Ah, that conversation every cloth bum mum has had. Another parent realises your baby is in a reusable nappy and says “Oooh, aren’t you good!”
Please, can we clear this one up? No, I am not ‘good’. I am not a martyr who toils under the weight of a dreadful chore simply so I can ‘do my bit’ to save the planet.
I am a really busy parent who has used reusable and single-use nappies; and who knows that, without doubt, reusable nappies are the easier, cheaper option.
I’m now in my eighth year of using nappies. Seriously, if using cloth nappies was hard, I wouldn’t still be doing it.
I have three children, I run two businesses and I have a life. Really, if using reusables created work, they wouldn't be a part of my world.
There are so many reasons why reusables suit us better.
On a recent night out with friends, we were discussing how many times you can hand down a vest before it falls apart (as you do on a Saturday night). One mum said, “yeah, but you can’t hand them down when they’ve got stains from those up-the-back poos”. The other two nodded sagely, while I was like “Really? You lose vests to up-the-back poos?”
It’s obvious when you think about it - I’ve just never thought about because up-the-back poos just aren’t part of our world anymore.
In the early days of child number one, we used quite a few single-use nappies, and, oh boy, do I remember those up-the-back poonamis. When they reach as far as the neck. When a bath is the ONLY option. And guaranteed to happen on a plane.
Here’s the thing. I don’t want to strip the covers off the car seat, or run a bath, or do a full outfit change just because my son has emptied his bowels. The answer? Reusables.
Think about it. See that elastic at the back of a reusable? It contains the poo. It’s a constant source of amazement to me that single-use manufacturers’ haven’t cottoned on to the fact that their nappies need a redesign. Why do they continue to make nappies that fail so fundamentally in their primary purpose?
One reason I use reusables is so that I don’t have to stress that a poo equals a hassle. So that I don’t have to hope and pray as I whip off the trousers. And so that I don’t have to buy new vests for every baby.
Late night trips to the supermarket
Did I mention that I take on far too much and leave myself ridiculously busy? That means we sometimes drop the ball. We get to 10 pm and realise there’s no bread in the house for tomorrow’s school lunches. We’ve been known to run out of tea bags. Not often, but it does happen - leading to recriminations, unplanned visits to the shop and general stressiness that’s not pleasant. Running out of life’s essentials isn’t fun.
When my eldest - my insomniac - was little, I used to take him to the supermarket at weird times of the night. (I needed to know I wasn’t the only adult in the world still awake.) Who did I always, without fail, see? Parents, generally in tracky bottoms, usually accompanied by wild hair and a slightly panicked expression. Generally spotted at the checkout, spending a fiver or more on just one item: nappies. (Or sometimes wipes.)
The idea of running out of nappies or wipes just doesn’t appeal to me. The idea of realising I’m going to run out - so having to drop what I’m doing and rearrange my plans to fit in a trip to the shops - doesn’t appeal to me.
In eight years, we have never run out of reusables. We have a pretty small stash - less than 20 - but the dirties are there, in the downstairs loo; the bag bulging to remind me that I need to spend 30 seconds putting on the machine. I wash every day anyway, so I’m not really going to forget about them. Household organisation isn’t our strong point, but we don’t run out of nappies.
Back to that casually handing over a fiver at the checkout. Again. And again. And again. With three kids, we’ve saved well over a thousand pounds by using reusables. Nope, definitely not feeling like a martyr on that one.
It takes time
Single-use mums be like: need to check there are enough nappies, need to buy nappies; need to check where they’re on offer; need to find somewhere to store nappies; need to take the bins out in the cold and the rain every day. Cloth bum mums be like: empty the bag into the washing machine. Hang it to dry.
Reusables really are the easy option.
So next time you think about telling me I’m ‘good’, please don’t. I’m a busy mum looking for the easy option, who wants to spend my money on the good things in life. Simple, really.