Posts Tagged ‘living’

Committed to Cloth, but….

Welcome to the “I’m a Natural Parent – BUT…” Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.


Continuum Family side snap training pants

Cloth diapers. Cute. Eco-friendly. The frugal choice.

I love cloth diapers. Like baby slings, I can see how easy it is to slip into addiction, wanting to collect a wide range of prints, brands and styles. Modern cloth diapers are both stylish and functional; gone are the days of pins and plastic pants, we now have PUL and Velcro.

Everyone chooses cloth for different reasons. I committed myself to cloth diapering when my first was born because it seemed to make sense health-wise, for the child and the planet. I found myself doing hours of research online, weighing all of my choices. Should I go for natural fibers or synthetics? Prefolds, pockets or all-in-ones? Snaps or Velcro or Snappis? How well does a one-size diaper really fit? I embraced all the choices available for me with joy.

I tried a number of cloth diaper companies, getting a few of various styles. As my daughter grew and changed, so did our diapering needs. Continuum Family had the smallest diapers with snaps I could find (had a tiny first child and wanted to practice EC–elimination communication), and I fell in love with them for a long while. The Little Beetle wool covers from Better for Babies (who have now closed up shop) were a great nighttime choice for a time. By then we were really getting somewhere with EC, so we got a couple of Ecapants training pants through EC Wear. We even had her in prefolds with a prefold belt at one point. The longest lasting favorite, aside from the Continuum Family in the pictures, were the Imse Vimse wool covers.

Over time, I learned firsthand the stinky side of cloth diapers:

  • Continuum Family side snap training pants

    Cloth diapers are picky about what they want to be washed in.

  • Cloth diapers are like toddlers in that they will smell louder and louder till they get their way.
  • Cloth diapers prefer to take up a lot of room in a bag rather than share space with snacks, wipes, and spare clothes — it’s called a diaper bag for a reason.
  • Cloth diapers don’t wash themselves.
  • Cloth diapers flatter (or pinch!) each baby differently.

Still, I travelled happily along cloth diapering journey for well over a year, knowing I made the right choice, thinking there would never be a day…

Fast forward to the present.

Goodbye Better for Babies....

After months of battling ammonia diapers and irritated skin, I caved and got disposables for my daughter. They ended up not causing her the rashes that folks worry about with disposables. It was in this way that I found myself staring at the last diapers in the package wondering if I should get more. I ended up getting her some basic prefolds and Flip diaper covers, thinking I could use them with the second baby.

I found myself learning all over again with my son who is shaped completely differently from my daughter. My cutest of cute cloth diaper covers with prefolds leaked every time because he is too small yet and the prefolds would scootch down and scrunch up. I went to the all-in-one cloth diapers my daughter had used, but then we got hit with thrush and the wet fabric on his skin seemed to be on the side of the yeast. When my washer broke for a week and a half, to top it all off, I turned to disposables.

It was during this time that I realized that disposables have advantages I hadn’t considered.

  • Disposables don’t need to be washed.
  • Disposables are compact.
  • Disposables give a trim bum line.
  • Disposables come in a wider range of sizes for a more accurate fit.

Some parents use disposables to handle the sticky, staining meconium in the earliest newborn days before switching to cloth diapers. Some parents use disposables at night and cloth diaper during the day. Many parents find disposables more convenient during travel. Alternate caregivers might find disposables easier or more familiar. Thankfully, there are some brands that leave out the chemicals, dyes, perfumes and other unhealthy stuff.

Continuum Family pull up training pants

Honestly, I can now understand the allure of disposables.

In the end, though, cloth diapers are worth any special thought and care required. Perhaps the struggle is precisely what creates loyal cloth diaper users. What piece of plastic could accomplish that?

Despite any inconvenience, I persist in my cloth diapering. I have got my son back in plain prefolds (size up, big guy!) and a Snappi — simplest and best yet. I’m working on my daughter’s skin health so we’re mostly diaper and pants free (less accidents now!) with disposables at night. Trying to figure out what would be a good move for her to pull down on her own. The search for the next cloth diaper solution continues….

Yes, I may have strayed to disposables, but I remain committed to cloth.




