Create steady, and ever present rhythms. Continue reading Fall Intentions
“Courage my soul, and let us journey on, tho’ the night is dark. it won’t be very long.” ~Charles Albert Tindley’s “The Storm is Passing Over”
I’m sharing some of the things that have to been life giving to me this summer, because I want to keep a record of them, and because I think they are worth sharing. These blogs and books have had an impact on how I try to live my life and build my home over time, but in particular over this past summer, so while they do not change the grain of my being, they do change the fabric I weave.
For the first time, in a very long time, I feel like the change of season is upon me. We had hot and sunny days this week, but the next several look to be cold and rainy. So, before summer completely goes, I wanted to post these things here, for myself and for you. I hope you find something to be curious over.
The Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
I read this in two days on my phone, because zero waste. I found it very interesting, and inspiring. In fact, it’s led me to want to sew up some bulk bags, and the rebuilding of our home pantry. Our food waste had gotten seriously out of hand, and Bea’s book inspired me and taught me so many things that are compostable, recyclable, and refusable. Her blog/website is also a really interesting read, if you don’t want to commit to a book. But I found, once I read everything on her blog, I still wanted more.
City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing by Lorraine Johnson
Admittedly, I read this in late, late spring just about the time we planted our basil for the year. But I actually loved reading her stories about growing food in urban areas of Canada, her inspiring guerilla gardening ventures, and the information she shared. If you like to grow veggies in your backyard, this is a highly recommended read, as it helps you ask questions you didn’t even know you had about urban farming.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
I read this around 2009, when I was living in an apartment space of roughly 400 square feet. Nevertheless, it was just as impactful then as it is now that I have growing space. Kingsolver and her family’s commitment to eat local, and often only what they grow is a lesson in the realities of living off the land, rather than off the grocery store shelves. I could not love this book any more than I already do.
Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
There are so many little gems, and takeaways in this book, and I hope that I’ll share some of them as I write more. But, basically, and brilliantly, the answer to every question is love. I have to remind myself of this, all the time. And I have to ask this question all the time. Is that done in love? Does that feel of love? Is the undercurrent of that riptide love? And if not, why not? I’m looking forward to reading her Love Warrior. This is a simple, easy read, written with levity. It’s worth an afternoon or two, if they can be spared.
Practising Simplicity by Jodi Wilson
Homesong by Amanda Watters
Whole Family Rhythms by Meagan Wilson
This spring, we added in three more raised beds to our garden. We’re still getting the hang of planting, the issues of planting from seed as opposed to transplants, and garden pests. (Squash bugs, anyone?) Our summer has been bountiful to say the least. So, we anticipate more beds for next spring, and perhaps some trellises for vining squash and cucumbers. I mean, who knew those things required so much space. So much space. Or that they need to be sprayed with certain oils at certain times of day to prevent things like cucumber beetles, and aphids. I admit that I have so much to learn.
Last year, the squash bugs and drought, and triple digits really decimated most everything. And I quit watering, and squishing squash bugs, and trying, really. So, I’d say this year was definitely a step up. Next spring, I dream of adding flowers and melons to our crops. And that our back alley might be filled with six foot sunflowers instead of six foot weeds.
We’ve lived in our house for almost two years now, and it’s just beginning to feel like home.
House moving is tricky, for me, because I waiver between wanting to relish the process of growing in to a place, and just wanting it to be done already. Particularly with this house, though, I’ve noticed my impatience so much more. Perhaps because our family grows and changes so rapidly, and it doesn’t feel as if the house is able to keep up with that. Perhaps I have not been able to keep up with it as much as I would like, in my faulty attempts at balance, or complete lack thereof. And perhaps I’ve just not had a chance to unpack all the boxes and sweep the cobwebs and clean the corners in two years.
Partially, I think what this house lacks is a lived-in-ness. By which I mean, despite having existed for thirty years, it mostly seems to have been a stop-over point. So, closets and pantry are not particularly useful, or well thought out. There is no linen closet. There are just lots, and lots of coat closets. The office in which I keep all the “no touching” items away from the kids still appears to be in full 1980s fashion. In short, the functionality of the home is lacking. So, while we work away at trying to meet our family’s needs, in the limited time we have for these things, we think about how to make this a live-in-able home for us.
We don’t plan on moving. Brandon and I plan on making it exactly ours. And we both value a practical, useful, comfortable home.
Practical, useful, and comfortable takes time, and thought and money to create. And with those things being so scattered in our lives, and our debt free goals in mind, it’s become a snail paced process. Adapting a home, and recognizing that the adaptations for a super young family may not be long-lasting is confounding as well. When do we paint the walls if the children are going to be writing on them for four more years? When do we rip out the carpet when we still have potty training to face?
