Back in the days when I had a kitchen floor bigger than a bath towel, I used to enjoy sweeping it with a good old fashioned broom.
I know what you’re thinking… but remember ANYTHING can be meditative or satisfying. Ironing for example. Some people love ironing, folding knickers into perfect little parcels or hanging washing with matching pegs. That kind of thing (this is a zero judgement zone).
Anyway, I digress.
I had issues with that broom. We had a love hate relationship: it was cherry red, with bristles that were just right. Firm enough to do a robust sweep but fluffy at the ends to pick up every tiny speck on the floor. But… it was the cheap kind that had a wooden pole jammed into the plastic broom head.
A couple of months into its life the head dropped off. The plastic bit the pole was inserted into was not up to actual use. It had to go to hospital (The Workshop) and a screw was inserted to hold the bits together. It was never the same. No matter which way I turned it, it angled itself the other way.
I’m a big fan of sustainable consumerism and the minimal life is close to the frugal life in some ways. The good old fashioned make-do & mend concept saves money and defeats rampant consumerism in an everything-is-cheap-and-disposable society.
However buying something cheap-and-disposable and expecting it to be fully functional for a lifetime is a recipe for frustration. And I did it for years! Honestly I roll my eyes at myself sometimes. (Do try this at home, it’s a great eye exercise apparently ;oD). I can’t count the cost of this false economy that we stuck to through peeling non-stick frying pans, cracking plastic buckets and shoes that wore out in one season.
How wasteful and disappointing. And annoying! Ever chased little bits of dust and crumbs with a cheap-as-chips dust pan that just didn’t work? Aggravating. I put up with that broom for TWO YEARS. Then I had a small brain explosion and realised I deserved better. I marched down to a hardware store and bought a better one that I still have years later (It’s bright blue and silver).
My point is that if you need a tool to function effectively in your work, whether you are cleaning, cooking or building houses, you need functional, quality tools (There’s a reason house-work has the word WORK in it…). They require maintenance, being kept dry and clean but they will repay you with years of use.
Those more experienced in the ways of making things last have learnt through years of experience. I bet your granddads carefully chosen tools still work and I bet they were cleaned and sharpened and oiled. However that doesn’t mean you HAVE to use super heavy, bulky old things if there’s a quality new-and-improved version out there.
You deserve to have good tools and equipment to help make your work and life easier. I have encountered clients who can barely conceive of this concept. For a multitude of reasons, from simple frugality, to the thrill of $2 shop specials, all the way to self-denial as a desperate cry for help, this idea has hit some of my clients like a lightening bolt.
(And don’t get me started on the other areas of our lives that could do with a whole bunch of improvements)
Why bother? Because an easier, more enjoyable, happier home life (and the rest) is within everyone’s reach. We all have the power to just make our lives better.
This is not an excuse to buy Chanel oven mitts or a Ferrari dishwasher though! (They probably exist, I haven’t checked). It pays to do some research, ask friends, relatives, other shoppers, staff, search the internet for advice or product reviews. If you’re going to invest some cash in a quality tool, find out which is the best that you can afford.
But bear in mind that the most expensive may not be the best quality, or do the job that you expect. We may need to sacrifice style over function, but it’s rare in this choice saturated society. Keep looking, don’t give up. Save up for the perfect machine, just like your parents and grandparents did. Resist rushing in and buying anything that will do in the moment.
Take the time to find the perfect thing that will serve you and your household well. It’ll be worth the wait to make your home-work-life a whole lot easier.