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Written by Mama Monday

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

Happy 2018, everybody!

The word “resolution” has gotten a bad rap lately. This year it seems that people are either fiercely against making a new year’s resolution or passionately jumping headlong into their lofty goal for 2018; not much wiggle room. While I set some meaningful intentions for the year, I felt too much negative pressure to set one in particular.

What did get me excited was the idea of creating a resolution with our family in mind. This time of year, I think to lift my mindset up from the downer of saying goodbye to the holidays, so looking forward to what this year can bring for us as a whole family is actually fun.

Here are the things I take into account when making a family resolution:

Think about what your family needs more (or less) of. Have you gotten into a rut, only leaving the house for necessities? Have you gotten into eating too much junk? Do you get outside frequently? Are you itching to share more of the world with your kids? This will probably be a pretty quick and obvious thing for you and your family to figure out.

If possible, don’t do it alone. Depending on the age of your child, get them involved in the process (which is obviously irrelevant if you’ve just got a little baby at home). Either way, if you have a partner, pick their brain so that you’re not doing a resolution that only feels right for you.

Whatever you resolve, make sure it’s fun! If you want your family to eat better, don’t be as strict as you might be on yourself; try saying you’ll try a new recipe or food once a week and have your family help pick some to try. If you want everyone to get more exercise, try playing outside or going for walks. If you want to travel more, make sure there are a good mix of kid-friendly spots mixed in for good measure.

Keep it simple. Adult resolutions sometimes get complicated in their explanations. For example, I was watching a show recently where one of the hosts was describing her resolution and it took several minutes before you could figure out what she was resolving to do. Whether for kids or adults, it’s best to keep these things simple and cut-and-dry.

Don’t forget to include a “how.” It doesn’t need to be part of the resolution itself, but discuss ways to achieve the goal.

Post it somewhere in your house. A piece of art that reflects the change? Written on a dry erase board on the fridge? Scrolled on a chalkboard in the playroom? Anything goes, but seeing it will be a good reminder to stick to it.
If you’re not sure where to get started, here are some sample Family Resolutions:

– Spend more time outdoors.
– Take more road trips.
– Start a family game night.
– Eat one vegetarian dinner a week.
– Go camping more.
– Go to the library once a week.
– Get out of the house once a day.
– Start doing family yoga.
– Start a class together. (Kindermusik, swimming, dance, art, etc.)
– Learn something new together. (How to knit or sew, play piano, learn how to ski or play tennis, etc.)
– Have a weekly movie night.

My family goal is to get outside more together. When things are a bit (or A LOT) warmer, I’m hoping to start slowly with just walks and nature exploration in the backyard, but to work up to hikes and nature walks. Another goal within this goal is that anytime we have a road trip this year to be sure to add one stop for fresh air – whether a park, playground, beach, or camping.


Have you created a Family Resolution this year? If so, we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

“The more things change, the more things stay the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Motherhood is hard. There, I said it. Not only is the actual act of caring for and raising tiny humans difficult on so many levels, but there’s the criticism that comes with it. We deal with enough Mom Guilt (the guilt and criticism we thrust upon ourselves), but even more challenging is the nit-picking from the rest of society. Whether social media, the folks at the grocery store, or our very own relatives, opinions fly from every which direction.

I recently realized that we sometimes unknowingly criticize each other for a particularly ridiculous reason: the size of our broods.

It’s as if a parent with only one child isn’t the same ilk as one with two, and a parent with two has it “easy” compared to a parent of three, and so on and so on. And haven’t we all heard “just you wait!” from a parent with teens when we complain about a tough time with a two-year-old? On the same token, people with multiple kids are called crazy for wanting a wonderfully large family.

We all know that it’s not a competition. No one wants to intentionally make another person feel inadequate or less intelligent. But, it can hurt other parents to their core – and when adding in additional differences like a child with a developmental disability or a family made through adoption or miscarriages/the death of a child or any number of other challenges to face, these comments can be downright devastating.