So, as I plan how to revamp this office space in to a bedroom for the boys, and rearrange furniture in my head, and plan where things will go once they are built, I also have to acknowledge that some of these hopes and builds may be far off. And that we have to live in the present, where we have what we need, but perhaps not exactly what we want.
So, where does the desk with my computer go while I wait for my built in bookshelves with a built in desk to come along? Where do the boys sleep while I wait for the bunk beds? And where do I put all the things I no longer have room for, or that are not safe, or which can be broken? And when do I find the time to go through each item and determine it’s usefulness, beauty, or joy?
These things seem mundane when I stop to think about them in the grand scheme of life and world. But, they make up a huge part of my life. We spend our days at home and in the parks. When home is just a house, I cannot find comfort there. With the headlines on the news listing things over which I have so little control, I’ve found that diving head first in to home has reduced my anxiety over the bits I cannot change. But hanging that picture exactly to the left, or exactly one inch higher, that I can control. There is pleasure in the simple task of making something comforting, when all the world seems too much to bear.
What do you do, to make your house feel more like home?
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for about two and a half years. And something was giving me an itch to work. An itch that felt a lot like debt. So, I did some contract work with a local adoption agency for whom I’d worked in the past.
And, it turns out, that trying to work part-time, and parent full time, and juggle children’s appointments, baby sitters, and kid school, and clients’ appointments, and meal prep, and budgeting, and laundry and cleaning house, and my own sanity is just too much.
It turns out that the work I do at home is actually important. And, that if I’m going to have to balance work and home, then work needs to be compartmentalized, rather than running rampant through my days and weeks.
Because that is not balance. It’s insanity.
So, three months after I started, I quit.
And I haven’t looked back.
In social work, you deal with people who are in constant crisis. Their crisis happens at 4 AM, and 10 PM and every hour in between. As it also happens, being a stay-at-home mom involves your children’s crises, which happen at almost exactly the same times as your social work clients’. And so, one day, eating lunch with my husband and children, I stared as my phone went off with over twenty texts, my children threw their food across the table, and I spent equal parts of the meal yelling and ignoring my husband. Who’d taken off work. To eat lunch with his lovely family.
And I thought, “this is too much.”
I used to want to be a multi-tasker; an over-achiever extraordinaire.
And then people dear to me started getting sick with cancers, and immune system disorders, and strokes.
And then they started to die.
And I decided that this multi-tasking was, perhaps, not the way to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. At least, not for me.
So, I had forgotten all that. And by dipping my toes back in, the universe slapped me around a bit and said, “Are you insane, little girl?”
So I stepped back. And started looking at the life giving things that I’d rather spend my time doing.
Not to say that helping people is not in my blood.
I just think I’ve been doing it wrong.
And possibly, balance is just a thing that you can accomplish in yoga, and not in daily life. I’m still working on these things.
No secret, certain parts of this early parenting journey will not be missed. Some of these things you expect: sleepless nights, multicolored vomit, poo (in all its forms), teething. All the things family members remember and tell you about. But there are a million small things that they forget to mention, perhaps because they know it will not make a difference in your plan to parent. Perhaps because these little things are so much a part of being a parent.
So, let me just tell you.
I will not miss sippy cups. And bottles. My house looks like a milk-aholic lives in it. And it’s constant. The leaky lid, the soured milk in a sippy cup that rolled under the bed. The bottle that was left overnight and everything has separated and turned green.
I will not miss tub diarrhea. Or goldfish crackers. Or the constant battle of raisins (or all the other, unidentifiable objects ground up) in the carpet and car seat. I will not miss nail clipping, which never makes a difference in nail sharpness.
But mostly, I will not miss illness with a nonverbal child.
Jack, at fifteen months, has suffered three ear infections, (yes, there is a specialist visit in our near future.) not to mention a myriad of other weird illnesses prompting visits to the pediatrician, and urgent care clinic. I’ve called my mom so many times to check in and ask whether a trip to the doctor is in order. Like, if I had a business card, the tag line would read: Mom, I’m not sure what to do about Jack. My calling card at the doctor’s office would say: Inexplicable and uncontrolled crying.
For momma and baby.
Because there is nothing that sucks worse than your child in pain.
And I have memorized the signs and symptoms of concussions, but I still check that list once a week. Because my kids fall off things, and in tubs, and on each other. They bump heads on doorjambs, and tabletops; they slip on the sidewalk. They walk in to furniture, head first. Sometimes they are standing right under me, where I can’t see them, when I pull a pan out of the kitchen and head and pan meet at slight velocity. It is insanity. And all of those things hurt. So, when Jack started screaming uncontrollably after a short, ringing conversation with my brownie pan, I was convinced I had given him a concussion. And that he was dying.
