Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 1 of the 5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge - Why am I doing this?

The first time I ever folded a flat was at the young age of 10 years.  I had become an aunt, and a very willing one at that, who would do anything for my dearest nephew!  Maybe I already realised at that tender age that folding a flat perfectly can be very therapeutic, who knows?  But that was my (humble) introduction to cloth and somehow it just evolved from there that I would one day choose to use cloth with my own children.

When one of the ladies on our Facebook Page South African Cloth Nappy Users first spoke about the #flatschallenge I thought to myself "This could get interesting". I immediately read up about it and decided that I wanted to do it.  WHY?

1. Handwashing is the ultimate stain killer
Because I in any case handwash SOME of my diapers everyday (I'm a bit pedantic about stains and believe handwashing is the best stain killer!) so it would be interesting if I could keep it up for a week.

2. Sorting out contact dermatitis
My stash mostly consists of prefolds, terry squares and flannel flats, with a few nighttime solution cloth diapers, pretty pockets and AIO's thrown in for good measure.  My daugther recently started showing signs of sensitivity to several different types of cloth diapers (AND disposables), especially the elastic in the leg gussets, exposed fold-over elastic, exposed PUL, microsuede and bamboo fibers, which has now grown into a full-blown allergy with resultant contact dermatitis upon exposure.  It's at the point that we have to apply cortisone cream to get rid of the blisters on her skin where these fabrics / components gets into contact with her.  Thus this challenge could not have come at a better time.  No better way to clear up any rash than good old cotton flats!  I also had to make fleece soakers to overcome the problem of sensitivity to elastic (exposed or inside of casings) and PUL (polyurethane laminate - waterproof layer in modern cloth nappies / covers)

3. Overcoming the challenge of load shedding
This #flatschallenge would also allow me to be just a bit gentler on the planet by saving some electricity (and actually help me develop some strong arm muscles!).  If you're not living in South Africa, you possibly won't know about our load shedding problem.  We periodically have our electricity supply cut to lift the load off of the supplying power plants and generate / store more electricity for later.  This can wreak havoc if you have a BUNCH of diapers to wash! But if you're handwashing then this is no longer a problem.

4. Getting into practise for our holiday without a washing machine
We'll be going on our annual family holiday in 3 weeks' time and I won't have access to a washing machine at the holiday resort.  So this truly is a trial-run for then and to see how I cope.  Well, I actually have no other choice than to cope because my daughter is allergic to everything else.  Which means I can't take disposables on holiday to avoid diaper laundry.  But I don't mind because who doesn't like a cute big cloth bum baby?!

On Sunday night I moved out all the prefolds, replacing them with every.single.receiving blanket I own, as well as all the flats available in my house.  Included as waterproof covers are my fleece soakers and PUL covers (to go OVER the soakers as to prevent any further rash)
Snappi's, Terry Squares and Flannel Flats

Quickly drying the last of the diaper laundry to prepare for Day 1 of the #flatschallenge
Day 1 of this challenge saw me learning how to use the camper washer to save my precious hands, figuring out alternatives on effectively wringing out excess water from the flats and learning a new fold - the Jo-fold.  My husband even joined in on the fun by folding and fastening a flat onto our little girl - so proud of him!  I have also become acutely aware of just how much I use my washing machine for keeping up with diaper laundry, even though I tend to handwash a few diapers during the course of the day.  I have new-found respect for moms (and dads!) who have to make-do without a washing machine!  You ROCK!  Here follows a few pics of Day 1,

Starting the epic Camper Washer journey

And 100 plunges done = 1 wash cycle
Wringing out the flats by halfway hooking it onto the bath handle and twisting it.

The Jo-fold. SUCH and awesome fold and fit!

The Jo-fold even has a natural leg-gusset!

Daddy joining in on the folding fun!

Phew, I cannot believe I actually MADE it through my first day of the #flatschallenge.  What really kept me motivated was the fact that I had accountability partners - my Facebook Cloth Nappy User friends!  Which made me think, if I ever want to give up sugar, I should just start a challenge and get my Facebook friends to accept the challenge with me.  Accountability is KEY on Day 1!