So, as we greet another new year, I thought I’d point out some of the similarities – the common threads – that we all share as parents (of one or more), and encourage everyone to help hold each other up in 2018.

 

WE ALL TRY OUR BEST – While I’m sure we’ve raised an eyebrow at someone who makes a decision for their child that we might not agree on, we can all pretty much say that nobody makes a decision with the intent to harm a child. In other words, 99% of parents are doing the best they can for their children, right? Sure, the number of kids you have may change your parenting style or decision making, but just as each child is an individual, we’re all doing our personal best job.

 

WE ALL MAKE MISTAKES – As much as we all try our best, it’s inevitable that we’ll mess up. Sometimes we’ll admit it to our child and apologize (if we, say, lost our cool or misunderstood or yelled); other times we’ll beat ourselves up and vow not to let it happen again. Regardless of what the mistake is, the fact is that parenting has a steep learning curve – but it’s called a learning curve, nonetheless. It’s like taking classes everyday for 18+ years (okay, a lifetime) without a book or grades but with much greater consequences. We should allow ourselves the fails, as long as no one is seriously hurt, emotionally or physically.

 

WE ALL GET REPLENISHED BY THE SIMPLE, MAGICAL MOMENTS – For all those mistakes or exhausted mishaps, there are those moments – sometimes once-in-a-lifetime, sometimes common – that help lift us up and fill our hearts. The first step, the first time a child says “mama” or “dada”, the first sentence he read on his own. Even small things, like a new sideways glance that cracks you up or a sweet hug and “I love you, Mama” after a rough day can fill your bucket. And we all so badly need those moments.

 

WE ALL GET OVERWHELMED – Whether from exhaustion or dealing with temper tantrums and miscommunication, everyday stresses can wear us down and, when repeated day over day seem insurmountable. Googling the heck out of an issue can only make it worse and sometimes it feels like a high wire act without a net. One kid or six kids, the overwhelm is real and valid.

 

WE ALL GET EMBARRASSED – As adults, we have a general understanding of appropriate public behavior, right! Well, most of us do. Kids are an entirely different animal. Questioning a woman on her upper lip hair. Asking loudly about the tampons in the shopping cart. Or simply having a gigantic, very public meltdown. It’s all embarrassing…and we’ve all been there.

 

WE ALL END THE DAY TOTALLY WIPED – I’m not sure many of us sit down after the kids are down for the night feeling completely refreshed and ready to attack the to-do list. Sure, we may do some chores or watch a show (okay, fall asleep to a show), but it doesn’t mean we’re not exhausted. It means that we want to feel like we got something, anything done aside from mere survival.

 

WE ALL CRY – Even the toughest of us has a moment when we feel the tears coming. Maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s the exhaustion, maybe it’s the piling up of responsibilities…or maybe it’s one of those proud, joy-filled moments mentioned above. No matter the reason, it happens.

 

WE ALL LAUGH (SOMETIMES IRONICALLY) – Along with the tears, we all get some giggles out of this crazy gig. Kids can be funny as they discover language, appropriateness, and generally the world around them. So, we sometimes laugh along with them…and, at other times, when the craziness has passed the point of anger and headed straight into crazy town.

 

WE ALL DEAL WITH GROCERY STORE MELTDOWNS – Let me take a moment to specifically give a shout out to the parents at the grocery store. The place itself is a strange microcosm of society, with unspoken rules (and people who unapologetically break them…I’m looking at you, aisle hoggers)…and parents wearing guilt, frustration and exhaustion upon their faces. The necessary stress of keeping the family fed is the only thing that could possibly get us to drag kids – equally unhappy to be there – into this war zone.

 

WE ARE ALL AMAZING…BUT DON’T RECOGNIZE IT – For all the stresses, tears, and meltdowns, we ROCK. The fact that we’re often on autopilot means that we hardly take the time to pat ourselves on the backs after handling a boo-boo, stirring the sauce before it burns, and diffusing a near-meltdown all at the same time and without a second thought. The kids don’t notice it and we often don’t, either.

