5th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 7:  Final Thoughts

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Today is the very last day of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.

Starting Monday May 11th all participants (Almost 300 of them!) switched to only using flat cloth diapers and handwashing those diapers for 7 days.  They will continue to do so until their baby goes to bed tonight.  For our last blog post and link-up the topic is “How was this experience for you, what have you learned, and what will you do with your new knowledge?” This is a chance to reflect on this experience, offer hard earned lessons, and share our opinions on whether this is really an option for other families or if it just isn’t possible in a modern world.

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This year I both looked forward to and dreaded the challenge. I have loved the past challenges as I feel really good about getting out of my comfort zone and managing to accomplish what some people assume isn’t possible. This year was my first time diapering and hand washing two children and all that extra laundry piled up quickly with a baby who wants attention most of the day and a toddler to ensure there’s no such thing as a break. I found every soiled diaper caused me to sigh a little, knowing I’d need to find time to rinse it and wash my hands before getting back to the constant juggling act that is my life right now. However, after several days of washing I found that it was really not much more tedious than my usual routine. I still have to rinse soiled diapers. I still have to find time to get the diapers washed. It’s a difference of pushing a button compared to taking a little break from my world to make something happen, but it isn’t out of the question.

I do think if I continued to handwash over a longer period of time I would have to find new tricks to keep my girls entertained while I washed, but I also know how adaptable they are and believe once it became habit they would be more willing to play by themselves for a bit while I tackled the laundry.

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I found rain to be incredibly stressful. I don’t normally pay much attention to the weather, I work in the evenings and stay home with my kids during the day so rain is not much more than a hiccup in our outdoor play schedule. If I’m line drying my diapers to sun out stains and it starts to rain I simply pull the laundry down, toss it in the dryer with some wool balls and allow it to finish drying. This week I found myself stalking the weather report and avoiding laundry I NEEDED to do because there was a chance of rain a couple hours later. I know plenty of people dry their diapers inside, and with flats and covers this is certainly a viable option, just not one I was prepared for. When rain surprised me with freshly washed and still damp laundry, I draped it over furniture with the ceiling fan on high. Were it to happen again I’d probably scrounge up some clothes hangers or pulled out the drying rack I generally reserve for travel and heavy laundry days.

I think the key point I’m trying to get across here is that for me, while this challenge WAS especially hard, the issues I faced were mostly born out of inexperience and lack of forethought. Were I to continue handwashing over a longer period of time, my family and I would become better equipped to embrace the quirks of a handwashing routine.

I also love knowing I’m prepared and CAN do this without a doubt if the need arises. Whether it’s a broken washing machine, a cruise trip or other vacation lacking affordable laundry facilities, or a zombie apocalypse (C’mon, Judith, how many disposable diapers can we be expected to track down for you? And where are we supposed to put all the smelly trash when we’re laying low? Get with the program! Make cloth mainstream) I can trust I have everything I need to keep my babies clean and happy.

Thank you so much for your participation with the 5th Annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge. I feel so blessed that I was able to write about my experiences for you and connect with you all this way. Kim’s website is such an inspiration and I am eternally grateful to be a small part of it.

Did you join us?  Tell us what you learned in the comments or link up your blog below.


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  • Natasha Dahl

    What brand are the pattern flats on your daughter?

    • Lara

      Hi Natasha, sorry I just now saw your comment, the pictured flats are just cotton flour sack towels, patterned dish towels from a local discount store. I love patterned cloths like that for a simple quick diaper, I can layer a hemp blend or thicker flat under it if I need to but for playing in the yard it is perfect.

  • Heather

    What are the 2016 dates?