#22: No more overflowing bins

Using modern cloth nappies on multiple children
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With three children three and under, Chantelle changes a lot of nappies. From the time her eldest was 9 months old, these nappies have been cloth. Chantelle made the change to reusable nappies when the cost of disposables and the amount of waste going into landfill started to become overwhelming.

Chantelle’s approach to managing motherhood is to stick to a routine, and this goes for nappies too. In this home, you will find children’s nappies being changed at the same time, the wash cycle part of the family’s calendar, washing and stuffing always on the same day, and stuffing occurring in front of the TV at night when the children are in bed. It’s all about making life easier so there’s still time for ‘me time’.

Welcome, Chantelle @olive.miles.daisy.and.me

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

We are your everyday married couple in our mid ’30s. We have three kids under three. We certainly didn’t think we would be cloth users. I think there’s still a stereotype/ assumption attached but we love using them.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

That I’m in my mid ’30s. I have a very young voice and “youthful” looks. People often assume I’m in my mid ’20s.

Tell us about life with 3 under 3.

It’s honestly not that hard, well not yet. Olive was only 16 months old when Miles was born so I don’t think she knows/ remembers any different. They act like Daisy has been around forever but are eager to play with her and have sleepovers, already asking “Is she big now?” Routine is a major key along with nailing that joint nap every day so I get some time to myself. I encourage the older kids to “help” so they feel included.

How have you found the transition from two to three children?

The transition has been good so far, but I may feel different when Daisy’s on the move. The pregnancy was very busy – we sold and bought a bigger house and finally moved when I was 7 months pregnant. We still need a bigger car to accommodate everyone. So, I guess the biggest transition would be upgrading everything.

What is your parenting motto and how do you try to live by it or incorporate it into your life?

Tomorrow is a new day. Everything will reset tomorrow so start fresh and try again.

What have you found to be the easiest and hardest parts of motherhood?

Easiest part is the love – it’s so easy to love them and to want to spend as much time with them as I can. Hardest part would be the lack of me time or being able to do the things that I want, like when I just need another 5 minutes to finish something, but it ends up taking a whole day.

If you could go back before being a mother, what would you tell yourself?

Go away for the weekend, as many trips away as you can.

How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?

Deep breaths, a couple quiet minutes alone. Also, hiding in the cupboard eating snacks can help.

Would you say that having children has affected your mental health?

I think having kids has made me more patient and on a whole happier.

Do you have any tips for managing it all?

Get the kids on a routine, nail that joint naptime/quiet time. Also, a household calendar to keep on top of the house chores.

What clichés of motherhood do you think are unfair?

More than anything I’m surprised how many clichés are 100% accurate. I don’t think you can stereotype though – I don’t drink coffee so don’t have to worry about them going cold.

What is the most important lesson you want your children to learn?

That they are my favourite person.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Can you describe your village and how it has impacted on your motherhood journey to date?

Unfortunately, we don’t have a village – some are uninvolved and the rest do not leave nearby. I can appreciate how wonderful it would be to have a regular support system. As it’s just us, it really highlights the type of family I hope to build and set the foundation for in generations to come.

What does an average day look like for you?

Daisy wakes around 6, Olive + Miles wake at 7. Daisy naps, kids have breakfast, get dressed and play. Feed Daisy, make the kids lunch. Everyone naps except me – I enjoy quiet time. At 2pm, everyone wakes, snack time, playtime or maybe some TV. 5pm is dinner, then clean up, bottles, bath + bedtime by 7. I’m in bed around 9pm.

What family traditions do you follow?

We try to go away for Easter and we stay up the coast with family for Christmas. Christmas is probably my favourite and more so now with the kids.

Can you talk us through the early stages of your cloth journey?

I was pregnant with Miles (2nd) and the thought of having two kids in nappies was overwhelming. The ongoing costs and a bin full of plastic! I was familiar with a lovely Insta mum whose daughter was around Olive’s age and they used cloth, so I asked her for the run down.

Can you describe what has surprised you most about using cloth, or how it differs to what you thought it would be?

Probably how easy the transition is, once I got my stash and head around the wash routine it really was simple.

How has your experience been using cloth with more than one child?

