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Monday, June 25, 2012

Working and Cloth-Diapering: Stories from the Trenches by a Working Mom of 3

I’ll never forget the look on my husband’s face when I announced that I thought we should use cloth diapers with our first daughter.  He raised his eyebrows, looked at me quizzically to see if I was joking, and when he finally realized I was serious, he said, “Fine by me.  But I’m not washing them.”  Fair enough.   I had researched extensively before I made the proposal to him, and was armed with information to persuade him that I wasn’t insane.  Quite frankly, I was shocked he didn’t put up more of a fight.

As a high school band director in a large, suburban district, my schedule borders on insane.  It is not unusual for me to have evening commitments at work 3 or 4 nights a week.  My daughter was due in April, and I was taking the remainder of the school year off, but we knew I would be heading back to work the following August.  The fall is my busiest time of year; marching band season means I am at work from 7am-6pm, with football games and festivals taking up nearly every Friday night and Saturday.  I guess I wasn’t surprised, then, when friends and family questioned my sanity in adding one more thing to my never-ending to-do list. 
But, we did it.  And quite successfully, at that!  My daughter was cloth-diapered up until she potty-trained at age 2.5, including her time at a licensed daycare facility.  (They thought I was nuts until they saw my awesome Fuzzibunz!)  So when we found out we were expecting twins, there was no question that we’d cloth diaper again, and this time, my husband didn’t even bat an eye.  The babies are almost 6 months old now, and have been happily in cloth since around week 2.  I’m still working (though I’ve taken a hiatus from marching band—whew!) and we’re constantly telling our friends and family that if we can use cloth, so can they!

So, can you work full time and successfully cloth diaper, without losing your mind?  Absolutely!  Here are my top 5 suggestions for any working moms who want to give it a shot:

1.       Invest for convenience.  I knew that there was no way I would have the long-term desire to deal with pins, folding, etc.  I wanted something that was simple and easy, even if it meant spending more money initially.  When I started building a stash, I tried to find a good balance between convenience and cost-efficiency.   For me, that meant fitteds and covers for the newborn stage and pocket diapers and AIOs for beyond.    

2.       Have a routine.   In order for cloth diapering not to become a huge burden, you need to make the process a daily habit.  When I first went back to work, I got into the habit of starting a load of diaper laundry right when I arrived home (if it was wash day).  My daughter would generally fall asleep in the car on the way home from daycare, so I would just plop her carseat down in the kitchen, start a load, and then get to work prepping dinner until she woke up.  I’d do the second wash after I got her down for the night, and then put everything in the dryer before I went to bed. 

3.       Keep it simple.  It’s easy to get sucked in by all the online chatter about the best soap, most effective wash routine, or the latest and greatest diaper.  My suggestion is to figure out what works for you, and then not mess around with it.  While the appeal of using the highly recommended diaper-friendly, environmentally-friendly soap was tempting, I knew the first time I ran out and forgot to order online, I was not going to be happy.  So, I settled on All Free and Clear, because it’s readily available and inexpensive.   I do a very simple wash routine (short cold wash with a teeny bit of detergent, hot long wash with ½ the recommended amount, extra rinse only if there’s any remaining odor).  Inserts and fitteds go in the dryer, pockets get hung on a drying rack in our bedroom.  Once my kids start solids, I use flushable liners, because, again, I am going for simplicity, and I don’t have the time, energy, or desire to scrape poop.

4.       Teach your husband how to wash diapers.  No, I’m not joking.  Even my husband, who gave the no-washing ultimatum, is a pro now.  On my busiest weeks, he’s even been known to put in a load, unprompted.  There’s nothing like coming home to your husband sitting in the middle of the living room floor, stuffing pockets. 

5.       Remember, you are not supermom.  Cloth diapering does not have to be an all or nothing proposition.  You may have times where you find yourself staring at a diaper-less baby and a full diaper pail.  So, pull out that backup package of disposables—it’s OK, and it doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel. Every cloth diaper you DO use is one less disposable in the landfill, and that’s a good thing.  

Guest blogger, Rachel, is a high school music teacher in the Chicago suburbs, where she lives with her husband of 10 years and 3 kids age 3 and under.  She's loving the little years and doing her best to embrace the chaos of working and parenting.  (But she's really glad to have the summer off.)   


Kendall said...

I love this. I am expecting baby #3 and was thinking of going to work. I am at home with my 3 year old (potty trained) and 13.5 month old. Though I probably won't work until the new babe is at least 1 so I don't have to pump for bottles, lol. Nursing will just have to be done at home. My 13.5 month old is cloth diapered and this new babe will be too so it's nice to see that someone can do it successfully. :)

Thankyouabba said...

I am so glad that you told people it is ok to use disposables sometimes. Some people are so all or nothing or very judgmental. I did not use cloth for the environment. I use cloth to keep the toxins off of my son's bum and stuff. I do not want him being another statistic with sterility issues when he is older. So, I use disposables at night, ones that are chlorine free that is. That way I do not have to worry about waking up and changing him and I do not have to wonder if this diaper will work all night or not. I wasted too much time researching what to do at night for my heavy wetter. I spent 60 dollars on two lights out diapers and they don't even work all night. So, I would rather have peace of mind and a dry baby.
But I am blessed to not have to work, so I haven't had to worry about some of the issues you have, luckily. But we all have issues with things whether at home or on the job. Thank you so much for sharing!

Diana Fisher said...

I would love to try Thirsties I have only tried gdiapers so the all in one feature seems unreal to me. I am so excited to try some on this new baby!

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