The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky (and very entertaining) daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad or my gorgeous sister in law as part of our baby blog and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) and baby swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.
There has been lots of talk of fairies recently, so when we were invited to a nature birthday party we went in search of fairies. It was such a beautiful day and the sun was streaming through the leaves as we went sneaking through the trees looking for signs of where fairies were sleeping.
The children seem like they have only been back at school for five minutes but October half term is creeping up on us, so planning a half term get away may be a good way to cast off the autumnal blues that seem to have descended. But holiday packing can be an absolute nightmare, whether you’re sneaking off for a naughty weekend or jetting off for a fortnight with the family and the bane of baggage costs, suitcase sizes, (lets not get started on the liquid allowances) and the inevitable repacking at the check-in desk can be daunting for even the ardent traveller.
So we have put together some easy to follow steps for packing light this half term.
1. Most of us tend to buy new clothes for our holidays but how about taking old clothes and undergarments and dispose of them each day leaving more room for momentos to bring home if you choose. It also cuts down on items that will need washing when you return.
2. Don't bother packing towels, they take up far too much room (and weight). Most resorts have them available now but if you really insist on taking one, try the Hammamas as they have a beautiful range of turkish cotton towels, which are perfect for taking on holiday as a beach towel, or sarong. We tried one over the summer and they really are super absorbent, lightweight and fast drying, and come in a gorgeous range of colours and sizes too.
3. Think carefully about the clothes that you want to take with you and question whether you really need a different pair of shoes for every night. If you are staying in the UK, the British weather can be unpredictable but you don’t want to end up bringing everything plus the kitchen sink! Pack clothes for your holiday that you can mix and match together and make sure you bring plenty of layers.
4. Travel size toiletries are your friend. You don't need to take the full size bottle of shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and most have a travel size alternative, which is ideal if you really want to travel light by only taking hand luggage. 100ml liquid rules mean you don't want to have to leave your favourite product in the security bin in the airport.
5. Leave the laptop behind, as well as the iphone, ipads and any other tech gadget you can think of. For computer addicts, being away from the internet’s constant flow of data for a few days recharges and relaxes you in ways that you never experience at home. Unless of course you have children who can be kept entertained on the plane with an iPad!
6. If you are travelling with your partner, most men dont usually take hand luggage, so getting him a flight bag means that he can keep all your travel documents in one place (over his body) and you can simply carry on to the plane. With an easy over the shoulder strap, the Spiral Flight Bags let you keep all your valuables within arm’s reach which avoids having to rummage around in your carry case or handbag every time you pass security.
7. If you can spare 10 minutes a night while you are aware to wash your socks and underwear in your hotel room, you could save a lot of space in your suitcase.
8. Wear your heaviest clothing on the plane, like jeans and boots to travel in, you will have them with you but they won't contribute to the weight of your case!
9. Keep your sunglasses, ear plugs, snacks, lip balm, toothbrush, hairbrush, a change of underwear, pen, and any special medicines and necessary items you need in the top of your bag or even in your hand luggage because you never know what may happen when you travel.
10. Wheels? Do you need them on your luggage? You should consider if you want your bag or suitcase to have wheels or not. They take up lots of precious packing space and add weigh to your bag. But they are also super handy at helping to maneuver luggage through airports!
Today, the man on the Lilypad has taken over the blog about what he really thinks of our baby swimming ...... be kind to him!
6am, 22 years ago and I'm standing on the edge of the Olympic size training pool. I already know the water isn’t heated, I know how icy cold it’s going to be as I plunge in but strangely I welcome it and crave it. This cold water torture on a Saturday morning was not just for fun, I swam competitively for the county. As I think back now to the inspirational mishap that started my journey I am pleased that my little princess didn’t decide to throw herself into the local duck pond on a freezing January day, instead as a family we wanted a much more gentle introduction to learning to swim, something we found with the amazing waterbabies.
Most people have seen the images of babies swimming unaided under water, eyes open and totally at home but I have to admit I wasn’t sure about plunging her under the water and just hoping instinct kicks in and she holds her breath! In the early stages my wife took the lead in the pool, allowing me to observe from the side. I was amazed at how comfortable most of the children were and the lessons were nothing like what I had experienced as a child! Singing, splashing, play and a great environment of encouragement all allowed our little one to progress quickly.
Fast forward 3 years and our Sunday mornings are filled with 30 minutes of getting in and out of the pool safely, bubble blowing, ‘tiger arms’, frantic kicking, jumping in, singing, wibble wobbling off giant floats and ultimately one of my proudest moments as a dad, watching my little mermaid complete a 10 metre unaided swim – pink goggle clad face bobbing along with a giant grin on it! Of course its not all plain sailing! We have had a number of lessons that have descended into tears (typically anything involving lying on her back! And typically the ones where its me in the pool!?) but this is always dealt with brilliantly and nothing is forced.
As parents we all want our children to progress and learn new skills as they grow, but it has been one of the most rewarding experiences to see this crucial life skill being developed in a fun and structured environment. Who knows, maybe like my dad I will end up sitting watching a champion swimmer diving in to that same freezing Olympic size pool at 6am in another 10 years time, all inspired not by a dip with the ducks but instead bathing with the water babies!
The Irish Fairy Company help fairies relocate into homes and gardens all over the world by producing high quality handmade Irish fairy doors; their aim is to create memorable family moments and a little magic all year round – all YOU need to do is believe!
I *may* have been a little excited about this arriving on our doorstep as we are always on a quest to maintain the magic of make believe for as long as possible in our house and with the combination of the irish fairy door, the magic key and family agreement, there is nothing more magical than having your very own fairy! The Irish Fairy Door comes well packaged and securely fixed inside the box. It takes a little persuasion to get it out but the girls were busy investigating the fairy guide, key and family agreement while we carefully "unstuck" it from the box.
You have to pick a special place for your Irish Fairy Door to go (and I have to admit that ours may have moved location a couple of times until we were happy that a) it was safe b) the cat couldn't mess with the stones and c) the fairy would be happy!)
I have to take time to note the quality of the door. There are a lot of "plastic" products on the market which are targeted to young children but this beautifully made wooden door is very simple but perfect in every way. There are a number of door designs to choose from all of which retail at £19.99 but we chose the purple arched door as this appealed to both girls with purple door for the older one and the splash of pink to pacify the younger one. You can also buy accessories for your fairy door such as door knockers and adorably cute washing lines for fairy clothes.
It is obviously important to write a note to your fairy and you have to hope that the fairy can read your writing and will write back. (Note for Parents : It is IMPORTANT that the fairy writes back!).
With a soldem vow after reading the family agreement, even the 10 year old who doesn't "really" believe in the tooth fairy any more has bought into writing to the fairy when her tooth fell out, although I am not sure if this is more to do with continual quest for a shiny coin in return for her tooth, than maintaining her belief in fairies!
Bubbling excitement at bedtime due to the waiting for the fairy means that sleep is the last thing on a childs mind, so we found a gorgeous fairy poem that helped encourage sleep.
How far and wide the fairies fly,
On bright and golden wing,
But when they settle down to sleep,
A gentle song they sing.
Sweet Queen of Night,
Soft silver stars
We're glad you are so near,
We seek our beds,
We rest our heads,
Without a moment's fear.
In hidden nooks
We watch the wanning light
The joys of sleep
Upon us creep
We wish you all good night.
Credit : Steven Kroll
So while everyone is sleeping, the fairy comes into your house to sprinkle a little bit of magic all around because let's be honest, who doesn't want a little bit of magic in their lives?