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Written by Mama Monday

Blog posts written by mamas on cloth diapering, green living, natural parenting.

stash size doesn't matter

A question that pops up so, so frequently is regarding how many diapers you need to cloth diaper. There are guidelines for this (and I’ll share them a bit later), but I’ve come to find out that this is a flexible number.

Stash size can be a very personal thing.

There are those out there who want to #buyallthecloth. It’s almost like a collecting hobby as much as it is a diapering solution. In addition to the excitement of helping the environment and (in theory) saving money, these cloth diaper users also fall in love with the quality and, oftentimes, cuteness of the diapers.

And most of us have bought a certain diaper for exactly that reason. A cute design is everything.

Then there are those among us who choose to use cloth to simplify their lives as much as possible. These parents sometimes choose the cheapest option or sometimes the style that they think will give them the most wear over several children (even if the initial cost may be more). They also scour the buy/trade/sell groups and don’t mind a little cosmetic issue here and there if it’s a good deal.

This parent has a minimal stash size, in general. Their prideful point of contention is that they know exactly the (small) number of dipes that they need to get by. They’ve got it down to a science.

stash size doesn't matter

Personally, I fall between these two (as, I’m sure, many of us do). Because we are part-time cloth diaperers, our numbers are different than most. However, when I go full-time (when the girls are home with us for summer vacation and other breaks rather than at the sitter), I’ve got a large stash that I’ve built up over time. Like, I could (but don’t) go at least 4-5 days before washing…with two in cloth. Eek.

However, I like to compare it to our wardrobes. We all have our favorite clothes, whether for functionally or color or fit (or all three reasons), that we tend to wear over and over. We grab them first and wash them frequently just so that we can wear them again faster. We might as well create a capsule wardrobe just out of those favorites.

I do the same with cloth diapers. The solid colors are my favorites, and I’ll coordinate them to the girls’ outfits when I’m picking out their clothes in the morning. Certain colors just offer more versatility sometimes to fit those outfits better than others. (Although I get excited when a pattern works into the mix, too!)

I might as well have a cloth diaper capsule. I even have a second bin of my lesser favorites…and a third bin of old hand-me-downs that I know I should just sell, but I keep on hand just in case. Why do I keep them? Because my son was in them…? I purged his baby clothes, why don’t I purge his old diapers? Weird how we have psychological attachments like that.

Much like our wardrobes, our cloth diaper stashes say a lot about who we are – and our reasons for cloth diapering. Whether it’s small and perfectly chosen, huge and every color of the rainbow, or a hodgepodge of styles and colors, there is no one way to make a stash.

That said, there are some guidelines to help if you’re just starting your stash and don’t know where to start or are thinking you may want to pare back and aren’t sure how far to take it.

Put simply, Thirsties suggests 20-24 diapers for the newborn stage, 14-18 diapers for 6-12 months, 12-16 diapers for 12-24 months, and 4-8 diapers during potty learning. Every child is different, so this is just a starting point.

Create your stash for whatever needs (or wants) you may have; there’s no one right or wrong answer, just like with parenting itself. Don’t feel guilty for using pre-loved dipes vs. new or if you have five of your favorite print; if you overbought because you can’t get to the laundry as often as you’d like or you challenge yourself to make the fewest diapers work as possible. It’s all about the journey and what helps you reach the finish line easiest, not what works for everyone else.

What does your stash look like? A mix of styles and brands or multiples of your favorite? A perfect rainbow or a hot mess? Expansive or minimalist? We’d love to hear!

more spring activities for young children


As I sit and write this, I can see an icy freezing rain fall outside and hear the wind whip at the trees and windows. Mind you, it’s April 15th. And I know there are people who are currently enduring snow. I’m not a complainer, but I think we can all agree…it’s a bit much.

So, as I did last year when spring had an equally difficult time stopping by for a visit, I thought it’d be fun to find some fun springtime activities that we’ll be able to do with the kids. Eventually.

Promise. It’ll get here. Someday!

So, here we go! Some simple, fun activities that are perfect for celebrating the coming of spring…whether it feels like it or not!

