“But, don’t cloth diapers slow you down?”
This is a question I often get asked. The truthful answer is, yes, they do. The perhaps surprising answer, is for that, I am thankful.
Life can get crazy around here with four little people. And if I’m not very careful, days can go by in the blink of an eye. In the hustle of getting the kindergartener and preschooler to and from school, its easy to forget that the 2 year old’s need to stop and listen to the birds or watch a ladybug on the sidewalk. Its easy to rush through all the seemingly mundane tasks of their care-taking, such as diaper changes, or the feeding(and cleaning up) of yet another meal, and forget that its in each of these very tasks that I find my meaning as a mama.
Because their diapers are not disposable, and because they require my care, they beg my attention. In the time and effort that goes into caring for the diapers, I am reminded to slow down, be present and be intentional in the way that I care for my family.
We are encouraged everywhere we look to find fast and easy and now and disposable. But I was finding that sometimes in the name of convenience, real was getting sacrificed. Real nutrition, for empty microwaveable calories. Real stories on laps, for tv shows. Real moments together of conversation or staring out car windows with very real thoughts that move and change with the passing landscapes, for mindless movies in the car. Real games thought up with real friends for video games. Real moments stolen by manufactured ones. And who says parenthood is meant to be convenient? I contend that this is where most people get a little off track. We’re meant to give of our self for their good. It grows us and stretches us and in the end, strengthens us. So yes, real may take longer. But its in the extra time that I am bettered.
There is honor in loving your dear ones well, in being intentional in your living. There is something to the ritual of hanging diapers outside in the bright sunshine that makes cloth diapering my little ones enjoyable. It physically connects me to the present day. It brings my attention to the clouds, and an awareness of the weather, and appreciation of sunshine. The simple pleasures of cloth diapers are found in all the details: The careful attention to the diapers; carrying them out to hang in the sunshine; seeing them there, swaying in the wind; the sweet smell of nothingness when you pull them down at the end of the day; the way they look when they’re stuffed and stacked and awaiting your little one; the way they look on your baby or toddler. The simple pleasure of cloth diapers does something to me. It slows me down, and makes me aware and gives me a smile.
With my first, every toe was kissed and roll squeezed for each and every diaper change. I had the luxury of being fully present during each of his moments. But now there are four people, and four times the needs and four times the moments. Its too easy for me to get lost in my agenda and hurry through a diaper change. Its too easy to forget that these little ones need to be tickled and kissed and delighted in with each diaper change. No part of them should be rushed or hurried past. Because, its all so fleeting. And all too soon those plump baby legs will give way to skinny little knobby knees.
All of this being said, I’m not some super mom that can knead the dough for our daily homemade bread, while collecting all of our produce from our outside garden, who makes her own everything with a baby on each hip all the while playing hide and seek with my older two. I can’t do it all. No one can. I enjoy efficiency and shortcuts with the best of them. I’m just picky about which convinces I use. Are there some boxed foods in my pantry? You bet. Store bought bread on my counter? Yup. Do I make my own soap? No way. How about toiletries? Huh? Do I make my own wet wipes? No, I find water and baby washcloths work perfectly.
For me, its a simple cost/benefit analysis. If the costs outweigh the benefits, its not for me. But I do try to make cloth diapering work for us, not against us. Otherwise, whats the point? I wash diapers every other day. That’s the perfect amount for me. This way, I’m not washing diapers everyday, on top of my daily load of clothes. But yet, I’m not stretched too thin and I still have a few to spare in the event that I can’t get to the diapers on the second day. In other words, I have a little wiggle room. If I washed every 3 days, I would be out of luck if something came between me and my diaper washing.
I also stay inventive with my diaper drying routine. I don’t have a clothesline. Boo. But, I still wanted my diapers to dry in the sun. I started with a rickety drying rack. Hated it and got rid of it. Then I bought line and hooks from a home improvement store and hung the line between my deck railings. This works well, but what about those days when the clouds are iffy or its below freezing outside? This is when I began hanging my diapers on children’s pant hangers. Its a perfect fit. On suspect weather days, I can hang them outside on the backs of our patio furniture. This way, if the weather turns, it takes me seconds to scoop them up and move them to the rack above my washer, or onto my shower curtain rod…because rain soaked diapers aren’t going to help my cause, or make me smile.
Do you ever notice that when you’re sweating in the grocery store whilst chasing a three year old down the isle or catching what your baby has pulled off the shelf (again) or explaining to your 5 year old why you will not buy him the purple flaked cereal that older people passing by will stop and deeply smile at you and perhaps implore you to enjoy it because it goes fast? They know something we can’t see from the forest. In the rush of life, its easy to miss the moments.
I hope this encourages you and your choice to cloth diaper. Be intentional in the way you live. And, go easy on yourself for the things you can’t get to. They will still be there when you’re ready. And, if cloth diapers slow you down a bit, good for you. We can all afford to slow down a little.
By Mary D.