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Written by Mama Monday

Advice and insight from real moms on cloth diapering, green living, and natural parenting.

As a mother to four, I frequently get asked by expecting friends and family what they need to take care of baby on a daily basis. They want to know which items are my must haves and which they can live without. Because let’s face it, we’ve all encountered at least one baby item that we didn’t need or never used.

As a parent, I err on the overly planning and prepared side, and my diaper bag does too. So, what’s in my diaper bag?

Cloth Diaper Must Haves

Assuming that I am only gone for the day, I like to have 6 cloth diaper changes with me at all times. We love Thirsties Natural All In Ones when we are on the go. They are so simple to use, I don’t have to remember any extra parts or pieces and they fit perfectly in my wet bags.

And because we use them for absolutely everything, I actually have two wet bags in my diaper bag. One wet bag we use strictly for dirty diapers and the other I like to have on hand for potty accidents, big spills, dirty pants and pretty much anything else that happens on the go. There are literally hundreds of uses for wet bags, so I recommend always leaving the house with an extra.

Beyond diapers and wet bags, I like to have a container of Thirsties Booty Love for rashes and a bottle of Booty Luster for wipes. And if we’re being honest, I use Booty Luster for so many things in addition to wipes. Dirty hands and faces, scraped knees and spilled drinks in the car can all be helped with a few sprays of Booty Luster. I’ve even used it to clean our diaper bag (yes, really), so grab an extra bottle now before you forget.

The last cloth diaper accessories I pack are always my reusable Thirsties Organic Cotton Wipes. I pack these last for two reasons: one, I fill the extra space in my bag with as many as I can fit and two, I like to have them be the most easily accessible item in my bag. You can use these wipes for almost anything, so I like to have lots of them and be able to grab them quickly when needed. If you pack nothing else, pack these wipes!

Toddler Accessories

Now, if you have ever gone anywhere with a toddler, you know that you could pretty much pack everything but the kitchen sink and still be in need of six random things you never knew you needed. However, over the years I have gotten pretty good at assuming what can/will go wrong and exactly which tools I will need to handle the situation.

For example, in my diaper bag, I always keep an extra change of clothes for my toddler. Yes, we are potty trained, but she is at the age where it’s actually more about the spills and messes that occur than it is about potty accidents. And extra change of clothes gives us some room to breathe and just makes everything less stressful.

I also keep extra snacks (veggie pouches are an easy go-to) like some dates, cuties or almonds in a reusable bag. Fruit leather is also a great option as it takes up virtually no room and when in doubt, I throw in a container of granola too.

The extra wipes that we’ve already packed will mostly be used by the toddler, as well as the wipe spray and extra wet bag. I do like to pack her water bottle as well, so I can avoid the pleas for a Starbucks steamer halfway through our grocery trip.

Everyday Essentials

Here’s where it gets good. Every day essentials can be different for every family, but I think we have ours nailed down to a tee.

I always pack a small container of CJ’s BUTTer because Alaskan weather is so brutal that someone always has itchy, dry skin. And because we literally use CJ’s for everything, I pack a Quick Stick to use if we don’t want to get our hands messy.

Extra bandaids are a must, because there are just too many bumps and bruises to count. I also leave a phone charger in my bag at all times because I have had too many instances where it was needed. Finally, I consider hair ties for the toddler and an extra Cutie Pat for the baby our must never leave without items.

#Momrealness

I know that for a lot of moms, what we need is probably last on the list. However, there are certain things that travel in my diaper bag that are just for me.

For myself, I included extra tampons or my cup, a small bar of chocolate, a small bottle of Midol, a nail file and an extra $20 in cash. This is my emergency stash that battles the top three things that always seem to go wrong: I get my period unexpectedly, I rip a nail that will inevitably snag the baby and/or I need a little extra cash to grab a coffee and a cookie while everyone else is passed out in the car in peace.

Your emergency stash might look very different than mine. However, I do encourage you to make yourself this little stash and take care of yourself for a minute. You will be surprised how nice it feels when they DO fall asleep in the car and you remember that $20 you tucked away for coffee in the quiet.

#ThirstiesTip Wet bags are perfect to hold your mom emergency stash! I always keep mine packed and as long as I know my momma wet bag is in the diaper bag, I’m good to go!
Do you have other essentials you love in your diaper bag? Share your best tips with us in the comments! You can shop Thirsties cloth diapers at your local retailer or online with Thirsties. For other cloth diaper tips and tricks, you can visit Thirsties on Facebook or join the online community, Thirsties Groupies. And don’t forget to checkout Thirsties Instagram feed, @thirstiesinc.