 

There’s no such thing as a perfect child, a perfect parent, or a perfect family – just what works for you and your unique situation. Parenting is parenting, one child or twenty, and at its heart is ultimately love.

We hope that your new year is filled with all the love, grace, laughter, and joy that you need to help keep you going on your parenting journey. All the best to you and your family, no matter its size!

Basics of Newborn Cloth

For some, it’s a tough decision to figure out if is worth it to cloth diaper your newborn child. There are lots of pros and cons to consider, for sure. Is it more financially viable to do disposables or cloth diapers? Will I need to get a set of cloth diapers just for tiny newborn legs in addition to one for when she grows a bit? And one of the very most often asked questions: how many diapers will I need??

Today, we’re sharing some great information from a recent #ThirstiesLive that will help in your decision-making.

So, how is cloth diapering a newborn different from diapering an older baby?

If you’ve cloth diapered an older baby or are just looking into cloth diapering, odds are you’ve been doing some research. But, while a lot of the information out there about cloth diapering is relevant to all ages, there are some facts that will help you understand a bit more about the differences in cloth diapering a newborn.

For example, there’s sizing to consider. One-size diapers typically don’t fit well until a baby reaches the 10 pound mark. Along these lines, with how skinny a newborn’s legs generally are, you’ll probably need to pull the wings of the diaper up to baby’s waist to get rid of any leg gaps. Also, it’s important to remember to allow room for baby’s umbilical cord to heal.

Then there’s the number of diaper changes you can expect. Since newborns go to the bathroom quite frequently, some consider cloth diapers a big plus – it means that there won’t be any middle of the night runs to the store for diapers when you unexpectedly run out. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, your newborn’s poo is considered water soluble so there’s no need to worry about spraying newborn cloth before tossing it in the wash.

Speaking of poo, newborns are notoriously runny in this department, so many can expect blowouts…except in cloth! (Of course, if you’re still figuring out how to fit the diapers, you may have some leaks, but once it’s figured out this shouldn’t be an issue.) You may never have to experience one of those up-the-back poop explosions. A good tip is to consider prefolds that you can fasten since the jelly roll fold is GREAT paired with Thirsties’ amazing double gussets (or the awesome AIO leg elastics if you’re considering these) are all great at containing newborn poo.

 

What will you need to cloth diaper your newborn? (Washing every other day)

Since, as mentioned above, newborns eliminate A LOT, you’ll want enough diapers for at least 24 changes and two wet bags (or a combination wet bag and pail liner) for storing your cloth diaper laundry. Here’s what this may look like:

Covers + Absorbent Interior: 8 Covers + 24 Prefolds or Stay-Dry Duo Inserts
All-in-Ones: 24 AIOs
Covers for Day/AIO at Night: 5 Covers + 15 Prefolds + 9 AIOs

Is a newborn stash worth the investment?

Budget is hugely important when welcoming a new baby, and it’s also important to consider both the investment of money but also time and energy. As with many parenting decisions you’ll make, this is totally about personal preference.

When it comes to the investment of money, if you plan on using your diapers on more than one child or you hope to resell your newborn stash, a newborn set of cloth diapers is worth the cost. Here are a few financial scenarios:

    • Stash of 8 Duo Wraps + 24 inserts + 1 Wet Bag + Pail Liner = $306.50
    • 24 Newborn All in One + 1 Wet Bag + 1 Pail Liner = $404.50
    • Two months of “green” newborn diapers, figuring 10 diapers a day will cost $215 and there is no resale value or potential for using on a second kid.

When considering your investment of time and energy, many focus on the extra laundry, but if it becomes a part of your routine it really isn’t as scary or hard as you might expect. It may even sound weird, but many people find that stuffing diapers or folding their cloth is actually kind of a “zen” experience. Also consider that cloth diapering simply WORKS. There are little to no blowouts.

