SPRING SKIING: PACKING TIPS

Originally written for Little London Magazine;  By EJ Adam 

We have three ski bunnies’ ages 13, 11 and 8. They are all better than me!

Of course with our eldest, we were out on the slopes with him as soon as we thought possible…which was obviously way too soon, because we were clueless over eager first time parents!  Trying to teach a two year old to ski in plastic skis with a scary clown printed on them is generally not advisable!

We have since become more sensible with each child as they reach the right age to ski. 

Max (13) and Ben (11) started off having private lessons when they were really little (3-4). However, Grace has never had a private lesson and has subsequently learnt to ski in the ski school groups from the age of 4.  We realise 3 was probably a little too soon to be out on the baby slopes. Max is however quite the demon skier now! 

As far as where to ski, everyone has a favorite place and ours is Lech in Austria. Despite having tried out many ski resorts (lucky us!), Lech arguably has the best ski school in Europe and is a fantastic place for kiddies to learn to ski (…and me when I was 25).  It is also stunningly beautiful!  Most of the people I know that have been there always go back…we’ve been going back for over fifteen years!

 My husband even dragged us over there when Grace (our youngest) was just 9 weeks old.  To this day she is still the hotels’ youngest ever guest!

Our Favourite Hotels in Lech

Knappaboda

Rotewand

Plattenhof

Auriga

 Top Tips:

I think my top tip overall would be packing…with three kids I am slightly obsessed with travelling as light as possible and we still look like we are moving house when we go skiing!

  • Two pairs of ski mittens are essential because they always get one wet within 30secs of going out in the snow. I say mittens because they are much warmer, you can also add merino liners for extra warmth.
  • Base layers – of course our superfine non-itchy merino Smalls are the perfect moisture wicking base layer for skiing…our kids live in them when we are away (and when were not!) – they even wear them to bed…. and they don’t get smelly, promise!
  • I try and pack one t-shirt for every two days (and the same for socks ) then one Smalls merino base layer for every five/seven days– that way you’re not laden down with gear
  • Also in the evenings they don’t need much, even for going out to dinner, but try and take a spare coat for going out at night so the ski one can dry overnight.
  • Bright coloured ski outfit so they are easy to identify on busy slopes
  • Sunscreen
  • Lucas’ Papaw ointment for chapped lips
  • Hire your skis the night before…. its chaos in the morning - this is my husbands most important piece of advice
  • Use the ski schools because the kiddies can make friends, and it’s also a little bit of safety in numbers
  • The physical dressing of your little ones
    • I do a Smalls base layer, long sleeve for winter or Raglan for Spring skiing or both if its extra cold!
    • Then fleece if needed, then ski-jacket, because they do end up standing around a lot when they are little. That’s why merino is so wonderful, it regulates your body temperature, whether you’re inside or out, drawing moisture away from the skin to stop you getting cold when standing still.
    • I try and put a bandana around their neck as they are good for just about everything – but my older two now usually pull them off!
    • Smalls 24 Trouser obviously essential! They can wear these on the slopes, then run around in the hotel THEN sleep in them…I know this to be true, because my son Ben did exactly this for ten days straight one year!
    • Merino socks are amazing as well because they don’t smell and are ultra warm (I wore mine to the summit of Kilimanjaro!)
    • Helmet and liner, our Smalls snood is actually the perfect liner, you pull ti up over their head creating the perfect all over liner and snood – I wear also wear a helmet and Smalls snood, its more about people skiing around you not how good you are
    • Goggles - whatever you want, we usually go cheaper because they always lose them or stand on them with their ski boots!
    • Hats are more for the evenings as they are always in a helmet during the day.
  • Kids pocket essentials – sweets, lip salve, sunscreen, tissues and the obligatory 10euros for lunch, which will always be unhealthy.
  • Always try and spend some time skiing with your kiddies, regardless of how painful it is for your lower back…they will be forever grateful and it makes for great memories.

 

 

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Sleep Like a Baby in Wool

 

There is a myriad of information out there for parents, we are especially bombarded with products that will help our babies sleep/eat/possibly even make them brainer (!!)...well....after six kids (that's three each) and having tested out numerous products, Cat and I can easily sort out the marketing gumpf from the real deal. 

...and when it comes to sleep...theres NOTHING better than wool...and it is scientifically proven!  This article from @campaignforwool sums it up perfectly.

Source:  Campaign for Wool

Well, it looks like science has finally proven what wool aficionados have been saying for years! Wool really does make for a better night’s sleep! Read on and find out why wool is perfect for newborns and children.

