Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cloth and the Working Mom, pt. II: The down and dirty at home

Photo submitted to Wiki.
Last week we dove into this whole 'working moms who manage to cloth diaper--how do they do it?' question with an exploration of 1) how to get your daycare provider on board with cloth and 2) how to keep those same childcare providers happy throughout their/your cloth diapering days.

But often it isn't the daycare question that turns a mom or dad who works outside the home--or plans to--off of cloth. It's the laundry.

Babies add laundry. They just do. When our first was born, our (pretty minimal) water bill went up by around $5/month. Part of that may have been influenced by my postpartum 'Mommy's nightly reading break' bath habit, but I know a large part of it was extra laundry

Extra laundry because of spit-up. Extra laundry because of diaper blow-outs (and, remember, we used disposables exclusively for the first six months--most poops were blow-outs). Extra laundry because nobody tells you this when you're expecting your first, but breastmilk sprays everywhere when a newborn with reflux pulls off mid-letdown.

So if there's already going to be all this extra laundry, is it logistically safe--and sane--to add in cloth diapers? I mean, don't they require a pre-rinse and a post-rinse? Don't some people end up having to use long wash cycles to make sure they're clean? Does it tie up the washing machine? What about drying time?

The fact is, cloth is a bit of a time commitment because the washing machine is 'tied up' for that much (but it's not really much) longer than it otherwise would have been. But there are several reasons that you'll also be saving time. In other words, the time lost is recouped, and so it's, honestly, a 'six of one, half a dozen of the other' situation. (More after the jump...)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cloth and the Working Mom, pt. 1: Enlisting your daycare

The first obstacle that many two-income, would-be cloth diapering families find standing in their ways is the Daycare Question.

Can daycares use cloth according to the Nat'l Resource Center for Health & Safety in Childcare?
"Would any daycare or in-home sitter around here even do cloth?" 

"My friend said her daycare told her it was against the law.*" 

"We LOVE our daycare, and I just hate to ask any more of them."

Chances are, though, your daycare will be able to be persuaded, and if they're not amenable right now, they will be in the near future--as soon as they see how many potential cloth diapering families want to make use of their childcare services. After all, an estimated 25% of American families are cloth diapering now, and that number is growing! Being able to advertise as a 'green daycare' can only be a bonus in a competitive market.

What goes in the daycare bag when you cloth diaper? This stuff!
Whether you're still in the interviewing stage or whether your baby is already enrolled in a daycare, there are a few things to shore up and square away before you start sending your cloth diapered baby to daycare so that everyone--you, the daycare's director, and your baby's teachers--feels confident that cloth will work and be easy.

*There are no states in which cloth diapers are illegal for accredited or licensed daycare centers to use; however, a handful of states (not Louisiana) require a doctor's note prescribing their use.

So what can you do ahead of time?

1) Request a meeting with the director and the teacher in charge of your child's classroom; strongly request that they meet with you at the same time so that everybody's questions are answered at once and each one gets the benefit of hearing the other's questions answered.

2) Bring in a demo. Bring a diaper to the meeting that goes on like a disposable (so no pull-ons or pins), and have it assembled already if it comes in more than one piece, like a pocket, AI2, or prefold trifolded into a cover. If you're using prefolds and covers, you might want to purchase a cover for every prefold in your daycare stash rather than requesting that a cover be re-used several times throughout the day. Keep it as close to disposable diapering as you can as a courtesy.

3) Bring in your baby--or a baby doll--as well as a wet bag. Demonstrate a diaper change from start to finish! Let them know whether you'd prefer them to remove a pocket diaper's insert with their gloved hands immediately after the diaper change or whether you'll take care of that when you get home (more painful for you, but less work for them!). Show them how to fold the diaper in half before putting it in the wet bag, rather than rolling it up--this is especially important for a #2 diaper, as I'm sure you can imagine. On that note...

4) Be prepared with clear answers to the poop question. It's best to tell them, "Don't worry about the poop. I'll take care of it when I get home." Some daycares, especially corporate ones, will have company-wide regulations about cloth diapers that include the workers not being expected to remove feces from the diaper to put it in the toilet, as this takes extra time away from the children they are minding and can just plain (and understandably!) gross them out--even more than having to change dozens of diapers a day. As long as the only difference between a cloth diaper change and a disposable diaper change is where the diaper goes (in a wet bag rather than in a trash bag), they simply can't object! If the daycare assigns each child a cubby hole or a hook, have them keep your wet bag there.

5) Let them use disposable wipes. They'll throw them away with the disposable diapers and wipes they'll be using for other children, and it will be easier for them than worrying about a wipe solution. If environmental friendliness is paramount to you, gWipes are biodegradable and made with friendlier materials than the leading brands.

6) Provide ample, mess-free cloth diaper-safe diaper rash treatment. We love the soothing simplicity of Butt Balm by hosie naturals. Request that the balm only be used when your baby's diaper area is irritated, not as a matter-of-course 'just in case' barrier treatment. Even a cloth diaper-safe balm can be used too often and lead to build-up being left behind on your diapers; it's also just not as frugal to use it when it isn't needed. Cloth diapers are chemical-free and gentle on your baby's skin... No barrier necessary!

