Friday, September 30, 2011

The practice of mindfulness

Today I put on my apron that my grandma made me and did some laundry. I know, I know, some of you are going to be asking yourself why I am writing a post on laundry. It’s such a mundane task!

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Here’s the thing: Laundry is so mundane that many of us forget to stop and be mindful of the task at hand. More often than not we want to just get it done and move on. We may be listening to some tunes or watching TV or texting our bff. Guess what? When I did my laundry today I didn’t have any of that.

Profound, I know. But that is why I am writing this post. Because I hung my laundry to dry outside while my Gorgeous was taking her first nap of the day I HAD to turn all of that off. I had to be able to listen to everything around me in case I heard her wake up! So, by default, I felt myself turn towards being mindful.

Now, what is this mindfulness and why is it so important? Mindfulness is a state of being wherein you are simply focused on the task at hand. It is part meditation and part awareness. It’s very hard to describe unless you’ve allowed yourself the quiet space to experience it. But this state of mind is exactly what so many of us need and desire. Instead of watching TV to drone out the events of the day you can achieve a mindful state by simply focusing on the task at hand. Personally, I find this much more relaxing and calming. Instead of having things blare in my ears or shock my eyes into oblivion I find that simply doing the task at hand is so much more calming.

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Even though I was trying to practice mindfulness I found myself thinking about the profound simplicity of hanging cloth diapers to dry on the line. I thought about why I was lined drying them instead of running them through the dryer that was more conveniently located. And I thought about how much of a statement line drying your diapers outside really is. So I wanted to touch on these aspects for a little bit with you.

I want to share my diaper cleaning routine with you. Part of the routine is based on where I am currently living (when in Rome do as the Romans do) but most of it is how I figured out how to do it on my own. Here’s the basic routine:

1) Diaper comes off Gorgeous’ bottom and into the sink (unless there’s a BM).

2) If there is BM that I didn’t “catch” (we practice part-time elimination communication) then I dump the poo into the toilet and rinse it in there as best as I can before putting the diaper in the sink.

3) The sink is my pre-wash, essentially. I rinse out as much “liquid” (pee, oils, etc.) as possible before putting it into my in-house diaper container.

4) After a days’ worth of diapers accumulates in-house I take them outside to line dry if the weather is on my side (otherwise they go straight into my outside container).

5) After drying they go into the outside container which is an old storage tote with a bungee on top so no animals can get in.

6) When I am running low on diapers I put a load through the washer. I use Oxi-Clean for stains and soap nuts as my detergent/softener.

7) Once done (2 washes for smell reasons) I pull them out and shake them out to re-fluff them.

8) They go onto the line from here until dry.

9) I pull them inside where Gorgeous helps me “fold” them and put them away. She takes them out and throws them across the floor while I stack what I can catch.

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Covers and liners go through a similar process unless I am low on covers-then they go into the wash with other clothes. They don’t get as dirty so I worry less about them. Our cloth wipes are dealt with the same way as the diapers. We use so little of these that we’re never low.

So why such an elaborate process? Well, for one, my MIL’s washer doesn’t have a sanitary cycle so I wash them this way to reduce the amount of times I need to wash them in the washer. My MIL is not a fan of the idea of human excretions in her machines (not that I blame her) either. I line dry the first time because my MIL and husband dislike the smell of pee (again, no blame, just a difference in tolerance levels). The soap nuts and Oxi-Clean are because of Gorgeous’ skin sensitivities (sorry, Love, you inherited those from me). And the final line dry is to sanitize them.

Yes, the sun sterilizes and sanitizes! It evens whitens whites. I am completely serious! When I found out this little fact I started putting pillows in the sun, throw rugs, anything that could hang on our line. I liked that it refreshed the items in between washes which allowed the items to last longer without wear and tear! With the upfront expense of cloth diapers makes this is an amazing little discovery because line drying lengthens the life of the diaper. So if you have cloth diapers and room for a line, do yourself a favor and line dry!

It will be quite the statement you are making to the world. Short of letting your little lovey run around in just a cloth diaper or wearing a shirt declaring your love of cloth, this is the biggest statement you can make outside of the bathroom about your diapers of choice. Imagine what your neighbors will think when they look out their window to see a field of white diapers, pretty cloth covers, and some shredded cloth wipes. Honestly, if they’re anyone I’d want to hang with, they’re probably thinking how cool you are for saving the earth and your baby’s bottom! They may even come over and ask for advice. Well, in an ideal world at least. But even if you aren’t having your neighborhood momma’s coming over for tea and diapers people will still know that a baby lives at your house and that you are making an alternative lifestyle choice. I wouldn’t fret too much about this though.

You see, all you are doing is going back a few generations and bringing their knowledge up to the modern era. My husband was cloth diapered. My grandma’s were cloth diapered. My mom and I weren’t. So you will have to go back a few generations to gather this knowledge. But with the upswing of vintage ideals (or whatever you want to call it) you will be considered the cool cat in town. And if you don’t have the capability to gather the knowledge from your grandmas there are plenty of resources online you can turn to (don’t forget: you can always email me if you need).

As I hung my diapers to dry with my apron holding pins and the laundry basket getting pushed down the line as I went all I could think about is how cool my MIL is for letting me in on this wonderful knowledge. I felt connected to all the women of the past who did the exact same thing, maybe watching their kids run around the yard or teaching their daughters how to hang a diaper on the line. I thought of old civil war movies where you see sheets hanging in the breeze on an old farm. And I remembered my dream as a kid where I wanted a small self-sustaining farm with a couple kids in tow. Such a simple task connected me with my passion and with generations of women.

Even if you don’t do it for the earth friendly benefits or the health of your kids or, even, for the frugality of it I ask you, have you tried to cloth diaper for even one day? Won’t you try it? Or what about giving your dryer a break and hang drying, even in the bathtub? No? Okay, then I challenge you to turn off the screens for one hour and report back to me with what you spent that time doing. It may take a little adjustment but I bet you’ll love it. Simply try to be mindful of yourself today and you, too, may find that deeper connection.

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