Because my brain always assumes that one of my children is dying. At all times.
All night, he screamed and cried between Tylenol doses and would only sleep on me.
He had no fever. (Although, I convinced myself that I have never really known how to use our thermometer.)
He had no bruising, or bleeding. He did not pass out. Or vomit. He had no signs of concussion.
In fact, he had no concussion.
But I called the doctor and made an appointment, because (again) my child could be dying, and I wouldn’t know, because HE CAN’T TALK.
And an hour or two before his appointment, he was fine.
But we went anyway.
And he had an ear infection.
That’s it. Another ear infection. He is ok, and I did not damage him beyond repair. Sometimes you take your child to the doctor because it gives you a sense of relief from the racing fears your brain won’t stop screaming at you. Sometimes your parenting instinct tells you to just go, even though they seem fine. Sometimes you need a second night of screaming and crying to motivate you. But you learn. You get better at this parenting thing. Mostly.
This fear, that you are losing such a huge part of your soul, never goes away. Or so I’ve been told. The fear just changes. Jack has (finally) slept through the night four times in the last two weeks. And I never wake up, look at the clock and think, “Hurrah, he slept all night!” I think, “Is he alive?” That sense of dread didn’t leave me with Carl until he was two, and still haunts me when he sleeps late. So, it’s no wonder that I like having all my family in one room, sleeping with me. It is uncomfortable, and awkward to have a toddler in our bed, when he climbs in around 3 AM. And there is never enough room. But it is the most comforting thing in the world, to hear all that breathing, when you wake up.
So, parents: just breathe. Breathe in and breathe out. You will get better at this. The waves will go out, and come back in. The goldfish crackers dissipate. The sippy cups disappear. One day your child will point at his ears and say, “hurt”. And you won’t have to guess anymore.
But, you should probably memorize the signs of concussion. Just to be safe.
Y’all, I consume Pinterest parenting articles like chips and queso. I inhale them. I eat them up. I keep hoping that one day the magic answer will be divined upon me and Jackie Kennedy will descend from the clouds and say, “You’ve reached maximum potential. Excellent job, momma.”
I’ve really been impacted by articles with tips to being a happier, more productive mom. I’ve got some thoughts on this so I’ll start with an overview of the generally accepted and continuously posted ideas and my thoughts, followed by suggestions of my own for reaching full Jackie Kennedy aura.
Get up before your kid.
S.O.D. O.F.F. You must have children that sleep predictably, and through the night; kids who brush their own teeth and pour their own cereal. For me to get up earlier than my kids, I have to hire a fortune teller, because I never know when they’ll arrive in my bed. I’d most often have to get up around 4:30, but sometimes 3 AM. Because I’m not bloody tired enough.
When my kids (that plural is important) take a nap, it is a glorious thing. I revel in it. When my kids sleep until 6 AM, I am grateful. Someday, when they are older, I might consider getting up before then. But right now, that idea is bollocks.
Stick to a schedule.
I tried this one. It was wondrous. Then my toddler stopped taking daytime naps, and my meal planning, food prep, cleaning at nap time turned in to, “I’ll do it after they go to bed.” Turns out that getting two kids down for bedtime saps all of your energy, so I mostly only can recall a few words after getting my kids to tap out, which include “Where’s the wine?” I generally follow that with a face plant on the couch.
I look at that schedule on my fridge while herding my kids out the door and silently curse Productive Jennifer. Seriously, girl. You’re a git.
Make a to-do list.
See my thoughts on a schedule. Also, my to-do list looks a lot like this: SLEEP. When it doesn’t look like this, it’s so overwhelming that I just think I’ll go back to work and hire a housekeeper. And a nanny. And a gardener. And a pool boy. (We don’t even have a pool.) I will just hire someone else to live my life. Which is the feeling that made me want to stay home to begin with. So, no.
Keep up on housework.
Is that like Keeping Up With the Kardashians? Because we don’t have cable. I mean, I let my pantry go a few months ago. Like, I open that door and Gozer comes out. It’s scary in there. After I dropped the pantry upkeep, I let the laundry room go too, and Cthulu moved in. I recently invited Darth Vader to summer in my kitchen. I don’t plan on every getting those rooms back. So, I write lists of the housework I need to catch up on, and then tape it to the fridge, so I can laugh at myself.
Parenting advice doesn’t always jive with my life. And it won’t always work with yours. Take it all with a well salted margarita.
Here are my true thoughts on ways to happiness:
Play with your kids.
