Reusable Nappies: From ‘what?!’ to WHNAS

IMG-20160908-WA0000Be honest… what’s the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions reusable nappies…? Soaking? Rinsing? Traditional terry nappies? Being stabbed with a safety pin? POO?! If so, then you are thinking exactly the same as I did, three years ago, when my friend asked me if I had considered using reusable nappies on my baby. After all, why would anyone want to wash pooey nappies when you can buy disposables?!

Then I got thinking about the number of disposable nappies we were using; six or seven nappies, at least a dozen disposable wipes, plus the disposable nappy bags, and that was in just one day. The rubbish was, quite literally, building up, despite the council swapping our bin for a larger one. So, I bit the bullet and contacted my local nappy library, the Worcestershire & Herefordshire Nappy Advisory Service (WHNAS) and booked in to borrow a kit…

My first thought was how different reusable nappies were in reality compared to my preconceptions. Long gone are the days of bulky terry nappies that need to be folded and covered with plastic pants (though these are still a cheap and efficient option if you do want to go down that route); modern reusable nappies are slim-line, brightly-coloured and take the same amount of time to put on as a disposable nappy. There is so much choice now within the reusable nappy market and a nappy library is a fantastic resource that enables you to trial lots of different types of reusable nappies to see which works best for your child and circumstances. If you are considering reusable nappies for your child(ren), then you can find your local nappy library here:
http://www.uknappynetwork.org/map.html

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Nappy libraries are run by volunteers who share a passion and enthusiasm for reusable nappies; the volunteers provide this service in their free time, around families and jobs, and often using their own money to fund the kits themselves. When loaning out a kit, your volunteer will go through the nappies with you, explaining the different types of nappies and materials, as well as showing how the nappies go together and come apart for washing. They will also show you how to fit a reusable nappy correctly so you don’t get leaks, and explain how to wash reusable nappies so they will last. Volunteers will also be available to help trouble shoot any problems you have during your loan (and usually after too!)

Each nappy library is run slightly differently; for example, some are completely free and entirely reliant on donations from clients, whereas others charge a small fee that covers their running costs and keeping the kits up to date, and yet more are run with NCT support. In order to be part of the UK Nappy Network, libraries must be fully insured, which covers areas such as washing kits at 60 degrees between loans and Public Liability Insurance in case anyone injures themselves during a demo.

12919634_530502867153612_72255949415554319_nAfter borrowing a kit myself, I volunteered to help out my local nappy library, the WHNAS; we now have a network of ten volunteers across two counties, spreading the reusable nappy love. We have various roles within the WHNAS, including loaning out kits, doing demonstrations at baby groups, administration, buying and selling nappies to make new kits and keep old kits up to date and online support. If you already use reusable nappies and have a couple of hours free time a month, why not see if there is a role that you could fill for your local nappy library!

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Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 – February

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

At the beginning of February, we were feeling quietly optimistic; opening up more of North America was a fantastic achievement, but it also brought added difficulties, as we had more cities to keep stocked up now, as well as attempting to build more inland supply lines. This was in addition to keeping our supply centres built. The Hollow Men are targeting South America, searching for one of the labs that is working on a cure.

Mohawk Toby and myself managed to connect Atlanta and Denver to the grid, so we can spread into North America and hopefully across to the East Coast; our plan to build supply centres swiftly fell by the wayside as the Plague took hold.

Sao Paulo fell quickly to the Plague, but thankfully we were able to eliminate the disease there, then later Mohawk Toby built a permanent supply centre there; we need to keep our gateway into South America open. However, concentrating our resources in South America meant that the Middle East came under threat; we then lost Tripoli and Istanbul to the Plague, and before we had time to respond, Cairo fell. We MUST keep our supply lines to the Middle East open. We retreated to the Havens to regroup and discuss a new strategy.

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Cairo and Tripoli are proving to be our problem areas, as well as the Mid-West; Denver, Atlanta and Mexico City all succumbed to the Plague early on, making travel inland challenging. Luckily I managed to build a supply centre in New York will has helped a little in keeping North America open.

By the end of February, Mexico City and Atlanta were infested, but thankfully not forsaken. Yet.

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Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 – January

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

North America is the priority; we must recon and see whether we can expand inland and reconnect our supply lines there. The supplies aren’t keeping the plague away like they used to. What’s more, they’re running out; as fast as we build supply centres, they are destroyed by the Hollow Men.

Mohawk Toby’s task this month was to build and maintain three supply centres, while Rock made sure everyone had the resources they needed to recon North America. London fell early on; it’s out on a limb with only one route of access in and out, so I’m sorry to say we abandoned it to its fate as the plague took hold. Cairo also fell later on in the month; Mohawk Toby was there when the plague hit, but luckily he escaped without being infected. We must be more vigilant in the future.