7) Send your baby with only one style of diaper. A single brand might make it even easier, but if you have a varied stash because you're still finding out what you like, try to pack the same style of diaper every day. If you're sending a diaper with a snap closure, include a diagram paper-clipped to the diaper that indicates which snap settings will best fit the diaper to your baby--with a friendly note about how you wanted to make the diaper change quick and easy for them!

When you get home: it's time to deal with the poop.

Want to hear a daycare experience straight from a cloth diapering mom's mouth? We'll wrap up the first installment of Cloth and the Working Mom with Jill's tale:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We interrupt this series for a little bit of Christmas!


Close enough!

The temperatures are dropping--South Louisiana has been experiencing the blustery cold of 65-degree mornings, after all. Break out the hot cocoa!

But if you're wondering why we're seemingly skipping Fall and moving right along into the merriest season of them all, you may have missed what our CEO posted to Facebook yesterday:

That news kind of made me want to order flowers for the UPS man.

Here's the thing:

It's only been in recent months that we, as a company, have grown enough to even be able to stock this kind of limited edition stuff. If you've been a client or fan for several years, you know how disappointing it was for your consultant to have to tell you, "I'm sorry, I won't be able to get you that new, fancy print! I really wish I could!" 

But that's what's so great about sticking it out and being in this for the long-haul. These three-and-a-half long (but so short!) years, we haven't stopped steadily growing. Our product line is expanding, and we have an ever-lengthening 'wish list' of new products to look into for the future. (In fact, if you ever want to ask us to look into a brand you already love or that you're interested in trying, and you'd like to be able to purchase through your consultant or from the Lake Charles retail location, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail!)

So the future looks bright. But today, in this Christmas-y moment, we're so relieved and thrilled that these long-awaited, backordered Tots Bots EasyFits V3s are making their way to us, we're so excited and impressed that the SoftBums Calendar Bums color is a gorgeous and fashionable ebony, and we're so enthused by the response we've received lately to gDiapers, because they haven't always gotten a lot of love, and they're quickly becoming one of our most sought-after lines! 

Want to know more about these limited edition, while-supplies-last offerings? Check 'em out in these photos, courtesy of our Lake Charles representative and her iPhone, and on our Web site:

Limited Edition EasyFit commemorative Olympics prints, "London" and "Jubilee," plus "Three Little Pigs," just one of the fairy tale-themed prints in Tots Bots' new "Every Nappy Tells a Story" line:

 SoftBums' September-only Calendar Bums series Omni in stylish Ebony:

And, just in time for college football, the extra-adorable limited edition gStyle, "gUniversity":

Have you ever received 'fluffy mail'? You know that feeling of tearing into the package? Well, for us, it's every bit as exciting to receive inventory for the store as it is to receive a fluffy package on your front stoop. You can see why Monday felt like Christmas in the Home Office!

Don't forget: head to the Find a Rep page and click on your local consultant's name before loading your cart! Be sure to contact her if you have any questions about anything--that's what she's there for, after all.

Most of all, we want to say that we're utterly grateful to our clients and to our hard-working consultants, because our steady growth is a result of your loyal and enthusiastic response to our efforts to expand and improve our business model and our product selection. We wouldn't be able to offer the most fun parts of participating in the global cloth diapering community--like the special, limited edition stuff!--without you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

"Can it be done?": Cloth diapers and the working mom

I had the pleasure of 'meeting' a professor and online/distance learning coordinator for a major Chicago university on Monday night... in the weekly #clothdiapers Twitter party.

That's right: a mom with a demanding full-time job outside of the home--and academia rivals the world of corporate business in terms of demands placed upon those who hold management positions--uses cloth diapers. Not only does she use them, but she loves them enough to pop in for cloth diaper-themed Twitter parties and contribute to the conversation. (And since she's a social media and online communications prof, believe me, we retailers, bloggers, and manufacturers eat up her tweets like candy!)

One of our own cloth diaper consultants, Jill C. in Kinder, La., works a full 40 hours as the assistant to an anthropologist on a tribal reservation here in Southwest Louisiana. (Among her many responsibilities is maintaining a greenhouse garden--how cool is that?!) Jill was hesitant to get started in cloth because she worried that she wouldn't have time to add the laundry to her home routine and because she was anxious that her family's chosen daycare, which she was very satisfied with, wouldn't take kindly to the idea.

Our Facebook fan Emily, an expectant mother, expressed her concerns about working and using cloth diapers this way:

Well, Emily and company, how about this?

Over the next three weeks, our blog will focus on ALL the how-tos of cloth diapering while working outside the home full-time. We'll leave no stone unturned: whom to approach at your daycare and how, exactly what to teach the childcare providers so that they feel empowered and confident while cloth diapering your baby, what kind of diapers to send to daycare, when to schedule your cloth diaper laundry, where to seek support for troubleshooting should the need arise, why you should make sure your commitment to cloth diapering isn't causing the rest of your household chores to suffer, how cloth diapering even with limited time at home will benefit your home life, and anything else you can think to ask!

And, just for fun, we've decided to announce the winner of the $10 gift certificate right here on our blog today! The winning photograph can be found after the jump...