Kids don’t care if the house is a mess and the laundry all smells. They want you. They want you to laugh and play and dance. People tell you that this time is so fleeting, but that’s hardly descriptive enough. Their childhood is like a kiss in a relationship you know won’t last. Savor it; it will end. Your house will return to clean, someday. Play with your kids.
Share what you love with your children.
I love knitting, but my boys like making squirrel nests out of my yarn. So I share knitting podcasts with my kids while we play. I share finished knitting projects with the boys, and usually they claim it all immediately, which I love. I ask Carl to help me pick patterns, and enjoy seeing his thought process and preferences. I’ll share adult music that gets us all dancing. When we start doing screen time together, I’ll share movies and video games my husband and I have enjoyed. Share the things you love with your kids.
Let other people watch your kids.
If you’re a SAHM, consider enrolling in a PDO, or joining a gym with childcare. Let other people work and play with your kids. The time away is good for you both. I’ll admit there have been plenty of days where the gym has saved us all from my exhausted wrath by giving me a space to work it out. Plus, there’s something magical about seeing your child through someone else’s eyes, and people who work with kids all the time may have input about developmental delays, or ways to manage particular behavior you hadn’t noticed or given up on.
Share your time with friends.
Finding people that “get you” may be a challenge. Find them. Laugh with them; vent with them. Get out of your house with them. We need human connection, even us introverts. Good friends who can commiserate or laugh with you, or bring you coffee after the longest nights make this parenting thing so much more.
Let go of perfection.
This may sound simple, but it’s not. My Type A vomits all over my house almost every time I walk inside. I’m learning to let that go. If a sink of dirty dishes means that my two year old and I were laughing over a puzzle, or watching ants in the backyard, it was worth it. If a sticky floor means that I snuggled an extra 20 minutes with my baby, it was worth it. Let go of the ideal home you see on Instagram; those posts are snippets of a life. No one lives their life in snippets. Clean, crisp, and perfectly poised doesn’t have to be you everyday.
Practice self-care when they nap.
Some people like to tell you to nap when your kids nap. I love this, I think it’s smart. But, more broadly, you should care for yourself. Sometimes that means a nap, sometimes it means a Netflix binge, or reading. Or writing your blog. But, crikey, don’t spend it cleaning. Unless that feels like self-care.
Be kind to yourself.
You are enough. Your family is enough. This does not last forever. Snuggle in, and enjoy this short kiss of a moment. You’ll be too exhausted to remember all the dirt and mess in a few years anyway.
Guess what? There will be a day when you emerge from the black hole of Babies R’ Us victorious.
It probably won’t be today. But someday.
Welcome to the newest time suck of your life: the baby registry. You may feel the need to read every review of every item you are the least bit interested on Amazon, compare it to Babies R’Us, followed by a quick browse of Target reviews. But you don’t have to do that. You, and your baby, and your ten thousand pounds of tissue paper and gifts will make it through to the light side.
I’ve only had two kids, so you may not consider my list of items comprehensive, but I’m about to give you the bare necessities of life with baby. Ready?
I mean, if this is your first kid, of course you’re not ready. You won’t ever be ready. Read this anyway.
Diapers and wipes. (This can be as simple or as complicated as you choose, and I’ll go in to that later. But, you’ll need them.)
Ok, now that you can leave the hospital and have a place to lay that infant down, even though she will never actually sleep, we can begin.ESSENTIALS FOR THE FIRST SIX MONTHS:
- You need a baby carrier. If you ever want to take a walk, or pick up around the house, or leave the house, or if your baby has colic, or if you have an older child and need to be on the go, you need a baby carrier. Baby wearing saved me when Jack was born. I could keep up with Carl, and keep Jack close to my heart. You need a baby carrier.
- When baby lacks head control, consider a wrap. Choices in this abound. I had a Moby which, although great for my winter baby, made us all a hot, hot, hot mess with my summer child. Consider something made from a breathable cotton or linen, or a ring sling.
- I love my soft structure carrier (SSC). I have a Tula, which comes in baby (15 – 45 lbs) and toddler sizes (25 – 60 lbs). The baby size also has an infant insert (required for infants 7-15 lbs), which solves all your problems. Target now carries several well known SSC brands, such as Ergo, Lillebaby, and Tula. The price tag will only slightly shock you, but when you use it every day for 1 to 3 years, it’s worth it. It’s basically a car seat for your body. SSCs are ergonomically developed for you, which means that your back will thank you.
- You need a place to put baby in quick moments: bouncy chair, or swing, or play mat. My boys outgrew their swing after 3 months (my kids are monster babies), but I know swings for bigger babies (that will last you longer) exist. Consider a portable one, for ease of storage and ability to move to different rooms easily as you adjust to life with baby in your house.