I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that “natural parenting” means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Tagging Tuesday: Decluttering and Organizing Your Life

Although Tagging Tuesday originally began on Facebook, there are so many wonderful resources on the Internet that are not FB-connected. I’ll focus on those here as well as post links to FB pages that have websites. Please comment if you have any additional resources to share!


Serenity … from here


Simplify:  Figure out what ideas and goals are important to you

Declutter:  Get rid of what doesn’t belong

Clean & Organize:  Clean what’s left and create a system to keep it that way!


Check out my organizing board on Pinterest and revel in more organizing goodies, including the Householder’s Holy Grail:  the Home Management Notebook (complete with printouts).  If you’re not a pinner yet, send me an email and I’ll invite you!

Sunday Surf: Alternative Parenting Info for Family and Friends

Holidays and celebrations usually mean family get togethers and all that comes with those situations.

For many, this is a joyous time when perhaps people who rarely enjoy sharing the same space have a day or more to “live together” in some ways. What happens when the small family unit chooses to live differently than the family at large? For parents who subscribe to alternative/gentle/positive/natural/attachment whatever you call it parenting, the coming together of different styles of raising children can cause tension and frustration. Some families also have a hard time over the phone or the internet.

A few things I think cause trouble are a lack of compassionate understanding of the various “sides” and feelings of judgment and defensiveness that block communication. This happens for everyone, but it seems that the hows, whats and whys of a less typical type of parent are less known (and also, therefore, respected?). I know I wish that my family could read some of the articles that shape my parenting choices.

What follows is a rough draft of my dream list of 10 blog posts to give someone a sense of where I am currently coming from as a mother. (Yes, I reserve the right to change and learn and grow.)

***Last minute addition!***

I just found this post on the 10 RIE principles of caregiving, and it addresses all the main issues I’ve been trying to raise with my own family. I may even share it with said family…….

10 Articles to Help Understand My Parenting Aspirations

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Update!

This is where I get to focus on the things I have done (right) in the last week! Mostly I just wanted to share a few activities I tried spontaneously that ended up working out well.

My daughter seems to have been having some fussy days lately. Needless to say, necessity is the mother of invention (and creativity). As I said in the latest Better Mom post on activities, I want to create and offer more hands on learning/play activities. Here are three things that came to me after all I read all the awesome things other mamas are doing with their littles. (See activities post for lots of resources for learning/play ideas.)

Sensory Bin: Paper

I get these circulars in the mail that frustrate me because I don’t want them and it’s such a waste of paper. The other day I felt like ripping them up. Just after, I walked by the bin I wanted to use as a sensory bin. I decided to have my daughter help me crumple them up and toss them in the bin. Then I let her play. She got to explore texture, sound, her body and more, turning an annoyance for me into a wonder to explore for my daughter!

Crumple Crumple

Stomp Stomp Stomp

Squish, Smash

Scoop and Pour Activity

Then the other day I had my daughter help make Vietnamese spring rolls by giving her the bean sprouts, chopped cilantro, and chopped lettuce to put into separate bowls for my husband to assemble. I went to put the peanuts in a bowl myself and realized it was the perfect scoop and pour “Practical Life” Montessori activity that I read about all the time. She was so into this. After an initial spill (see the peanuts on the counter?) she realized on her own how to be more careful and spilled not a single peanut more. It was quick but a great learning experience for us both, I think.



Open and Close Activity Bin

More recently, she had gotten her pep back after a cold and wanted to play. I was doing dishes, washing out a ketchup bottle, when I decided to look around for “open and close” jars, boxes and things for an activity box. I surprised myself by easily finding a number of things. I had fun along with her realizing how fun and different containers are to open and close. She did ask for help with the inner spice top, but ended up actually opening it once herself. The best part was hearing her ask for help and then say “Try it” to who I thought was me. After initial frustration, she actually told herself to try opening it, and she did try a couple of times rather than giving up as easily as she initially intended.

Some of the open and close materials, found around the house....

Little screwtop


Larger screw top (spice jar)

Was more complicated and exciting than we thought!

Yet another unexpected open and close experience awaited us!

It even came with a smell that led to a cooking conversation. (Plus we needed to put something inside. See it?)

