#51: Husband’s choice

Cloth nappy family
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It’s not a story you read too often, but in this household, it was Steph’s husband, Dave, who chose cloth. Steph says she was “scarred from the lingering smell of flats in the 1980s”, but Dave was to be stay-at-home Dad and set to become the cloth nappy advocate he is today, known to convert parents in the nappy aisle in the supermarket. Steph and Dave have four children, including three in cloth – two-year-old twin girls and a wee man born in August. Then there’s also their 16-year-old son but, back in 2004, cloth nappies weren’t on this couple’s radar. Today, Steph and Dave choose to reuse in the hope their children will have a world to inherit. “It might feel a bit overwhelming but, hey, so is bringing home a tiny human.”

Welcome, Steph @bigandthreelittles

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live, and what you love about where you live.

I’m Steph, married to Dave, and we have 4 kids – Bennett who is 16 and the twins, Juliet and Escher, are 2, and we’ve just added little Huxley who is almost 3 months already. We also have two black Labradors named Mischief and Mayhem. We live in Melbourne, in a cool suburb called Newport. We are about 5 minutes from the beach and there are loads of young families around here which is great.

How will you and your family be spending Christmas?

We will be having a breakfast at home with my parents and Dave’s parents and the 4 kids. Bennett will head off to his Dad’s for a couple of weeks and we will do some day trips with the little ones and maybe brave some overnight adventures in regional Victoria.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?

I hope that people learn lessons from 2020 and learn to slow down. It has been so wonderful seeing families around my neighbourhood taking time out from working from home to get out on adventures. We also desperately want to get back up to Queensland for a holiday so I hope that can happen too.

What’s something you wish you had more time for?

Adding a fourth child has been a bit of a shock to the system for everyone. I’m looking forward to having a bit more time just for me but leaving the 3 younger ones is hard it really does take two pairs of hands. I’ve been really mindful of taking time with each of the three older children alone and they are enjoying their mummy dates.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

That’s a hard question. Dave and I have had so many fantastic adventures together – probably London is my favourite and I can’t wait to go back. South America is high on our list too as neither of us have been there.

You have to live for the next six months in a TV series or film. Which series or film would you choose, who would you be, and why?

I live in Melbourne, I have been living in a dystopian film already right?

How do you ensure you look after yourself? What kinds of activities help you feel like you?

I’m so blessed to have a husband who is always making sure we are well looked after and I never feel guilty taking time for myself and try and make sure he does as well. I’m looking forward to getting back to playing sport post birth and post iso.

Can you tell us about your motherhood journey? What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding stage? What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

There is 14 years between my son and the twins so the most challenging thing has been relearning how to do it all again – it certainly didn’t all come rushing back. The most rewarding thing is seeing the three of them play together; you wouldn’t think a 16 year old would have much interest in babies but he absolutely adores them, and they him. He’s a dab hand at changing nappies too.

How have you found parenting the second time around? Is there anything you have done differently with the twins compared to your first son? How would you say you have changed as a mother?

I think I’ve done everything differently, not necessarily by choice but it’s a different time now and some of the ‘rules’ have changed. Probably the most significant changes were I directly breastfed my son, whereas I exclusively pumped for the twins. Disposable nappies for him, cloth for the girls and the biggest difference I think is that I was a stay-at-home mum for 8 years the first time. This time I went back to work when the girls were 6 months old. I’m not really sure I have changed as a mother; I’ve always been fairly relaxed about it all.

Can you describe the greatest benefits of having a large age gap between your children?

I’m sure there are positives and negatives but we’ve all really enjoyed it. We try to be really mindful not to ask too much of our son to help out as the girls are not his responsibility. All we ask is that he looks after his own stuff; he’s recently returned from a six-month exchange in Canada so he is very capable.

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?

The big age gap has ensured I’ve brought along my first village for the second time as well as building on and creating a new one. We are very blessed to have an amazing group of people around us to help. We also learnt that having twins you have to reach out for help because it’s really tough.

How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?

I try to take some time out for myself; sometimes you just have to walk away so no one gets hurt. Finding a group of other mums/parents who parent similarly to you helps too.

What are some of your challenges with finding a work life balance?