- If you plan to travel with baby, a Pack n’ Play (PNP) is essential. In fact, I consider this an absolute necessity. It’s a super safe place to put baby, and it adapts as your child grows. Our particular PNP has a changing table and infant sleeper that converts to a bassinet, followed by the playard option. I didn’t think I would use this, but it has been invaluable. If you have space (and a nice baby shower or three), I truly recommend asking for a crib, bassinet, and Pack N’ Play. If you’re considering co-sleeping, you might look at one of the co-sleeper baskets as well.
- We actually don’t use a changing table and pad at all (much to Brandon’s chagrin, since he spent weeks building a changing table/bookshelf for the boys). Instead I use a grab and go changing pad, which you can put on your bed, or couch, or floor. I love this, because it can be easily wiped down, and your toddler doesn’t rip it open and eat the stuffing out of it the way they might an actual changing pad. (I’m not saying we’ve experienced such a thing, but…it could happen.)
- If you plan to nurse, look in to nursing pillows. We received a Boppy for Carl that we used to death. Literally, the stuffing was coming out in several places due to my washing it so much. Jack got a new one. There are multiple types of nursing pillows, so you might consider requesting more than one kind. Plus, it never hurts to have these for a couple different rooms in your house or at least one for each story. (You do not want to be searching for your only Boppy at 2 in the morning with a squalling newborn. Promise.)
- A few burp cloths will be essential. Carl threw up ALL THE TIME. Like, for real, spewing lava. But I can count on one hand how often Jack spit up. It’s also good to have random towels, receiving blankets, and burp cloths all around the house. because you never know what fluids might be headed your way. Aden & Anais make a burp cloth that converts to a bib for when your child starts eating purees/solids, and you will want multifunction. Because baby crap will have taken over your life.
- Swaddling saved us at night. I love the Aden and Anais swaddling blankets, but am also a huge fan of sleep sack swaddles. We have several with velcro tabs, which are so much less frustrating to reattach in the middle of the night.
- Lots of wash cloths and a few bath towels specific to babies.
- If the thought of washing your baby in your kitchen sink makes you nauseous (like me), you’ll want a tub of some sort.
- And when baby starts teething (around 6 months, but sometimes sooner), I found a food grade, BPA-free teething necklace or bracelet to be invaluable. You might feel silly about the bulk, but you will likely be unable to wear any other jewelry for baby’s first year, so find something cute.
- Baby Medicine:
- Saline nose drops
- We’ve always used a bulb syringe, but (if I ever did this again) I’ve heard that the NoseFrida is ah-maz-ing-a for snotty noses. Just seeing the bulb syringe from a distance makes Jack poop his pants.
- Infant Tylenol, and Infant Ibuprofen (for when baby is a bit older)
- Thermometer. I am forever grateful that we have a temporal thermometer, so I can check temps when baby is sleeping without disrupting them.
- In case your kid gets cradle cap (again, and again, and again) you need a soft baby brush and some oil. I prefer cocoa butter oil, but any baby oil will do.
- Nail clippers, although, honestly, whether you clip their nails or not, they still have wolverine claws at all times.
- Cool mist humidifier. Cause SNOT happens almost as much as poop.
- Nursing (I could write about nursing for weeks on end, but this is just a registry) requires a few items:
- Pump: If you plan to breastfeed and work, you need a double electric pump. Wait to buy bottles until you have purchased your pump, because you want them to work together. Wait to purchase a ton of bottles until you know that that brand of bottle will also work for your baby.
- Even if you do not plan to nurse, or you will be home with baby around the clock, consider a hand held pump. Engorgement is a bitch, and hand expressing is a nightmare. Plus, you might want to leave the house at some point, and your babysitter will need some boob juice.
- Nursing bras, for both day and night.
- Cotton or bamboo nursing pads. Because your boobs now leak.
- Let’s be real, for the first six weeks, everything leaks. Plan accordingly.
And so it begins.
P.S. Baby items procreate like bunnies. So, good luck with that.
PPS. For things that you want, but aren’t gifted to you, buy used from local consignment shops, or search Craigslist. Babies grow so quickly that some items are barely used, but the affordability is (obviously) better at a second hand store.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about my preferences for cloth diapering, which caused me to go through my entire stash and add up my total cloth diapering costs. Looking at my expenses in cloth diapering really made me consider things I would change with the knowledge I’ve gained in the last year and a half, as well as cheaper ways to create a complete stash for my two kids. Certainly, I have spent a fair amount of money on some very fancy diapers that, actually, were totally unnecessary, but all that searching has given me a lot of valuable information on what does work.
These are the adjustments that I would make now. (I am including the price of a new diaper as well as gently used prices which I list in italics, if a major retailer sells the item in that condition.)
