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Thursday, January 23, 2014

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Cloth Diapering at Church

Tears started to well up as I stuffed down my pride. The conversation I had just had with the Children’s Ministry Director at my church had caught me off guard. I had approached her months before with the idea of doing a training session for the teenagers and volunteers who staff the church nursery and had been hoping this training would include cloth diapers since we had had so many bad experiences.

We use cloth diapers for many reasons but one of which is that we simply cannot afford to spend $100 a month on disposable diapers. For my baby shower, I asked for only one thing- funds for a stash of cloth diapers. We were able to use money generously given to us by family and friends to purchase a Live Grovia package. These diapers have seen two from birth to potty and are currently 5 months into baby #5.

So, when I brought up the need to train the nursery volunteers about cloth diapers, I wasn’t doing so simply because cloth is our preference. Cloth means the difference between a week’s worth of food or diapering.

Her response was difficult to swallow.

She simply responded that asking nursery workers to change cloth diapers was too much and that we should ask parents to please use disposables. I was shocked. So I simply stared off until I was able to push back the tears, stuff down my pride and open my mouth to explain our situation.

Eventually we agreed that we would not include cloth diapering 101 at the training session. But I have a unique opportunity. I now serve in the nursery full time so that I can make church more comfortable for moms of little ones, make sure diapers are changed no matter what is on the bum and to train other volunteers to do the same!

If you are struggling with resistant volunteers at your place of worship, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be willing to spend time training volunteers yourself.  Don’t expect them to just know how to do it.  Or even to get it right the very first time.  If you want someone to cloth diaper your child, be willing to put in mom hours to make it easy and comfortable for them.
  2. Have reasonable expectations.  You might like to go all origami style on your baby but that might seriously be asking too much.  Keep it simple, Momma. Find the easiest diaper in your stash and go with that.  Aplix if possible.  Leave the pins, snappis and wool at home if you can.
  3. Make sure to provide them with the tools that will make it successful.  Remember to pack a wet bag and remind them what its purpose is.  Use flushable liners if you can and explain their use. 
  4. Don’t back down but be willing to hear “no.”  If the volunteers really won’t change a cloth diaper and if it is that important to you, be willing to be paged when your child needs a diaper change.  Inconvenient, yes.  Unreasonable, no.  Maybe eventually they will see how easy it is and jump on board.
  5. Remember what your smile is for and use it.  Be willing to laugh about mistakes.  Remind yourself that they are blessing you by caring for your child while you do something you love simply because they want to serve. 
  6. Thank the volunteers every single time you see them.  Take a moment to realize what these people are sacrificing so that you can enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.  Make a point to tell them that you truly appreciate their effort.  Kind words do more for someone’s outlook on a situation than almost anything else.  You’d be surprised by how little thanks and acknowledgement nursery volunteers get.  Some mornings I have parents who don’t even look me in the eyes as they drop off and pick up their children!
  7. Coffee and/or cookies go a long way. Seriously. ;)
Bio: Mindy is mom to 3 little people. She spends her days being a fluff mod on the Cloth Diaper Support Group facebook page, building blocks, breaking up fights and reading the same books a zillion times. Oh, and changing lots and lots of cloth diapers…seriously…all day long.

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Anonymous said...

As a children's ministry director, I am very shocked this was your experience. It's our duty to be as accommodating and welcoming to everyone, period. Do they not accept children who are potty training? Because underwear is cloth... accidents do happen. The fact that they would turn away a child who is in cloth just blows my mind and to me, that's a high horse they need to get off of. The children's ministry's responsibility is to care for all children, no matter what, so the parents can worship and know their children are learning on their own level. As a director, I just cannot believe this was your experience. I think you have the right approach to just be paged whenever a change is needed, and hopefully the volunteers can figure out how to change cloth as well. After all, half the time it's no different than a disposable, you just don't throw it away. :)

lunachick265 said...

That's a pretty crazy response. Changing a cloth diaper isn't any more difficult than a disposable if it's a simple one piece. Did you bring in a sample to show how easy it is? In my experience, when shown the diaper and wetbag to put it in, people say, ok I can do that.
I'd say keep trying. Having a positive approach certainly helps. And I agree with the earlier commenter, if a church truly wants to welcome all families, they will welcome your child and what ever kind of diapers they come in. If this issue is really important to your family, maybe it's time to consider switching churches, if they continue to say no. Best of luck!