What Modern Convenience Would You Miss The Most?

by Katy on September 29, 2015 · 35 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

I had the pleasure of hosting a dinner for my Nebraskan aunt and uncle last night, as they’re in town to help out my mother who’s recuperating from surgery. We were all sitting around the dinner table, when the conversation turned to my Great-Aunt Marie, who’s ninety years old and has lived her entire life in Nebraska. (If you ever bought cosmetics from Miller and Paine, you probably met her!) This woman is a marvel of energy, has always kept an immaculate house, and is, well, let’s just say “a pistol.”

Do you want to know the one modern convenience she apparently most appreciates? Her washing machine and laundry detergent. (Something about having the grate the lye.) And this is from a woman who had to wait awhile for indoor plumbing.

This got me thinking about how much I truly appreciate the modern conveniences that fill my life. Washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, automobile, toilet, hot water heater, vacuum cleaner, telephone, television, computer. The list goes on and on. I romanticize the good ol’ days, watching programs like Frontier House and rereading the Little House books every few years. But let me tell ya’, there’s a special feeling when my dishwasher, washing machine and dryer are all going at once. And I get to lie down and maybe watch an episode or two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on my instant Netflix. Could I live without all my modernities? Sure I could, but my life would be a whole lot more drudge-y. There’s a reason why those young mothers in old photos look so aged, life for women, (and men I suppose) was never endingly difficult.

I could easily live without the microwave, dryer, vacuum cleaner, television and computer. But nobody, and I mean nobody better take away my hot water heater. After all, it’s my hydro-powered think tank.

What modern conveniences would you miss the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

– See more at: https://thenonconsumeradvocate.com/what-modern-convenience-would-you-miss-the-most/#sthash.cENH9CB8.dpuf

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

sherri September 29, 2015 at 4:26 am

Not sure it fits under convenience category, but antibiotics and pain relievers (tylenol, advil, aspirin, etc)


Rachel H September 29, 2015 at 9:20 am

Yes, I agree! These get me through some painful days!


Juhli September 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

That was my thought – modern medicine!


Rb September 29, 2015 at 4:46 am

I already do without a dishwasher and air conditioning and a microwave so thats not terrible.

I would have to say a washing machine for one reason: DIAPERS. I used cloth for three kids and there is no way i would hand wash those.

Also having birthed three i can say the wonder that is modern medecine. No its not perfect but we take for granted being able to take pain killers for a headache or a broken bone. Both my firstborn and I would have died if not for surgical intervention when he was born, for that I am very thankful.


Monica September 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

The washing machine and dryer I am grateful for. We don’t have a dishwasher and I badly want one (would make life so much easier when we entertain my large family). I am also grateful that I don’t have to cook on a woodstove. I don’t know how people learned to manage cooking successfully on a wood burning cookstove or over an open fire. Seems like that was the chore that literally took all day to do.


Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life September 29, 2015 at 6:04 am

Honestly it would be the washing machine. I love the smell of clothes dried outside on a warm summer day. But having to wash all those clothes, nope, not the funnest task at all.


Melissa September 29, 2015 at 7:18 am

I’m with Great Aunt Marie and have said it many, many times. I could live without every modern convenience, but would wholeheartedly fight to keep my washing machine.


crunchycon September 29, 2015 at 7:25 am

Electricity in general, but the washing machine in particular. I think I can live (and indeed have lived) without a dishwasher, but I’m with Great-aunt Marie on this one.


Tracy September 29, 2015 at 7:51 am

Washing machine for sure! I could go without a dryer easily, and line dry most of our clothes. I do like fluffy towels from the dryer though. I could live without a dishwasher too.

Actually I think the refrigerator might top the washing machine. How else would I get cold wine?

Glennon at Momastery has a great post about appreciating what we have, she called it some about perspectacles. Really makes you step back and think about all the things we take for granted here in the US and other developed countries. Who cares if my kitchen appliances don’t match. They work!


JD September 29, 2015 at 8:46 am

Indoor plumbing and electricity! I’m in my late 50’s and my folks had me later in life (their late 30’s). By coincidence, my husband’s parents had him when they were in their early 40’s. So our grandparents were real old-timers. Our grandparents (and parents!) lived at least part of their lives with no indoor plumbing or electricity, and my husband’s grandmother (who came to this state in a covered wagon and died in the 1970’s at the age of 94) lived almost her entire life without indoor plumbing — only at the end of her life, when she stayed with her kids, did she have it. My grandfather had a farm with one old faucet in the kitchen and no bathroom, just an outhouse. It had electricity but just for lights, and gas for a kitchen stove — it used a pot belly wood stove for heat. Both my husband and I have up close and personal experience of using an outhouse and bathing in a tub filled with water heated on a stove in our youth, and when hurricanes hit and knock out our power these days, we are without water, too, as we are on a well. Trust me, all the washers in the world do one no good without power and plumbing. And electricity and plumbing ARE just modern conveniences — life can go on without them and does in many places. Not that I would want to!


