I finally did it. I took the plunge. I signed up for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge!
If you aren’t familiar with the challenge, you should click on the link above, but the idea is pretty simple. For seven days, can you use only flat diapers, wash them by hand and line dry them? I participated last year, with two in cloth, and believe me, the “challenge” part of that name is appropriate! It’s not easy.
So why would anyone do it? Last year I was horrified to read news stories detailing the fact that struggling parents often made desperate decisions trying to stretch out their disposable diaper purchases. Leaving babies in wet or poopy diapers for hours extra because they knew they only had a certain amount of diapers left… Some even confessed to trying to rinse out and air dry soiled diapers to re-use. I felt sick to my stomach. Those poor babies. And the poor parents who felt like they had no other choice. Currently there are no government programs that help with the cost of diapers, and even if you buy the cheapest diapers possible (which often work so poorly that it feels like there is no point in buying them), the dollars can quickly add up. For families struggling to buy daily necessities, this can put them in a dangerous situation.
Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry had the idea for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge as a response to this problem. Could we show these struggling parents that if they can’t afford disposable diapers, they have other options? Even if they don’t have a washer and dryer?
Last year was an eye-opening experience. My washer and dryer looked so stinkin’ beautiful at the end of that week! I saw that this wasn’t an easy solution, by any means. Handwashing was hard. But it was doable. As I went through the week, it got easier. I learned better techniques for washing, not only from my own experience, but also through the support and information shared by others going through the challenge. We’ve really forgotten some skills with all our modern conveniences!
This year I hope to learn even more about ways to make handwashing easier and more effective, so I can share that information with others. I also hope that by participating in the challenge and blogging about it, I can bring awareness to this option for families struggling to get by.
To that end, I’ll be sharing lots of posts with you during the week. I’ll share pictures of my washing and drying set up, fun flat folds I’m trying out, and probably a fair amount of exhaustion too! It’s also going to be interesting that the first two days of the challenge I’ll be out of town visiting family!