Daytime Cloth Diapering Stash
- 24 small Cloth-eez prefolds [$29 per dozen]
- 12 large Cloth-eez prefolds [$40 per dozen]
- 4 size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [$12.75/$10.25 ea]
- 6 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [12.75/10.25 ea]
- 1 size 1 Snappi [$3.95]
- 8-10 Kawaii One Size pocket diapers (to use outside the home) [$9.95/$8.50]
Nighttime Diapering Stash
- 3 large Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$10.95 ea]
- 3 medium Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$9.50 ea]
- 5 Thirsties Duo hemp/cotton prefolds [$7.95 ea]
- 3-5 medium fleece soakers [$7 ea]
- 3-5 large fleece soakers [$9 ea]
- 3-5 extra large fleece soakers [$10.50 ea]
- 3 Green Mountain Diapers night stay-dry doubler [$8.50 ea]
- 5 Kawaii Goodnight Heavy Wetter pocket diapers for toddler overnight/naptime diapering [$7.75 ea]
I averaged my actual stash cost at about $750, but with these adjustments I could be cloth diapering two children for just under $500. That may seem like quite a large number up front, but you can spread out the cost over several months, making it a manageable sum. If you don’t have to work hard at convincing loved ones of your cloth diapering intention, you may receive quite a few of these items as gifts as well. And, if you’re cloth diapering one child, you won’t even need all of those items for the first year. So, $400 in the first year. Max.
Buy yourself a well deserved margarita for saving so much. Unless you’re pregnant, in which case, go buy some chocolate.
If you are willing to bargain hunt, the price can drop even lower. Here are some of my suggestions for cloth diapering as cheaply as possible with quality items:
- Join a local Buy/Sell/Trade Cloth Diapering Group on Facebook. I like local because you can touch, feel, check and smell diapers before purchasing.
- Visit or call local baby consignment stores to see if they have any CDs in stock.
- Buy fleece soakers, rather than wool on Etsy. If you’re handy, and you’re looking for something to do before baby arrives, make your own. These can be thrown in with your regular wash, making them a super easy alternative to wool. Even if your child wears disposables, particularly at night, a fleece cover will help control leakage. (Because everything leaks.)
- Visit major websites frequently for sales. Items may be marked down tremendously following the release of new and updated versions of diapers. In fact, I’ve purchased all of my pocket diapers during transitions like this for about 10% off the regular price.
- Several major websites with trial programs also sell Gently Used versions of all the trial diapers. These typically remain in excellent condition and are, in all actuality, only slightly used. Plus, most of these companies have a return policy if you’re not satisfied.
- Find friends who are ready to de-stash and make an offer on the lot. They’ll be so grateful to have the entire thing off their hands.
- Sell or consign your diapers when you are done to keep costs down in the long run.
Committing to a road trip with small children often seems like a good idea in advance, but eventually makes me consider concocting various faked illnesses right around the time of departure. Like, “Sorry, Grandpa. We’ve got a nice case of Eboma happening in Lubbock.” Or, “I’m worried we’ll transfer our idiopathic carpal gangrene to you if we come now. We’ll just have to wait another four years.”
I used to consider myself a fairly adventurous traveler. But kids scream if you put 5-point restraints on them for more than, you know, two minutes. So, that’s hard. Additionally, because of the screaming, and the need to stop every two hours to pee with the potty training kid, and nurse with the baby, and take Tylenol/allthedrugs for the adults, road trips often end up taking approximately 11,000 hours when they used to be 7, max.
Here are my tips on how to make a road trip work for you:
Now, if that’s simply not an option because time has started to speed up at a dramatic rate for your grandparents, here are the best alternatives:
- Brow beat a family member in to traveling with you during the hottest month of the year, because your spouse works long hours to support your cloth diapering addiction and can’t go.
- Rent a land yacht. You will need to transfer your house to the back of a car for the five day trip. You also want to subject your family member to sitting with the kids, so you need a bigger back seat that fits four people across. Because that is your solution for managing 1,000 hours of death screams.
- Spend 7 hours packing your house.
- Decide to drive 2 hours north and stay in a hotel, to help reduce the travel time for the following day, and “stay ahead of the heat”.
- Notice you have low tire pressure. Return to the car rental store. Spend an hour looking for after-hours service. Obtain air in tire. Return to road.
- Around 9:30 PM, make it 1 hour up the road with screaming children before you decide that this can’t go on, and you need to sleep.
- Get up 4 times throughout the night, because: Babies. Diapers. Hungry. Headache.
- Wake up around 5AM. Eat all the pancakes on the continental breakfast. For real, press that pancake making button until there’s just a hole where the button used to be. Drink all the coffee. Feel like you didn’t do either of those things.