Of course, it’s important to remember your reasons for cloth diapering overall. You don’t have to worry about what is touching your baby’s skin, you can feel good about making a green choice, and you’re ultimately saving money in the long run over using disposables.

As we’ve mentioned here on this blog before, remember that cloth diapering doesn’t have to be all or nothing, either! I, myself, am a part-time cloth user and can still count myself proud knowing that every time I put a cloth diaper on my daughter’s bum, it’s one less disposable diaper that a) I have to buy and b) will end up in the landfill.

 

Are you a successful newborn cloth diaper parent? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Was it easier or harder than you expected?

Maybe it’s the colder weather. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on maternity leave and feeling a bit isolated. Maybe I’ve finally finished my slow transition into an introvert. But, I find myself really, really enjoying celebrating the holiday season close to home.

Just in case you’re feeling similarly, or just want to slow down your pace with some more low-key, easy ways to have some Christmas fun this month, I’m sharing some ways to do just that. Pajamas optional!

Make some cookies! When we ask our 5-year-old what his favorite part of the holiday season is, he immediately answers “making gingerbread cookies with Mommy!” (followed by “and spending time with all my family members.”) And y’know what? When I look back to my childhood, baking and decorating cut-out cookies with my mom is the first thing that pops into my head.

It’s such a simple task (well, in theory) that creates memories. And the cool thing is that no matter how you do it, your kids will love the experience. So, whether you use your grandmother’s intricate recipe or you buy some pre-made dough (or mix some up on your own in advance, then have your little one cut out and decorate them), it’ll still be special. Oh, and yummy!

Let the kids stay up and watch a “special.” My husband and I have bought or downloaded TONS of holiday “specials” (ones we remember from childhood, generally). So, while we’ve watched the Grinch a dozen times already, there’s something so special about seeing it “live” on TV.

Two words: homemade cocoa. If your kids only like the powdered stuff, go ahead and make that, but there’s something extra special about making your own – and it’s not much more difficult! I don’t measure, so it’s some glugs of whole milk (I think almond or coconut milk would work if there’s an intolerance in your family) into a pot and simmer on medium-low until steaming. Then, I whisk in several teaspoons of cocoa powder, sugar (or maple syrup for a more natural sweetener), and a touch of vanilla. You can experiment with different types of chocolate (I’m pretty sure melted chocolate chips or a high-quality chocolate bar would be incredible), adding spices like cinnamon or cayenne powder, or even some high-quality, consumable peppermint essential oil.

Toss some marshmallows or homemade whipped cream on top and you’re good!

Make a super-simple craft. Our son is finally WAY more into crafting now that he’s in school, so he kind of does this independently. Whether it’s basic construction paper chains, decorating a cut-out tree with stickers and baubles, or something more complicated, it’s more about spending the time together.

Oh, and be sure to join in on the fun yourself. It’s fun to step away from the chores and get your hands dirty in a fun way, and the kids tend to love seeing what their parents come up with (beautiful or…not).


Read holiday books. Whether you have to hit up the library or have your own plentiful supply of Christmas stories, make it a nightly event! Many of the stories
Write Santa a letter or draw him a picture. We already wrote our letter to Santa (because goodness knows the closer we get to the “big day”, more items will be added to the wishlist…and Santa’s not a fan of last-minute additions), but a letter for any of those questions your little ones may have or a nice little “thank you” note to leave with his milk and cookies is a fun way to focus all of that excited energy at this time of year.

Check out the lights! This one entails leaving the house but a) you can do it in your PJs with very little fuss and b) there’s nothing like the first year your child is old enough to actually notice a big display and you hear a huge “WOW!!!” from the backseat.