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Activities

It’s taken me a while to get to the next part of the Be a Better Mom series. Why? Because I’ve been trying to be a better mom! I’ll be posting about materials separately, turns out. I feel so inspired to get my creative juices flowing and my hands working as I think about activities. I’ve been taking time to look through blogs of some mamas doing fun stuff with their kids. Much time has also been spent brainstorming some magnetic board activities for my daughter. There’s also been gathering materials and making things!

So far, all I’ve done is made one magnet set and start another magnet/felt set. One is a button shape/size sorting activity — 4 colors, 3 sizes. Unfortunately, the first set has already been scattered from off the fridge through multiple rooms (before pictures were taken). I am thinking now that future magnetic sets should be meant for the board only, just so there are more buttons to play with than are stuck under the fridge.

The other set I started is a color/fruit sorting activity where she could “pick” apples, bananas, plums and/or pears from the tree and put them in a basket. I was hoping to go apple picking soon so it makes some experiential sense. Now I am thinking, that I might make just an apple set with numbers to 10 on them. The other day she was insisting I count to ten, and she’s been into numbers lately.

There are a number of activities I’d like to do more of with my daughter to make our time together engaging, exploratory and playful.

Sensory activities are where she’s at right now. Sensory tubs are one idea; so far I have thought of waterbeads, leaves, and beans. I’m waiting for fall to advance a bit for the leaf one. Then I want to collect leaves together and bring out a fall leaves/tree magnet set I hope to make. I also liked this loud-quiet shaker idea and this smell matching activity.

Pouring is what Montessori would call a “Practical Life” activity. She is into pouring for sure. Any parent of a toddler knows that spilling and playing with liquid are fun times. My daughter seems pretty good at pouring from big things with help, but I want to get her a kid-sized pitcher from For Small Hands so she can pour things herself. I hope to put this pitcher with some of her small glasses on a table so she can get her own water and snacks. (Time to modify the snack station of old?)

Finally, it is feeling like time to move from chopping to cutting. She loves to cut with her wooden knife and food set. I have also helped her cut with a big butter knife. I’d like to find something like a small butter knife to help her cut things like banana. Her cooking role can take a new turn, and she will have more to offer and do in the kitchen.

Eventually, I’d like to get into the light box and other fun from the links below, but I’m trying to focus on things I know I can follow through on and actually accomplish. I still want to share the awesome ideas I’ve run into through my online travels…

Here are some play-based learning blogs/sites I found to keep an eye on:

Warm Rain Walk Treasures

Ideas by Category:

For the road: Toddler Activity Bags



Magnetic Board:

Rock Play:

Outside/Messy: Play at Home Mom Outdoor Play

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Time

TIME. I never seems to have enough. I always seem to need more.

I’m not convinced I use the time I do have wisely. Sometimes I find myself standing or sitting there, wondering what to do with myself. Well, I have a perfectly long list of things to do–what is the big question?

Somehow time management is not that simple, especially with a little one (or more!). I think I will be a better mom if I can wrap my head around managing several projects and responsibilities at once. As a teacher at school, this comes more easily to me. At home, not so much.

My goals for this area of mom improvement are:

  • have a clear(er) sense of daily tasks
  • have a stronger feel of a rhythm to our lives
  • build in some predictable routines and activities to set that rhythm
  • have a more accurate sense of time passed and “productivity”
  • assign a purpose to bits of time so that I can be more present with my energy

These goals are lofty, but I do plan on following some of Stay at Home Papa‘s insights into efficient use of time to help me along. I suggest you read his post for more clarification, but here are some basic tips he has to offer:

  1. Make a “To Do” list and prioritize it.
  2. Get the most important, life-changing items done on your list first. 
  3. Check email no more than 2 times a day.
  4. Batch items on your list, especially minutia.
  5. Set a timer.

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Spaces and Organization

I know everyone always says their house is messy (when it’s not), but I really am organizationally and spatially challenged in some ways….like the ways that keep a house clean and put away.

