"Being a mother is not easy. Let me say that again. Being a mother. Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along. Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier. There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started. I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?" But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now. Here is another post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.
I graduated from college when I was 6 or 7 months pregnant. My husband was still in school, though, so it was to a humble college apartment where we brought our first baby. We were very stingy with our meager finances, and decided to cut costs by using cloth diapers instead of disposables. My mom did cloth diapers, and I helped with the diapering and laundry of my youngest brothers, and it really didn't seem that hard. Good enough for my mom - good enough for me. I remember loading our laundry basket, the diaper pail, and our new baby into the back seat of our old '67 Mercury Cougar, and driving to the laundromat. Good times.
This post should more correctly be categorized as "What I'm Glad I Did Figure Out," than "What I Wish I'd Known," but whatever. I'm glad I started out with cloth diapers. I've saved tons of money with eight babies, and it really isn't that challenging. I didn't use the pretty all-in-one cloth diaper systems, nor did I splurge on the fashionable diaper covers (which weren't around when I started diapering). I still would have saved money, but for me, the ultimate penny-pincher, I went all-out-el-cheapo.
I got the standard old prefolded diapers from SuperBigMart, a bunch of ugly but practical plastic pants, a package of diaper pins, and a smell-containing diaper pail. I didn't always rinse my diapers out in the toilet (I did shake out and flush loose solids, though), nor did I soak them in a soapy mixture in the diaper pail until wash day. I didn't use special detergents or lotions. I did occasionally bleach the diapers back to some semblance of whiteness, either in the sun on the laundry line, or sometimes even with liquid bleach. I did buy more diapers every few babies when the old ones wore out and got tossed in the rag bag. Overall, it was pretty plain and simple, and it has worked for nearly two decades. Yes, I've been changing diapers that long. <sigh>
Here's my cost breakdown, assuming 2 1/2 years old as the average time before potty-training. (Prices shown are what I've just looked up. I do remember them as being somewhat cheaper a few years ago, and a lot cheaper lots of years ago.)
60 dozen cheap prefold cloth diapers @ about $13/package of 10 diapers
8 pair of vinyl diaper covers in each of 4 sizes @ $3 each package of 4
two full loads of wash twice a week for 2 1/2 years according to Mr. Electricity
laundry detergent @ $.22/load for 260 loads
used diaper pail at a garage sale
$404 TOTAL for 2/12 years of cloth diapering for TWINS!
Of course, we do use disposable diapers for church or extended outings, and we have used them at night when the output was more than a single cloth diaper could handle. We would need to increase the amount accordingly for disposable diapers, or increase the washing requirements for double-diapering at night, like I did with my other boys.
But compare this $404, if you will, to what it would have cost us to use disposable diapers exclusively! According to Consumer Reports, covering a baby tushie with disposable diapers can cost about $2500. Times that by two please, to show us that we would be in the poorhouse if we had to buy $5,000 worth of disposable diapers for our twins. And just think of the savings for Mother Earth, too.
Glad I did cloth (and glad, glad, glad that we are potty training and getting close to the end of diapering!)