6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 1: Why Are You Taking The Challenge?

Flats Challenge Washer

Hi everyone, I’m so excited for the first day of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge.  Our first topic we always begin with is “Why?”  This is of course the question everyone asks if you tell them your plans for this event.  WHY?  Well, Lara is here to tell you why she participates every year and at the bottom of this post is your chance to either add a link to your own post about why or explore the posts of other bloggers.  My children are long out of diapers but it’s so inspiring to see this event live on through others.  I’m so thrilled Lara is posting her experience for DDL this week.  Fair warning, her post gave me a good cry this morning.  Good luck this week!  -Kim Rosas, Founder of the Flats and Handwashing Challenge 

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On our first day of the 6th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge our topic of discussion is “Why are you taking the challenge?” This is my FOURTH year taking the challenge, and while my motives haven’t really changed, I’ve found that each year I still get truly excited and each year I learn something new.  If you are new to the event and not sure what it is please read this post about it. 

flats challenge through the years

My first year of taking the challenge I limited myself to handwashing in the sink as a way to prove to myself I would be able to cloth diaper my baby even while on vacations that limit my options like on a cruise or staying in a motel. I wanted to know that even without any tools beyond my simple rubber gloves, some running water, and a small amount of detergent, I could effectively use cloth diapers without derailing my daily routine.

My second year of taking the challenge I really did go on the road, as I hand washed cloth diapers during a week long camping trip, oh and PS I was secretly pregnant! Morning sickness and handwashing was not the easiest thing in the world but it was my mind more than my stomach that held me back. Once I got past my hesitation and got started it really wasn’t a big deal and became a peaceful routine I could almost look forward to.

My third year taking the challenge was the toughest yet, with two demanding baby girls to keep clean and happy, and a small mountain of diapers to wash. We had put off potty training Harper fearing after her sister was born she might regress or I might not be able to help her with the toilet during my round-the-clock nursing sessions, so I had a toddler and a six month old to clean up after. That was on top of my pay-the-bills job and all the daily chores and errands that called to me. I found myself washing diapers daily and sometimes twice in one day, and that was with the larger than usual stash I’d set up. But once I got the hang of it and felt more confident about how many diapers the girls could go through in a day and what the weather report suggested regarding rain on my drying laundry, I felt much better.

Like anything unfamiliar, hand washing gets easier the more you practice. I’m taking this challenge because I truly believe cloth diapers are the best possible choice for my family. They save us money, they are better for the environment, and they are better for my babies’ sensitive skin. I believe cloth diapers can improve the quality of life for many other families, too. Even if they don’t have a washing machine. Even if they travel a lot. Work a lot. Don’t work at all. Even if they live in temporary housing. Or on a boat. Or in a tree. As long as they have access to clean water and are interested in using a little elbow grease to save some money and do something for their family, I think cloth diapers are a better solution.

I remember reading a book in elementary school, titled “The Babysitter’s Handbook”. It explained diapering in detail, with fold techniques and proper care, and a small post script mentioned some families may keep disposable diapers specifically for the babysitter to use, and the author went on to point out that they are convenient but expensive and should not be wasted. It’s possible that this early introduction to the concept of cloth diapering from a caregiver’s perspective helped influence my stance, but I’ve never regretted my decision.

Flats Challenge Washer

The flats and handwashing challenge is a wonderful way to remind ourselves that just about anyone can cloth diaper, if they want to. The community comes together to share stories and offer advice, inspire, commiserate, and laugh. I’ve made so many friends in the cloth diaper world, and you are all so amazing. You remind me of the kids in high school I always wanted to sit with. But you’re not the Mean Girls insisting I use only the most posh or trendy brand, you’re the slightly offbeat but charming group inviting me to come sit down no matter how awkward I am or shy. The handwashing challenge is an extension of that open invitation, because ANYONE can do it. Don’t believe me? Read up. Join the conversation. Ask questions. Give it a try. We’re here for you.

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Bloggers and participants don’t forget to use your #flatschallenge hashtag on social media so we can all follow along!

Written By
  • Amanda Damazo Martin

    I’m not a blogger so I’ll make comments on the posts when I can. This is my first year doing the challenge…my first year of doing any parenting actually. What got me on board with the idea was this picture in my head of moms and dads scraping disposable diapers ‘clean’, drying then and re-using them. It breaks my heart a little each time I think of the families that might be doing that.
    When I first signed up I wondered if this was truly doable. I have a full time job, my husband has a full time job, K is 6 mo old and in an awkward stage between runny newbie poops and peanut butter poops, so many other reasons not to do this ran through my head. And then the image of sposies on a clothesline popped up again. And I signed up whole-heartedly.
    Even though I’m new to all this (cloth diapering, parenting, all of it) I believe that cloth diapering can be done by anyone. I believe it is a viable option for any family that wants to save some money and have their baby look cute and fluffy doing it. I believe there should be funded CD options, just as there are funded sposie options. And I’m grateful every day for the women I have meet because we cloth diaper. A more understanding, non-judgmental community of people couldn’t be found.
    Thank you DDL for doing this to raise awareness and continuing to foster this community of people. I am truly excited for what this week may bring, the things I will learn and the friends I will meet.

  • Ariel Thacker

    Why I am doing this challenge is easy: My son. When he was a week old, we were finally able to move into our own place, and lots of family were able to help, but there were two things they were unable to provide for us to furnish our new home: A washer and dryer. When we had first found out we were pregnant we had already decided to use cloth, despite the naysayers, and had done a lot of research, but I hadn’t really given thought to what we would do if we didn’t have an automatic way to wash. At first I took them to the laundromat, but that got expensive very quickly and you can’t really be sure what the person before you had put in the machine. After one particularly expensive trip because someone decided to either dump a whole bottle of detergent in the machine, or put dish soap in it, I’d had enough and realized I needed to figure out how to hand wash, and figure it out I did. Now it has been almost a year since we were gifted an older washer and dryer, and I think this is the perfect time to brush up on my hand washing. If our machines broke tomorrow, or if we lost power for whatever reason for any length of time, I need to know that I would still be able to effectively diaper my son and also help anyone else that may not know how, using items that most people would have on hand or could get easily.

  • Jessica Harwell Long

    For fun and to se if it helps with potty training! I have a 2,5yo and would like the knowledge of it it helps and if its harder than years passed