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Written by Mama Monday

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


Happy Memorial Day, everyone! Whether you’re poolside, camping, or just enjoying some family time, I know we’re all thinking about the brave men and women who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms – as well as those who put their lives on the line everyday keeping us safe.


As the “unofficial” start of summer, this holiday has me dreaming about how we’ll be spending OUR summer as a family. (I’m an educator and summer doesn’t really start in our neck of the woods until the end of June or so.)

Since we moved last fall, I’ve realized how much S-T-U-F-F we have accumulated – some of it of our own accord, but a vast majority of it as well-meaning gifts from loved ones. I’ve observed that our 18-month-old daughter almost never plays with toys (unless she pilfered one from her big brother) and our almost 5-year-old son doesn’t play with a vast majority of his toys because they’re constantly in disarray; he simply doesn’t even know/see what he even has.

So, aside from doing some purging and selling at a family garage sale, I’m hoping to build our summertime fun on experiences rather than more stuff, stuff, stuff.

Can anyone else relate? If so, maybe my go-to summer fun ideas for families will help you break from  And if you’re looking for some more simple summer fun activities, check out my post from last Memorial Day!

 

Get wet! There’s nothing quite as fun as a good, old-fashioned kiddie pool, is there? Both of our kids could stay in the bathtub all night if we let them. Well, that concept transfers great to the fresh air of our backyard. We keep a Dollar Store bin of old bath toys in our garage to toss in (or use with my next tip) and let them have at it.

But your family’s water fun doesn’t have to stop there. An inexpensive water table can bring kids HOURS of fun. You’d be surprised at how long kids can stand in one place and splash, pour, scoop, and giggle. (Even my super active 4-year-old son, if you can believe that!) Oh, and the occasional hose-related sprinkler never gets old!

A final “get wet” go-to is our favorite amusement park, which has both wet and dry rides and is a family tradition going way back. We can make it to our favorite spots by lunchtime then hit the rest of the town in the afternoon, so this is an annual trek we love to make.

Cook (and eat) outside. Who is it who first said that food tastes better when eaten outside? It’s totally true, isn’t it? We’ll often cook most of the meal inside (boiling corn on the cob, chopping salad), but as long as some aspect is grilled – the meat, some veggies, or even my “famous” grilled pizza – that’s all that matters. Pour some lemonade and enjoy!

There are also those days where we’ve had too much time inside and find ourselves climbing the walls that I surprise the kids with a picnic. It may just be a blanket in the yard with simple finger foods, but you’d think they’d never eaten before with how excitedly they devour the food!

Oh, and wasn’t summer just MADE for popsicles? And weren’t popsicles MADE for outside eating? (For those of us who hate a mess, you totally get what I’m saying.) Side note: This is a great site for frozen treat recipes!

Get that “camping” experience…anywhere. You don’t have to rent a camp or cabin and shlep hours away to have the same fun as you would while camping. (Side note: I’m actually still considering renting a campsite, so I clearly have NOTHING against this at all.)

Use the proper precautions, but set up a campfire to roast some hotdogs and, of course, s’mores in your own backyard. I’m ecstatic that we were gifted a fire pit and that my husband’s equally excited to light that baby up soon. It’s one of those times I won’t sweat whether what we’re eating is natural or organic – a s’more is a s’more.

And who says you have to go camping to pitch a tent?? My sister put up a large tent for the kids to hang out in at a family event and I thought it was genius. They ate their meal in there, they played in there, and it offered them a good amount of shade on a super hot, sunny day. So, if your kids are too young to camp out in the backyard (as are mine), you can still have fun with a tent during the day!

For a real nature experience, look for nature trails in your area to “hike” with your littles this summer, too. With my own growing belly, I find that my energy isn’t quite high enough for a real hike, but a nature trail is just the right speed for our family. And you might be surprised at how much you end up seeing and how much fun your little ones has with the experience.

Keep things hands-on. Our son had his first year of pre-K this past year (only 3 half days a week, but it was a good routine and just the right educational start for him) and he learned a ton. I don’t want this learning to stop (especially with kindergarten on its way), but I don’t want to force it on him, either. So while I have some simple letter/number books to keep practicing his writing, I’m hoping to do some super simple art projects with him.
play quote
And, of course, our daughter (who’s 18 months going on 18 years and wants to do EVERYTHING her brother does) will also get in on the action. Whether it’s finger painting, coloring simple coloring pages with markers and crayons, or squishy clay, I hope to keep things loose but still educational.