Being a teacher and working part time has made it a pretty smooth transition for going back to work. My school has been fantastic and supportive of expressing milk and having my husband at home full time has made it easier. I don’t often need to take time off work for caregiving.

Do you feel mother guilt? If so, you do you manage it?

CONSTANTLY, who doesn’t. I think the guilt can be justified and we never feel like we are enough. I have to check myself though when that guilt turns into anxiety about not being adequate.

What do you find to be the best and worst parts of your children growing up?

I love watching them grow and learn new things. Helping them become independent and self-sufficient is such a satisfying feeling. I try not to wish any stage away though as you never get it back.

Which of your own traits do you see in your children?

They have all inherited my determination and stubbornness. Regardless of age, they all seem to strive for what they want and tend to not take no as an answer. The eldest is brave and adventurous and I’m proud of him every day.

What does an average day look like for you?

Baby gets up around 5am so it’s a feed for him until the girls get up. Everyone gets bundled down stairs which usually always wakes up Bennett so the 6 of us are tripping over each other and the dogs! Usually breakfast and cartoons while we get some chores done.

Big kid heads off to school and we usually try and fit in a morning activity, zoo, park, museum or catching up with friends. Nap around midday for the girls and Daddy and I usually feed the baby and watch TV (Shows that Dave doesn’t want to watch)

After nap time is usually a movie or craft or outside play depending on the weather. Bennett comes home and helps out as we get ready for the craziness of dinner and bed.

What activities do your family like to do together?

We love to do craft and watch TV. The little ones like to be involved in whatever the big kid is doing and they get very put out when he doesn’t include them. We love going to the park and family bike rides.

How do you approach the morning rush in your family?

Dave tends to take care of the logistics and I just make sure we have milk for the baby and that we know what we have happening for the day.

What are mealtimes like in your home?

Pretty relaxed; we don’t force the kids to eat and we all tend to eat different things at different times.

What is your greatest hope for your children?

Cliched – but happy, and that their parents live long enough to see them be happy and successful.

Can you describe what led you to using cloth with your twins? I understand you have an older child with whom you didn’t use cloth – what changed for you to use cloth the second time around?

Back in 2004, cloth nappies just weren’t on my radar – I knew a couple of people who used these new-fangled things called modern cloth nappies, but mostly I was scarred from the lingering smell of flats in the 1980s. When we were finally pregnant with the twins, my husband told me we would be using cloth nappies and we saw Bare and Boho on Shark Tank so we ordered a few newborn sized ones from there. Then we visited the One Fine Baby Expo in Melbourne and stumbled upon Designer Bums … we’ve never looked back.

Can you describe your early cloth experiences?

We started using cloth at 3 weeks old with the twins, the day they came home from hospital. To be honest, I couldn’t see the point of just clothing part time as you are doing the washing anyway. Our fit was terrible and we got a few leaks, but it didn’t take long to figure it out.

Can you describe the research process you undertook in choosing how to cloth your children?

The most research I did was with the Clean Cloth Nappies website. We had our stash of Designer Bums nappies ready to go – I spent so much time though planning out our wash routine and figuring out our dry pail system. It all fell into place organically in the first few weeks of being home. We figured out what worked for us and clothing twins means you wash a lot more so we were able to tweak our routine.

Can you compare how using cloth differs to what you thought it would be like? What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started out in cloth?

I actually think it is much easier than I was expecting it to be. At first, trying to understand the wash routine was a bit overwhelming but it really becomes second nature very quickly.

How has your experience been using cloth with twins? Do you find the needs similar? Do your children share nappies?

Clothing twins is great, you never need to bulk your washing machine. As they’ve just turned 2, we are moving to different rise settings. They absolutely share nappies.

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

The trickiest time was travelling overseas last Christmas – the logistics of using cloth in a hotel with no washing facilities was a bit overwhelming. We did look into a cloth nappy service but that ended up not working out. We ended up using eco disposables.

Have you had any great nappy fails?

Our labrador used to be quite fond of the drypail!

Looking back at your cloth journey so far, of what are you most proud?

Really just the amount of rubbish we have kept out of landfill. The money savings have been great but it’s really great to know just how much rubbish we have saved from landfill.

Can you share what brings you the greatest joy with using cloth?

I really am a sucker for pretty prints, I’ve had so much fun collecting all the Designer Bums limited edition prints and have made such amazing friends in the process.