Fun spring books for kids

Great Spring Books for Kids – This booklist is a nice mix of topics and characters, featuring old favorites and new soon-to-be classics. I’m partial to Bear, Caterpillar, and “And Then It’s Spring” in particular.

bug arts and crafts project

Build-a-Bug – When our son was too young to cut and was still working on his fine motor skills, we would make a bunch of pre-cut construction paper shapes available for him to make pictures. I love this idea to make bugs with no frustration (only fun!) for the littles. And, honestly, I know he’ll want to do this right along with our 2-year-old (even though he’s a “big boy” of 5). This site also has a similar idea for flowers; try combining them to give the bugs a home!

simple nature scavenger hunt

Nature Scavenger Hunt – I love this particular nature walk idea because it’s super open-ended and child-driven with just enough guidance. Not too specific and super fun, suggestions like “find something round” or “find something rough” is a great sensory experience.
 spring themed sensory tub

Spring Sensory Tub – Nope, they didn’t use real dirt (although you could if you were brave…I’m not, haha!). There are so many opportunities for fine motor development, storytelling, imaginative play, simple science, and calming hands-on free time with a sensory bucket like this.

gnome fairy garden DIY

Easy Gnome (or Fairy) Cups – A fairy garden may be a little complicated for little fingers, but a smaller activity that’s pretty much compiling cute pieces together like this is just downright fun. Most of the materials can be found at a dollar store (but more complicated ones can be ordered online or found at a craft store) and if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll probably tell a story to go along with the scene…along with a name for your family’s little gnome or fairy.

 how to plant sunflowers with kids

Grow Sunflowers – If your weather’s warm enough, your kids can plant them right into the ground, but if you’re still getting frost (like us) you can get the excitement going by starting the seeds inside. We use eggshells to start our seeds, but use whatever you want! I figure that if we start it now, it’ll be ready to grow when the warmth finally hits.

 fun games with a ball for kids

Outdoor Ball Games – Some kids can go outside and play with a ball independently all day long. Others need some suggestions after a few minutes. This gives you 6 ideas that you can simplify or enhance depending on your child’s ability level. Either way, these games are super fun and great for hand-eye coordination.

What are you looking forward to most when the warmer weather arrives? And if you’re in a warm weather location, let us know what you’re up to! We’d love to live vicariously through you!!

fun spring activities for kids


As cloth diapering families, we’re all already making strides to lessen our environmental footprint one diaper at a time. I’ve talked about some ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday and even some fun activities to do with the kids, but I thought I’d share a more comprehensive list here today.

You’ve probably heard of some of these over the years, and others may seem far fetched, but I’ve done that on purpose. We’re all at a different part of our green journey, so I figured they were all mentionable. It’s also always good to have a reminder on some of the basics and it’s possible to tweak some of the more “outrageous” ideas to work for you in a more practical sense (ie starting at less waste rather than aiming for zero waste).

Also, I’ve organized these tips but sometimes you’ll find some that could go into more than one category, so just assume that it’s straddling the line.

Oh, and I’m positive I’ve missed some (there are just so many amazing changes we can make), so please don’t hesitate to add your ideas in the comments!

 

REDUCE

Use cloth diapers. (Kind of a given. ;-))

Switch to cloth wipes.

Develop a capsule wardrobe for yourself.

Develop a capsule wardrobe for every member of your family.

Find a store that offers bulk items (everything from wine and olive oil to soap and shampoo) and use your own refillable bottles.

Buy coffee in bulk (again, with a portable reusable bag).

Limit screen time.

Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and warmer in the summer.

Be cognizant of your water use (and take shorter showers).

Carry a “zero waste” kit for each family member when you go out. Include a stainless steel straw, utensils, a cloth napkin, etc.

Avoid one-use party supplies.

Get a stainless steel water bottle for every member of the family.

Schedule your errands for one round-trip drive to reduce gas use and emissions.

Go “zero waste.” (There are tons of resources online and on YouTube.)

Use handkerchiefs.

Ask for fewer holiday and birthday gifts (and perhaps more “experience gifts” instead).

Pare down the makeup and toiletries you use when you’re done with them.

Purge your belongings and either sell items or donate them to those in need.

Buy clothes at second-hand stores or through websites like ThredUp.

