Getting started skiing with kids
We’ve had so much snow across the country this year, how could you not spend some time on the slopes?
If you were a decent skiier before the kids came into the picture, you’ll want to get them started early. We waited until our youngest boy was 3 and our oldest was 6. You decide when the time is right. I’d recommend between 4 and 6 based on our experience.
I’ll admit, I am a strong believer in ski school. Most ski schools have instructors that return year after year, so they really know what they are doing with kids. A typical full day of ski school is pretty scheduled, and they always have someone inside to take in kids that just aren’t feeling it.
Top 5 things to know/do before you go:
5) Pick some place small and inexpensive. The first time out, don’t fly to some expensive place to stay, eat and ski. You’ll be a lot more understanding when your kids quit ski school after half a day, if you haven’t paid over a hundred and fifty dollars to have them do it. Not to mention your lift tickets that will now go unused. On a smaller mountain, as parents, you won’t feel like you are missing out when it’s time to cut the run short and head to ski school to pick them up.
Some of you will argue the point that you want the best ski school instructors and experience for your little tike, and you think you can only find that at a big fancy place. But for those first couple of years when they are learning to ride the lift and ski the pizza slice or the french fry stance, I’m not sure you have a leg to stand on. There are great ski instructors at a lot of low to mid tier ski resorts, don’t count them out.
4) Take your kids shopping for all that cool ski gear. Even if this just means going to borrow some at a friend’s house. If they’ve tried all of it on before you bundle them up and send them out on the mountain, they won’t have to tackle all that new stuff all at once. Bribing little kids with mohawk helmet covers is not a crime.
3) Try to stay as close to the mountain as possible. We all know that you will be lugging most of the gear to and from your condo/hotel room/house. So you might as well make it easy on yourself. I had to traipse back to our condo two mornings in a row for lift tickets and sunscreen that first year, and I was really glad I didn’t have far to go. This is easier to accomplish the smaller the resort, without mortgaging your house.
2) Cook most of your evening meals in your condo. The first place we skiid with our kids is only an 8 hour drive from home. So I pre-assembled and froze meals, and took them there in a cooler. This serves several purposes. We save money by not buying large amounts of food at the expensive mountain grocery store (every ski town has one). In those early years my boys were so tired of being out and about after a full ski day, they just wanted to hang in the condo anyway. When we try to go out, someone always falls asleep in their dinner, literally.
1) Stay Positive! If you complain about lugging ski gear, your kids will too. Smile big at the ski school entrance and chat it up with the instructors. And remind your kids that as soon as they get good enough, they can come skiing with you! My kids want to ski like mom and dad and take great pride in how good their parents are.
As the years went on, we would take one or two kids at a time out of ski school in the afternoons to ski with us. Some resorts have half day ski school, others do not. Handling all the kids on the mountain your first time out is a little daunting, so at first, take one at a time to see how well they are doing.
As our boys have gotten older and more advanced, we have ventured farther afield for skiing experiences as a family. The boys have started to enjoy the bigger mountains and terrain parks that some of the higher end ski resorts offer. But at least once a ski season they’ll say, “Remember the place we learned to ski when we were little? When can we go back there again?”
And that’s a big enough endorsement for me.