I often get the opportunity to talk about why I love cloth diapers with friends and family. As we discuss our children, it often comes up naturally in conversation. While I never intend to imply that I think everyone should use cloth diapers and I don’t judge any family who doesn’t, I think sometimes people start to feel a bit defensive about their choice to use disposables in front of me.
I often hear, “That’s awesome that you do that. I thought about it, but we are just too busy.” I also get told things like, “We just don’t have time to keep up with that” or, “I’m already drowning in laundry, so kudos to you because I can’t take that on.”
The only thing that bothers me about that is the implication that I must have all the time in the world or something. I don’t. I started cloth diapering with my first child, and both my husband and I worked full time. I continued cloth diapering my second child while working full time, and for a few months I had two in cloth diapers.
It was only recently that I had the opportunity to cut back to part-time teaching, but for four years before that point I was cloth diapering while working full time and commuting about 1.5 hours a day.
All that to say, I don’t cloth diaper because I have the time. We all have varying levels of commitments and obligations, but in the end we all have the same 24 hours in the day.
I started cloth diapering for some pretty typical reasons (save money, reduce waste, etc.), but I continue to cloth diaper because I have really found joy in it.
Joy In Cloth Diapering?
Yes, I do think using cloth diapers can bring a family joy. Now, I’m not trying to say I get giddy every time I run a load of laundry or scrape a poopy diaper. I’m not that weird. 😉 But in the overall grand scheme of things, I do LOVE that I save money, and I LOVE that our family is throwing out less garbage. I love that we have found a way to live a little more responsibly that works for us.
There are many things in life that involve a little extra work or have unpleasant moments that we still believe is worth it in the end. Here are a few:
- Your career! While some people are stuck in a rut they really hate, many others do enjoy their line of work and find it rewarding. That doesn’t mean they don’t look forward to days off here and there or never have a bad day. It certainly doesn’t mean it’s less work. It’s called “going to work” for a reason.
- Parenting. We love our kids more than anything in the world, but there are days that run us into the ground or have us questioning our abilities to be great parents.
- Growing your own vegetable or flower garden. True, some people are just not into this at all. However, those that have healthy gardens absolutely find it rewarding, even though it involves some dirty work. It would be so much easier to just buy lettuce when you’re at the store, but there is no lettuce that tastes better than the lettuce that is homegrown. You can buy a bouquet of flowers to put on your dinner table, but there is something so special about looking at a bouquet that came right from your garden.
I’m not trying to say cloth diapers are just as rewarding as a fulfilling career. It’s not an equal comparison; I’m just trying to illustrate that something can be good, even if it can be a chore sometimes.
Here are the top 5 things I love about cloth diapers and how it adds joy to our household.
1. The Work Is Rewarding
Yes, cloth diapers add a little extra work in your life. It is another chore you need to add on to what feels like a never ending list of chores. However, most people exaggerate in their minds the amount of work this generates. There are ways to make cloth diapering simple and easy on your family
Let’s break down what the amount of work involved really looks like.
On a normal day, the only thing I would do differently than a mom using a disposable diaper is I have to quickly prep a diaper before I put it on. If it’s a pocket diaper (my most frequently used kind), it might take 10 seconds to grab an insert and stuff it. If it’s an all-in-two diaper, that might take 5 seconds to prepare. An all-in-one diaper requires no prep, so that would be 0 seconds and equal to a disposable.
If the baby pooped, I do need to remove the poop from the diaper before putting it in the diaper pail. There are a number of ways to do that, and you can click here to see different poop removal options most families have success with. Removing poop from the diaper adds an extra minute or so.
All in all, it might add a few minutes of work to my day.
On laundry days, I do have to bring the diapers down to my washing machine and get those going. I’ll say that takes about 5 minutes. It takes the same amount of time any other load of laundry takes to get started.
It will take longer if you are in a position where you need to hand wash your clothes and diapers, that’s for sure. But if you have a washing machine, it’s not really that huge of a chore.
My best estimate for how much time cloth diapers take out of my day on laundry days (so prepping diapers to put on baby + laundry time) is about 10 minutes.
Now that we have really dissected what this chore looks like on a day to day basis, let’s look at how it is rewarding.
For me, I get a really happy feeling every time I pull a load of clean diapers out of the dryer. They smell so fresh, are so warm, and I get a kind of “rich” feeling having a clean pile of diapers. It’s the same feeling I get when I fill up the car and have a full tank of gas if you know what I mean.
I do not feel this way about any of my other loads of laundry. Diaper laundry is actually my favorite kind of laundry to do. I have a easy & simplified cloth diaper routine, so I just bring my freshly cleaned diapers up to my sons’ room and put them in a wicker basket. Now they are ready to go the next time he needs to be changed. No folding, no hanging, nothing to add hassle. My other loads of laundry require folding and hanging, so I’m not quite as excited to get them out of the dryer.
