“How much work is it, really?” {Flats and Handwashing Challenge Days 3 & 4)

This post is part of the 5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge, an education and awareness campaign designed to highlight the benefits of using cloth diapers even in less than ideal financial circumstances.

Today’s blogging prompt, per the Challenge site, is to describe traveling with flats. Since I missed yesterday’s Open Topic, I figured I could spend today folding in the travel idea with one question I am often asked about cloth diapering: how much extra work is it?

I’m not going to tell you that flat diapers require no brain power at all. The truth is, disposables and their “strap it on, pull it off, toss it away” make-up have the market cornered on thought-free diapering. Flats require you to think ahead a few steps more; whether you’re at home or out and about, you’ve got to have a plan for cloth. But don’t be intimidated. The plan is actually much, much easier than you think.

Keeping stocked. To be fair, disposables suffer from this issue as well. The difference here is that instead of shelling out money at the store to reboot your supply, you need to keep up on laundry. Don’t be intimidated. I’m finding that my time investment in handwashing flats is about 30 minutes per day (counting setting them out to dry), and drying time is roughly an hour in the NC sun. That means that if you choose a smaller stash to save money, you’re only at the most 2 hours away from clean diapers most of the year. That beats a trip to Walmart any day.

Pre-folding. If you’re worried about being confronted with a squirmy baby on a changing table and trying to subdue him with one hand while finagling a flat into a diaper-like shape with the other, take a few minutes after your diapers are dry to fold them in advance. It’s a quick fix to a potential issue, and, bonus! If you’re looking to slip a few into your diaper bag, this is the way to go. When it’s time for a change, you simply pull out a ready-to-go diaper. That’s just as easy as a disposable.

Wet-bag/bucket. Whether you’re out and about or in your own living room, you need a spot to sock away dirty diapers. I don’t get why the idea of hauling a wet diaper home from the park is so egregious to some folks, but hey– whatever. Simply having a waterproof spot to put them in your bag (I’ve always used grocery sacks myself) or in your laundry room (I’m a fan of these cute little Ikea cans) makes cloth diapering easier no matter whether you’re using flats, prefolds, pockets, or AIOs.

And seriously … that’s it. Extra time invested? I guess so. But it’s pretty minimal. No matter where you are, flats aren’t nearly as big a consideration in the equation as making sure you’re not out during your cranky toddler’s nap time or forgetting the (gasp!) snack bag.