Take Care Of What You Do Have

I’m in that fun postpartum stage where your hair starts falling out. Fortunately I have a lot of hair on my head.

This stage has coincided with the baby being in a grabby/trying to get mobile stage. So I’m vacuuming a lot.

With the extra vacuuming, or hoovering as they call it here (so cute!) I’ve been reminded that I need to maintain the things I do have.

One thing I am a touch better at since we got rid of a lot of our stuff is keeping the things we do have in good working order.

This mean opening the base of the vacuum to cut the hair and strings off the beater bar.

When you have less stuff you need to take care of what you do own.

Can I make this laptop last a little longer? It’s almost five years old and I am the second owner. Some of the keys are sticking and the machine is slowing down. While I start saving for a new laptop I’ll clean the keyboard out more frequently and remove any large files I no longer need. And back up!

I’ll be the first to admit that maintenance routines bore me. But getting a few more months or years out of something? Rewarding.

So this is a reminder for me, and you, to spend a bit of time keeping the things you do have in shape. Get the car tuned up, defrost the freezer and empty the drain basket on your dishwasher. Give those nice leather shoes a buff and polish.

If you’re going to give time, money and space to something, make sure it lasts.

What items around your home need regular maintenance? Just emptied the shower drain here and gave our stroller some TLC.

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  • To take care of things has always been my and my husband’s mantra. As part of live, we do buy (albeit less) items that are made in countries where work ethics may be questionable. Therefore we ensure whatever we buy is to last as long as possible. eg. my husbans still uses his 15-year-old wedding suit to work :)

  • Argh, I know what you mean. When I’ve been in the shower, I look down, and it’s like a long-haired dog has bathed there. Like you, I’m blessed with more hair than I need but still …

  • My husband’s family is so good at this mantra that we have and use a lawn mower that is older than my husband (he was born in 1977). And before my mother-in-law made him get rid of it, my father-in-law had – and could still use – a lawn mower that came from the 1950s that had belonged to his father.

    I’ve learned that if you take care of your stuff and save the money to invest in quality goods when you need them, you’ll get a lot more use from them.

  • My husband and I drive 18 and 20-year-old cars because we own them outright, they still get great mileage, and we can’t justify the expense of getting a new car until we have to. Sure, we would love to drive something a little fancier, but it’s not worth the burden.

    • I’m glad we aren’t the only ones!! Our cars are 16 and 18 years old… My family gives me a hard time about not buying a new car because “I can afford it”… but I don’t see the point in having a car payment unless I have to!!

    • We had a 1976 Subaru for several years. It got us where we needed to go and I am sure no one was coveting our car or trying to keep up with us! It helped me to realize that the most important thing in a car is to get you from point A to point B. I find that the best thing about having less is that it is so much easier to clean. The house isn’t a burden any more and you can keep what you have in better condition since there is less to take care of. I wish I had learned this when I had 5 kids at home!

  • Love this post! Such a good reminder that we need to take care of the tools that take care of us – keeping the vacuum cleaner running properly, giving the dishwasher a wash of its own, cleaning out your keyboard and disc drive for your computer. And most of these tasks don’t take too long to do.

    As always, love your blog. Even though I’m not an avid minimalist you help me stay organized and think about the things I need that really matter and what I can do without. Keep on being awesome!

  • It’s embarrassing how bad my family is at this. I notice it especially because my kids are so bad about it – and then I realize I’m not a good role model.

  • When I got my new ipad to replace my dying MacBook, I swore I would keep it nice and clean and well maintained. And that I would not let my pictures get away from me. Well, they have. I need to delete pictures and re-oraganize the ones I have.

    So, not an actual maintenance thing in terms of a machine or object, but more maintenance in keeping on top of something. Either way- I need to do it regularly to take care of what’s mine.

    • Pictures are challenging for me too. I really, really try to delete from the camera before I upload. If I can just do that one step it saves me so much time and hard drive space down the road.

  • Our third is 9 days older than your little boy so here we have babies with gogogadgetarms too. And hair falling out. Dyed it red when I was pregnant so it looks extra dramatic. I am happy to have a very minimalist home, the furniture we really use (couch, table, dining table and banks) gets prettier when it is used, because it is made of wood and secondhand anyway. And we have a car which is 20 years old, which my husband repairs himself. I love it :)

    I regret buying this laptop 2 years ago. It was cheap (I only surf and store my pictures on it, so I thought I would not need more) but it begins to fall apart already :(

    • I can only imagine how much hair these babies have already ingested :)

      Had the same experience with a cheap laptop. My refurbished MacBook is still going strong – knock on wood – and it’s the reason I am now team Apple.