Replace your light bulbs with CFLs and LEDs when needed.

Wash with cold water when possible.

Use a clothesline or drying rack.

Carpool.

Unplug appliances when you’re not using them or use a smart adapter that will cut off “phantom” energy use.

Use a faucet aerator.

Install a low-flow showerhead.

Put a brick or repurpose a bottle filled with water in your toilet tank to reduce water use.

Share tools and other appliances with neighbors and family.

Read newspapers online.

Pay bills online.

REUSE

Save wrapping, ribbons, and gift bags to reuse.

Bring reusable bags to the grocery store.

Pack your lunch using reusable lunch, sandwich, and snack bags, and glass containers.

Use reusable mesh produce bags.

Swap kid clothes and shoes with family/friends.

Swap decor items from one room to another to freshen the look without buying more.

Use reusable makeup wipes.

Switch to reusable feminine care products (menstrual cups and washable cotton pads).

Use a reusable mug for tea and coffee.

Use your children’s drawings and art to wrap gifts.

Regift unopened items that you had no need for. (It’s okay, really.)

Think out of the box with decor items – like repurposing wine bottles as a light fixture.

Buy reusable batteries.

Share your used magazines with friends or donate to a local group (a battered women’s shelter, a VA group, a homeless shelter, etc.)

RECYCLE

Use old towels/washcloths/t-shirts for rags.

Use old toothbrushes to clean grout and other hard-to-reach spots.

If you absolutely have to buy water, recycle the bottle.

Recycle your old cell phones.

Recycle appropriately.

GOOD FOR YOU AND THE PLANET

Buy food and cleaning supplies with less chemicals.

Make your own cleaning supplies with essential oils.

Walk or bike whenever possible.

Check your makeup and toiletries for inhumane practices and harmful chemicals.

Support local farmers, particularly those who subscribe to humane and organic practices.

Eat humane grassfed beef and milk and free range chicken and eggs (or go vegetarian/vegan altogether).

Eat one meatless meal a week or consider a flexitarian diet.

Eat organic foods.

Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.

Buy a new houseplant.

Diffuse essential oils or use natural soy candles rather than traditional ones.

GET PROACTIVE

Support green businesses.

Support a cause (or two…) that speaks to you.

Buy products made with natural fibers rather than synthetic.

Volunteer for a wildlife organization or group.

Be vocal (but not condescending) about your choices and why you make them.

Contact your representatives and demand that they make eco-friendly choices.

Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes.

Lobby against pesticide use in public parks and places.

Buy sustainable home goods, like jute rugs and bamboo furniture.

Use low- and no-VOC paints.

MAKE IT HANDS-ON FOR YOUR KIDS

Keep a box of recyclables to use as craft supplies.

Suggest that your child’s group (Girl/Boy Scouts, Altruism Club, Environmental Club, etc.) hold a regular community clean-up day. (Or have your own!)

Keep recycling bins in convenient places.

Buy eco-friendly craft supplies and toys.

Read books from the local library.

Start a little library for a book share.

Start a vegetable/herb garden.

Start a wildflower (bee/butterfly) garden. If you’re feeling brave, replace your front yard with one!

Grow drought-resistant plants.

Make a compost pile.

Start a beehive.

Raise your own chickens.

Only go to zoos and aquariums that subscribe to sustainable, conservatory practices.

Collect rainwater to water plants.

Watch pro-science/environmental shows like “Nature Cat” and “Wild Kratts” (in moderation).

ENJOY THE EARTH WE HAVE

Go on bike rides and walks.

Use nature/hiking trails.

Find a favorite outside space and visit it often.

When traveling, find a new natural spot to explore and appreciate.

Try a new activity (canoeing, hiking, surfing, etc) with the whole family.

Go outside every day (even on rainy or snowy days).

80 ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday

Ahhh, springtime. It’s been a little big time coming (and in some parts of the country we’re still waiting), so the first thing we feel like doing is cleaning, right?

I’m totally kidding. In our house, we’re climbing the walls to get outside with the kids. However, after bouts of the flu, general ongoing sniffles, and overall close quarters, it does feel like we can’t enjoy the coming of a new season without getting the house orderly and clean first. Ugh.