When diaper laundry is incredibly easy compared to all other loads of laundry, it’s not hard to stay motivated to do it.
2. They’re Adorable
Cloth diapers bring me joy because I can’t get over how adorable they are. Back when I was pregnant with my oldest, I personally thought they were cute, but I was self-conscious over the idea that other people would be so used to disposables that they wouldn’t find them as cute as I did and that they would think my son looked weird.
Thinking back on that, it’s really quite silly, but I can’t change how I felt five years ago! Now I just absolutely love how sweet and fluffy they are on my son.
In the summer, I love just putting a cute t-shirt on my son and letting him run around in a t-shirt and diaper. There is something so precious about that. Maybe it’s knowing how fleeting childhood innocence and laughter is, or the nostalgia of the “olden days.” I’m not totally sure.
Sure, toddlers can run around in t-shirts and disposable diapers, too, but over the years I have just really come to appreciate an adorable fluffy butt.
3. My Dog Doesn’t Get Into Them
Another thing that brings me joy is that my dog doesn’t get into the diapers!
We have used disposable diapers at times, whether it be because we were using a rash cream that wasn’t safe for cloth, or for overnights while we tried to find a cloth solution that worked.
If my son(s) pooped in a disposable diaper that I threw away, I often forgot how I needed to then keep the trash can up high away from my dog, or in a can my dog couldn’t get near. My dog (as gross as this is) would dig dirty diapers out of the garbage whenever we weren’t home. She’s nasty…but I also know she isn’t the only dog in the history of the world to do this kind of thing.
This has never been an issue with cloth because I clean the poop off in the toilet before the diaper gets put in the pail. I could (and should!) do that with disposables, too…but it’s hard to clean non-solid poop of disposables because you can’t really spray them or dip them in the toilet without the gel beads exploding everywhere.
All in all, I just like that I don’t have to dog-proof the cloth diapers.
4. Saving Money & Reducing Waste
I’ve already mentioned these things briefly, but saving money brings me LOTS AND LOTS OF JOY! I just think of all the things that can be done with money that would be spent on diapers.
For example, instead of spending $25-$50 per month on disposable diapers, you could put $25-$50 per month in a college fund. Or you could apply it to any debt you have, save it for a vacation, use it for a date night…anything!
You could also do nothing with it and just watch it pile up. It doesn’t really matter. $25-$50 a month may not seem like much at that moment, but by the time your child potty trains you could have well over $1000.
As far as reducing waste, the average person generates 4.4 lbs of waste per day. Just one person! My household is 4 people, so theoretically we collectively produce about 17.6 lbs in a day, and over 123 lbs in a week. That is ridiculous to me, and seems SO irresponsible. My family has taken steps to be more conscientious about our waste. We started with diapers, but that was only the beginning. We are working on improving our waste in other ways, too.
It brings me joy to know that my family is working to hopefully leave this world a better place for future generations.
5. Living Differently Brings Great Joy
The last way this brings me joy is probably the most important to me and also the most difficult to put into words, but I will do my best.
It brings me joy to know that my kids will grow up thinking and believing cloth diapers are not only normal to use, but that maybe they will lean toward them as the default choice for their own families because of our positive experiences with them.
It gives me joy to know my family doesn’t shy away from a little dirty work that produces great reward.
It makes me happy to know we live in a way that can bring some simplicity back into our every day life (yes, I said simplicity! Most people assume cloth diapers complicate everything, but they do not have to if you do not let them).
It gives me joy to know that we are not afraid of going against the status quo to make a better choice for both our family and the earth.
It brings me joy to know that we are doing our best to follow the biblical command of stewarding our land and resources responsibly.
We love that in a day and age that is so dependent on technology, smartphones, and finding every little “life hack” to make something easier (that wasn’t really that difficult in the first place, but I digress), we are able to live in a way that slows us down a little, makes us appreciate our home and belongings, and find our roots again.
Let’s Drop The Cloth Diaper Stigma!
Unfortunately, the term “cloth diaper” has a negative connotation. People associate it with work and mess. They may even think back to old-fashioned cloth diapers and plastic pants and some issues that people had back then, and they have a hard time moving past that and having an open mind.
Thankfully, technology can do some really awesome things, and many of the negatives of old-fashioned diapers have been remedied in modern cloth diapers. They really are a perfectly viable choice for even the busiest of families.
What do you think about finding joy in using cloth diapers? Do you think it’s possible, or am I off my rocker? Let me know in the comments!