Today is the last day for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge. I did miss a few days of updates, so I do want to go over what we experienced. Sorry, but I am just not a daily blogger. This challenge went really smoothly for us. I will say that since I knew I needed to wash the diapers, it made me utilize routine more than I normally would, and I did like the effects of that. My kids handled it a lot better knowing that we would go for a walk after Mommy finished her chores. I do have somewhat of a bad back, so bending over to agitate (plunge) in my camp-style washer did hurt my back. After the first day, I decided to put the washer in the sink to save my back, but this meant the dishes needed to be washed first. I did like the feeling of accomplishment of getting a lot done in the morning, and this challenge really brought that out since I normally only work on being a grump in the morning. Aside from my previous posts, there really isn't a whole lot to add on a daily basis except that my husband took the kids to a cookout on Saturday and didn't take flats. He claimed that there weren't any set out to grab (true, someone was sleeping when I folded the flats, and I forgot to take them in later), and he said he didn't know the "rules" so he improvised. He DID take cloth, though, and didn't go pick up disposables, so kudos to him for being awesome.
Some of the things that we really liked about the challenge:
1) Flats are workhorses. They really WORK. Well. There is something you should know about my husband. He HATES cloth diapering. He also hates to debate with me, apparently more so than he hates cloth diapers. I must be a great mom and wife because he cloth diapers because I ask him to do it, even though he would much rather use sposies. When I said I wanted to do this challenge, his response was a resounding "absolutely not." Cue annoying debate and endless justifications, a few promises that he would not have to wash a thing, and we were all signed up. So when I was polling him earlier today, I was pleasantly surprised to hear him say that he was amazed at how easy and effective it was, especially for the nighttime diapering, and we actually agree on something cloth-diapering related. Easy peasy.
2) I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea that I am able to utilize the sun's energy to replace a task that I would use electricity to accomplish. I have big dreams of having an off-the-grid home someday with geothermal heat, solar and wind power, solar hot water heater, energy efficient insulation and windows and the whole 9 yards. Using electricity (for me, anyway) means my local utility is using oil. Oil is expensive. It keeps us dependent on an unstable Middle East. It creates pollution. I love the green factor of using the sun instead.
3) I learned that it is possible to cloth diaper a child for the cost of 1 month's worth of disposable diapers. It might not be the most convenient washing schedule or the latest prints in the cloth diapering scene, but it can be done if needed.
4) Should some unforeseen crisis strike our area (like the ice storm we had in 1998) and we had to go days or weeks without power, we would have a plan that we know will work for diapering our child. I would highly recommend parents add some flats and covers to an emergncy preparedness kit.
5) I love the space that flats have freed up for us at the changing table. Usually I wash diapers, then sort diapers, then stuff diapers, then stack diapers by type. It takes up a small table near the changing table (by the way, the kids just LOVE to throw the diapers on the floor so they can crawl across the table to get to the cabinet that is built into the wall next to it). Flats are 1 pile of pre-stuffed covers and 1 pile of extra flats. Only folding to do when they are dry, and the kidlets have plenty of room to climb on the table (like they are not supposed to do), so my diapers stay on the table. Ah, sweet harmony.
6) Flats are trim. I had no idea. One flat works as well as any pocket diaper and is as trim as a disposable. Two flats work great for overnights and naps, and are about as bulky as a pocket diaper.
7) NOT ONE SINGLE LEAK.
Things we didn't like about the challenge:
1) I didn't feel like putting in the elbow grease to handwash every day. Namely, Saturday. Saturday is usually the day I go on strike from most chores. Hubs took the kids to his mom's house for the day, and I just wanted to make progress on my never-ending list of things to do. I resented every plunge on Saturday. Really, though, I didn't mind the other days at all. As I am unemployed currently, the time factor was not really an issue. However, if I were working, I would probably really loathe the time out of my schedule spent washing diapers.
2) The limit of 5 covers made me nervous. I completely understand and support why it was part of the challenge, but I feel much more secure having at least 2 days' worth of diapering on hand. Some days are just crazy, after all. Can it be done with 5 covers? Absolutely!
Okay, so I loved the challenge, it went really well for us, blah blah blah, but here are my confessions of what you should know that may have made it a lot easier for us. My son only poops about once every 3-5 days. When he poops, they are quite solid and plop-able, much to his cloth-diapering parents' delight. We did choose to use diaper liners for the challenge. The day before the challenge officially started, I got a poop in a flat (I started early). Used the liner, and it was a very easy clean up. Mr. Chubberton did not poop again until a few days later, and he actually told me he had to poop, so I set him on the potty - he ended up pooping on the floor instead of in the potty, but that is a long story that I will not amuse you with at this time. Next poo was at my mother-in-law's house at the cookout in the regular cloth diaper hubby took with him. So - I only had the one flat that had been pooped on the day before the challenge, but that I handwashed on the first official day. Let's be honest, runny or messy poo could certainly change one's opinion of the entire challenge. Also, no way would I handwash poopy diapers if I had to touch them. Camp-style washer is awesome!
So....my conclusions! We will definitely keep using flats. We will probably also use our other cloth diapers as well. I have to admit that I am very curious to see how much this would affect my utility bill, so I may continue for another month or two to get an idea. We pay for water and sewer, and the handwashing uses MUCH less water than our machine does. Regardless of the washing, I will continue to line-dry as much as possible. I did struggle to find enough places to hang flats inside, so rainy days I will probably use the clothes dryer. However, now that we only have 1 child in diapers, we have a big enough stash that if my laundry gets rained on, I have plenty of backup diapers just in case. I may even hang our clothes out to dry if there is room on the line.
I definitely think it is possible to cloth diaper for a reasonable investment (the cost of 1 month of dispoables) regardless of income and even if you do not have a washer and dryer available. I would not cart dirty diapers to a laundromat, but I would absolutely be willing to do this rather than use disposables. I would, however, want more than 5 covers, so I would probably use part of the money I wasn't spending on disposables to get a few extras.
Thanks for following along, and if you have any questions or comments for me, please be sure to let me know!