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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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Cloth Diaper Road Trip

Our family is spread across the West: Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and Washington. We live in Tennessee. Trying to see everyone in one trip requires a lot of planning. With an eight-month-old baby who would turn nine months on our six week long epic adventure, it made no sense to fly. For that matter, it made no sense to drive, but drive we did. I bought flats and watched videos on hand-washing diapers. I bought rubber gloves, which I had heard provide a better grip when wringing out the diapers. I bought flushable inserts so that I could dump the poo and not have to touch it while I was hand washing. I also brought my peri bottle to spray whatever the liner missed. I packed the car with an open basket filled with pre-folded flats, and I had a water bottle to wet the cloth wipes; the mobile changing station was efficient and made my cloth diaper soul sing. I was prepped and ready.

The first day was easy; when you have the wet bag, changing pad, water bottle, etc, you can change anywhere. The first night we stopped in St. Louis, Missouri, I washed the diapers in the mini bar sink in our hotel room and hung the flats all around the room. Though they weren't dry in the morning, I was prepared for that and set them in the window of the car as we drove another day. I was happy to be using cloth, but my hands hurt from wringing the diapers and I was exhausted from entertaining my eight-month-old all day in the car and then staying up late to wash the diapers. I worried about my resolve. I was hand washing because I had read about how dangerous it was to use laundry mat machines because of possible build up from softeners or unsafe detergents. I certainly didn't want to ruin my diapers, but I didn't know how long I could keep up the hand washing routine. Luckily I didn't need to wash again until we made it to Colorado; when we got to our relatives, I immediately sought out the washing machine: a small front-loading HE unit -- something I had never used. I felt prepared, part of my pre-trip research was to learn about all types of machines, and I had water test strips for each place we were staying so that I could calculate what would be the best washing routine.

Although I admit that I sat in front of that little HE machine for the first fifteen minutes of the wash cycle to make sure there was an acceptable amount of water, I eventually calmed down and joined the rest of the family. Besides, I was mainly washing flats, which are notoriously easy to care for; the real test would come once I busted out my pockets. In Utah, I was faced with yet another HE machine, but this one was a top-loader, as I peered into the agitator-less basin, I took a deep breath and dumped in my precious pockets. During the course of the stay I noticed no leaks or stinks; I began to wonder about all my worrying over using HE machines and using machines potentially caked in dangerous residue. Over the course of our stay in the Pacific Northwest, I used five different washing machines, four variations of HE machines and one old fashioned top-loader. Because I never experienced any problems, I began to rethink my return road trip. Was it really necessary for me to stay up late wringing out diapers? Did I have any alternatives? It turns out that many hotels have guest washing facilities, and my experience with multiple machines, gave me the confidence to calm down and trust that all would be well.

So rather than checking in to my room and wringing diapers in a sink or tub; I hiked to the laundry room, dumped in my diapers, plopped in some quarters, returned to my room, and flopped down on the bed. As a traveling, cloth diapering mama, I've learned that preparation is important, but being able to adapt and let go of fruitless worrying is key. Traveling is hard enough.

Bio: Emily Robbins currently lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and two sons: Harper (2 years) and Caedmon (3 months). She has been cloth diapering since Harper fit into OS at about four weeks old. She is taking a year off from being an English teacher to hang out with her fluffy bottomed boys.

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1 comment:

cgmrb said...

You rock! What an inspiration. I have hard water and a HE machine and have never had problems. Glad to hear that everything went well.