Saturday, May 17, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 Day 7 #notoveryet

Today is officially the last day of the challenge, but the deal is not over, you see, it includes tonight's diapering and then hand washing those, which can occur either tomorrow or even Monday, so it still feels like I'm only half way through
. Yet today is the last day of posting about the challenge in DDL and conclusions  need to be made.

WHAT DID I LEARN?


Well, I'd say the most important thing is that I'm still learning different approaches to footwashing. It works great with both boys in the bathtub, my husband's bath chair helps tremendously, and I may even consider doing it for other items. My biggest limitation is the space I have for hanging.

I also learned a lot by checking on the Facebook group, which has become a small community on its own. Found out that dollar plungers are a waste of money, that I could fold the flats ahead of time, that tye dye diapers look extraordinarily cute and that a challenge becomes easier by the day if you have a backup in the form of amazing moms jumping in to help.

I also learned different ways to use rags for diapering purposes and the advantages and disadvantages over big squares of fabric, commonly used as flats (receiving blankets, flour sack towels, etc.), and how cheap a mom could get diapering material by just getting scraps from seamstresses, fabric stores or even ebay.

If Tiny Guy is not potty trained yet by next year, my next goal will be to use non PUL covers, which is still my biggest fear, since I would have never made the switch without those.

WILL I SWITCH TO FLATS?


No. I love my system, I love my AIOs, my prefolds, my minky FB, cotton/bamboo and cotton/hemp inserts. I know I can use liners for stay dry, so that wouldn't be a problem if I switched, but I have a nice routine for washing, haven't had rash or stinky problems for a long time and a wonderful tiny washer that I miss when being away. But, I'll certainly consider using the drags as doublers, since they wash well and dry fast. And I may do more footwashing, as long as I don't have to wring the clothes and I toss them in the spin dryer, it can even help me catch up on back laundry later on.

DID I ACHIEVE MY GOAL?


Not yet, laundry basket is still full. I started to see a little progress yesterday, but I did finish the back diapers until Tuesday, and I still will footwash today and tomorrow, so my goal of clearing the laundry basket can still be achieved. I am very limited by the space to dry clothes, and weather has not helped this week, but we'll see on Tuesday where we're standing.

IS IT DOABLE?

That, in an on itself, is a silly question. Our grandmothers did it, some of our mothers as well, and in several other parts of the world it is still done. It would be more practical if access to water was easier, if women were thinking outside of the box and the rules and used whatever they found to diaper the child, if we just didn't care that much for clothing or accidents. Had I known what I know now, I may have used cloth with my first child, even without a washer.

I had only 3 minor leaks and all could have been prevented. I had much more leaks a day using disposables, so that would not be a reason for not considering it. As for vacation backup, I may think about it, depends on the situation. But I don't think it is affordable to buy a full stash of flats for going on vacation instead of an $8 disposable bag.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 Day 6 - Honoring Eva

Eva works for my parents. She has done so for more than 20 years. She is uneducated but very smart and extremely hardworking.

When we met her, she had just given birth to her 9th child!! I know I shouldn't be surprised, since my dad has 11 siblings, but it was a different era in Mexico when he grew up, and his dad could afford a cook, 3 nannies and 2 or 3 cleaning ladies. Eva, on the other hand, was raising her family mostly by herself, with an abusive and alcoholic husband that would only provide what would be now about $20 a week.

So, for her, cloth diapering, more specifically flats and handwashing was not a choice, or a week's challenge: it was the only way of diapering. And she would do that after a full day's work, with more than one baby at a time.

The thing is, it never occurred to me how women would diaper their children in Mexico until I went to the mountains and stayed in one of the typical country native communities: poverty like US has never seen. And why do I say the US has never seen it? because even when they didn't have money, their clothes were wasted down and a lot of times they would go without shoes, the basic food is always available, and they live in small houses made with bricks and wood, with tin roofs.

Being there, I saw babies crawling, undiapered. If they peed, they would just get into the floor and absorbed there. I felt these people were totally free from the burden that city people has to face.

But that's not Eva's background. She is from the city, and poverty is way tougher. When I went last year to visit my folks, she was only too happy to help with my diapering duties. She says her daughters won't do it, they are just using disposables for their little ones and spending fortunes on it. She says they are lazy, but I can't blame them.

Washing diapers for a week in a tiny apartment, when they are only rags, when neighbors won't be spying to see if I have a spot, and doing it in the shower with little helpers that take it as a game doesn't seem like a burden, or even a challenge, when you realize that, for some, that is not a choice, but the norm.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 - Day 5 No folds for me!!

Seems to me, and so did last year, that I am alone in this enterprise. While I see moms all enthusiastic about the challenge and showing off bums covered with tye dye designs and rocking t-shirts,I literally did not prepare, did not even attempt to use a T-shirt, am as lazy as it gets and did not stop using my highly convenient covers (and pockets a lot of the time).