It’s that time of year again! Earth Day is almost here, a new print, Endangered, has just been released and we are celebrating all things reusable, renewable and compostable. Thirsties has always been committed to the environment and reducing waste through cloth diapering. However, there are so many other ways you can you can reduce waste in your daily life.

Here’s our top five ways to reduce your carbon footprint today:

  1. Reduce Landfill Waste With Reusable Snack Bags
  2. Reduce Ocean Waste With Reusable Straws
  3. Reduce Pollution With Carpooling
  4. Reduce Landfill Waste With Compostable Poly Mailers
  5. Reduce Landfill Waste By Using Water Bottles/Thermoses Instead of Buying Bottled Water/Coffee

Reduce Landfill Waste With Reusable Snack Bags

Ditch the Ziplock and use reusable snack bags for your snacks, lunches and more. Many reusable snack bags can be washed in the washer or dishwasher and reduce landfill waste significantly. Here’s our favorite uses for reusable snack bags beyond your snacks and lunches:

  1. Mini first aid kits
  2. Storing computer/laptop/phone chargers and cords, keeping them organized
  3. Storing ink pads, stamp sets and other art supplies that would otherwise leave messes behind
  4. Mini momma kits with menstrual items, pain reliever, and chocolate
  5. Prepping snacks and lunches in advance to create a ‘grab and go’ section in the fridge

Reduce Ocean Waste With Reusable Straws

Reusable straws are all the new hype and for a good reason. Plastic straws increase ocean pollution, put animals in harm’s way and fill our landfills with trash. Plastic straws are even banned in some cities because of the damage they cause.

Reusable straws come in many varieties; silicone, stainless steal and bamboo. Take them with you to restaurants, parties and picnics or use them at home to eliminate waste.

Reduce Pollution With Carpooling

Who is up for a carpool? Carpooling is also socially economical. Not only will you be saving money, but you will also help reduce the costs we all pay towards the construction of new roads, road maintenance and air pollution related health care costs. Having fewer cars on the road means reduced Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and improved air quality as well.

Want to help even more? Encourage other parents and caregivers at your child’s school to participate in carpooling. Some PTAs and/or schools even offer incentive programs for carpoolers. Many highways have separate carpool lanes to reduce your drive time as well.

Reduce Landfill Waste With Compostable Poly Mailers

Are you shipping birthday or holiday gifts? Use compostable mailers like these from noissue to reduce landfill waste throughout the year. Compostable mailers decompose in just six months and are no more expensive than plastic based mailers.

Have you received a poly mailer or shipping materials in the mail? Cut the tops off and save these for future use. Not only will you be reducing landfill waste, but you can encourage your recipient to do the same!

Reduce Landfill and Ocean Waste By Using Water Bottles/Thermoses Instead of Buying Bottled Water/Coffee

This one might be the hardest for me personally, but can make such a big impact. Plastic bottles increase ocean and landfill pollution, can be swallowed by large ocean animals and/or can contaminate swimming areas and beaches.

Want to do your part? Bring a reusable water bottle to work instead of using disposable plastic bottles and carry your reusable coffee cup in the morning instead of stopping for a latte. Many coffee shops will even give you a discount if you bring in your reusable cup!

#Momrealness

I used to be the worst at using disposable utensils, plates and trays. I realized that doing the extra dishes was definitely not worth the waste that came with paper plates and plastic forks. Not only did we commit to reusable dishes, but we even found a love for reusable produce bags, grocery bags and obviously, cloth diapers.

Do you have other ways you ‘go green’? Share your best tips and tricks with us in the comments! You can shop Thirsties cloth diapers at your local retailer or online with Thirsties. For fun cloth diaper tips and tricks, you can visit Thirsties on Facebook or join the online community, Thirsties Groupies. And don’t forget to checkout Thirsties Instagram feed, @thirstiesinc.

frustrated woman dealing with stress

It’s been decided: 2019 is the year of self care. The year of making yourself a priority and truly finding time and intention in your life to take care of yourself. This is the year of spending time doing things that make you feel better about yourself, feel healthier both mentally and physically and help you to refocus and recharge.

But what does self care even look like and how can you implement it in your everyday life? Let’s take a look at ways we can implement self care in our daily wellness routine. It’s Wellness Wednesday!

Time

Sometimes, self care means just giving yourself time. Time to relax, recharge, accomplish something you’ve always wanted to or just take a bath. I think we are successful at creating time in our lives for others, but we don’t see making time for ourselves as a priority.

