Today on the blog, we interview Amy, a list maker, gardener, mother of one and partner to a diaper launderer extraordinaire. Amy shares the lessons she’s learnt from the Earth and why living a bit slower is good for the soul. Her interview is filled with heartfelt insights for appreciating the world and surviving parenthood with your sanity intact.
Welcome, Amy @frontyardveggies
Tell us a little about yourself, your family, where you live and what you love most about where you live?
I’m married to my husband, Kristian, and we welcomed our first child, our daughter Reese, in May 2020. We recently relocated to Massachusetts from California to be closer to family on the east coast … and I forgot how much I missed autumn and the changing leaves! We also have a dog and two cats. And now a pond full of koi and goldfish at our new home! We purchased an 1800s colonial home and the property is just so charming and full of character and life.
How do you make the most of every day?
I’m a big list maker – especially since adding a kiddo to the mix. If I don’t get thoughts out of my brain they’re gone for good. I’m a total Virgo, and lists and organization make my world go round.
Your Instagram account is all about sharing garden goodness and culinary creations – what does it mean to you to share this side of your life?
I think younger generations have lost the desire/need to DIY things – everything is easy and cheap to buy online! I love sharing that making things yourself and living a bit slower can be good for the soul without making you a total old school fuddy duddy.
What lessons do you think growing, composting and baking can teach your daughter?
To appreciate the natural world, and the art of making things and tending the earth. Also patience! Which unfortunately is a lesson I learned later in life, but hopefully she learns it earlier than I did!
What does the garden of your dreams look like?
Charles Dowding’s garden – seriously, look at his Instagram account @charles_dowding. He is my forever inspiration and garden goals!
What food do you gravitate to when you’re feeling anxious, stressed or in need of a lift?
Oh gosh, comfort food for me is either mac and cheese or pizza! Or a good chocolate bar – Tony’s Chocoloney Caramel Milk Chocolate is my favorite.
How do you like to spend time together as a family away from the kitchen and garden?
Setting out on long walks! We love going for a 4-5 mile walk with our dog and daughter in a carrier and just getting fresh air and quality time together. Before she was born, we would hike or paddleboard or bike ride together, but our days are looking a little different now with her.
What has been the greatest part of motherhood for you so far?
Just seeing this perfect little human smiling up at me every morning when she wakes up – so happy and so full of life. It takes my breath away every time! And just seeing her change and grow day in and day out.
How has motherhood changed the way you live your life?
I’m trying much harder to go with the flow and be laid back – I’m usually very routine-oriented and love having a schedule! But babies haven’t gotten the memo about schedules, unfortunately.
What type of world do you hope to see your daughter grow up in?
One in which the natural world is still preserved so she can see the beauty of this planet. And be outdoors with good air quality and clean water.
If you could click your fingers right now and change one thing about the world what would it be and why?
To stop climate change in its tracks and draw down all of the excess carbon to prevent the catastrophic temperature increase predicted in the near future. If only it were that easy!
Can you talk us through what led you to using cloth with your family? Did you always know you wanted to cloth?
My mom used cloth diapers on me in the ’80s, and I always thought that was so cool. As I got older and became more environmentally conscious, I knew I wanted to do cloth if I ever had kids! It was never a question for me, just something I was deadset on doing.
Can you talk us through your early days using cloth?
We started full time at 5 weeks – we waited for her belly button to fall off, and then another 2 weeks while we got the courage to try cloth! We were brand new parents with absolutely zero in-person support to help with our daughter, running on little sleep, exhausted and overwhelmed … we waited until we mentally felt ready for a new challenge. She also used to WAIL getting her diaper changed, so we waited until she was more used to it. For her sanity and ours! My husband (bless him!) took on the diaper laundry which made the transition much easier as a new sleep-deprived mom nursing at all hours of the day. The easiest part was the fit, surprisingly. Knock on wood, only one true blowout so far!
Can you compare how using cloth differs to what you thought it would be like?