I learned something very valuable for my sake last year:
 I am not good at folding!

So, for today's post and folds, I can safely say: there aren't any. If I was using regular flats, even T-shirts, it would at least require padfolding, which is not as bad and was highly used last year in my T-shirts and Handwashing in a utility sink challenge.

But this year, in my "Sleeves and other rags and Footwashing Challenge", the kicker comes in: I don't have to fold!!!!

As you can see in this last year's pic for the challenge, I am only so happy that I am in this situation. Another thing I was thinking about yesterday is that one of my weirdo quirks is not liking to change the baby like the usual lying down.
Almost always you will find me changing a diaper while Tiny Guy is standing. I don't have space for a changing station and I have to bend down to do it in a bed or a couch, so it's easier to slap a new one while he is coming to see me, or while he is sitting on my lap. This week, I've found myself doing it a lot, and of course, it's not my favorite part. Usually, the diaper is ready with the desired amount of pieces lying on a cover or already stuffed into a pocket, if I had to be doing origami magic on top of that, and have a squirmy toddler to deal with, I would have dropped out on Sunday noon.

So, does lying on top of another work? yep, only one leak and I should have changed the diaper sooner yesterday morning. No poop in the diapers as of yet (Yay for EC!!!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 Day 4 #footwashingrocks

I think, for some of us, the challenge should be called "Flats and Footwashing Challenge"

So, for the casual reader learning about cloth diapers, or laundering in general, I took this week as a chance to test my abilities at such a task: doing laundry with my feet.

After all, feet create the best wine, so, why not washing the best diapers?

MY FOOTWASHING ROUTINE


First time I knew about this technique was due to another blogging mom, who did all her laundry in a small appartment without any equipment.

The technique is very simple: you turn your bathtub into a washing drum and your feet into agitators. That's it. Of course, since you get very wet, a bath comes with the package.

What I was not counting on, and I should have, is a couple of little helpers. Well, inf fact, a Tiny one. Apparently having small pieces of fabric inside the bathtub is just as fun as having rubber duckies, and he's old enough to be aware of water and not to try drinking it or lying face down, so I've allowed him to come in. What does he do? he plays! (and subsequently, agitates, hehe).

So, for the "washing" part, I start like any other shower, filling the washer with water, setting up a load, and having the water hot at that point, jumping in, the only difference is that I empty the wet bag first. Easy enough?

Tiny Guy follows and we do the usual shower routine, but I stop the drain, so the tub gets filled with the water I use for showering. After some 3 or 4 minutes of bath, I reach out for my Zote soap inside its baby sock and turn the handheld shower into "massage" mode, aiming it at the soap. Suds immediately start appearing in the surface of our little pool. Tiny Guy loves that. Bath continues as usual, but I constantly remind myself to "Stump my feet and mov'it to the beat". Tiny Guy is at this point doing the heaviest work (a.k.a. having fun!).

At some point, I pull up the drain stopper and start finishing the bath for both of us. Reach a towel and get out. Tiny Guy keeps playing and I have to stay there until the water is gone. Then comes the tough part. I try picking up all the pieces and placing them on top of the bath chair, but Tiny Guy keeps pulling them down, so I turn on the cold water and aim the shower towards 4 or 5 pieces, rinse them directly and wring them. They are very small, so that takes me no time. I go to the drying rack and hang them.

I do that 2 or 3 times until Tiny Guy has decided to finally come out, I wrap him in a towel and leave the rest of the pieces inside the washer (only as a bucket) soaking in water, for later rinse and wringing.

Now, that's when we get into trouble. Yesterday, I had left the remaining flats (mostly sleeves cut down from t-shirt) inside the washer that had been full with the bathroom mat. Came in the morning to do the rinsing and wringing and Tiny Guy followed. He started tossing them back in the bathtub, I started picking them up. This cycle continued until I simply lifted him and sat him on top of the washer. Little Guy came in, liked the idea, and climbed to sit besides his little brother. So this is what I had in front of me while rinsing and wringing:







Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 - Day 3

Today is an open topic, so I will talk about the principal component of this week's stash:

THE CUT SLEEVE


My husband is a rare entity, he's literally one in a million and it is easy to see why my prior relationships didn't last: those men (good people, all of them) were not him. ´

Among his countless singularities is the fact that, when he is home, he likes being extremely comfortable, and for some reasons, wearing sleeves does not enter into that category. Having been single for decades, he took it upon himself to cut the sleeves of old cotton T-shirts and turn them into "sleeveless T-shirts" (isn't that name super creative?).

Lately, we didn't even bother to get "old" ones. After he got sick, and overwhelmed with laundry piles and clothes gone to the laundromat for weeks at a time, I bought him several new T's and they became sleeveles from the go. All those cut out sleeves went into a "rag bag" inside a closet, to use for cleaning and such. And this week, they are being used as inserts.