Why is that? Because many parents and caregivers don’t see themselves as a priority. In the midst of diaper rashes and spilled juice and crayon on the walls, your children and partner can often take priority over your own mental health and self care. In all honesty, it truly should be the opposite. If you don’t make time for yourself, time to take care of yourself, then you can’t possibly be at your fullest capacity to take care of others.

I think taking time for yourself should include doing something that can’t be undone. For example, the dishes will always need to be washed again, but a hot shower can turn your entire day around. I try to pick one thing that can’t be ‘undone’ a day and make time for it. Lately, it’s been putting my makeup on. But let’s be honest, a hot shower sounds even better.

But time can mean other things too. Finding the time to make that dentist appointment that you always seem to reschedule or the therapy appointment that inevitably gets cancelled can help keep you focused on self care too. I struggled to find time to take care of my mental and physical health for a long time and as I get older, I’m realizing that it’s just as important as anything else that I do for myself.

Activities

Self care might mean taking up a new activity that’s just for you. I don’t mean enrolling everyone in mommy and me swimming, I mean an activity or a hobby that is truly just yours. Sometimes in parenting, we forget that we are individuals too. Planned activities can help us intentionally make time for ourselves while also helping us to commit to taking that time.

Ok, that sounds a little impossible. But remember, taking time for yourself is just as important as making time for others. And it obviously doesn’t have to be everyday either. A yoga class once a week or a book club meeting once a month can give your body and mind a chance to relax and focus.

Some of my favorite self care activities are those that include friends as well. Wine tasting, coffee dates, or a joint workouts help me to feel more like I was able to spend intentional, meaningful time with friends as well as help myself recharge. It also helps us keep each other accountable for our self care, which is half the battle.

Feel Good Food

My husband is always shocked by this, but I routinely forget to eat. Taking care of our bodies can be a struggle for parents and caregivers. Mealtimes are hectic, there is already a mess everywhere and sometimes feeding both yourself and your littles means making two different meals, which just sounds overwhelming in itself.

Spending time nourishing our bodies is a form of self care and one of the best ways to replenish ourselves and refocus. I make sure to make one meal a week that is solely whatever I really want to eat. Sometimes, self care is just thinking about yourself in a way that is positive and nurtures your well being too. I think feel good food is a great way to thank your body for everything you have been able to accomplish that week.

And just like your favorite activities, feel good food can be shared with friends to make both your time spent on friendships and self care intentional. Spending intentional time enjoying a meal with friends is a form of self care for both your body and mind and, I think, one of the best ways to spend a Friday!

#Momrealness

As hard as I try, self care doesn’t happen for me everyday. Sometimes, no matter what I do, I just can’t fit it in between all the chaos of having four littles. Some days I am just flat out too tired and other days I just seem to run out of daylight. But I do think it’s important to continue to make self care a priority and think about all the different ways you can refocus your mind and body.

How do you self care? What do you do to refocus your energy? We’d love if you’d share with us in the comments!

Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, a work-at-home parent, or a parent who works outside the home, it can be difficult juggling all the responsibilities of daily life, your overall workload, and to find time for the fun stuff that your heart (and kids) thrive on.

As a working mom of three who also writes on the side, I’ve had tons of experience feeling overwhelmed and like I wasn’t juggling ANY of it sufficiently, let alone all of it. Today, I’m sharing some ways that I make it through the highs and lows (and I’d love if you could read to the end)!

finding balancing

Sometimes survival mode is all you need.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If we constantly feel like we’re juuuuust keeping our heads above water (and never get that side stuff that’s hounding us completed), that’s far from ideal. But when your family has been constantly on the go, super busy, and you (and the rest of the family) are feeling exhausted and rundown, that’s the time to go with the flow.

So, grab pizza for dinner. Skip bath night and do it tomorrow (unless it’s, y’know, ESSENTIAL). Watch a family movie or play a game. Make a family day by escaping to do your favorite local things (for us that would probably be hitting the farmers’ market, taking a quick road trip to sight see, and hitting up my parents’ house on the way back). And if you have kids at school, let them buy a lunch on an unexpected day. Whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries, do it…then get back to the business at hand when you feel renewed.

And if you still don’t feel even a bit renewed, seek help – from your partner, your friends, your family, or your doctor. Don’t brush it off.

Lists, lists, and more lists.

I’ve touted the miracle of lists before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Just the act of writing a list allows yourself to heave a sigh of relief and to rest soundly, knowing that at least your thoughts are organized and the likelihood of juggling all the balls is better for the next day.