Studies undertaken by the University of Sydney monitored the temperatures, restfulness, and total sleep time of 8 volunteers using wool, cotton and synthetic bedding in a long term investigation over 3 years. Sleepers were found to sleep significantly longer with wool, waking up less frequently in both hot and cold environments. In fact, all the sleepers preferred wool – only 30% of babies cried when sleeping on wool, compared with 67% on cotton.

What exactly is it about wool that is so beneficial to sleep quality? The consensus seems to be related to the way wool adapts to temperature and moisture. Unlike cotton or synthetic textiles, wool fibres naturally form pockets of air, which allow it to act as an insulator without sacrificing breathability – that is how the same fabric is used to wrap up warm for winter, but also by Bedouins in the Sahara desert to keep cool in the searing heat. This makes wool ideal for babies to snuggle in without getting too hot!

This same structure also allows wool to still act as great insulation when wet – in fact, wool can absorb 30% of its own weight in moisture without even feeling damp! This is great for your baby, and quite nice for you as well! By naturally wicking moisture away from the skin, wool keeps babies dry and comfortable through the night, promoting a long, restful sleep.

There are a handful of other incidental benefits to sleeping on wool. The texture of the fabric offers an inherent softness that you don’t have to be a baby to appreciate. As well as making it cosy and comfy, the use of wool and sheepskin underlay was also found to reduce the occurrence of pressure ulcers by more than half!

As if that wasn’t enough reason to tuck your little one into wool tonight, the textile has been found to be naturally hypoallergenic – meaning that its structure is resistant to bacteria, mould and mildew, vastly reducing the risk of illness.

All Smalls are perfect for sleeping in, we know because thats exactly what our own children do every single night of the year! I have recently bought a wool duvet from Marks and Spencer and some amazing pillows from The Wool Room - I have actually slept better, being a hot bodied sleeper (!)  Ive found I am not overheating at night at all anymore.  There you go - the proofs in the pudding.

Shop our swaddles for the perfect newborn sleep solution.

 

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OUR SUSTAINABILITY STORY IS OUR STORY

“It’s all about changing traditional perceptions of wool and the way we wear it...also, about buying less and choosing well, to quote Vivienne Westwood!”
Cat Pharo, co-founder, Smalls

SMALLS launched in Selfridges July 2014 with a mission to make wool cool for kids again. But that wasn’t our only mission. How we made Smalls, and the values behind it were and remain as important to us as the finished article.

‘Slow Fashion’ is at the heart of everything Smalls do. ‘Slow’ to us means buying less and choosing well. We create gender neutral merino garments that have genuine longevity and traceable provenance, all the dots carefully joined, from farm to fashion.

In 2015 and 2016, our passion for wool, its sustainable benefits, and the brand we are building has been increasingly lauded, with Smalls winning:

  • Smallish Magazine Awards Best Eco Brand 2015, 2016

  • Little London Awards Best Product, 2015

  • Junior Magazine Best Activewear. 2015, 2016

  •  Angels & Urchins Runner Up Best Nightwear/Underwear 2016 

Subsequently, with the patronage of HRH The Prince of Wales and the ‘Campaign for Wool’, Smalls was honored to be named 2015 ‘Incrediwools’.

www.campaignforwool.org/2015/09/02/say-hello-to-the-incrediwools

When we say our ‘sustainability story’ is our story, we don’t say it lightly. Here’s three happy reasons why:

1. SMALLS ARE RESOURCEFUL

Smalls are made to last, to be handed down. Merino only gets better with age so what you wear on top can change season to season but as a stylish basic Smalls can take you through years of wear.

Kids Style Junkie Suzanne Peters believes “...every great outfit starts with Smalls” Karen Walker leading international designer says of her Smalls “we’re loving them

and using them daily!”

What’s more after years of use, if you do end up retiring them, they are fully biodegradable in weeks.

“Smalls really are multipurpose garments that replace a lot in your child’s wardrobe. The subtle pops of colour make it perfect as a base layer as much as a stand-alone garment.”

Emma-Jane, co-founder, Smalls

2. SMALLS ARE RESPECTFUL

We only make Smalls from the wool of “happy sheep”. That way, those happy sheep keep on growing their lovely woolly goodness.

Smalls therefore use only ZqueTM 'ethical wool.' Zque is a distinctive merino wool fiber category that includes a sustainability accreditation.

To earn certified ZqueTM qualification, the start-to-finish production cycle is assessed on equal merit with quality of the wool. This includes: stewardship of the sheep herds, traceability to the source, environmentally responsible practices, and socially progressive mandates.

Smalls ZqueTM Merino comes from New Zealand and Australia.

Zque Animal Welfare: Surpassing the minimum standards set down by the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act of 1999, providers of ZqueTM wool must demonstrate a long-range plan that seeks to enhance the health, welfare and productive capacity of their sheep.

