Summertime for my family means fishing season. We pack up our home (this year both my husband and I both, and for good) and move to fish camp, where the work days are long, the resources are limited, and perhaps most inconvenient for a determined cloth mama…the washing and drying option are a bit more primitive (I once wrote about how lucky I had struck it in my laundering). At camp this year we had both my own 6 month old, and my sisters 16 month old. Having never put a disposable diaper on my baby yet, I was determined to keep him in cloth. As we completed each batch of laundry, I became more and more determined not to break into my reserves…disposables I had been given.
We did have the luxury of a washer. After a bit of finagling (winter was hard on it) we got the washer running off the generator. Before filling the washer soiled diapers got a “pre-rinse” by hand with an old fashioned plunger/bucket system. Each load required filling the washer by siphon hose (slow, cold only, no pressure) for each wash and rinse cycle. We quickly found that filling buckets while each agitation cycle ran cut our washing time extensively. Still, washing diapers felt like an all-day endeavor, as each step was squeezed in between checking the fishing nets, caring for kids, chopping wood, cooking meals, and all the other daily chores.
Then there was the drying… the crux of the problem. It was a wet summer to say the least. While I did finally discover the amazing bleaching capacity of sunshine, something I had not yet tried with this babe or previous, we had very few days sunny and warm enough to dry diapers. If we did get a sunny day, we immediately started a batch of diapers in the morning in a rush to get them out to dry. However, we often found ourselves hanging diapers on every hook and line in our small un-insulated cabins, where with the damp cold ocean air it sometimes took more than 18 hours just to get them dried. Not only were our diapers constantly in the process of being laundered, and not always well, but our other wet gear (we were commercial fishing in full raingear mind you) rarely had a turn above the fire, diapers always took priority, kids clothing a close second.
Why did we do it? Looking back, I am not sure really. It would have been so much easier to give up and use disposables. We spent a ridiculous amount of time and energy on diapering, time that could have been spent getting much-needed rest or spending quality time with the kids, or even picking more fish. But somehow, it became a challenge, and with each successful load of laundry we became more and more determined to “win”. I guess it was payback for all my easy days in my previous home, a way to learn to empathize with those who truly struggle to make it happen. Call in stubborn mama determination. At any rate, it did open my eyes, made me more sympathetic, and still more determined to win over mommas to the wonderful world of cloth!!!
Lynnette lives in remote Alaska with her boys 2.5 and almost 5 months. She started her journey in cloth with trepidation with son #1, and fell in love. Cloth diapers have opened the door to a whole new world, and she does her best to show that world to anybody that will look or listen.