But, there are ways to undertake spring cleaning without feeling like you’re climbing an impossibly high mountain. Here are some spring cleaning tips that I use to help me mentally and physically get the job done:

Make a list.

Don’t underestimate the joy of crossing tasks off your list. It also helps you visualize and organize your thoughts. It’s one huge step towards taking the stress out of the jobs when they’re not a constant worry floating around your brain.

Deep cleaning vs. regular cleaning.

If you have a regular cleaning routine, you can actually make a separate list of deeper cleaning that you can undertake – then continue with the usual routine after you’ve done the spring stuff. So, by cleaning all the windows, wiping down walls, and scrubbing all those corners, you can consider yourself done.

Go for done, not perfect.

This is a hard one for me; I was lovingly raised by a perfectionist (and seem to have been gifted the same tendency towards cleaning). But, seriously. Don’t beat yourself up. If your space feels fresh and clean when you’re done, who cares if you dusted the top of the window molding that no one ever sees?

Take the word “spring” loosely.

If you’re super overwhelmed (or are being challenged in other areas of your life – say if you have a newborn at home), spread the cleaning out over a month or two (or more). If you don’t mind the house not being perfectly spic and span all at one time, at least you’ll tick all of the boxes on your to-do list…eventually.

You’re not the only one who lives at your house, so you shouldn’t be the only one cleaning…

unless you want the control. So, if you’re comfortable delegating tasks to others in your house (husband and any child big enough to hold a rag) and possibly not having them done to your standards, GOOD! Go with it! Otherwise, if you’re the one cleaning, ask for support in other ways – say, by having your significant other take the kids out of the house so that you can crank the tunes or favorite show and dig into the job solo.

Ask nature to help.

Throw those windows open. Hang your sheets, rugs (and clean wet diapers, for that matter!) out in the sun. Pick some flowers to display on your clean mantle. And use biodegradable, natural cleaning methods. It does wonders for your mood and freshens things up tremendously.

Take the opportunity to purge.

If you’re cleaning closets and drawers, anyway, think about what you actually use. Donating what you no longer need will help you live a simpler life (and make your spring cleaning job even easier next year).

Find the joy in it.

Most people dislike cleaning, but if you find what you enjoy about it, you’ll find motivation, too. Maybe you like the quiet, “mental time” alone to think. Maybe you actually like the zen of running a vacuum. Maybe you’re weird like me and actually enjoy the satisfaction behind the sparkle of a clean toilet. Or, perhaps it’s just the final tidy outcome that puts a smile on your face. Whatever it is, embrace it! You can also practice mindfulness by being intentional with your actions, showing gratitude for your favorite things while you pick them up and dust them or for wiping down windows (because you’re lucky enough to have a house, dirty windows and all).

Invite guests over.

Literally, nothing motivates me to clean like knowing that people will be visiting.

When you’re done, do some decorating.

Sometimes it’s rearranging furniture but it can be as simple as switching out some brighter spring-ish decor on your mantle or lightweight bedding in your room. The refresh does wonders visually but also emotionally.

What are your favorite spring cleaning tips? Do you dread it or enjoy throwing off the heavy coat of winter with a nice freshening up? I’d love to hear how other moms and dads feel about this big job.

I don’t know about you guys, but the more kids we have, the more we seem to want to simplify our lives. At our house, I find that I carry less around in my diaper bag (aka my biggest handbag) with our third than I did with our first, we feel that we’ve hit our toy quota, and we seem to be in a constant (never ending?) state of purging.

I’ve read, seen, and heard a lot from the current generation of parents who seem to be dealing with a similar “simple is better” attitude. Many seem to want to enjoy the quality of life – their children, experiences, and memories – without the physical trappings that come with it. Hence things like tiny houses and Konmari.

This urge away from “stuff for stuff’s sake” can make holidays challenging. I’ll admit that I’m still working on handling the frustration when our kids come home from school with a bag of candy or from a visit with Grandma with outfits galore, but I’m learning that it all begins at home.

