Wednesday, May 30, 2012

That's It?

Last year the Flats and Handwashing Challenge was exhilirating.  It felt challenging and exciting and like a real accomplishment.  As I finish this year's flats challenge, I'm left feeling a little, "meh".  Last year flats were a whole new world for me, but this year, they're old hat.  I've been stuffing my pockets and covers with these little darlings for a year now so it's no big whoop.  I had everything I needed already on hand so I didn't even have to prepare for this year's challenge at all. I just woke up Monday morning, slapped a flat on Ivy, and went on with my day.  At bedtime I stuck the dirties in a bucket of water and soap, went up and did the bedtime routine with the kids, then came back down and scrubbed and rinsed for about ten minutes.  Not very challenging.  I didn't even set up a clothesline - lazy old me just hung them on the porch chairs and railing overnight and they were still there and plenty dry by morning.

I'm not saying handwashing is easy.  Spending an hour washing and hanging a big old bucket of flats that I had been neglecting for three days as I was trying to get the car packed for our weekend away was no picnic.  But it wasn't a big deal either, just a bit time consuming.

And the pinnacle of my nonchalance about flats - when at the last second my mom said she would watch Ivy while we took the big kids on vacation, I said "Thank you thank you thank you!" and headed out the door.  I didn't leave her any instructions or alternate diapers or anything.  Ooops!  But never fear, she was around last year for the Walmart Flats Challenge so not only did she rock the flats, but she also knew that when she was running out of flats Sunday night, she could put the baby to bed with a receiving blanket in her cover.  The highlight of the challenge I think.

But, while the whole thing does seem a little anticlimatic, I think this is a good thing.  Because really, flats shouldn't be a big deal.  People used to use them all the time without any fanfare or patting themselves on the back.  And I think that's what we need to get back to.  While I do love me some fluffy mail, and I could talk for hours about cloth diapers with anyone who asked, I think that the future for cloth diapers is banality.  I mean, these are diapers.  They catch poop.  Do you chat with your mom friends for hours about disposable diapers?  How about baby socks or onesies?  Nope, because it's no big deal.  It's ordinary.  You might recommend your favorite brand, but there just isn't that much to say about them, because how to use them and wash them and dispose of them is common knowledge.  You don't have to wonder where to buy them, you know because you've seen them at Target a thousand times already.  And that's the place that we want cloth diapers to be.  We want them to get to the point for mothers around the world where we no longer need advocacy groups.  Where  moms no longer feel the need to congregate in online groups to discuss in minute detail washing routines and fabrics and fit because they can chat about those things with the mothers around them in real life if they're having trouble.   I can't wait until we reach the day when new moms learn everything they need to know about cloth from their own mothers or from the childbirth prep class at the hospital, along with the other basic baby care knowledge.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Part Deux: A Different Perspective

I'm finally back!  This post was meant to be posted over the weekend for you all, but a cranky modem + heading out camping with kiddos meant that it got delayed.  But here it is now for your reading pleasure.  Part of the fun of a blog is hosting guest bloggers and hearing from other voices.  Today we're hearing from brand new blogger, Andrea Brumsey, about her experiences with the Flats and Handwashing Challenge

I am taking part in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge  hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry .  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.  You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting the announcement post .  This year there are over 450 participants from all over the world! should I start...well I started my cloth diapering journey in Jan.'09 and have not looked back since. I have cloth diapered 3 of my 4 children and 2 of them are still in diapers. Well I guess one technically as my 3 year old only uses one at nap time and one at bed time. I use to use pocket diapers full time but I was having so much trouble figting the ammonia smell that was lurking in my diapers. I stripped the diapers over and over with little to no success. I then began to do some research on what I could do. I was ready to give up on cloth diapers. But then I discovered flat cloth diapers and I fell in love with them.

I purchased my first set of flat cloth diapers from Swaddlebees Flat diapers is where my journey began. Now I have a cloth diaper stash of flats. I have my Swaddlebees and Flour Sack Tea Towels that Iove to use as diaper, as well as receiving blankets that I use as night time diapers.

I have tried many many folds but they have all failed to work the way I thought that they should. The fold that I find works well for both my 3 year old and and my 17 month old is the kite fold. I find that the Kite fold proves to be very very trim and also very very absorbant. There are many layers which is excellent for both girls and boys.

