Okay, so the title is somewhat misleading. Whether you work full-time at or away from home, as a mother, you discover you really can't have or do it all, but that is not to say that we can't try, right? When I first found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted to cloth diaper. In trying to find support with my family and friends (who all looked at me like I was crazy by the way!), I eventually turned to the internet as my main informational resource. I couldn't believe how many great sources of information there were out there, and I didn't realize what a come back cloth diapering had made either. I quickly found a supportive, online community via amazing blogs such as this one, discussion forums, websites, social networking sites, and so on. Before my daughter was even born, I had undertaken a plethora of knowledge on cloth diapering including terms such as AIO/AI2, fitteds, diaper covers, stripping, sunning, Zorb, wet bags, diaper sprayers, wet/dry pails, the pros and cons of synthetic versus natural fibers, cloth diaper safe ointments/detergents, the no-no's of fabric softeners, etc., etc.
Continuing to dig deeper, I tended to notice a pattern from the sources of information. When it came to fellow mommies posting, they almost always had a WAHM / SAHM abbreviation posted along with their names and avatars. For those of you completely new to the world of parenting and mommy blogs as I was, these abbreviations stand for work-at-home-mom and stay-at-home-mom, signifying mothers who work from home through a number of vocations, or those who are full-time stay-at-home mothers.
I rarely saw posts about cloth diapering mommas who worked outside the home. Upon this revelation, I began actively seeking out information on full-time working mothers who CD'd, and was discouraged at the themes that kept popping up. The comment from these gals I unfortunately came across time and time again was, if you are not a full-time mother or work-from-home-mom, you cannot cloth diaper for an extended amount of time. I'd see posts like, "I tried, but it's just not possible", "Too much laundry, not enough time", "I gave it a shot, but seriously ladies, it's not worth the effort I put into it for as long as I did", or even, "Cloth diapering and working outside the home are like the combination of oil and water - they just don't mix". Really? So I shouldn't even give it a try?
I was feeling discouraged, as I would soon join the ranks of the working mother after my precious maternity leave would expire, and although the idea of staying at home with my child was enticing, it was simply not an option. I was the one with the steady job and even more importantly, the one who carried health insurance, flexible spending accounts, and other much needed resources. I have so much respect for these overworked, undervalued mothers and working from home one day a week has taught me to empathize with how much effort being a full-time mom while trying to accomplish other tasks truly is. That being said, there had to be answer to this cloth diapering and working conundrum.
I decided that after already dealing with three months of runny, mustard-colored EBF stains (exclusively breast fed... another abbreviation you pick up quickly from blogs), figuring out which materials would prevent my heavy-wetter from leaking and getting a rash, and especially after my $500.00 initial cloth diapering investment, I was going to make this work! Cloth diapering while working is much like continuing to breast feed while working - they both involve an adjustment period during this learning curve, but are not impossible once you cut yourself a little slack and find your groove.
I quickly discovered that being a full-time cloth diaperer and being a full-time employee didn't really conflict at all like the predecessors before me had ominously warned; the process just taught me better time-mangement skills. I still had to do a load of CD-only laundry once every three days or so, and with the assistance of pail liners and the wet bags I sent with my daughter to daycare, it wasn't like I had piles of dirty diapers stinking up my house or diaper bag. On the days it was time to do laundry, my schedule wasn't altered much. I'd just throw everything into the washer with a scoop of Tiny Bubbles as soon as I'd get home from work, run the laundry, make dinner, and spend some quality time with the family before my daughter's bedtime. Then, as my husband would begin getting my daughter ready for bed, I'd quickly throw the wet diapers in the dryer, hang the diaper shells and covers on the clothesline my hubby installed in our laundry closet, and be ready in time for a few stories and our nightly nursing session. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that continuing to breast feed is also manageable for the full-time working mother? That's another story I suppose.
A few notes. Yes, I have lucked out finding a daycare provider willing to cloth diaper my daughter while I work, as well as a flexible boss who lets me work from home on Fridays, but even without these blessings, my red-headed obstinate personality would have still found a way to make cloth diapering while being a working mother a possibility. To be honest, I rarely do cloth diaper laundry on Fridays anyway, and several daycare providers who turn their noses up to the "barbaric" practice of cloth diapering might still change their tune if you showed them the variety of modern diapering conveniences, such as hybrid diapers. I use GroVia Biosoakers to turn my regular AI2 diapers into a super soakable hybrid travel option whenever we are going to be away from our washing machine for extended periods of time. I have several friends who couldn't convince their daycares to get on board with cloth diapering even with incentives such as additional pay, but caught their interest by introducing the flushable, compostable diaper insert options offered by several of the leading brands such as GroVia, gDiapers, Flip, and so on. My whole point is that, you do have options, and it is possible to cloth diaper AND be a working mom. Honestly, beyond getting your daycare provider on board with cloth diapering, I can't see how work really impedes the cloth diapering process much. In an age of modern cloth diapering conveniences replacing several of the timely, "old-school" methods, cloth diapering to me involves little additional thought or effort than any other article of clothing would. Where there's a will, there's a way, and I know I have the will. Do you?