I love to see things organized, love baskets and boxes and labels and rows of things. It’s just that doing whatever it takes to get to that point doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether or not it is my strength, I need to develop a clear sense of organization and purpose in the spaces in our house, for the sake of every family member and friend who inhabits those spaces. Plus, with a little one on the way and due during the middle of winter, I want to make sure my daughter has an engaging and comfortable space to play inside when it’s hard to go outside. I have one room she can kind of take over, but otherwise I have always liked and tried to have a little play space in every room (including the kitchen). This calls for different structures for different spaces. I have some moving around of stuff and furniture to do, but more than that I needed to think on what those play spaces look and feel like.


I know I want them to be organized.

I would like for it to be easy and clear for my daughter and any adult to know where everything goes. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” If there are baskets and bins with clear purpose, everyone can use them. Eventually I would love to make my own labels (in English and Spanish and maybe even ASL), like Christine from The Aums did when organizing her clothing station. [Oh goodness, a clothing station was one of the things I wanted to maintain…..and haven’t. Clothes are my own worst offense, and now I’m in charge of someone else’s clothes?!]

I, and my daughter, need the space to be as YES as possible.

The more YES the space, the less “no” I have to say. When she was smaller and just starting to get mobile, everyone was telling me about child-proofing, which we don’t really do much of. Every child is different, and some children need more safety boundaries than others. My daughter has always been a rather safe explorer with a will that can be reasoned with. (Who knows what #2 will be like…could change everything!) She began moving around, and we went through the house trying to make things as YES as possible. This meant that if she could reach it, we had better consider whether we wanted her to be able to reach that thing or not. Well, we need to do that again. She is considerably more mobile now, and I find myself saying “No” more than I need to just because of the way my space is organized and set up…..or not. Ideally everything in reach is touchable and ok for play.

The space, the things in it and the way they are set up should encourage and support opportunities for my daughter’s independence, confidence and sense of belonging.

Once she has a clear, organized space that is mostly YES, I want to make sure the things I put in there and the way it is set up fit her developmental needs. Right now, she wants to do everything she can for herself. One thing I would like is for her to have greater access to food and drink items so that she can pour for herself. However, this means, I need a developmentally-appropriate space for her to be able to do these activities. For instance, right now, there isn’t really a child sitting/work space. Having a more functional, child-centered space will most likely be good for her and good for us (and the new little one).


Now that I had a sense of what I’m looking for, I wanted to do some research and see what other folks want out of their spaces.

I liked what Childhood 101 had to say about creating a child space that is inspirational:

  • Inspires them to play in more purposeful, meaningful ways.
  • Inspires them to learn through those play experiences.
  • Inspires them to value what they have.
  • Inspires them to help maintain the space in an organised way.
  • Inspires who they become…

Reading about Montessori principles and home/school spaces inspired me to get more clearly organized so that my daughter can take more ownership of the activities in her life. Here are some guidelines for spaces:

  • They are attractive, orderly and clean.
  • They have a place where children can store and organize personal items, as well as keep complete and in-progress projects.
  • There is adequate open space for children to easily move around, and for everyone to sit together during group time.
  • Children can independently access their Montessori materials from low shelves. They can also help maintain the order on these shelves. It is also important to have appropriately-sized tables and chairs so the children can sit and move with ease.
  • There should be a few interesting, real-life pictures at child’s-eye level, a few beautiful objects that could break easily, living plants, and pets (even small, non-poisonous reptiles and fish are fine).

Reggio Emilia history, philosophy and approach, in addition to the concept of the environment as a child’s “third teacher,” gave me aesthetic ideas for an overall feel and look. Here are some aspects a Reggio class might have:

  • indoor plants and vines
  • natural light
  • open to view
  • capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions
  • displays of project work are interspersed with arrays of found objects and classroom materials
  • ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features
  • encourage community

In addition, there are some RIE principles I’d like our spaces to facilitate. Similarities across the board, here. You are surely seeing a theme emerging.

  • Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
  • An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
  • Time for uninterrupted play.
  • Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
  • Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient.
  • Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs.
  • Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

With a better understanding of the principles and values I’d like to encourage, I was ready to look at actual play/learning spaces other people have set up.

NEXT STEPS: Move things around, go through “stuff” (post to come), set up spaces!

I am inspired!

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