We were lucky. Between me and Jasmine, we were able to move people around and keep most cities well supplied, so it fell to Mohawk Toby to recon North America. Which he did! We finally have a supply line inland! Washington to Chicago, but Atlanta and Denver are close by too, so we are hopeful that we can expand further next month. Washington and Jacksonville can also hold more supplies now too.

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January is over, and we achieved our objectives; we have a foothold in North America now, and hope that we can keep expanding. Maybe our luck will hold for a while longer. Only time will tell.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 – Background

***MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS***

We are starting this journal to record our attempts to keep the world from ending.

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We are down to three known havens; Rivendell and The Shire in the Atlantic Ocean and Moria in the Mediterranean. Whether the others are still going, we have no idea. The same with major cities; cities far away from the havens have fallen off our grid. We don’t know what’s happened to them. We are failing.

The supplies aren’t keeping the plague away like they used to. What’s more, they’re running out; as fast as we build supply centres, they are destroyed. The Hollow Men are ravaging the mainland, but we must still fight on.

Five of us are charged with leading in these final days. Not because we are able to lead but because we are willing. I am Ama Frey. Rivendell is my home haven, and my skill is moving people around so they are where they need to be. Jasmine is also from Rivendell. No-one knows her surname, and she always covers her face, though no-one knows exactly why. There are rumours that she grew up inland and escaped the Hollow Men. Her knowledge of the mainland means she can transfer supplies more easily; every little helps when the world is on its knees.

Thomas ‘Toad’ Clearwater and Mohawk Toby are from Moria and knew each other before the plague. Toad was a farmer in his previous life, so he can make and deliver supplies quickly. Mohawk Toby was a labourer working with Toad; he is good with his hands and keeps building our supply centres so we can keep resources flowing to the havens. Lastly, Rock Theren is ex-military; he co-ordinates our efforts to keep supply lines open and supply centres intact.

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Together we will try to save the world. We know we can’t save all the cities, but we will do what we can to save most of them. If we fail, we hope that someone, somewhere, finds these notes to know that we may not have succeeded but we tried.

Taking the kids swimming… And conquering my own fears!

Originally written as a blog post for AquaTots:

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I grew up in a single parent household with my mum and my brother; she cannot swim, and was scared to take me and my brother in case anything happened to us, as she did not feel confident in the water.

I had swimming lessons for a term in Year 4, but most of my class could not swim, so I didn’t actually learn anything then! Fast forward a few years to starting secondary school; we had weekly swimming lessons in Years 7 and 8, and in the first lesson, we were pretty much told to jump in the pool and get to the other side – as a non-swimmer, this was my idea of hell! I did it, but it really knocked my confidence. By the end of the first term, I could swim front and back, and jump in off the diving board, as we had to do, but I never enjoyed swimming due to the constant fear, and I HATED putting my head under the water

Even as an adult, this has stuck with me, and I have never put my head under the water since school, just paddled, but I was also adamant that my kids would not grow up with the same fear I had. When I watched my husband and brother-in-law on family holidays jump in, dive and splash around, I knew that’s what I wanted for my kids, not the absolute fear that me, my brother and my mum all share (I will say that I absolutely do not blame my mum! She is terrified of the water still, and I do understand why!)

I was adamant that my own kids would not share my fears, so we started swimming lessons when the eldest was just two weeks old, and at six months we switched to AquaTots as their system was much more progressive. My husband swam with Thomas each week, and I watched both of them enjoy the experience and learn so much together.

When Thomas was 16 months old, along came Katherine, and we wanted her to have a similar experience, so she enrolled in AquaTots at three months old. This time, Paul was insistent that I swim with her, so that I could experience the same bonding experience that he did with Thomas. I was apprehensive, but wanted to give it a go!

From the start, you are introduced to exercises gradually, and build on previous lessons and experiences. Even in Duckling course, you are taught how to release your child safely under the water, and there is absolutely no pressure to go underwater if you do not want to, but if my three-month-old can be submerged independently, then why can’t I?! So I finally bit the bullet and went under with her… And I can honestly say that it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared!

