I found the flats challenge much easier this year. Perhaps this is because I regularly use flats now (at least one a day in a pad fold). I've also used them at night when our fitteds are not clean, so I knew that flats would work for us at night. I also have more covers this year and since there wasn't a limit of 5 covers this year like there was last year, I didn't have to constantly rinse covers clean.
If I had to use flats full time, it wouldn't be bad. I would definitely miss some of my easy AIO diapers and some of my cute pockets, but I would do it. Flats in a machine wash beautifully, dry quickly, and don't develop stink like microfiber does.
Now, as for handwashing, I don't think I could do that full time. This year was harder since Jaxon is eating solids. However, he still drinks a lot of breastmilk, so his poop is are just gross. Add to that the fact that he's taking iron drops and it gets even grosser. I'd need a diaper sprayer or something to make handwashing easier. I'd also want to do a wet pail, not a dry pail like I do now. Lots of water and soaking really helps make handwashing easier. If for some reason we did not have a washing machine, I would handwash and supplement with frequent trips to relative's houses to wash. I mean, I'd have other laundry to wash as well so I'd have to go somewhere. There's no way that I could handle washing all of our laundry by hand! I had a blister on my hand by day 4 - that made handwashing especially painful once it popped!
I do think everyone should have a small stash of flats. They are cheap, very versatile and great for use in an emergency. If you end up never using the flats, they can be used for all kinds of other things. I typically keep 2 flats and a cover in the van for "just in case" emergencies. I've never run out of diapers and needed it, but I have used mine as a nursing cover, a bib (I loosely tied it around Jaxon's neck), to clean up sudden spills in the car, as a lightweight blanket for Jaxon, and as a changing pad. They also make great cleaning towels (they're lint free, so they are great for windows and furniture).
In summary, flats are wonderful. Handwashing is hard, but doable. It's certainly better than letting your child sit in a dirty diaper for too long or reusing soiled disposables. That makes me so sad to read about! I've tried to think of ways I can help. While most of the families we currently assist through the food pantry do not have young children, we have provided disposables in the past when families have come for food. I'd love to be able to offer a supply of flats and a cover with a Snappi, along with a print out of washing, drying, and folding instructions. Even if this was just used a back up to disposable diapers, it would help.
Did you find the Flats Challenge easy or difficult? How did it impact you to help?