I thought it would be difficult to get the right fit, find the right brand, etc – but we have just been rolling with prefolds and AI2s/hybrids/covers and never looked back!
What role does your partner play in your cloth routine?
He is diaper launderer extraordinaire. It wasn’t until many months in that I finally did a load of diaper laundry because he was on paternity leave for 4 months and did it all, no questions asked. He also changes about half of the diapers, and has been on board with cloth from day 1.
Have others supported your decision to do cloth? If so, how? If not, why not?
Yup! Haven’t gotten any pushback from anyone. My sister-in-law thought we were weird at first, but has since come around.
Can you share the research process you undertook in choosing to use cloth nappies?
I used reddit.com/r/clothdiaps extensively! They had some helpful threads and polls, and then I researched more on Green Mountain Diapers website to learn more about the different options.
What or who has been most influential to your cloth journey?
The environment. I *hate* throwing things in the trash – I’ve been composting for the last 9 years, try to recycle or reuse things, and was horrified by the idea of throwing hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage in a landfill. Cloth is the right choice for our family and, I feel, for the planet.
Can you explain what you believe to be the greatest benefit of using cloth nappies?
No diaper rash! Sometimes with the disposables, she’ll get a red bum, but never with the cotton pre-folds.
What do you think has led to a successful cloth journey for you?
My husband being on board 1000%. And me being able to stay home with our daughter.
What hurdles have you faced using cloth nappies and how have you overcome them?
Hmm I can’t really think of any! It’s been relatively smooth sailing, knock on wood.
What are some practical tips you can share around organising your cloth supplies?
If you do pre-folds, lay them out flat in a big stack. Then, we have a little IKEA organizing basket on our changing table with all of the covers, wipes (WaterWipes and also a wipe warmer full of cloth wipes and a DIY solution, depending on the mess), diaper cream for night, and her snappies for the pre-folds. Keep everything where you need it!
Can you tell us how you came to decide which nappy style best suited your family?
I liked the idea of cotton pre-folds, so narrowed it down that way. We are a Designer Bums family because I am a total sucker for the artwork – they’re like gorgeous little butt murals!
What wash routine have you found to best fit your lifestyle?
Every 3 days we do a load of wash and have our cycles down pat – wash warm no detergent, wash hot with detergent, wash warm without. Then dry low, remove covers, dry medium. Timers depend on your washer dryer!
How do you manage cloth while out and about or travelling? Any tips?
I’m not the person for this! We recently drove 8 days across the country from California to Massachusetts and did disposables because I mentally couldn’t handle cloth, on top of the drive, plus pandemic, and with our dog and two cats. But for just a day trip we pack our wet bag and change as usual!
What role do you think disposable nappies should play in raising children?
They’re handy in a pinch, and I’ve been known to put one on if she is having a total meltdown before naptime just to rush the diaper change. And we do one every night because I’m not willing to sacrifice 12 hours of straight sleep to try to figure out a nighttime solution to prevent her waking up wet!
What is the largest misconception about cloth you have come across and how have you responded to it?
That it’s gross! Or difficult. Granted she has just started solids, so we have a diaper sprayer that we will have to use, but breastfed baby diapers can go right in the wash.
What do you think needs to change for more families to come on board using cloth nappies?
To remove the elitist attitude around it – that’s why I try to tell anyone who asks that we still do a disposable at night! It’s not about being perfect. It’s taking steps to reduce your contributions to a landfill. Also, keeping all of those icky chemicals away from delicate baby booties is a big plus, too.
What’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to all cloth families/ mothers?
Research, research, research, and then figure out what will work for your life. And feel free to ask around! People are so willing to help with this info and love to share.
Do you have any other words of advice or tips to share?
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. We do one disposable at night because our daughter started sleeping 10-12 hours at 4 months and we just didn’t want to mess that up to try to figure out nighttime cloth. Some cloth purists might poo-poo that, but it’s what works for our family. And putting 1 diaper a day in a landfill instead of 8-10 is a tradeoff we’re okay with!
Describe your journey with cloth in one word.