I have now gained the confidence to push off the wall underwater with Katherine and push her towards Sam, and regularly go under with her for the turning exercises. I am looking forward to learning even more skills with my daughter, and thanks to AquaTots for being the push to increase my confidence!^7F06220BEC16F15C695480B9D1DE69CC7AFA28EC368912B828^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr

Being A Cloth Bum Mum

Originally written as a blog post for Baba+Boo

I’ll be honest, reusable nappies weren’t high on our list of things we would do when we had a baby; in fact, they weren’t even on our list. When Thomas was born, a friend bought us a set of cloth wipes and a Doctor Who nappy [we are huge Doctor Who fans, and even have a full-size pet dalek called Delilah at home!], and I genuinely thought ‘what are these?’ But after several months of badgering (thanks, Pip!) we loaned a nappy kit from my local nappy library and things spiralled from there…

Perhaps we were lucky, but we never had any issues, even when starting out. The kit was straightforward to use, and we soon learnt which nappies we did and didn’t like. Hook-and-loop was a no-no as Thomas could undo them, we found pockets easier to customise in terms of absorption, and who doesn’t love a pretty pattern?! As time progressed we needed to make changes to our stash – extra bamboo when Thomas started flood weeing, two parters for night-time, along with extra hemp – but nothing a little experimentation couldn’t solve.

Thomas was in cloth full time from the age of four months until he potty trained at 2.5 years. As his younger sister, made an appearance when he was sixteen months old, that also meant a year with two in cloth; a lot of people have asked how we managed to cloth two at once, but it honestly made no difference having two children to having one, we just had to do a nappy wash more frequently. Katherine is now 17 months old and has never had a disposable nappy or wipe used on her. During our cloth bum journey we have travelled abroad, stayed in hotels and stayed in chalets with no washing facilities, but still managed to use reusable nappies the whole time; our philosophy is that if you want to, you will find a way. Plus, I’m too tight to buy disposables when I already have reusables to hand!

At the start of our cloth journey, I’ll be honest, my main motivation was to save a little money; by the time Thomas was ten months old, the cost of the reusable nappies we had bought had balanced out what we would have spent on disposable nappies over the same time period. But as time went on, I realised the environmental benefits of reusable nappies, and reusable items in general, and have since used reusable breast pads while breastfeeding, currently use CSP, and am venturing into reusable toilet roll (no different to using cloth wipes on a baby, and saves us a fortune) We have never run out of nappies, and never had nappy rash. The hardest aspect of reusable nappies for us was learning to fit them correctly, as they do fit differently to a disposable; once mastered though, you never forget. Oh, and toilet training Thomas was a little challenging as he wanted to wear his superhero nappies, but once I’d hidden them away, he was fine with switching to pants!

And so to the present day… Having taken advantage of a free loan of reusable nappies from my local nappy library to get me started, I wanted to give something back through volunteering. Through the WHNAS (now Worcestershire Nappy Library), I have loaned nappy kits to dozens of local families and supported them in their own cloth journeys I have done demos to local groups as well as individual consultations as well as spreading the word about the work done by an unsung network of volunteers across the country. We are available at all times for advice and support, and we do this around our own families and jobs. If I can give just one piece of advice to anyone considering reusable nappies, it would be this; use your local nappy library and take advantage of the wealth of experience the volunteers have to offer.DSC_0162

MacMillan Cancer Support – World’s Biggest Coffee Morning

***TRIGGER WARNING – SENSITIVE TOPIC – CANCER***

Friday 29th September 2017 is MacMillan’s Cancer Support World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, so I will be baking a lot of cakes this week to support this fantastic cause.

I have two reasons for this:
Firstly, I like baking, and any excuse is fine by me.
Secondly, and to me, more importantly, this is a cause close to my heart. I have recently lost a member of my close family to cancer and have other friends and family who are still battling or have been fortunate enough to win their fight.

Everyone knows someone who is or has been affected by this deadly disease. 1 in 3 of us will suffer during our lifetime, and as the population ages that number will increase. Consider your own immediate family and work out the odds: for me, this means that at least one out of me, my husband and my two children will contract cancer. If we are extremely lucky, none of us will, but that just means that another family somewhere will get more than their fair share to deal with.

There are more than 100 different types of cancer, so diagnosis, treatment and prevention is an uphill struggle. Whereas all cancers are basically caused by body cells dividing indiscriminately, and it is at heart a genetic disease, environmental factors, such as lifestyle choices, can make a huge impact on certain types of cancer. The more scientists find out about the causes of cancer, the more questions it raises.

MacMillan Cancer Support provide medical, emotional, practical and financial support, as well as campaigning for better cancer care. And because cancer affects more than just those facing it, they offer support for friends and family too. If you want to find out more about how you can participate, you can do so here: https://coffee.macmillan.org.uk/

You can get involved as much or as little as you want to: from hosting your own coffee morning for friends, colleagues or family, to making or buying cakes to take along to an event; donating the spare change in the bottom of your bag (everyone has some!) to volunteering on a regular basis. Everyone really can do something, and for me, that’s baking. Please do what you can do.

[Photo is of a gingerbread AT-AT made at Christmas. It’s designed to have fallen like that, honest!]

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