What style of nappy do you use & why do you like it?

We use Designer Bums OSFM – they are easy to use and so trim, we don’t need to go up a clothing size which I love.

Describe your approach to choosing prints for your bubs’ nappies?

Dave and I love anything space or ocean themed. We always try and guess what will be the latest Designer Bums ‘unicorn print’ but we are usually way off!

How do you approach dressing with cloth?

Pants are for jerks is the motto in our house. T-shirts and a nappy is where it’s at! I also love a cute dress with a matching cloth bum.

What does your cloth nappy change station look like?

We have an extra tall change table surrounded by wetbags. All the girls’ clothes and accessories are stored in wetbags and our Cheeky Wipes cloth wipes are within arm’s reach. We have a change station upstairs and downstairs.

What are your time management tips for cloth? How do you fit cloth into your life? How do you balance cloth and working?

At the end of the day they are just nappies, they fit into your life just like disposable nappies do. I think the trick is not to over think it. Our washing hasn’t increased that much and it has just become part of our routine.

How do you manage cloth while out and about? Any tips?

Just be prepared like you would with disposable. We always make sure the nappy bag is well stocked with the essentials like a couple of nappies, change mat, wetbags and cloth wipes.

What are your thoughts on wetbags? What do you use them for? What is your favourite use, and what would you say is the most unusual thing you have used a wetbag for?

Wetbags are a must have. Regular are the best size for us for dirties and clothe changes. I love minis for wet wipes and a small stash of toys for entertainment on the go. Wetbags are so versatile I don’t think there is a strange use for them. They are perfect for everything.

What advice do you have for parents considering the move to cloth?

Just do it. It really isn’t that hard. Might feel a bit overwhelming but hey so is bringing home a tiny human.

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?

Pre wash – nobody wants to be swishing around in poop water!

Have have you managed cloth with daycare?

Daycare have been really supportive. They don’t have any other cloth nappy families so the director really wanted the nursery staff to give it a go to boost their skills.

Was your partner on board with using cloth? If so, can you explain their reasons why? If not, how did you manage that?

Using cloth was his idea. As the stay-at-home parent, I left the decision up to him but he had his mind made up before we had the twins. He is an amazing cloth nappy advocate and has been known to convert parents in the nappy aisle in the supermarket.

What has the response to using cloth been like from your family and friends? Can you share any positive or negative stories?

Most family and friends have been really supportive and also curious. It really is vastly different to in the past.

Would you say cloth has brought friendship into your life? If so, how? And what does this mean for you? How has it changed your life?

Absolutely, we have made some incredible friends who share a lot of our parenting ideals as well as our addiction to cloth. The Designer Bums community especially has been incredibly welcoming and supportive.

Can you describe your experiences as a cloth nappy brand rep? What motivated you to become and brand rep? How has it changed how you cloth? What tips do you have for other families interested in becoming brand reps?

Being a brand rep is so much fun. We have had a great experience with Designer Bums. Carla has been so generous and we have made great friends along the way. I’ve learnt a lot more about taking photos and trying to get the best out of my shots. If the opportunity arises, go for it. It’s great fun.

Can you explain what you believe to be the greatest benefit of using cloth nappies?

For us, the benefits are obviously environmental, but having three in cloth also means there is a bit more money spare.

How has cloth changed the way you approach life? What other eco decisions does your family make?

Primarily, we just want to lessen our impact. We try and do a little each day and really encourage the kids to do the same.

Describe the difference you hope to make for future generations by using cloth and other eco-friendly options?

Would be pretty great if they have a world to inherit. That’s why we do what we do.

Do you have any other tips to share?

Just go for it. Ask questions, clothe parents just want to help they love answering cloth questions.

Quick questions

Bums in cloth: 3.

Time in cloth: 2 years.

Number of nappies: 75-ish.

Full or part time: Full time.

Nappy style: All in two.

Stuff or snap: Neither, we lay the inserts in.

Pre-stuff or lay as you go: Started off lay as you go but soon realised pre-done was more efficient.

Line or tumble dry: Tumble inserts, inside line dry shells.

Favourite cloth related product: Mama cloth is amazing, and we’ve recently switched to not paper towel.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word: Enjoyable.

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