I can’t count how many times I’ve found an old to-do list and I reread it casually to find that, “oh, I actually finished all this stuff!” Lists are a game changer, seriously.

Fill your own bucket.

You know how they tell passengers (especially parents, ahem) to put on their own oxygen mask in case of an emergency before tending to the others around you? We’ve all heard it, but how often do we actually live by this rule? It’s really not a bad idea.

While you can take this to mean self care with bubble baths and massages, it can also just mean finding balance in your service. Don’t just “serve” your family (I think that term feels weird but is still kind of appropriate) and work, but serve your own needs, as well.

What helps you get through the day? Is it a simple coffee (that makes you somehow feel luxurious)? Is it 15 minutes of quiet time before the craziness of the day begins? Is it the guilty pleasure of scrolling through a social media feed during your lunch hour? Is it making a healthy meal for yourself with intention? Do what you need to feel human in order to bolster yourself up; it will make you less apt to snap at your kids or feel quite so drained at the end of the day.

And TRY not to feel guilty over getting a sitter while you go on a date with your partner. I recently did this with the husband and while it was weird to find the flow in our conversation (without the interruption of kids every 10 seconds), it was wonderful to feel like a wife as well as a mama.

Don’t fall into complacency.

Like I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to get down in the dumps when it feels like life is on repeat, like Groundhog Day. But I have a couple of ways (aside from filling my own bucket) that I use to dig my way out of complacency.

Every day, no matter how busy it may be, I try to share a happy moment with the kids. Sure, it’s harder than others some days, but even a game of “what was good today?” at the dinner table or taking 5 minutes to play with the kiddos (or, in all honesty, even taking a simple moment like bath time or laundry folding to sit with one of them and talk about anything) can work. It also helps me to de-stress and forces me to be more intentional.

Another thing that works is to do just one chore. Ugh. But even one small chore is better than none and gets you closer to being done. So, while I’m still behind in my spring cleaning, each of my kids’ rooms got cleaned (bookshelves and toy purges notwithstanding) this weekend and I’ve got enough momentum to do my own room after work this week. The benefits of momentum can’t be understated.

Know that someone always has it worse.

This is pretty much my life philosophy. As a person who tried hard not to be a victim after my father died when I was small, I learned that a lot of people are suffering. While we all experience lows (very low lows, some of us), we should remember that someone always has it worse.

So, on those days that things go laughably wrong, I DO allow myself a laugh at the ridiculousness of it all…and remember that someone has it far worse.

Hug your kids every day and every night and hope (or pray, if you’re religious) that your troubles remain only so simple that you can still do that simple act – a hug and a kiss for your kids – since that’s the only thing that matters in this life, anyway.

Know when it’s time to lighten your load or change your focus.

Sometimes we parents have the tendency to just keep going and going, enduring a crazy level of stress (particularly with newborns) just because we think we must. Kids, home, work, hobbies (if there’s time), etc.

We find ourselves getting jealous of the sitter or grandparent who gets to snuggle with your little one while you’re at work. Or shaking your head while wiping away tears when you realize that your little ballerina grew up in what feels like the blink of an eye. There are countless moments that open our eyes to how fleeting the moments of childhood, the moments of neediness really are.

We really only have 18 years with them. Sure, our relationships don’t go away after that time goes by, but the requests for advice, the ability to hang out, the day-to-day sharing of personal lives disappears, as maybe it should. But it makes those little years all the sweeter.

So, that being said, I’ll mention my own connection to writing this list. I’ve decided to step back from writing my “Written by Mama Monday” posts here with Thirsties. I cherish the opportunity I’ve had to share my family, thoughts, and experiences here with you all. I will greatly miss the love and support, not only from the amazing mamas who share in the comments but from the Thirsties team as a whole – they are some of the best people I’ve ever “met” virtually and I honestly can’t say enough good about them. I’m biased, but when you buy a Thirsties diaper, know that there is pure love, care, and joy behind the creation of that product. Second to none.

I can never fully say “goodbye” to writing (I’m a school librarian by day and a writer by nature), so I hope to focus my attention to my own blog a little more again as well as picking up the odd writing job here and there, but the ultimate point of saying goodbye is to bask in the joy of my almost 6-year-old son, my two-naged daughter, and my almost 7-month-old daughter. I’m looking forward to summer vacation, day trips, picnics, movie nights…and reclaiming our weekends a bit! 😉

As a punctuation mark to this point, realize that it’s okay to say “no thanks” or step back from responsibilities (no matter how positive they may be) if you realize that your juggling act is getting too unwieldy. There may be sorrow or guilt in saying goodbye (I write this with tears running down my cheeks), but if you make the decision with your children in mind, it’s rare that you will regret it.

