By day 6 of the challenge, I had encountered basically every problem that could possibly occur during the week: a limited supply of diapers, a baby with diarrhea, diapers that weren't drying fast enough, and not feeling well enough to handwash. But amidst all the chaos of the week, I had found routine. As with all new things, getting into a routine can be the biggest barrier to being successful with a new endeavor. My routine was to wash diapers three times per day: morning, noon, and night. A smaller load was easier for me to handle and allowed me to wash everything in a small gallon sized ice cream pail.Although I was washing more often, the smaller sized loads were making washing very quick and easy. It took less than 5 minutes to wash everything and hang it up. It was actually taking much less time than I normally spend on diaper laundry each week. There was something nice about not having a super-sized load of dirty diapers sitting and waiting to get washed. I could just chuck dirty diapers into the ice cream bucket and I didn't need any wet bags (except for outings). Once the diapers were dry, I took them down and used them again that same day. I was also extremely happy with how the flat diapers were performing. Flat diapers will definitely be coming into regular use in our cloth diaper stash!
The seven day Flats and Handwashing Challenge was really eye-opening for me. Now, I am even more empathetic for the many families struggling to diaper their children. Did I love handwashing diapers everyday? No. Would I handwash to save money? Yes! There are families cleaning out and reusing disposable diapers because they can't afford to buy more. One in three American families is struggling to afford disposable diapers: we need other options and handwashing is a great option.The practice of reusing diapers is incredibly dangerous and unhealthy. Our country needs to make some changes and come alongside those who are financially struggling: be that providing assistance for those struggling to purchase disposable diapers, or educating the public about the benefits of cloth diapers. This was a very difficult week for me, but I will successfully complete the challenge. I wonder if I would have succeeded if I had 12 hour work shifts, commuted by bus, and sent the kids to daycare. The reality is that cloth diapers and handwashing are a real challenge for some families. However, even supplementing with a few cloth diapers throughout the day can make a substantial difference in a families finances. I don't think I can ever fully understand the hardships that many families are facing, but the Flats and Handwashing Challenge certainly gave me hope that there are alternatives available to those in need.