Ellie September 29, 2015 at 11:58 am

What you said. I’m in my 80’s and well remember living on a farm as a child with no electricity or indoor plumbing. Sure, I could do it again, but, oh how I would hate to!!


JD September 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Amen, Ellie. I could do it, but I do not want to have to do it, for sure. My grandfather’s outhouse always had wasps trying to build nests in it. Makes for a nervous “tinkle” session.


Anne September 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm

Gads, JD, I don’t think I could “tinkle” under those circumstances.


JD September 30, 2015 at 6:50 am

We did, but with great care! It was that or risk poison ivy by going in the bushes…..
And his outhouse was accessed only by going through the chicken pen for some reason– ever get chased by an angry rooster all the way to the bathroom?
It’s fun to remember all that with my siblings and cousins, but live that way long term…? No thanks.

K D September 29, 2015 at 12:05 pm

I agree 100% with indoor plumbing and electricity, as well as refrigeration. I was just talking with a friend this morning about how I lingered in the shower this morning and we talked about how wonderful plumbing/sanitation are.

When we suffer a power outage our plumbing still works. If we’re lucky the neighbor’s still have electricity and we run a cord and plug in the refrigerator (that is a huge deal).

Modern heating/cooling are also wonderful.


Rachel H September 29, 2015 at 9:26 am

I would say the washing machine. We have lived without many appliances in our 35 years of marriage. Our first place had a dryer, but not washer or dishwasher. We didn’t get a microwave until our 2nd child was born. I now have so many appliances, including a pressure cooker, 2 crock pots. My husband took a large griddle to work because we hardly used it. We are truly blessed!


Nancy September 29, 2015 at 10:00 am

I would have to go with indoor plumbing. I was raised on an orchard, and while we had indoor plumbing, there was also an outhouse on the property. Several in fact. I would hate to have to go out to an outhouse at night in the middle of winter with all the snow we get. No contest – indoor plumbing.


Cindy September 29, 2015 at 10:20 am

I actually thought about that alot while I was pregnant- good ol Ma Ingalls had to get up in the middle of the night on the prairie and go outside (or use a chamber pot) and here I was moaning and groaning about the baby kicking my bladder.


TJS September 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm

My father, who is 89, remembers how cold it was in the winters in Minnesota, and having to go outside in the morning to the privy. They rode to school in a sleigh pulled by their farm horse Queenie in the winter, and my father learned to ski on barrel staves. It was a hard life on a farm for my grandparents and their 10 children, but they did what they had to do to live.


Isabelle September 29, 2015 at 10:06 am

Washing machine and microwave for sure. And fridge, and freezer. I am a total “city girl” (as opposed to camping gal), so I do value my “indoor comfort” quite a lot!


Lindsey September 29, 2015 at 11:10 am

Having lived in interior Alaska, in a cabin with no plumbing so I had to go to the outhouse at 40 or 60 below zero, I KNOW that at my age I could no longer live without an indoor toilet. I managed with no running water, no fridge and a wood stove to tend, but the middle of the night visits to the john, always looking out for the moose that regularly visited us, made me ever thankful for an indoor, flushing toilet.


Cindi Myers September 29, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Modern plumbing, definitely — particularly hot showers.


Ruby September 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

My grandmother died in 1980, and up until shortly before she passed, she lived in a house with no indoor bathroom (there was an outhouse and chamber pots), a cold water tap only in the kitchen, one electric light bulb hanging from a cord in each room, and a coal fire place that heated only the front two rooms. Her kitchen was wired with an outlet for an electric stove sometime in the 1950s, but before that, she cooked on a wood stove. She made her own soap, heated the water for the laundry in a big kettle on a fire in the yard, and took baths either in a tin tub for a rare sit-down bath or washed up with a bowl of pitcher.

So I am really appreciative of modern plumbing and electricity. Other than that, the daily thing I most appreciate and would really hate to do without is a washing machine. My son was cloth-diapered as a baby and we used a clothesline, but I remembered stories my mother told about washing out cloth diapers by hand and how hard it was. It made me bless my lucky stars every time we washed diapers.