My favorite way to keep the kids learning without the boredom is through zoos and museums. We have the perfect-sized zoo very close by, so we’ll be getting season tickets there. We already were gifted a generous family membership to an art museum, as well, and there’s a science museum less than an hour away that I took students to for a field trip. Needless to say, we’ll be heading there AT LEAST once this summer. Then throw in our usual trip to visit friends in Western Massachusetts and we’ll definitely be hitting up the Eric Carle Museum (if you haven’t been, it’s a MUST!).  

 


What are some ways that you incorporate some fun into your family’s summers? We’d love to hear more ideas!

 

 


Last year, I wrote about our tips and experiences with
cloth diapering on the road. With many of us planning road trips or vacations, I thought folks may appreciate a few more ideas for using cloth diapers while traveling – this time a combination of my own tips and those from readers who were kind enough to give us their own great advice.

Can you tell I can’t wait for vacation this year? 😉 I can’t be the only one.

First, I’ll add a few thoughts to my suggestions from last year.

Embrace the washer. We now find ourselves searching out vacation spots that allow us access to a washer, whether it’s a hotel that provides one or a rental property. Lately, we find that rental properties actually afford us lots more flexibility than a hotel (although the pool trade-off is sometimes worth it) thanks to a kitchen or kitchenette in addition to the diaper- and clothes-washing opportunities.

It’s so much easier when naptime rolls around or everyone’s reached their over-stimulated-by-crowds point to head back to our own personal space where we can feel more at home, put up our feet, and provide our own quick snack options or have the flexibility to wash our diapers. And you might be surprised that most renters don’t bat an eye when you ask whether they have hard or soft water (which helps you plan for washing methods).

Break your own routine. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow when it comes to vacations. You may have to completely change your wash or general cloth diapering routine – just go with the flow. Some people actually enjoy and embrace this aspect of travel most.

For example, if you’ll be camping, you may want to bring some rope to hang the diapers to dry and perhaps a bucket and plunger for a camp washer (using purified water and dumping waste water in a toilet facility or properly-spaced hole far enough from your camp and a clean water source). If this isn’t a break from normal thinking, I don’t know what is.

See this #ThirstiesLive about washing off the grid!

Oh, and by far a break in my own routine would be to rely on flats/FSTs – a suggestion from some readers but also several camping in cloth web sites – since they’re so forgiving when it comes to washing and weight concerns.  

Speaking of ideas from our readers, here are our favorites.


“I actually prefer to use disposable wipes so I don’t have to spray off poopy wipes along with the poopy diapers. My daughter is 17 months, so not EBF anymore. I wish her poop was still washing machine friendly!” – Mary

“I like using disposable liners when we travel.” – Sarah

 

“If you are staying with someone, ask before the trip about using their washer. Ask the make and model number. Be kind when borrowing a friend’s our family member’s machine, always bring your own detergent AND bring machine cleaner so you can clean their machine after. It isn’t gross to us but it may be gross to some people using a machine after washing cloth diapers.” – Heather

 

Awesome ideas, guys! We’d LOVE to hear if you have any additional ideas or tips that work well for you when it comes to traveling with cloth. And if not, let us know what your vacation plans will be this summer! I’ll be sharing my own family’s summer fun plans next week. 🙂

If you’ve been reading the Thirsties blog from time to time, you may remember when we had a family of one son, followed by two when our daughter, Harper, arrived in 2015. Well, as we all learned on Sesame Street, the next logical number to follow is three – and that’s just what we’ll have come the end of October.

I always knew that I might have three children one day. While I’m not a mathematical person, it always worked out in my mind: my husband is one of two boys, I’m the baby of four, so take the average; my parents were both from families of 5, so the fact that I was one of four kind of told my brain that THREE would be the perfect number.

Huh. Maybe I’m more of a mathematical person than I let on.

Anyhoo, regardless of my strange (no, really, you can judge me – it’s totally weird) mathematical logic, we were still in shock when the number sunk in.

WE’LL OFFICIALLY BE OUTNUMBERED.

I mean, we’ve had three cats as long as I can remember and, while they’re a handful, I’ve never for a minute worried that one wasn’t getting enough love and attention. God knows they all get enough of it all – and food, shelter, and sufficient toys.

But kids?!

Picturing my husband’s tiny Chevy Cruz. Yup. It’s time to turn that sucker in. But, what about my Kia Sportage? Would that be able to fit 3 car seats? Will our son be booster-sized by then? Before I searched for anything pregnancy related, I started Googling both smaller carseats and SUV/vans that will fit three car seats comfortably. I’m still trying to figure all that out.