I am enjoying using flats, even more than I thought that I would. They are super easy to wash and dry very fast. I use to use diaper pins and loved using them all the time but as my DS got older he refused to stay still for more than a couple seconds. Even though I was using pins for months I wasn't fast enough and was scared that the pin would hurt his skin. So, I switched to using a Snappi. I have also switched to using velcro closure diaper covers instead of snap closure covers. The velcro closure diaper covers are much easier to fasten with a squirmey baby. I also find that since switching to flat diapers my son no longer gets diaper rashes.

Before I started The Flats and Handwashing Challange my washing routine consisted of putting the diapers and covers into my washing machine and do a pre rinse with cold water and no detergent. Then once the diapers have been rinsed I add cloth diaper safe detergent anf set the washer on hot water and let it go through a regualr cycle and add an extra rince. Now that I am participating in the Flats and Handwashing Challange I start by taking my wash bucket and putting it in my kitchen sink. I then ad cold water and use my hands to aggitate the water for a few minutes. Then once i see that they are rinsed enough I dump out the water and then add hot water and 2 drops of Dawn dish detergent. I then use my hands again to clean and agitate the diapers. Once I have finished washing the diapers i dump out the soapy water and add clean water.It usually only takes one or two rinses to get all the soap out. I then ring the diapers out and hang them up to dry. I find that washing them by hand reassures me that that my diapers are squeaky clean.

Since I started using Flat diapers I have converted 3 people to cloth diapers and 4 more to give it a try. I use cloth diapers because I want my children to have the best. Cloth diapers are free of all the nasty chemicals that disposable diapers have. I also love all the money I have saved from not using cloth diapers and cloth wipes. With Flats a family can purchase and use cloth diapers for a little less than $40. As little as $40 diapers can get you enough diapers for your baby from newborn to potty training.

Mommy to 4 beautiful children and Navy wife,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Part Deux: The Wild Green Yonder

Gone Camping!

We're taking the flats and handwashing challenge on the road
because no diaper travels better than flats and covers - see you Monday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Part Deux Day 3: Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Part Deux Day 2: We're Covered

No mom should have to feel like she has no other option than to dry out and reuse a disposable diaper.  But it happens.  Disposables are a never ending money pit and cloth diapers can seem out of reach when funds are low and you don't own a washer and dryer.  Thus, the Flats and Handwashing Challenge was born. 

Last year's flats challenge really turned me on to flats.  They wash and dry SO well that I purged the microfiber from my stash and started stuffing my pockets with flats.  So by the time this year's challenge rolled around, we were already pretty set on flats.  I have four kinds of flats in my stash - Walmart flour sack towels, Osocozy, Swaddlebees, and Little Lions.  The flour sack towels and the Osocozy have just been sitting in a corner of my diaper cupboard mostly being unused, so as I packed up my pockets and all-in-ones and fitteds to put away for the challenge, I set those aside as well to go into my "loaner bin".  I am a bit of a cloth diaper aficianado and collector, so when we grow out of diapers that I love, I hate to get rid of them.  So, the good stuff that is too small gets put into my loaner bin that I lend out to friends and family interested in trying cloth.  The towels and Osocozys are nice flats, but they are too small and not absorbant enough for my big girl, which is why we haven't used them much lately.  But they would be perfect on a small baby, so into the bin they went.  Which left us with more than enough Swaddlebees and Little Lions. 

I love both the Swaddlebees and the Little Lions, but for different reasons.  Here's the breakdown:


Echo+Swaddlebees = Love
These are plenty absorbant for daytime, are fine with a booster for nighttime (I recommend the Grovia organic cotton boosters - tons of boosting power in a teeny tiny little doubler), and come in cute prints.  They are just the right size - large enough to do folds like the origami or kite, but small enough to make a very trim pad folded insert. When folded in half, in half again, and then in thirds, the Swaddlebees is a perfect size to fit inside Softbums, Grovia, Fuzzibunz, Charlie Banana, or any other trim cover or pocket.  Here's one of mine (an unbleached one, we had used up all the cute prints when I went to take a picture) inside a Softbums Echo. 

Best of all they are available in lots of places and easy to find.  My favorite place to buy? Straight from the source - Swaddlebees usually has the best price and they also often have flats in their clearance or seconds section.

Little Lions

My Little Lions and Flip combo
These are the gold standard for unbleached flats.  They have a nice smooth weave, a generous sizing, and they are super absorbant.  These don't need boosting for day or night, but they aren't as trim as the Swaddlebees either.  These fit great inside more generously sized covers like the Flip.  They also offer enough fabric to do any kind of fold you can imagine for any size baby, without being super bulky.

The big bummer on these is that the company is for sale, so they aren't currently selling flats.  You can probably score some on though if these sound like the flats you've been dreaming of.  And hopefully some savvy investor will come along and scoop up the company and start churning out these delicious flats again.

Now, on to covers.

I have quite the collection of covers, from Stacinators to woolies to Thirsties and more.  A majority of my covers though are just two kinds - Softbums and Flips.  Again, I like both of these for different reasons.


In the name of full disclosure, I will say that one of the reasons that I have so many Softbums is that I have gotten them free from work - I spent the spring working for Softbums (and still do pitch in on occasion) and that's just one of the perks.  But that's not the reason that I love them.  I love them because of the sizing mechanism and the snuggly inside.  The sizing on Softbums is adjusted at the leg elastic.  There are tiny toggles (like you see on Columbia jackets or hoodies sometimes) inside the cover that you use to adjust the leg elastic tighter or looser.  Since you have almost infinite adjustability, it's easy to get a great fit.  And the inside of the cover is lined with super soft fleece so I know it's nice and comfy for Ivy too.  Last but not least, I love all the stinkin' cute colors and prints.


The best thing about these is that they are everywhere.  They are pretty popular so I have no trouble finding used ones at swaps and on Craigslist.  Between that and shopping the Cottonbabies seconds sales, I don't think I've ever paid full price for a Flip cover.  They also have a more generous cut.  So although they are designed with lay-in inserts in mind, I can still use these over my trim fitted diapers as well.  I am not super keen on the fact that the plasticy inside is right on Ivy's skin in places, but it doesn't seem to bother her at all, so it's not a dealbreaker.  The only thing that gives me a big sad face is the lack of lots of cute prints.

So that's what I'm using for diapers this week.  I do have some other covers and some pins and Snappis that I might use if I get bored of this stuff, but I doubt it.  I've got bigger fish to fry, namely a big family camping trip coming up on Friday!

When it comes to washing, I'm keeping it simple.  Last night I did my wash using my diaper bin, a sink, and some soap.  As bedtime approached, I dressed Ivy in her bedtime diaper and pajamas and then went to the laundry room.  I filled the diaper bin (a Bambino Mio nappy bucket I got at Target on clearance for $7 - don't waste your money, get a regular bucket) with warm water and a quarter scoop of Charlie's Soap and then let that soak while I put the kids to bed.  Once everyone was snoozing, I came back down and emptied the bin into the laundry sink.  I filled the sink with hot water and another quarter scoop of soap and set to scrubbing.  There weren't very many diapers (she uses the potty some and only poops once a day most days - yeay!) so it went really quickly.  After they'd all been scrubbed, I drained the sink, rinsed each one individually under running water, then wrung them out.  I was feeling too lazy to trudge out to the clothesline in the dark, so I tossed everything over the deck chairs and rail and went to bed.  In the morning, everything was dry and fresh - yeay!  I was thinking about getting a washboard to aid my scrubbing, but now that Ivy's going through so few diapers a day (I think there were three last night plus a handful of wipes and covers) it kind of seems unnecessary.  I did just fine with knuckle power.

So that's it!  Kind of boring, I know.  I didn't buy anything new or do anything fancy at all this year.  But you know what, that's okay.  As the Shakers say, "tis the gift to be simple".

Monday, May 21, 2012

Flats Challenge Part Deux: Day 1

Well readers, it's been a long time! Nice to see you again after my blogging hiatus! As many of you know I spent the winter trying out the working mom bit at a local cloth diaper store and this spring I brought my talents over to Softbums. But as a mommy of four, my working days end when the school year ends. Unless a position opens up for brain surgeon with no experience required, I don't have any marketable skills that would pay for daycare for four kids and still have some paycheck left over for me. So home I go for the summer, and I'm happy to do it. I love the laid back rhythm of summertime.

So, for my grand re-entry into the blogosphere, I am participating once again in the Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry. For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to show that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all. You can learn more about the rules and why this challenge was started by visiting the link. It was great fun last year so I was excited to see that it was happening again this year. You may recall that last year I made it into a Walmart challenge, getting all my supplies at my local Walmart. Over the last year I've really found the flats love so my personal diaper stash now includes quite a few high quality flats. Since I've already got everything I need pretty much, I'm just going to work with my own stash this year.

Besides my collection of flats, my stint at Softbums has also left me with quite a few lovely Softbums shells, one of the perks of working for a diaper maker. They pair perfectly with pad folded flats, so I'm all set.
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