Let’s do a little calculation…how many items in your house are currently “on pause” –waiting for you to find time to return, repair, restore, or fix them up in some way? You know what I’m talking about -that lovely print you bought on the streets of Paris 6 years ago awaiting a frame, the Jimmy Choos that need new soles, the sweater you bought online that you’ve been meaning to return, the printer repaired.
These untended items eat at our psyche (as unfinished chores do – guilt, guilt, guilt!), but they also whittle away at our pocketbooks. Today’s down economy has reminded us of the value of a dollar, shifting our consciousness toward getting the most of what we have, rather than mindlessly continuing to acquire. Taking care of what we already own to stretch it’s usefulness has to get factored in to our lives. It’s time to recall the habits of our agrarian ancestors and resurrect the “mending day,” a day to conserve and preserve.
Here’s how to get back to our roots in three simple steps:
Corral the items. Rather than feel the burden of addressing each problem as it arises, take a lesson from the old farmstead, and create the equivalent of a modern day mending basket. This can take the form of a dedicated shelf or bin in your hall closet or a running tally of Items-to-Fix on your smart phone. As issues come up, add them to the list, or drop them in the bin (along with the receipt/warranty), so they are waiting for you when you’re ready to deal with them. Corralling items removes the burden of having to remember, and has the added effect of lifting any guilt you may feel every time you walk by that idle blender.
Pick a Day. Conquer the contents of your “mending basket” at a regular time each week, such as every Thursday afternoon or Saturday morning. Life feel too full of other commitments? Consider this a weekly oasis from the intense brainwork of your job, and the emotional demands of your social life–offering the simple satisfaction of a few physical tasks done. As an added incentive, put a ballpark estimate on how much it’s costing you not to return, return, repair or use each item on the list.
Develop Your Network. To fly through your list without a hitch, you’ve got to be prepared with the right tools and resources. If your family is all thumbs, get thee a reliable handyman, a skillful tailor, a good electrician. Invest one or two of your mending days doing research (via friends, Craigs List, Angie’s List, etc.) and become a mindful consumer, only buying from stores and websites that have a good return policy, good tech support and convenient hours.
There’s no doubt preserving and conserving your assets is good for your bank account (just estimate how much it’s costing you not to return, restore or use items), but it’s also good for your soul. Once you get into a routine, “mending day” becomes a regular sure-fire victory over life’s little stuff. What’s more satisfying than a home, and life, in good repair?