Picturing a trip to the grocery store, I suddenly thought, “Huh. Can I DO that without my husband pushing an extra cart?” We’re lucky if we can find the cart that fits two kiddos safely.

Picturing even more in-depth family vacations. The lugging. The chasing. The constant surveying. I suddenly chastised myself for ever judging parents who dressed all their kids alike. “It all makes sense now,” I nodded to myself.

Picturing expenses…and college…and, darn, if it’s another boy who eats like our son, they’ll eat our HOUSE when they’re teenagers.

Sure, it was all overwhelming. But from nearly the very beginning, we knew that the hard work, sacrifices (I hate that word – they don’t feel like that when it’s for your KIDS, y’know?), and strange looks (apparently 3+ kids is an oddity these days…what?!) would all be worth it.

Picturing still: watching a tiny personality develop and add to our already crazy family. Finding out whether it’s a boy or girl. Seeing that our older son is THRILLED, even knowing what the experience is like this time around. Watching as the bonds of siblings are created (and sometimes challenged) by similar and dissimilar personality traits.

Picturing, every time we have one of those “sigh” moments (the sweet ones that take your breath away for a quick moment) like watching our two slow dance together or share nicely without being told to or beaming excitedly after missing each other for a few hours, that this will all happen again. I think that’s my favorite part.

And, not to get sappy, but knowing how amazing my husband is with our first two and that this little unit we’ve created is everything to him (just as it is to me)…I feel more relaxed, reassured, and like we’ve TOTALLY got this. Even when some days we TOTALLY don’t.  

So, we’ll be learning how to juggle. Now, if only Harper would sleep through the night.

I’d be happy to take ANY AND ALL advice from parents who have 3+ kiddos! Either how to make it through those crazy days or practical stuff like, seriously, HOW DO YOU HANDLE THREE CAR SEATS?!


I sat down to write the typical “Great Gifts for Mother’s Day” type of post when I realized that this is nearly impossible without listing, like, a hundred gift ideas. Much as I get frustrated when Father’s Day gift guides lead me into a world of sports paraphernalia, handmade fishing cards, and beer mugs (none of which really exemplify my husband), I’ve come to recognize that there are no two moms who are truly, 100% alike.

And that’s totally as it should be.  

There are moms who want to celebrate the day with their families all day long while others request alone time. Some crave a day off from cooking; others don’t identify as the “family cook” or simply don’t necessarily want the day off.

Some mothers love a gorgeous piece of jewelry to cherish and remember the special day by. Others put just as much stock in a handmade card with their child’s hand-scrawled name (the first example of their own name in their own writing!). Still others are fine with some beautiful flowers while others wish for something personal that shows how much their family knows, cares, and thinks about them.

While some mothers may request a shopping spree at Target (or a cloth diaper shopping spree online!), others don’t feel the need to request permission. (Side note: I’m totally both of these moms, somehow…? Weird.)

Just as there are 1,000 different ways to celebrate Mother’s Day (and, really, NONE of them wrong), there are probably 10x more “types” of moms in the world. Really, even those gift guides that try to peg moms into categories – “The Mom Who Just Found Out About Contouring,” “The Mom Who Likes Her ‘Programs’,” or “The Mom Who Loves Salad” (these are literally real categories I found – although I’m truly considering the salad cookbook for Father’s Day) – kind of fall flat.

As much as I see a general theme in my social media feeds between my mom friends (I’m talking about you, being-a-hot-mess/coffee/wine memes, Lularoe parties, and adorable newborn baby pictures…oh, and the occasional NKOTB throwback post), I know for a fact how different we all are as mothers. And, honestly, I love to see that diversity among us.

I know all of our varying degrees of crunchiness (from non-existent to, y’know, the folks who actually refer to themselves as “crunchy”); I know who the “sports moms” are; I know that every single one of us is sacrificing in some way for our littles (and do it silently and selflessly).

I know who cooks amazingly delicious meals for her family on a daily basis; I know who eats out almost every night. I know that most of us are trying to find a balance.

I know who is still agonizing about returning to work rather than staying home with her littles; I know the stay-at-home mom who is struggling with depression. I know that both are sometimes simply trying to feel like a human being again. I know that we all feel that way some days.

I know who had a natural home birth (I was in awe over the pictures); I know who had an epidural; I know who had several repeat C-sections and still feels guilt over them. I know that, in the end, we were all just concerned about a healthy start for our babes.  

I know who’s nursing a broken heart over a lost little one; I know who’s still nursing that heartache even though they’ve been blessed with a rainbow baby; I know who struggled for many years to conceive their beloved baby at all; I know my own guilt of having two healthy little ones in the midst of everyone else’s pain. I know that we all still have good days and bad despite our good and bad luck (or situations).