3. SMALLS ARE RE-IMAGINING

There’s never only one way to approach the production chain. But because there’s a right way, Smalls are made in Fiji.

We strive to support smaller communities and countries that produce high quality garments in excellent working conditions. Be it in Europe or the South Pacific, we can trace our merino right the way back to the farms where it’s produced. We can identify which sheep herd we have to thank for the Smalls keeping our little ones snug.

Our Zque wool providers must promote the social and economic welfare of their employees and their communities. This includes working collaboratively for a stable and sustainable pricing structure.

Smalls – Happy underneath it all

Thanks for listening.

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Welcome to our Newborn Baby...

Like most little miracles our newest was conceived over one too many glasses of good wine. Shall we?…should we? ok, yes.…why not…lets do it!

 

And so Smalls was born and we welcomed a new baby in to our lives. Well…. thats what it feels like most (actually all) of the time and we just can’t get over the similarities.

 

For a start no one warned us how hard it would be, well on second thoughts they probably did, but we chose to ignore them because…how hard can it be right? 

 

Well, 3 years on we can tell you, it is hard, and like all labours of love there is no firm rule book. Our creation is our own, it reflects us, our influences, our loves and our passions. We are creating something unique to us and we are feeling our way and learning as we go. Just like we are as parents. Every. Single. Day.

 

We have happy times, and down times, it’s an emotional roller coaster. Our baby seems to get out of control and have a mind of its own and we sometimes feel at breaking point.  (like this week, or when its school holidays!) Then our baby will do something dazzling (like getting some fantastic award  - thanks Junior and Smallish!, or a new stockist yay Tigeroy Australia!), and we melt.

All is forgiven.

We look at each other with wide, proud smiles. ‘we made that’ we say. And we are happy.  (and occasionally also holding a pet chicken)

Happy and holding a chicken on a good day. 

The challenging times aren't helped by sleep deprivation. Our baby keeps us up all night, working madly until 12-1 am, then we get up and carry on with our real babies, jobs, and fit our husbands and friends in occasionally. Our friends wonder what ever happened to us. “we never see you any more” they say, “we need to get you out”!

 

Our newborn is demanding of our time, we can’t take our eye off the ball or something may slip. We are very responsible parents of this baby and are monitoring it constantly! luckily we are co parenting and we have each other to take up the slack if the other doesn’t. Answer an email, write a post, make a phone call. Supporting each other is everything.

 

This baby is getting older and we have been through many stages. At every point there is something new to learn. Every time you think you’ve cracked it, there is another challenge. This is all part of the joy though. Our creation is helping us grow and we learn something new every day.

 

One day we look forward to this baby growing up, gaining independence and needing us a little less so that we can spend a little bit more of that precious time on our real babies, and to enjoy the really good bits.  Growing a new brand is fulfilling, challenging and infuriating all in equal measure but we would never be without it now.

 

We sometimes think how much easier our lives would be if we hadn't taken the decision to create this, but we realise that we are so attached that we just wouldn't know what to do without it. We would be lost. We find we thrive on the work, our achievements at each small step and the pride in what we have created.

 

Our husbands are amused by our now modern blended families. Emma has hers, I have mine, and we have this child together.  We need to consider who looks after it when one of us goes on holiday.

 

When our baby finally does come of age it may even start taking care of us in return!! For now though we carry on. We put our best foot forward every day and do our utmost to be the very best parents of this baby that we possibly can be!

 

 

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Top tips for packing perfection.

…or…How to take the stress out of traveling with kids.

The prospect of traveling with small children can be enough to put even the most seasoned of travellers off the idea of long haul flights. 

After three kids each and several trips back and forth to New Zealand and more, both Cat and I are seasoned travellers and mothers, who’ve picked up a trick or two along the way to make travelling with kids a bit easier. 

“Stick to the mantra: “Less is more, LESS IS MORE!”, because when you’re halfway through the airport, you don’t want to juggle more than you need to! 

I break into sweat at the memory of lugging a pram, a 2.5year old and a 6 month old through the airport halfway to New Zealand, with an impractical change bag, way too many clothes, nappies, wet wipes etc. etc.”,

“We’ve learnt the hard way, and now our advice is to leave it all behind and take only what you deem absolutely essential. Obviously, travel has become much easier for us now that our children are older, more independent and see flying as an opportunity to watch as many movies as they can back to back.”

Here are our absolute Top Tips for travelling with and packing for kids:

Carry On Counts

If you’re more organised than us, buying new sticker books or colouring in books in advance is a great start of the holiday treat, or you could just pick them up at the airport. The new adult colouring in books for mindfulness might even tempt older kids away from their movies and electronic devices. 