Even with a newborn in tow, we’ll be packing up the car to do this soon!
Make any activity a holiday activity. Whether we’re sitting at the dinner table or watching one of the kids’ favorite shows on PBS, there are ways to put a bit of extra cheer into the activity. We have the tree a-glowin’ pretty much every hour of the day, light our gas fireplace when we start to feel a chill, and light a Christmas candle (or diffuse some festive essential oils) every chance we get.

Add cocoa (homemade or not) and some Christmas PJs to any game, movie, or playtime, and you’re golden. Oh, and I can’t emphasize enough: Pandora, Spotify or the good, old-fashioned radio can set the mood better than anything and will put everyone in the house in the Christmas spirit.

 

And that’s it! What close-to-home holiday fun does your family enjoy? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

As we mull our options for diapering our third newborn – either part-time cloth diapering as we’ve done with our second child, or attempting to give it a 100% go (the decision involves getting a wonderful-but-overworked grandmother on board) – my mind goes to the following question: “When IS the ‘right time’ to start cloth diapering?”

As with all things parenting, there are a million opinions about everything under the sun. And, so, the longer that one parents, the more we usually learn that there really is only one (or two) opinions that matter – the child’s parents.

Sure, we can get advice from our own parents and family members. We can seek out the opinions of doctors. We can chat with our friends with kids. But, in the end, the ones who make the decisions to either do something or not, to put something off or do it sooner are you (and your significant other, if there’s one in the picture). That’s it.

And, most of the time (as long as it’s not life-and-death), it really doesn’t matter in the long-term.

So, when it comes to cloth diapering, the ultimate answer as to WHEN you should start?

WHENEVER YOU WANT. Your baby, your choice.

If you want to start while you’re in the hospital with your newborn, do it!

If you want to wait for your child’s poops to be a little less frequent, go ahead.

If you want to wait for when your child’s sleeping better through the night or has become successful at breastfeeding (since you just can’t handle putting anymore brain cells into figuring out one. More. Darn. Thing.), don’t doubt yourself and do what’s best for BOTH of you!

If you’ve got a lot going on (a big move, a big life change, a new job, etc) and just want to wait until things settle, there’s no shame in it.

If your child is 14 months old and you just discovered that cloth diapers exist, it’s not too late! Give them a try!

All that said, it’s also important to remember that there is NO reason to be ashamed for cloth diapering part-time. (I seriously suggest that you read my old post about it; hopefully it’ll ease any of the stress or guilt if you’re a part-timer.) It’s actually a great way to stick your toe into the water of CDs. You may realize that, before too long, the water’s fine (it’s easier than you expected) and you want to do a cannonball right into the cloth diapering lake.

Because many parenting trends and choices have very vocal, passionate advocates, it can be intimidating to start for fear that it won’t work out or there seems to be a huge learning curve. I think a lot of moms can nod aggressively over that statement alone. But, honestly, life is as easy or as complicated as you want to make it.

With cloth, this means that you don’t HAVE to know everything about it in order to give it a try. Don’t overwhelm yourself with hours of research (although it’s sometimes fun to get lost in the bloggers’ and YouTubers’ opinions and experiences). Just look up the basics – the different styles of cloth and what materials/style would work best for your needs (particularly when it comes to laundering, financials, and ease of use). Then, decide which is best for you and give those a go. If they don’t work, you can resell them and try others, but also know that you can troubleshoot as you go along.

You don’t have to memorize all the information you find, and you don’t need to become a superfan on Day 1. Don’t worry about the names of all the prints and colors; I’ve learned my favorites, but there are others that I’m like, “Grab me a blue…not the plain blue but the green-ish one.” And that’s okay.

And always remember that none of us were born knowing ANY of this stuff (or anything at all, really – I always remind my students of this when they’re nervous to ask a question), so there’s no shame in contacting Thirsties support or our Facebook page if you’d like help solving a cloth-related issue.

 

So, we’d love to hear from you! If you’re already cloth diapering, at what point did you start? Day 1? If you haven’t started yet, do you have a plan for when you will? Share your thoughts in the comments below!