I've never used regular flats, since we're living on a very limited budget and even an extra spending of 10 or 20 bucks can get me into trouble. and we had the same situation last year, so I used very very old sleeveless T-shirts, which are a little more rectangular than the typical square. But here's a comparison table between those two:



SHIRT SLEEVE
Size Huge Tiny
Pieces per change One 4-6
Wringing time 1 min 4 sec
Drying time ~18 hrs ~8 hrs
Trimness Disposable-like Falling pants
Easiness needs PHDHubby friendly
Cover versatility All types(and coverless) Needs cover to hold and fasten
Folding options Several None


As to which one I prefer, if I had more space, a utility sink and an outside rack for sunning, definitely I would go for the shirts (even though last year my hands suffered a lot during the challenge). But being in an apartment without such privileges, specially the space, makes the whole flat situation extremely hard, specially with Tiny Guy grabbing wet diapers constantly and tossing them in a wet environment.
Being able to wash the diapers while taking a shower and then rinsing and wringing them in less than 10 seconds each, plus being so small that I can hang them to dry in different spaces, makes the ordeal actually doable. On the other hand, it takes a lot of little squares for every change, and I already finished the entire bag, fortunately, they dry fast.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 - Day 2

Today's topic is cost. At the beginning, I thought it would be an easy one, since the amount of extra money that I'm spending for the challenge is as low as it can get:

$0.00


Since all I'm using as flats are old rags from a couple of bags we had in the closet, I'm using the same detergent and mostly covers that I already had (and some pockets), there was no need to rush to the store.

That is, in part, because this is sort of a training. You see, about 18 months ago, we were hit by a hurricane. And it was bad.

I was still using disposables, but with a couple of boys, one of them a newborn, I panicked and did some panick shopping: diapers. It only took me about 40 minutes to pay, yes, the lines were that long, and I was lucky.

Fortunately we only lost power for a couple of hours, but friends and family were trapped for days on end, without power and, in some cases, even without water. Transportation was halted, gas was scarce and for a few days not even the Subway was running.

Now I know I don't need to go panick shopping for diapers in such situation. I can diaper this guys (well, guy know) in any circumstance, without the need to go out.

But let's get back to the basics. Why, then, is it not as simple to do the math?

Because, I'm still using detergent, and I'm still using PUL covers. I may not have bought them for this purpose, but I wouldn't be doing the challenge without them.

Most of my covers (12) are Real Nappies. Eventhough they are sized, I have used them since Tiny Guy was literally tiny, and I used them with Little Guy even after he turned 3 and needed overnight diapering. Got them on Amazon for $40 a six pack. If I survive with only using 6, that would be a very good investment. But there's a reason I have 12: I use one cover per diaper change.

I don't think I'll be using more than 12, for sure. Now, the soap, I'm using Zote, which costs $1.19 at the 99c store, if I need to buy a new one at the end of the week, I would add that to the money spent, but I doubt it.

Finally, the water and gas. Well, guess what? I don't get billed for water, hot or cold (NYC regulation for appartment buildings).

So, I guess the cheapest you can go if you are not good at sewing and cutting, or can't find fleece or plain simple don't like it, is $40 for a six pack of covers.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Flats and Handwashing Challenge 2014 - Day 1

Well, I bit the bait again.

I'm doing this year DDL's challenge. And I'll try to do posts every day instead of one huge one like last year.

Today's topic is a very complicated one:

WHY!!!!


As last year, I had a million reasons for not signing up. I'm not as active as I was in the cloth diapering online community, I'm home in NYC in a small appartment and I'm  2-3 weeks late in laundry since my clandestine machine only washes 6 -7 pounds at a time.

On top of that, I have arthritis, so hand operated machines are out of the questions, they would result in severe pain in my shoulders really fast. On top of that, I'm broke.

So, besides some self pride, I have one, and only one reason for doing this: I need to catch up with laundry. If I don't use inserts for a week and wash the diapers outside of the washer, I may be able to lower the monster down.

Just like last year, I did not prepare, but instead of using old sleeveless t-shirts, I'm using discarded rags. We have a couple of bags that I dug out of the closet, old sheets, pants, sleeves, etc. I can't afford to use shirts because of the delay in the laundry, every single one is either used, wet or being used at the moment.

And I'm using my stash of covers and pockets, maybe even the snappis. Some reusable liners are there as well.

I'll do the stomping method and give a little extra exercise to my legs, and will see what happens if my boys sneak into the shower. Use Zote soap, which is what I use all the time for diapers, and see where I land.

So far, after 2 changes, I have half a wet bag full of wet rags, placed on 10 layer pads, one on top of another, inside a cover or a pocket....

Let the games begin!!!