  • I really find this to be true. Whenever I am feeling frustrated with the sometimes less than easy choice of being (mostly) minimalist, I spend some time caring for the beautiful and wonderful things I own. It feels cathartic to take care of my car, my purse, my vacuum; to really pay attention to what I have and to be grateful. When I can flip the switch from deprivation to gratitude I am so humbled and feel so much softer toward myself and the world.

  • Oh boy, I had the funniest time with this yesterday. Something got spilled on one of my car mats so I brought it in to clean it up. Pulled out the Green Machine and the spray nozzle wouldn’t spray. Tried to troubleshoot and nothing worked. I ended up just dumping water on the mat and using the Green Machine to scrub and suck it up. Now my mat is clean and I need to take time to see if the spray nozzle can be fixed. Maintaining things feels never ending sometimes, but is definitely worth the time and trouble when you have established that what you have is worth having.

    • I had the same problem and it was a corroded water pump. The part was about $12 CAD. I ordered it online and replaced it myself and have gotten another 5 years out of it…so far.

  • Dishwashers have drain baskets? I guess mine needs cleaning then!

    We just gave up our 21yo car because it finally got too expensive to maintain. We bought a 2yo used van and plan to have it for at least 13 years.

  • I am really bad at this–we mostly just used things up and threw them away when I was a kid. Here are a few I know about, some of which I did learn the hard way:
    * cars – keep gas in the tank, change oil periodically, check other fluids regularly, do other maintenance from the manual, don’t ignore warning lights and strange sounds and things not feeling right
    * clothes – pull out of washer ASAP to minimize wrinkles (and mildew); hang dry (especially stretchy things) to keep the heat from breaking them down; watch for loose stitches and buttons and re-stitch when necessary (“a stitch in time saves nine”)
    * air conditioner – replace filter every month
    * microwave – cover your dish when cooking it and, if you get splatters in the oven anyway, wipe them down right away while it’s still easy
    * sponge – microwave for 1 – 2 minutes (or boil) to get rid of germs
    * organize – have a place for everything (and a convenient place for everything commonly used); consider putting things away afterwards to be part of every activity
    * shower curtains – wash periodically to keep mildew from grabbing hold (squeegy-ing the walls after every shower can also keep mildew from grabbing hold there)
    * drains – use drain catchers–it’s annoying to empty them, but way cheaper than calling a plumber (yes, I also have plenty of long hair)
    * vacuum cleaner – remove hair from brush periodically, replace bag when full
    * teeth – brush, floss, get regular check-ups
    * rest of the body – sleep, drink water, eat nutrients, don’t go overboard with the calories, get the heart pumping periodically, get regular check-ups, treat injuries and sicknesses (if good treatments exist), have fun periodically, wear protective gear when appropriate (seatbelts, goggles, helmets, etc.) (I love nurselines for asking about whether it’s appropriate to see a doctor and I love minor emergency clinics for after-hours minor emergencies.)
    * carpets/rugs – vacuum/launder regularly (dirt can cut through fibers)
    * knives – do not let the sharp edge rub on things (we have a wooden knife block), have knives re-sharpened periodically, use cutting boards (not plates or counters)
    * wooden kitchen items – do not put them in the dishwasher (heat can crack the wood); oil them periodically (wipe with mineral oil)
    * garden tools – clean when finished; oil things like shovels periodically (again with the mineral oil)
    * earrings for pierced ears – clean periodically with alcohol
    * lamps – replace bulbs
    * battery-operated stuff (smoke detectors, etc.) – replace batteries
    * house – water foundation (if you have a slab foundation on clay soil), paint periodically, keep English ivy off the walls, protect pipes from freezing

    I will often veto prospective purchases with phrases like “I’m not dusting that.”

  • Solidarity sista’!! Unfortunately, my fallen hairs were eventually replaced by silver hairs!! The horror.

  • Hey I’m not even postpartum and I’m loosing hair! lots of it. I’m however going to tell you, it will pass for sure.

  • This is excellent advice. You know what’s funny? My kids get such a kick out of these routine maintenance tasks. Open up the vacuum and clean out the filters? Such fun! Open the computer and vacuum it out? It turns into a fascinating experience. I was inspired to really scour our dishwasher this week and it was enthralling for my 2 and 6 year olds (the older kids not so much).

    Who needs toys when you can take real stuff apart?!

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