I know who’s super lax with the kids she still refers to as “babies” (no matter their age); I know who’s strict and old school; I know that we all have days when we run the disciplinary gamut of “my gosh, child, you’re amazing and I couldn’t possibly love anyone more” to “my gosh, I can’t believe I just spoke to you that way, I need to apologize – but so do you.”  

I know who somehow pulls herself AND the kiddos into impeccable fashion plates before leaving the house; I know who is on a constant dead run but still somehow gets the kids fed, dressed, and safely where they need to be (even if she lets her own appearance fall to the wayside sometimes). I know all the silent martyrs who came before, exist today, and will always be there for their children.          

But, most importantly, I know that as different as we all may be, our hearts are in the exact same place. As mothers, we put the care and love of our families as priority #1. Our hearts still ache when we see our children head independently successful into their next phase (whether it’s first steps or first days of school or first dates), even if it’s what we’re raising them to do. We still look at their growing height chart on the wall and remember the helpless little newborns we held yesterday (or at least it seems that way, doesn’t it?). We may go about our mothering tasks in completely different ways, but the end goal is the same.
So, this Mother’s Day, whether it’s time together or alone time, a homemade brunch or a dinner out, perfume or a handmade gift, a big luxurious gift or a new frying pan, I hope you know that you are truly and greatly appreciated. 

With spring comes thoughts of cleaning and freshening up. I’ve been chipping away at our spring cleaning slower than usual, but I think that’s mostly because we spent so much time working to get our old house on the market that our new one still looks, well, like we just moved in. Needless to say, I need to get my rear in gear.

So, I thought it’d be fun (if laundry can be deemed fun) to share a few of the most popular topics people ask about when keeping cloth diapers clean, as well as the one and only thing I do to “spring clean” my dipes.

– Once you figure out your routine, stick to it. Do what works best for your family, of course, but this Thirsties guide is printable (which is super helpful when a well-meaning relative decides to work on laundry while babysitting on a rare date night). Determine whether you have soft or hard water and once you find a routine that works for you, embrace it!

Unless you’re having issues (like leakage or ammonia smell), don’t mess with what’s working for you. And don’t jump to the stripping conclusion automatically, either – you may need to work out your water’s hardness, sizing, or other issues before doing a full strip (which is pretty harsh on cloth if it’s not necessary).

How I “spring clean” my diapers: Embrace the sunshine! On the first warm, sunny day that hits, I make sure to throw in a load of cloth (all of them, if possible, but particularly the ones with stains) to wash as usual. While still wet, I hang them out to get all the disinfecting and whitening benefits of that natural sunshine. (Now that we’re at a new house that doesn’t have an outside line, I bring my collapsible wood drying rack out and it works just as well. So, if you’re in my boat, it’s well worth investing in a drying rack!)

While a good hot wash will disinfect your dipes, the occasional session in the sun will magically “erase” any of those particularly stubborn stains and do an additional job of getting the nasties out. Make sure they’re wet, though, since the “magic” won’t work otherwise.

spring diapers

– Looking for a deeper clean? You’ve got natural options. While I haven’t used any of these ideas, you may be facing some additional issues that might make you want to try a deeper disinfection on your cloth. Here are some options (all approved and advised by the team at Thirsties):

Grapefruit Seed Extract – Tests have shown that GSE is dramatically more effective than Colloidal Silver, Iodine, Tea Tree Oil, and Clorox bleach against five common microorganisms. In studies performed by Dr. John Mainarich of Bio-Research Laboratories, samples of each of the common antimicrobials (or sanatizing agents) were evaluated for effectiveness against Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Streptococcus faecium, and E. coli. The other antimicrobials tested were considerably less than the GSE.

20 drops added to the first rinse cycle should do the trick.

Tea Tree Oil is another option that may be slightly less effective. Add 20 drops to the washer while filling, and make sure you’re using 100% Tea Tree Oil.

Vinegar is known to kill germs (although it doesn’t kill yeast and isn’t recommended for microfiber diapers as it will hold on to the smell). You can use 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle after a hot wash with detergent, then follow with a 25 minute high heat cycle in the dryer.

(Be careful because additives, chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach, pure soap, Borax, high heat in the dryer, and the sanitize/high heat cycles on HE machines can VOID your warranty.)

As always, if you ever have a question or concern about your wash routine, check out our Customer Center’s FAQ list and Cloth Diaper Care page.

In the meantime, let us know – have you ever sunned your diapers? How did it work for you?