I love cloth diapering. I really do. But right now I’m recovering from a nasty season of burn out. I remember feeling this way around my son’s second birthday, and it seems I’m hitting the same slump now that my youngest is a month away from hers. There’s definitely a mental obstacle to hurdle when it comes to years of diapering work.
Wipe baby’s bottom.
Put diaper in hamper.
Fold diapers and put away.
Put diaper back on baby’s bottom.
Sometimes I wish she’d suddenly, miraculously decide to start using the potty.
Sometimes I wish I could just wrap up those poopy toddler diapers and chuck them in a landfill. Out of sight, out of mind.
Methinks I need a freaking vacation.
I know this is not my typical post where I gush about how cute my kids are.
Alright, maybe a little.
I’ll be honest, this has been a tough diapering month for me. Leaks, stinks, rashes, frantically tweaking my laundry routine, and ultimately a full day of stripping, bleaching, and washing my entire stash.
Times like these are rare, but they do happen, and I know I’m not the only one who goes through rough cloth seasons. I seriously contemplated being done—maybe making the switch to expensive, “biodegradable” disposable diapers. The biggest thing that kept me hanging on through this was my commitment to reducing my family’s footprint on the earth.
Our western, throw-away culture is literally destroying the planet and the global economy, and that matters a great deal to me. There’s a price for convenience that I’m not willing to pay. I don’t mean to get all sanctimonious. It’s the opposite, really. I get it. I so get it. There are a lot of things about cloth diapering that are unappealing. I mean, they catch bodily waste.
The thing about waste, though, is that it absolutely needs to go to a treatment facility—not in the garbage. Technically we should be rinsing out disposable diapers too. The instructions and warnings are even on the box.
If you haven’t experienced cloth burn out, chances are you will at some point. When that time comes, here are a few things to help you recommit yourself to the important work you’re doing.
1. Take a break
Have a trusted relative or friend give you the day off. Use your free time for self care, and steer clear of all diaper laundry. My husband takes on much of the diaper duties on his days off, and we try to schedule regular visits between the kids and their grandparents. A little absence to make the heart grow fonder, if you know what I mean.
2. Remember why you chose cloth diapers
Was it the savings? If so, sit down with a calculator to estimate how much of your hard earned money has added up over time. Hundreds? Thousands?
If you’re like me, your passion for the environment also had a lot to do with your decision. A quick delve into the world wide web can reawaken your sense of purpose. Arm yourself with facts about the tremendous negative impact disposables have on the planet.
3. Fall in love with that fluffy bottom again
Put your little one in their cutest diaper, turn up the heat a bit, and let them run around with no clothes for a while. Snap some photos to commemorate this precious time in their lives. Maybe even invest in a fun new print. They call it retail therapy for a reason.
4. Make it easier on yourself
If you’ve got a more traditional diaper stash comprised of flats or prefolds and covers, try something new. Awesome cloth companies are innovating fresh designs all the time to keep babies more comfortable and make life easier for parents. You don’t have to overhaul your entire collection, but try adding a couple all-in-ones or hybrids.
These four things truly helped me. It didn’t happen overnight, but I noticed that, day by day, my diaper routine didn’t feel so consuming. I can’t say I’m as enthusiastic in year four of cloth diapering as I was in year one, but I definitely feel a sense of renewed commitment and an urge to finish strong.
Burnout comes and goes, but I absolutely stand by my decision to use cloth. This dirty work is pretty thankless, and we don’t often hear that the work we’re doing is appreciated, so let’s take it upon ourselves to encourage one another.
You’re doing a great job.
You’re making an excellent choice for your kids.
You’re saving money for your family.
You’re saving the freaking planet.
One diaper at a time, friends. We’ve got this.
Samantha Levang is a contributor at This West Coast Mommy, specializing in cloth diaper and baby item reviews. She lives in Washington state with her husband, son Brooks, and baby girl Riley. Between diaper changes and loads of laundry, she enjoys landscape photography and the never-ending process of home decorating.