Paw paw cream, Eight Hour cream or something similar for dry cheeks, bottoms and for that dehydrating aircon, it’s particularly tough on little ones’ skin

Wet wipes no need to say more!

Nappies and changes of clothes, we always allowed for one nappy for every 2-3 hours of flying plus a couple of babygrows…no need for fancy outfits! Now that our kids are older, they wear Smalls underneath and if going very long distance I always take fresh pants and socks for everyone. Even me!

Keep a small stash of chewy sweets in your bag for the inevitable popping ears on the way up and down

Taking drinks on board can be a bit trickier these days, but there’s no limit on how much food you can take with you. A small but perfectly formed supply of your kids’ favourite snacks is a winner all ‘round, if your kids are anything like ours or have allergies, they’re bound not to like the airline’s food! A friend of ours swears by a supply of those wrapped brioches in her kids’ carry on so they can tuck in when they feel like it. 

For long haul flights, pack a nice soft pair of kids sized head phones. There’s nothing worse than spending the flight trying to prop a too big, uncomfortable pair of earphones 

Pop a few balloons into your hand luggage. If you’re stuck waiting at the gate, there’s normally some space to run around. Blow up a balloon or two and let the kids have some fun. You can save the electronic devices for once you’re on the ‘plane and stuck in a seat. Once you’re called to the gate, you can either pop the balloons or pass on to other bored-looking kids! 

Make sure your carry on bag isn’t too big or heavy and won’t land you at the physio for months afterwards! Once your kids are old enough, make sure they have their own backpacks which are easy to carry – we have recently given them each a Penny Skateboard Backpack – they are “cool” enough and have lots of useful pockets and fit on their backs really well, and mine!

And, if I had my baby time again, I would definitely get a Tiba + Marl  leather baby bag; stylish, hands-free and good for the Dads! In fact I’m coveting one of their retro bum bags currently!

In Flight Comfort 

Wearing comfortable layers whilst on a flight is a given nowadays. When Cat travelled to New Zealand with her three daughters earlier this year, she figured out dealing with travelling from one climate to another simply by dressing in layers, “The kids took one outfit each to travel in, dressed head to toe in Smalls, I knew they would be comfortable, and happy, taking them from the icy cold UK winter right through to toasty warm New Zealand and all the air conditioning in between! Total travel happiness.” 

Pack Like A Pro 

Pack Smart – My mother-in-law introduced me to a range of awesome packing cells, which you can get in lots of different sizes…. OK I’m a confessed packing nerd, but they are amazing for holidays with lots of people to muster. Instead of a bag full of chaos, you pull each child’s cells out which contain all their clothes – one for tops, one for pants, one for trousers etc.…it’s a game changer!

Get the basics right – As a rule, allow one t-shirt per two days you are away and max one trousers/shorts for the same time …just try and make outfits out of what you’ve packed so you can see one pair of shorts goes with several tops and so on. I promise you that even then, you won’t use it all. Add in two pairs of Pjs…. maximum, now that we have Smalls we just take one pair since they don’t smell, but we do take clean pants for each day!! Then you only need a couple of pairs of shoes: flip flops + trainers for summer or trainers + snow boots for skiing…it’s not a fashion show and all everyone wants is to get there, relax and not spend hours unpacking and repacking!!

Safety First – Always pack a basic travel first aid kit. I always end up using mine…particularly on a summer holiday! Someone always stubs a toe within the first hour of arrival

Use a Smalls sheepy bag tag to lock your bag (thread it through the loops on your zips) and identify it from all the other black wheelie bags rotating their way around the conveyor belt.

If travelling from winter to warmer climes, our advice is to leave the winter coats at home, brave those few steps from the car/train to the airport with a few layers that will be useful inflight and on your holiday like a pashmina and some Smalls! If that’s a step too far for you, then once you’re at the airport shove it into your luggage so it gets checked in and you can retrieve it at the other end when you collect your bags.

Packing for skiing can be complicated, but Smalls’ EJ has managed to get it down to a fine art, allowing for a base-layer set and normal cotton t-shirt for every two days of holiday, plus going out clothes, plus PJs and a couple of fleeces. Since we created Smalls, I’m struggling to pack properly because we don’t NEEEED all the “stuff” that we used to, now I sometimes overpack! My kids wear one Smalls base-layer set for the whole week…day and night. It seemed quite weird to begin with, but our merino is so soft and snuggly the kids are comfortable and it’s naturally antibacterial so never gets smelly

Don’t get too carried away getting stressed about going on a flight, I pack the night before we go and it takes a couple of hours. If you forget something, or if your child is a nightmare on the flight (we’ve all been there) it’s only for a short time… focus on the finish line, your eagerly awaited holiday!

Love EJ x

 

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