Ruby September 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm

That should be “bowl and pitcher.”


Ruby September 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Oh, and I meant to add that the internet yielded up some delicious-sounding recipes from the tea room of Miller and Paine Department Store:


Su Mama September 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Katy’s ma here. Lincoln’s Miller and Paine had just wonderful macaroni and cheese. As I recall, it was 35 cents!


Ruby September 29, 2015 at 6:42 pm

The recipe for their mac and cheese is also on the net. It sounds so delicious. I do love a baked mac and cheese.


Delorise September 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm

First I do not want to live without electricity!! It went off this morning for about 20 minutes- it was misting rain and messy outside so there was no going outdoors. I couldn’t do anything but rest in the recliner hoping it would come back on soon. 2nd is a washing machine, 3rd a stove (I would hate to cook on a wood burning stove, 4th is indoor plumbing (please don’t take away my 5 minute shower), 5th is a radio -(please give me my music- 60’s preferably). I love all the modern conveniences and cringe when people talk about the grid going down and losing them. I could survive but that is not what I would define as good living.


Amanda September 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Definitely modern healthcare, although I’m not sure if that would be considered a convenience.


Michelle September 29, 2015 at 3:11 pm

I like my internet a LOT.

We live out in the country and, with winter storms, it’s not uncommon to lose power for days at a time (I think our record is two weeks, and we’ve had that happen twice.) We just lost water for the second time this year. Last time, the well went dry and the pump burnt itself out trying to bring up water that wasn’t there. It was a full month with four kids and no running water. This time, I don’t know what the problem with the new well is, but it’ll be at least a few days. We can use water from the stream to flush the toilet and I can fill jugs with drinkable water at a friend’s house and drive to the laundromat, so it’s not nearly as rough as lots of the world’s population has it.

We haven’t had a dishwasher or garbage disposal for the ten years we’ve been living here and just went a year without a microwave. For a while there, my kitchen was down to three gas burners, a rice cooker, a toaster, and a crock pot. Then the crock pot broke.

This isn’t meant to be a sob story, more of an illustration of why some things aren’t even on my list anymore. I can go without any one appliance. I can do another month without water, although I can’t tell you how much I don’t want to replace my morning shower with cold water from a jug.

When it comes down to it, what I think I’d really go nuts without is electric lighting. My eyes just don’t do very well with the candles and oil lamps we use for emergency lighting.


Barbara September 29, 2015 at 5:01 pm

There are a lot of appliances I’ve never felt a need for
but, having travelled a lot and lived in developing
countries, the one thing I would hate to live without
is a washing machine. I NEVER want to wash clothes
by hand again!


Diane C September 29, 2015 at 11:53 pm

Oh, so many good answers! Since I live in NorCal and we’re in year four of an extended drought, I so miss the use of our hydro-powered think tank(s). It’s every other day (or even less frequent) military-style showers for our posse. I thank goodness every day that we’re not on a well. That suspense would eat me up!


Vickie September 30, 2015 at 9:46 am

Indoor plumbing – washer, toilet, sink specifically. I, also, love my vacuum and my microwave. If we didn’t have carpet, the vacuum wouldn’t matter.
I could do without the microwave, if needed. We have central heat & air. We do have a fireplace, but it doesn’t heat the whole house when the electricity goes off. I like the convenience, but I lived with gas heaters when I was a kid and we didn’t have a microwave, so some of what I have now is for my own convenience sake.
Several years back, during an ice storm, we did without electricity for several days. The thing I missed most was running water indoors. Our well is run by the electrical grid. I hated doing w/o running water and I never want to do without it. I love my inside toilet, using my washing machine and having running water at my kitchen sink to do my dishes.
I truly understand why my Mom loved her modern conveniences, after growing up hauling water from a well and washing laundry over a fire outside in a washtub. She worked like a dog when she was a kid, helping my grandmother with household chores and raising younger siblings. She said it was not fun and she didn’t ever want to live like that again.
I appreciate every convenience I’m blessed with!!


WilliamB September 30, 2015 at 3:47 pm

Running hot and cold water, without a doubt. That enables the toilet, the shower, the not having to go outside in the freezing cold, the sanitation that lets us stay healthy.


Beth October 3, 2015 at 12:55 pm

I would have a hard time surviving with out my glasses with double bifocals!!!! I also thought about the refrigerator.


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