Easter is an interesting place to start because it’s kind of under the radar as far as commercialization goes. I mean, CLEARLY it’s quite commercial…but still has nothin’ on Christmas. There are fewer Easter parties at school, and there’s still a large religious string running through it, allowing us to focus as much (or little) as we want on what fills the Easter baskets.

For anyone who’s looking to reign in their Easter holiday a bit, here are a handful of tips to do just that:

GIVE THE EASTER BUNNY SOME GUIDELINES

This works for other holidays, too. Just decide what you’ll get, make a list, and stick with it. As a kid, I used to get a pair of PJs, new “play sneakers”, socks/underwear, the occasional stuffed animal, an outside toy, and some communal candy (no pun intended). It was more than enough.

And it’s okay to politely request less from any well-meaning grandparent who wants to buy something, or to ask for only one thing if they won’t let it rest.

KEEP IT PERSONAL

My aforementioned list may not work for everybody. Currently, the Easter bunny is bringing our kids a book, new sneakers (they’re needed – usually it’s new sandals or flip flops), a bathing suit/sunnies, a small stuffed animal, one small toy (Hatchimals for our son, glitter Play-Doh for our daughter), then a separate basket for candy – mostly Annie’s organic bunnies (gummy fruit treats and cheddar treats) and organic jelly beans with a small few “traditional” candies.

We change it every year depending on what the kids need or show an interest in. We have tons of bubble solution and sidewalk chalk, so instead of adding to those we stuck with things they’re REALLY into right now. The same goes for crayons (they color several times a day but we’ve restocked already).

MAKE PLANS THAT SUIT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY

The obligations that go with keeping holiday traditions can be just as overwhelming as the stuff your family receives. We’ve come to realize that tradition is a fluid, flexible idea (rather than one that’s set in stone). Heck, the more kids we’ve had, the more we realize that things REALLY can’t always be the same even when we want them to.

So, a few years ago we thought to invite my parents-in-law over for a brunch then went to my clan’s afternoon festivities. It works for us now, but who knows? Maybe we’ll start fitting church in more regularly. Maybe we’ll invite everyone over to our place instead someday.

Goodness knows, but as long as we’re making memories with our loved ones, it really doesn’t matter whose house we’re descending upon.

SIMPLE BASKETS CAN STILL BE FUN

If you want to keep your baskets fun and low-key, here are some ideas :
Just use books! (Admittedly, this’ll fall flat if your kiddo doesn’t like storytime.)
Go with candy (or homemade treats) that you are comfortable giving your kids. I throw in a mixed lot but if your family has dietary needs or simply avoids processed foods, don’t feel pressured to include Peeps and chocolate peanut butter eggs. Just remember that it’s a special occasion but stay true to yourself.
Give experience gifts. Materials to build a birdhouse or homemade kite. Cooking supplies. Mini potted plants (such as the ones in the Target Dollar Spot) with new gardening gloves. Paint or craft supplies. Or even summertime or spring break “supplies” with a card detailing vacation plans. Small or grandiose, experiences are an awesome gift!

TURN THE EGG HUNT INTO A SCAVENGER HUNT!

If you have a reader, this may be even more exciting, but even not, reading one clue that leads to the next egg which leads to the next and so forth.

REMEMBER WHAT MADE YOUR EASTER SPECIAL AS A CHILD

While I know what we got in our baskets as kids, that’s not what sticks out most in my mind about Easter. Dressing up for church (and the overuse of incense that more than once made me pass out in the pew) and eventually heaving a sigh of relief when I could finally change OUT of the fancy clothes. The fact that, no matter the weather (we generally still have snow for Easter), my sister and I would brave the elements to try out our bubbles or new jump rope. The decorating and finding of the eggs. The inevitable ham – and less predictable but always delicious dessert (generally a pie…or two…or four, as with the year my uncle brought a pecan pie from a bakery over an hour away, the first time any of us had tried it). The year our dog got a hold of my 5 pound chocolate bunny and I thought I’d killed her (nope, just a tummy ache).

Whether you want to replicate your old traditions or make new ones, remember that it’s these fun memories that matter the most. Keep it simple or make it as elaborate as you want; just be sure to enjoy it along the way!

What are your favorite Easter basket add-ins? So you have new traditions or uphold old ones?