- Exit town around 7 AM, confident that you will be arriving at your destination around lunch.
- Blow a tire on the highway at 7:08AM.
- Spend 2 hours
playing phone tagcontacting the car rental company for a repair request. While you wait on the side of the road meet a helpful West Texas man who fixes the tire for you. Be grateful that your children are sleeping now, and that it’s too early to be triple digit temperatures…yet.
- Spend 2 hours searching for the nearest car rental place to replace land yacht with alternative massive vehicle.
- Talk about finding coffee for the next three hours, whilst being grateful that your kids didn’t sleep the night before, and so are still sleeping now.
- Realize there is no coffee between here and your destination. Cry.
- Realize that you have been away from home for over 20 hours and are still in Texas.
- Finally, make it to the state line. Take a picture. Turn around and go home.
- Try again next year.
I started my commitment to cloth diapering when Carl was about a year and half old. Before that, the choices available (how can there possibly be so many options for a poop catcher, I ask), as well as the thought of incorporating a new major change completely overwhelmed me. I did not want any of my precious baby bonding time to disappear with this change. And I didn’t really know anyone with a new baby, much less a cloth diapering family of whom I could ask all my questions.
Then, at Carl’s 15 month mark, I became at SAHM. With super-huge, terrifying life changes that included moving across Texas, a second pregnancy, and changing my identity as an income earner, I didn’t want to overwhelm anyone by jumping in to cloth diapering immediately. But I knew I wanted to cloth diaper, and, with a second baby on the way, I decided to make it work.
I first purchased ten
FuzziBunz name brand pocket diapers to try out, just having read a few online reviews. You’re smarter than that, right? You’re going to talk to all your CD’ing friends, and you’ll read my blog, and you’ll email me questions, right? Because, those diapers almost broke this whole thing before it got off the ground. Carl is a big kid; he pees a lot. Those diapers leaked like crazy. We couldn’t go anywhere without the car seat getting soaked, or Brandon’s sportscoats, or suits getting saturated. Everything smelled like pee.
There are worse things, I suppose. (Like now, when everything smells like poop. Oh, potty training.)
But, with a dry cleaning bill adding up, and a frustrated and soggy spouse down on cloth, I spent more time on the internet and found a trial program through Jillian’s Drawers. They sent us several types of diapers for a 21 day trial, and we sent back what we didn’t want, keeping the best. I haven’t looked back since, but here’s what I learned:
1.Prefold. Prefold. Prefold.
I don’t think it matters whether they are bleached, unbleached, or purple. (Ok, purple might be a problem.) Prefolds adjust with age; endure folding in every possible way; dry super fast; and, most importantly, they are cheap (you can find a dozen newborn prefolds for around $25.00). And when your kid grows up, you can use them to dust. You’ll need a Snappi, (and you can get away with just one, unless you have twins. Then you need two.) to hold them together. Safety pins are so last century, and honestly, once your baby starts crawling, that’s a moving target that you have to hit just right. Twice. A Snappi works, well, in a snap. I’m now a pro at attaching a diaper with a Snappi backwards.
2. If you aren’t in to folding, or the Snappi scares the stuffing out of you, there’s a lovely solution called a fitted diaper. These are a little bit pricier (ranging from $7.00 on up, depending on the material make up and brand), plus you have to buy several different sizes as baby grows. But, they are shaped like a diaper, and Green Mountain Diapers makes them with snaps. No Snappi. No problem. Good for grandparents, sidetracked spouses, and babysitters. Good for you. (You’ll want a few of these for nighttime cloth diapering anyway, but more on that later.)
3. Get the good diaper cover.
I love Thirsties duo wrap. I like the snaps for older kids. I like the velcro (called Aplix hook and loop) for babies that need to be adjusted daily because they grow like the hole in the ozone. Duo wraps have a double gusset. You know what that does? It keeps the poop in the diaper, instead of on you or that adorable, expensive, 100% organic linen onesie. And that means fewer outfit changes for everyone. Which means less laundry. Which means, more snuggle time.
I’m not saying that Thirsties are the alpha and omega of cloth diaper covers, I’m just saying, I didn’t look around after I found them.
Unless you think that putting two separate pieces of a diaper on a squalling baby might send you over the edge, in which case…. a pocket diaper might answer your needs.
- For cheap, but effective, the Kawaii One Size Pocket Diaper worked really well for us. We didn’t buy them, because I don’t like to mix my microfiber wash with my cotton wash. But, if I hadn’t heard such amazing recommendations and loved the versatility of a prefold and cover, I would have gone with a set of Kawaii, and….
- A set of BumGenius 4.0 (because they hadn’t released the 5.0 at that time). These diapers receive rave reviews online, as well as from friends. Our trial experience also left me loving the BG more than any other pocket diaper or All In One (AIO) we tried.
