier. And it’s true we don’t miss what we don’t have. I went years without having a DVR …I just didn’t watch stuff that wasn’t on when I was home. Then I got with my husband and couldn’t believe I’d gone without it for all those years. #fartglitter

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post! Yes, we do tend to take a lot of things for granted. I remembered when television used to start at 3pm and finish at 11pm! And it was a treat even to watch the news? And pagers? Remember those? I think it is a matter of what you don’t have, you don’t miss. You just get on, don’t you? My kids don’t believe me that the first mobile phone was as large as brick! #abitofeverything

  14. When I was a young girl we lived in a farmhouse that had no central heating, just a Rayburn in the kitchen and an open fire in the lounge. We had ice on the inside of the windows in winter.
    We moved to a townhouse with proper heating when I was 10, I remember thinking radiators were the best thing ever!!
    Thanks for sharing with us, Tracey xx #abitofeverything
    P.s Im really not that old, it was just an unmodernised house

  15. I cant imagine a life without any of these which is crazy because for some things, theyve only come into existence relatively recently. I’d love to know what this list looked like in 20 years time ;-). Emily. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays

Leave a Reply to cherylbarry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge