Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 7 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Final Thoughts

I made it to the last day of the Flats Challenge! Only a few more hours left. I will hand wash today's load, and then I will probably hand wash tomorrow's diapers as well, just for good measure. Will I continue to hand wash our diapers? Not every day. I am very excited to be able to take my new wash bucket with us camping, and hunting. I would love not to have to use disposables on those trips! Plus, I think it would be an awesome feeling to be out in nature, handwashing my son's cloth diapers (or our laundry!) enjoying the sounds and smells. I might have an unrealistic picture in my head of that! HAHA! But it sounds good.

So how did I do? Well I had a couple hiccups. The major one being on Thursday. My son was sleeping and I decided to run to the fabric store and leave him with my husband. I left out a cover with a pad folded flat inside. That way he could change him if he woke up, and it wouldn't be too difficult. (My husband doesn't change diapers that often, seriously maybe one diaper a month.) Well I came home to this...

Apparently somehow he unfolded the pad folded flat, couldn't get it back in the cover, poop and pee were everywhere... well you get the idea. I wish I had a video of that whole situation. I was pretty upset at the time, but now I can laugh about it. (A little)

I also used a couple disposable wipes, which really wasn't a rule that I couldn't, but I was trying to see if I could use only cloth for the whole challenge. Not a big deal though, I still was able to use A LOT less than I have been using. I honestly don't know why I haven't switched to cloth wipes sooner!

I was able to line dry every day except yesterday. We had a birthday party to go to and I wasn't sure if it was going to rain or not. So I hung the diapers inside.

I knew I kept this bag of pants hangers for something!

Overall, I am very happy I was able to participate in this challenge this year. It really wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, even with 2 extra kids in the house! I really am convinced this is definitely an option for families today. It can be done, and I really don't think it is a huge amount of work. If it is a matter of re-using disposables, or hand washing cloth diapers... we would all want to chose what is best for our babies, no matter how much work involved, right?

Going forward, I am glad I have the experience to know how to do this if the need ever arises. My washing machine is getting a bit old, who knows what could happen? No, I'm not a prepper, but I do like to learn valuable life and survival skills. These things, in my opinion, shouldn't be overlooked as something people did in the past, but as normal skills that should be passed down generations. I don't want to be so reliant upon technology, or modern conveniences that I can't live without them.

Whatever the circumstance, even in today's modern society, cloth diapering is a real, viable option. It can be done, and it can be done with very little expense.

Day 6 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Flat Style!

I am a little late on this post. It should have been done yesterday, but we had a busy day. So here it is now!

Day 6 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge is all about the folds! Flat folding seems to be something that turns a lot of people away from flats. It does take some extra time after washing and drying, or before you diaper baby, but I love the versatility of flats. You can choose how to fold them to get the most absorbency in the right areas for your baby.

Each person has different favorite folds. For us, we experiment with different folds, but I always come back to two. For our large receiving blankets, I use the "kite fold" and with our large Cloth-eez flats, I use the airplane fold.
Left, large receiving blanket. Right, large Cloth-eez organic cotton flat
I've found the "kite fold" on the large receiving blanket works the best for that large of a piece of material. It puts the most layers of fabric right in the middle where my son wets the most. We use these for over night diapers.

"Kite fold" on a large gauze receiving blanket
For our regular large Cloth-eez flats, I prefer the "airplane fold". I just love the way it fits my son. When folded properly, it creates a gusset around the leg to help hold in messes. This fold also puts most of the layers in the middle area.

"airplane fold" gusset around the leg holds in messes

"airplane fold" on a large Cloth-eez flat
To fasten our flats, I use a Snappi. You could also use pins or Boingo's. Snappi's are just what we have always used. 

Lyric (18months) with "airplane fold" and Snappi
I usually try to fold my diapers right after they come off the dry line. That way when I need one I can just grab and put on. Otherwise, I have to try and fold a diaper really fast and then go catch my son after he has escaped. 

This is what it looks like trying to fold our diapers. My big helper!
There is one other fold I recently tried that I did like. It is the "prefold fold". Basically, you are folding the flat to look similar to a prefold diaper. I'm not a fan of the fit so much, but I do love that if there is a poo, it is very easy to clean with my diaper sprayer. I don't have a bunch of layers of fabric to worry about unfolding all over the place while spraying. Just one flat surface to spray off.

Those are our favorites here! Finding something that works for you is not that hard. Plus, you can even make your own fold to fit your baby better! 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 5 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Wash Routine

We have doing pretty well so far, into the 5th day of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. I feel I'm finally getting down a system that works for us. Because this is my first year ever doing the challenge, and my first time ever handwashing our diapers, I've had to see what works and what doesn't.

The first day wash seemed pretty easy, but I think it's because there weren't many diapers. I have been doing the washing around 1pm each day, after 2 of the 4 kids go down for a nap. Wednesday, I got started late and my son woke up from his nap in the middle of the hot wash cycle!

I decided to make a camp style wash bucket for the challenge, and also to use when we go camping and our yearly hunting trip. I'm excited to be able to use our cloth diapers when we are away from the house.

For the routine, when we change a wet diaper it goes in a small bucket in the bedroom. If it is a poopy diaper, I spray it off with the diaper sprayer in the bathroom and put it directly in the wash bucket.

wet diapers in the small pail in the bedroom

poopy diapers in the wash bucket and wet diapers in the small bucket ready for washing
When it is time for washing I bring the small bucket into the bathroom. I fill the wash bucket with a little bit of water and give the poopy diapers a good rinse and agitation with the plunger. I dump the bucket out into the tub and put all the diapers into the bucket. I have found that washing more than 5 flats and a few covers and wipes, I can't get them very clean. So if I have more diapers than that I will do 2 separate loads. So after the rinse of the poopy diapers, I put the poopy diapers and wet diapers back into the pail and fill it 3/4 full of cold water. I then agitate them with the plunger for about 5 minutes. This rinses all the pee and any lingering poo out of the diapers. I dump out the bucket, squeeze out most of the water from the diapers, and put them back into the bucket. I add about 2 to 3 teaspoons of Rockin' Green powder and a tablespoon of Calgon water softener and fill the bucket with hot water. We have extremely hard water, so this is why I add the Calgon. If I don't, the water leaves a ton of mineral buildup on the diapers and my son gets a rash. I know this from experience haha!

After agitating the wash cycle for about 10 minutes, I dump the bucket again. I turn the faucet on cold and rinse everything quickly under the faucet and then return it all to the bucket. I fill the bucket with cold water again and agitate for another 5 minutes. Sometimes during this cycle I like to use my hand/arm to make sure all the diapers are getting moved around and rinsed thoroughly. After 5 minutes, if there are no remaining bubbles, I will ring out all the diapers. If I have another load to do, I use the remaining water for my initial rinse for that load.

After ringing out the diapers, I put them in my small black bucket and take them out to the line and hang them to dry.

We have had pretty good weather this week. It's been a bit windy, but no diapers have blown away...yet. (knocking on wood now) I really thought i was going to have to dry inside yesterday and possibly today. It rained (and even hailed a couple blocks away) yesterday morning, but by the afternoon it had cleared up!

What a crazy difference! As I write this, I have today's wash out on the line, and will be going out to get it in just a few minutes.

The only thing that I'm not too fond of is the flats obviously get crunchy line drying. Even if I give them a good shake out, they still aren't very soft. I don't think our hard water helps that situation. It doesn't seem to bother my son's skin, though, so it must not be that bad. Another thing that I have found, I prefer to have the lid off of the wash bucket while I wash. I feel like I can see the diapers washing better, and I can make sure they are all getting agitated. (I do leave the lid on the bucket sometimes during the poo diaper rinse ;) ).

Tomorrow we have a birthday party to go to. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to time everything yet, but I will try and make it work! The kids may go swimming, and I have decided that instead of a disposable swim diaper, I will just use a PUL cover on my son. (It's my in-law's house, so we know it's clean)

Two more days, I think I got this!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 4 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Out and About with Flats

The 4th day of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge started off a little rocky. Nothing horrible, really. Just very cloudy skies and bit of rain. I am hoping to be able to hang dry outside before any more rain today. Oh, and my 3 year old daughter thought it would be a good idea to give her baby doll a bath with the WHOLE BOTTLE of cloth wipe solution. The carpet got a bath as well. At least it smells good!

Today's post is about how we travel with our flat diapers. I guess it may seem a bit intimidating to someone who hasn't done it before. But for me, I have been traveling with flats and/or prefolds for a while now. The only difference for my outings this week has been the addition of cloth wipes, instead of disposable wipes. Monday we had an ICAN meeting across town, so here is what I packed in my purse. Yes purse, not diaper bag!

Small spray bottle of wipe solution, cloth wipes folded in a travel wipes case (see how to fold them to pop up, here), 1 PUL cover (by Brother'sBinky), 2 flats, and because I new I would need to change him into his night time diaper, 1 is his receiving blanket flat and I also brought a bamboo fleece doubler. 

As you can see, I pre-fold my flats. I use the airplane fold for our regular flats and the kite fold for his night time receiving blanket flats. I stack all these things and fit them into one section of my purse, along with the spray bottle. 

I also carry a wet bag with me. Mine can fit about 3 dirty flats and covers. That's all I usually need. I store my clean diapers in my purse, and the dirties go in the wet bag that I attach to my purse.

In my opinion, as long as I pre-fold the flats, it's not much difference than traveling with regular disposables. If I have a poopy diaper, I just store it in the wet bag until I get home, and then I will spray it off with my diaper sprayer.

I remember not long ago, I was in the bathroom at Walmart with both of my children. I was changing my sons diaper on the changing table (he was wearing flats) and a woman walked by and was amazed. She said she didn't know they still made these kind of diapers, haha! Why, yes, ma'am they do. She was super interested in my Snappy, too. 

I am truly thankful to have been introduced to cloth diapering, as it has saved my family a TON of money. I hope I can convince other families that it is an awesome alternative to expensive disposables, that really isn't anymore difficult to do!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day 3 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Our Daily Schedule

It's day 3 of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, and everything has been going pretty smooth the last couple days. I am really starting to see that hand washing is really a great option if you don't have access to a washing machine. I have hung my flats on the line for a while now, and I love it! It usually is mostly sunny here, so they dry in no time!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been watching 2 other children (on top of my own two kids). So right now I have a 3 year old (my daughter), a 2 1/2 year old little boy, a 1 year old (my son, who is in the cloth diapers), and an 11 month old little boy. That's 4 kids, 3 and under. Now I know a lot of people have this many children all their own, but for me this is much different than taking care of 2 little ones! So to help me keep everything from blowing up during the day, I try to stick to somewhat of a schedule. This has helped tremendously with the challenge. Since today was an open topic, I thought I would fill you in on our daily schedule. (These times are not exact. They are approximate. I don't have a timer that buzzes when its time to transition. I promise I'm not THAT OCD!)

7:00 am
I wake up. My son and daughter wake up anywhere between 7 and 8. I get dressed, make the bed, and then get the kids dressed, and change my son's nighttime diaper. I give them a bowl of cereal to share while I finish getting ready. Sometimes I will throw a load of laundry in the wash, and unload the dishwasher before the other two little ones arrive.

The other two children get dropped off. When they arrive I let all the kids play in the living room and toy room while I make breakfast. That usually consists of either eggs and bacon, pancakes, fruit, or oatmeal. 

The kids play in the living room or watch Sesame Street.

10- 11am 'ish
Everyone goes out back to play in the yard. At around 10:15 or 10:30, I put the baby down for his first nap, and go back outside to play with the older kids. 

We all come back inside and I start making lunch while the kids watch PBS kids (or sometimes something on Netflix). We all eat lunch, then the kids play for a bit longer.

The 2 1/2 year old goes down for his nap. He will sleep for about 3 hours! (I know, it's AWESOME!)

The baby wakes from his nap between 12 and 12:30, then my son (1 year old) goes down for his nap, which is usually about 2 hours.

My son napping. His cover matched his blanket so I had to take a picture! ;)
This is when I get everything done that I need to do. Feed the baby, write a new blog post, finish laundry and/or dishes, and of  course hand wash the dirty diapers and hang them on the line. My daughter is usually pretty good at amusing herself. Play Dough, coloring books, or cartoons are always good choices to keep her entertained.

The older boys wake up from their naps. The baby goes down for his second nap. The 2 1/2 year old get picked up around 3pm.

-I fit my 30 minute workout in somewhere between here.-

The baby gets picked up anywhere between these times. Then, if it's Monday, I try to make a grocery store run. This last Monday I also had an ICAN meeting. So Mondays can get pretty busy!

5-6pm 'ish (obviously this depends on what other things are going on that day)
I make dinner, the kids play outside.

No pants, just cloth diaper... we ended up with a sandy bum from the sandbox.

My kids get ready for bed. My son does still nurse but he is usually good about not nursing to sleep. (Thank goodness!!) I put my son in his night time diaper. Which consists of a large muslin receiving blanket flat, kite folded, and one of my pieces of bamboo fleece folded in half (to make it 2 layers), and then his cover. This has worked really well so far. The first night (the night before day 1 of the challenge) I also put a pad folded small cotton flat in there. It was HUGE. A little overkill, but I was worried he would leak (we have had problems lately with him wetting a ton overnight). So, I got rid of the extra pad folded small flat. I also put him in fleece jammy pants over his diaper and cover. (I really should take a picture of this, I'm sure you're all wondering how huge all these layers are! HAHA!)

After the kids go to bed, my husband and I watch something on Netflix and end up going to bed around 9:30 or 10.

This schedule seems to be working for everyone for now. The kids have been behaving really well, too. I guess it's true that they like consistency!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 2 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- The Stash!

For the 2015 Flats and Handwashing Challenge, I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on things just to use for the challenge. The whole point is for cloth diapering to be an inexpensive choice, right? Everything pictured above EXCEPT the bucket washer, I already had, or was free. But for the sake of curiosity, I will tally what each thing cost me (at some point in time).

Camp Style Wash Bucket:
Bucket (Lowes)- $2.98
Lid (Lowes)- $1.28
Plunger (Lowes)- $8.98 .... My husband ran into the store to get these items for me. Apparently this was the cheapest plunger they had. You can also get a plunger at the dollar store, though.

My husband already had all the tools needed to drill a hole in the bucket lid, and a couple small holes in the plunger. Thanks hubby!

FREE! - I hadn't used cloth wipes until this challenge, but I have been meaning to switch over for a while now. My MIL had a king size jersey knit top sheet that she was getting rid of, so I scored on that one! I just cut out some rectangles, no measuring, or sewing. I still have 3/4 of the sheet left, too! I could have used that to make some t-shirt diapers, too if I didn't already have flats. I should also mention I did have to strip the sheet before I cut it up for wipes, because it had been washed many times with fabric softener. To strip it, I used a tiny bit of Dawn original dish detergent and washed on HOT, then rinse rinse rinse, until no more bubbles. (Warning! Most washer manufacturers will tell you using dish detergent in your washer may void your warranty!) Here is some awesome information about stripping and cloth diapers.

I have 25 total flats.
4 Large receiving blankets - FREE from my daughter's baby shower
6 Large Cloth-eez brand unbleached organic cotton flats (from Green Mountain Diapers)- $20 approximately (with shipping)
6 Small and 9 Large Cloth-eez brand cotton flats (purchased used from a local Facebook group)- $25

4 Doublers- $2.00 I made doublers for night time diapers using some heavy bamboo fleece that I had ordered for my business, Brother'sBinky. I had intended to make inserts for pocket diapers, but never got around to it. So I would estimate the cost of the amount of fabric I used was about $2.00. In order for them to dry quicker, I didn't sew these, just cut out one layer 13"x10" then I just fold them in half and lay either in the folded flat, or between the flat and the cover.

6 Brother'sBinky size 2 adjustable PUL covers- I charge $15 each for my covers, but all of mine were made using the leftovers from fabrics and snaps I had. The cost of materials is probably about $25 for all six covers.

Snappi (not pictured)- aproximately $2.00

Cloth Wipe Solution- FREE! I received some free samples of Baby Bits cloth wipe solution at the GCDC event a couple weeks ago. It works pretty good. I keep some in a spray bottle in the bedroom, and also in a small spray bottle in my purse.

Cloth Diaper Safe Rash Cream- FREE! Technically I made the cream using coconut oil, beeswax, and Lavender and Melrose essential oils. I would guess it cost about $2.

Wash Soap- $6.00
I received the Rock n' Green samples from the GCDC event as well. The Calgon I add to the wash with the diapers because we have extremely hard water. The Calgon is about $6 at my local grocery store.

That's everything I am using for the challenge!
TOTAL: not including soaps = $87.24

Most people will not need this many flats. I use all of the smalls for back up and extra nighttime protection sometimes. You could even use the entire King sized jersey knit sheet to make flats AND wipes, and have enough for washing every other day or so. Needless to say, cloth diapering can be very inexpensive with a little ingenuity and elbow grease!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Day 1 Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Why I am taking the Challenge

We started cloth diapering when my daughter was about 16 months old and I had found out baby number 2 was on the way. I had seen how much it cost for disposables in that first year, and was just angry. I had stopped working after my daughter was born, and we were still getting used to only one income. Trying to cut costs (and make our home as natural as possible), I decided cloth diapers would be a good transition for us.

My husband wasn't really on board at first, but he changes maybe one diaper a week, so I kind of won that debate ;). We wanted to go pretty cheap with our cloth so we started with prefolds and covers. A good friend was kind enough to let us borrow some of hers, and I loved them! We did try some BumGenius pocket diapers, and they worked well, but I just loved the simplicity of prefolds and covers.

So after a few months of prefolds with the new baby, I kept seeing other cloth diapering moms talking about flats. Something cheaper than prefolds? Yes please! So my first flats were flour sack towels (FST's) from Walmart and Sam's Club.

When my son started getting a little bigger, he was wetting a lot more, so I ended up buying some small and large Green Mountain Diaper's flats from another mom. Those are what we still use today.

I heard about the Flats and Handwashing Challenge a couple years ago, from my friend (the one who let me borrow her prefolds). You know who you are, Mary! Thanks for being my cloth diaper guru! I knew the Flats Challenge was something I wanted to participate in as soon as I heard about it.

We switched to cloth mostly to save money. I do like helping the environment, and keeping natural fibers on my babies' bums, but really, the biggest reason was to save money. So this challenge, was right up my alley! I want to help spread the word about how cloth diapering can be a great alternative to disposable diapers, for families in hard economic circumstances. They are actually a great alternative for ANY family!

We go camping and hunting throughout the year, and usually we use disposables while in the camper. But I am very excited to now have a wash bucket I can take with us! I just washed my first load of diapers and it worked better than I was expecting! Now to hang them out on the line. That's probably my favorite part.

I'm hoping to really enjoy this week, and this challenge! I'm still pretty excited about it and I hope that doesn't fade in a couple days.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Time Flies and Flats Challenge

Why do the baby and toddler years go by so fast? I know it's so cliche, right? But, now I understand why everyone always complains how fast their children grow up. I now have a one year old and a 3 year old.

I have been MIA on my blog since last October. The reason was frankly, I wanted to cherish the holidays with my family. My children(and myself for that matter) will never be this young again.

So here I am, almost 7 months later, finally getting around to chronicling my time. Now that things have slowed down a bit, I can update my blog with happenings around here.

The holidays were amazing of course, and much nicer without having to worry about taking a picture of everything to post! I also took a break from Facebook for almost the whole month of January. It was an awesome cleanse! There really is a whole world around me that is passing me by, while I spend hours scrolling through other people's lives! Who would have thought, right?

I also had some medical issues I had to figure out over the last few months. (That's a whole other post). But I have changed my diet (cleaner eating, more organic and less processed foods), and started working out (p90x3), which will also be another post!

So what am I going to talk about in this post, you ask? Well cloth diapers of course!

This year I am super excited,..seriously giddy that I get to participate in the 5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge! My husband is pretty sure I've completely lost my mind. Why would anyone be excited about hand washing anything, let alone DIRTY DIAPERS? Well it's all to raise awareness of how cloth diapers can be a great choice for families in hard economic circumstances, even if they don't have a washing machine.
There are a few different ways to hand wash the diapers, but the way I plan on doing it is using a bucket and plunger. Something like this. I would love to get a wash board, but I probably wont find one in time.

So far I have prepped all my flats. They needed a good cleaning and stripping, so I stripped them by soaking in very hot water with a little Calgon water softener, then washed them and rinsed. That's it! It works really well at getting out all the gunk from our hard water. No need for extra rinses, since I've found they just add all that junk back into the diapers.

Then I put them on the line to dry. It was a really windy day, so they dried in no time!

We have been using our prefolds and covers lately, and I'm trying to save my super clean flats for the challenge. I do have some things I'm a little worried about. We have been using disposables at night for a while now because Lyric is a heavy night time wetter. He's actually pretty heavy all the time. So my plan is to add some sort of extra night time absorbency. I have a bunch of heavy bamboo fleece that I had ordered to make inserts for my Brother'sBinky pocket diapers, so I think I might cut some squares and just tri-fold it and put it behind the flat. We will see how that goes. Another thing that will add to the challenge, I just started watching two other children during the weekdays. One is 11 months, and the other is 2 1/2. So now I will be doing the challenge with 4 little ones running around. This is definitely going to be interesting!

If it goes well I will have a wash bucket for camping! That's a plus!