I wish you all the absolute best in your lives and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight – as amazing parents, as cloth diaper advocates, as all-around good people.

Oh, and feel free to share what struggle you’re currently facing in the comments! Maybe we can help you or we can come up with an action plan to get through it. You’re never, ever alone.

finding balance rocks

Now that spring has FINALLY come to stay (I’m looking at you, snow…no amount of embracing hygge has made your extended stay acceptable this year), I’m hoping to get out to local and regional spots to enjoy the outdoors with my family on a different level. This can be challenging juggling the energy of a 5 1/2-year-old, the “independence” of a 2 1/2-year-old, and the needs of a 6-month-old. (The trick to do ANYTHING with all three is to babywear our youngest.)

So, I’m hoping that the list I’ve compiled for our family might give you some ideas to get back out and about after being cooped up all winter long…

 

springtime activities for families

Find your local trails.

Of course, some trails aren’t the safest for families, but if you hunt for nature trails or even parks near you, you might be surprised.

For example, in our neck of the woods, we have the Adirondack Mountains within an hour or so, so we can check out the sites that detail short beginner’s paths. However, there are even far simpler, paved trails near the Erie Canal or by many local parks and playgrounds.

One of our favorite nature trails is actually located on a local college campus. Several of our colleges have nature trails that are free and open to the public, and the PERFECT opportunity for little ones to discover nature and get some energy out.

Hands-on museums.

Whether science/STEM, history, art, or good old-fashioned children’s museums, a lot of museums actually offer a fun opportunity to take in some scenery and make a day of it.

Within an hour’s drive in any direction, we have a science museum, a “farmers’ museum” (which is a mostly-outdoor living history experience with a fun farm tie-in), several art museums that house a broad range of artists and styles (and, often, a drawing opportunity for the kiddos), and even a close-by children’s museum.

And if a museum isn’t enough outdoor activity (it varies from place to place), I’d also suggest bringing a picnic lunch along to bring the conversation outside afterwards.

Farmers’ markets.

I’ve been itching at the chance to get back to the market. It’s not that we don’t have a winter market (we do), but with the cold weather, the crops are limited to root veg (and, honestly, anything that’s shipped in…which is disappointing).

Nope, it’s time to buy pints of berries that the kids down before we even get to the car and plan meals around the fresh ingredients. We know a good number of the farmers so it’s like seeing old friends again. It feels like everyone is coming out of hibernation so grabbing a fresh-squeezed lemonade and sack of produce in the warm sun is beyond refreshing.

Zoos.

This one can be a hot button topic, and I understand why. A general view of zoos as entrapment of wild animals is incredibly valid.

I’m lucky to say that while our local zoo is small, it’s dedicated to its impact on the world; namely, their animals are rehabbing creatures. So, make sure that you research the zoo before you go if its stewardship matters to you.

Parks and playgrounds.

This is a simple, obvious one, but for our kids, the first slightly-chilly, super muddy trip to a playground marks the start of the spring/summer season. It’s a must-do.

But, for fun, try to check out as many local parks as possible. Keep track of your favorite elements (whether it has a soft landing, if it was for big kids or little ones, the number of activities, if there was a splash pad nearby, etc) so that you can even pick a new favorite for the year. Our family is on the hunt for our new fave!

The beach.

If you’re lucky enough to have “summer weather in springtime”, this is an obvious one.

At our house, since we still aren’t safe to plant our gardens yet, I’m indulging instead by researching our summer vacation. While not everyone is a beach person in our family (I’m usually one of those “can we go to a historical site?” people but feel the need to stick my feet in some sand once a year), it seems that it’s a general consensus this year. Sometimes planning the vacation is just as therapeutic as going!

Just get in the yard!

Ha. This one is a chore veiled in play, but it counts in my book. Have the littles collect sticks and pine cones; the older ones can dig up your garden to prep for planting.

You can even turn it a tad more fun by allowing the kids to dig for worms or simply play and discover while you try to get things spring ready! Plus, you could also have a picnic or barbecue, fire pit (if your area’s not too dry!), or a backyard movie night to kick the season off right.

Find what makes your area unique.

Every area is special. Ask your local friends on social media to respond with their favorite kid-friendly outdoor activities and revisit the list often throughout the summer. This provides everyone with a fun resource, as well.

 

spring family activities

And while we’re at it, why don’t you chime in down in the comments with your favorite outdoor activity to do with your family? We’d love to hear and have you share your family’s ideas!