I think that out of 10 days in each diaper, Carl leaked once in the Kawaii, and none in the BumGenius. So, my BG love is a relatively slight preference.
I suggest pocket diapers like these because the absorbency can be adjusted as baby gets bigger. Pocket diapers typically come with a microfiber insert, which your kid eventually outgrows. The pocket lets you add in things like hemp/cotton prefolds under the microfiber, making the pocket workable for all ages. But, get a good pocket, with good leg gussets. I am not kidding because poop.
A final note about those very first
FuzziBunz name brand diapers that I mentioned: I hate spending money on a diaper and not using it. So, I have started using these on Jack, and they’ve been fine. Mostly I use them for school, babysitters, and family. I have also started using the large Perfect Size Fuzzibunz on Carl at night, with a hemp/cotton prefold under the microfiber and a wool cover over everything. This seems to do ok, but it’s super bulky and not something I would have used back in the days when we were new and experimenting. I just think that, as the boys grow, the One Size Fits All label might not be accurate. Infants hold a lot less urine than toddlers, so the double gusset and absorbency is less of an issue when they’re little. But, 18 month old Jack will be a totally different ball game when it comes to pocket diapers.
I’ve found that my prefolds and covers hold everything in, regardless of age and size (I mean, Carl was 18 months when we started with prefolds, and those suckers managed to contain tons of urine beautifully). Which brings me back to one of the most important points with cloth diapering, you have to be flexible. Admittedly, this true of all diapering. You have to be willing to problem solve. You have to be willing to use duct tape, or plastic sheets, or fleece pajamas. You have to stay cool, calm, and collected.
Until they go to bed, and then you should drink wine and cry. Call me, I’ll join you.
For specific ideas about how much and what you’ll need, here’s my list.
My Actual “Stash” Looks Like This:
Daytime Cloth Diapering Stash
- 2 Newborn Cloth-eez prefolds (We used disposable diapers that were gifted to us until Jack was about 3 months old, and we have BIG babies, so Jack outgrew this size immediately.) [$2 ea]
- 14 small Cloth-eez prefolds [$29]
- 6 Toddler OsoCozy prefolds [$19]
- 12 large Cloth-eez prefolds [$40]
- 3 size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [$12.75 ea]
- 4 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in Aplix hook and loop [12.75 ea]
- 4 size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap, in snap [$12.75]
- 1 size 1 Snappi [$3.95]
- 5 large Fuzzibunz One Size pocket diapers (for daycare) [$19.95]
Nighttime Diapering Stash
- 1 large Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$10.95]
- 1 medium Cloth-eez fitted diaper [$9.50]
- 1 large Kissaluvs fitted diaper [$10 – sale]
- 1 Sustainablebabyish Overnight Bamboo Fitted (OBF) [$28]
- 4 Thirsties Duo hemp/cotton prefolds [$7.95 ea]
- 1 medium Woollybottoms hybrid soaker [$25]
- 1 large Woollybottoms hybrid soaker [$25]
- 2 Green Mountain Diapers night stay-dry doubler [$8.50 ea]
- 5 large Fuzzibunz Perfect Size pocket diapers (toddler overnight diapering) [$17.95 ea]
- 12 Alva bamboo fibre inserts ($30)
- Diaper sprayer (only a necessity for pockets or AIOs. (I went super fancy for $80)
- Pail liner ($17)
- Wet Bag x 2 ($15 ea)
This stash managed to diaper both a toddler and infant simultaneously for 8 months, with wash days happening every two to three days.
Let me just say that, in total, the cloth diapering of two children from infancy to potty training has cost us $745 to date. For two kids. Obviously, cloth diapers wear out, so you may have to replace some of your items. And, we supplemented all of this with disposable diapers, particularly when Carl went through his defiant “I can remove my poopy diapers without you” phase, so we’ve certainly spent more money on diapers than what I’ve calculated. HOWEVER, in a typical month, disposable diapers cost around $62.50 per child. If your child isn’t potty trained until they are three years old, you’re looking at a cost of $2,250. Multiply that number by however many kids you have, or plan to have, and voila. You’re broke.
If you are a bargain shopper with coupons in your blood stream, then disposable diapers may end up being less expensive than what I’ve listed. But, if you’ve got the time to coupon, you damn well have the time to cloth diaper.
OH MY GOD, I NEED A MARGARITA NOW.
It’s not like we’re saving for their college funds with all the money we aren’t spending on disposable diapers. But we could be.
We could be.
*These opinions are 100% my own, based on my own experiences. I did not receive any donations, financial gains, or other recognition for this article.