With two kids in nappies, I think it’s even easier. I definitely had to buy some more when Miles was born to have enough for two. Really, I just change everyone’s nappies at the same time – unless a rogue poo has happened, they’re basically on the same “schedule”. While more is getting washed it doesn’t feel like extra work at all. When Olive was toilet trained her nappies got stashed away and are now used by Daisy. The gift that keeps giving! All kids have easily fit into the same nappies. We have started Daisy earlier than the other two so I did need to buy some newborn size as the OSFM was just far too big on her.

What has been your biggest challenge as a cloth family and how have you overcome it?

Not really a challenge, just finding the best storage solution in our new laundry now we have two in cloth again (we moved house before Daisy was born). We had two baskets hanging on the wall above the sink which was perfect for one in cloth, but not enough for two. I’ve now put another large basket in the laundry cupboard for the prewashed nappies. Our laundry is only small and our cats don’t like things being on the floor in there. So, I’m trialling the cupboard otherwise I’ll need a ladder and more baskets on the wall. BUT … just over Easter we started toilet training Miles and he’s absolutely smashing it! So that may have solved the laundry dilemma. I’ve included a photo of 2 days’ worth of 2 kids in cloth – hubby had a laugh at the time.

What is the best thing others can do to support your cloth efforts?

Just have an open mind really.

What has the response to using cloth been like from your family and friends?

I think people are open to it, it doesn’t really affect anyone. On the rare occasion we have someone babysitting, they do seem a bit scared/ hesitant to use cloth and I suppose we feel obligated to have disposables available to them.

How do you believe you are contributing to bettering the environment by using cloth nappies?

Before we changed to cloth our rubbish bin was 80% filled with disposable nappies. That was just one child in one house. It’s hard to process how many nappies go into landfill every day.

Assuming it has, how has cloth changed the way you approach life?

It’s definitely encouraged us to invest in other reusable products around the house.

No one and no family is perfect. What is your advice to families concerned about the growing environmental crisis?

Any little change is a good change!

Having now clothed 3 bums, what would you say are your greatest cloth hacks?

Change everyone’s nappy at the same time. I have a monthly whiteboard calendar and write what days nappy wash falls on. Wash and pre-stuff nappies all on the same day. We have a two-storey house so having a stash upstairs and downstairs is a must. Reusable liners are a must! Sard Wonder Soap is the best!

Many parents express feelings of overwhelm when considering cloth – what advice do you have for them?

Start cheap and grab a few. Don’t commit to one brand until you’re happy with it. It doesn’t have to be cloth OR disposables, even just a couple MCNs go a long way.

You’re at a parents group catch up and you’ve only got one minute to give another parent your best cloth tip, what would it be?

Join the MCN Facebook page for advice. Alva Baby are our fave brand.

Design your dream nappy.

A gorgeous universal print.

What is your favourite nappy print style and why?

I do love a solid print

What is your favourite use for wetbags?

We only have one and we don’t really use it too often.

What are your rituals for/ is your favourite way to stuff nappies?

Watching TV!

How do you fit cloth into your life?

Always stuff and put away on the same day their washed.

How do you manage cloth while out and about?

Change right before leaving the house and have a spare in the car.

How do you approach dressing with cloth?

I think its fine, haven’t had any troubles.

Can you share any toilet training tips for parents approaching that stage?

The earlier the better – it’s all about your attitude; it’s an exciting time. No stressing, limit water intake to meals and snacks only in the early days.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. Currently two.

Time in cloth. We started cloth when my oldest was 9 months old. I was pregnant with our second and the thought of having two kids in disposables stressed me out. So much money every week and our rubbish bin was 80% full of nappies.

Number of nappies. 56, but only 38 are in rotation, and that was before toilet training.

Full or part time. Part time – we still use a disposable overnight. No idea why we never made the full change.

Nappy style. I’m a pocket OSFM fan.

Stuff or snap. Stuff for sure. I love how they are just ready to go and no loose inserts to move around like some snap in liners have.

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Pre-stuff. I just do them all while watching TV at night. There’s no way I’d try to stuff them while getting the attention of a runaway toddler.

Line or tumble dry. Both – we tumble try the inserts and liner. Line dry the shells are first preference but if the weathers bad I will quickly pop in the end of the drier cycle. The shells dry so fast they don’t need to be in there long.

Favourite cloth related product. Oh, I love the reusable liners from Baby Bare, such great quality, cheap and make cleaning so much faster.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Ongoing.

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