The snow and cold weather has made it clear that winter is finally here. Here in Indiana we have officially been dumped on just like the rest of the midwest. As we were driving to the gym today, my daughter said, “Mommy let’s get our skis and go skiing.” I love that she immediately associates snow with skiing!
January and February are huge ski months in much of the country. Skiing is a great family activity that can be enjoyed for years to come. I learned to ski when I was 4 years old and still love it to this day. My husband on the other hand, went once with a youth group and once in college and that was it until he met me. Over the years he has gotten to be a decent skier and we sure enjoy hitting the slopes together. Each year we take a trip out west to ski and take a short trip to Boyne Mountain with my family. We put C on skis last year when she was 2! This year, we noticed a huge difference in her stamina and we hope to add another short ski trip to our winter travel plans.
Have you ever considered taking your kids skiing? It is not an easy outdoor activity and takes a good amount of planning, but it is worth it. I love that I learned to ski: it is something I can do with my friends and my siblings for years to come.
If skiing is on your agenda or even your radar this winter (or winters to come), consider these tips before hitting the slopes. No matter the age of your munchkin, these tips will be very helpful when planning your ski trip whether it be your first or if you are a ski regular.
1. Have patience & be encouraging
Isn’t parenting all about having patience? With skiing, I feel like it takes an extra dose of patience. It is tough for littles to learn how to ski and the frustration can quickly arise. Make sure you point out what they are doing well often so that is what sticks out in their head.
2. Let them take breaks
When learning to ski, kids use every little muscle in their body and it is tiring. Let them take breaks whenever they need (this will really test your patience). You do not want them to get burnt out early and not want to go back out. Ski for a little bit, grab some hot chocolate, ski some more, sit by the fire and warm up, ski, grab some lunch- you get the drift.
3. Understand their stamina
This goes along with letting them take breaks. At first, their stamina may only be 30 minutes and that is okay. When C first started skiing at 2 she only wanted to be out for 30-45 minutes and that was it. This year, she would go out for an hour to an hour and a half in the morning and then again in the afternoon. The older they get, the longer their stamina will be.
4. Choose a place where this is other stuff to do
Depending on the age of your children, this is important. When we went to Boyne we were there for several days and there was so much other stuff to do: pool, water park, arcade, shops, etc. When kids are young their stamina is not long and you will want other stuff to do. Since we also have M who is not a skier (yet) this is important so that he isn’t going stir crazy back in the room. Even if you have an elementary aged child, this might be wise too. So many places now also have tubing which is super fun for kids and a break from the slopes.
5. Bring a sled
Bring a sled skiing?! Absolutely! This is wise no matter the age of your children. Although we stayed at the resort in a ski in and out lodge, we were extremely close to the main lift, but the lift in which C could go up and down was a ways a way. Having her “ski” that far is unrealistic and me pushing her made me exhausted before we got there. Once we found a sled, I put her in the sled, put her skis in there too and I was able to pull her all the way over. If your kids are older, it would be wise to put all the skis in the sled and walk with your boots to your lift.
6. Dress warm
This should go without being said, right? It is better to overdue it then to have them freezing. The most important thing is finding a good pair of ski gloves. It has been hard to find a pair for C with how little she is, and these Spyder mittens are exactly what you need! C also does not like zipping her coat up all the way so this gator neck is perfect to keep her neck warm and can go up to her nose when she is riding on the lifts. Just get a neutral colors so you can pass them down from kid to kid.
7. Bring ski harness… or hoola hoop
Especially if you have a toddler or a preschooler a ski harness is essential. This helps your child be able to maneuver on their own while you still have some control. I have friends who have used a hoola hoop instead before- that works too! I didn’t have one of these and I wish I would have. C did a great job on her own, but she could easily lose control and I needed to be able to get to her quick and this would have done the trick.
8. Leave a trail of treasures
If there is two adults skiing have one go ahead and leave some treasures. Dropping some Hershey’s kisses in the snow will encourage your little one to go just a littler further to find the next treat. They will surely enjoy this game.
Frequently Asked Questions
What about ski school?
Often I get asked, “Do you send your daughter to ski school?” The answer is: we have not yet put C in ski school. We thought about doing it this year, but when we saw all the kids in ski school they were having fun eating snow and doing snow angels for the majority of the 2 hours. We thought we would save our $64 and since I a decent skier myself, I can teach her.
Once she gets older, ski school would be great for her. Right now, I don’t think she has the attention span for ski school and I can teach her the basics.
Should I go out West?
We love going out West to ski and always thought that 4 would be the magic number to take our kids out west to ski- until we actually took them skiing for the first time. We go to Vail every year for a work conference and many of the families bring their kids. The kids go to ski school, the parents ski and it is a blast for all. We thought for sure that when C turned 4 we would do it that winner, but we quickly changed our mind.
When you ski out west, it is much bigger than skiing here in the midwest. Not only are the runs bigger and longer, but the mountain itself is so much bigger. When you gear up out West, you gear up for the whole day. It is much more difficult to take long breaks. I don’t feel that intermittent skiing would be as realistic out West as it is at a much smaller resort.
Once we took C to Boyne Mountain and experienced the convenience and proximity of the lift chair and bunny hill to our room, we really started to rethink the age we would go out West. I believe that it won’t be until their stamina is built up and she is comfortable going down a run with little to no assistance.
Let me add that I have only skied out West with adults- never with kids. People who ski out west with little kids might feel differently and know some tricks that I do not.
Add a new family activity to your calendar this winter and go skiing. We can’t change the cold weather so you might as well find a way to enjoy it. Skiing is a fun, family activity that can be enjoyed for years to come. Don’t wait until it is too late- teach your kids how to ski now and use these tips as you plan your ski trip this winter.
Your turn- tell me!
Are you a skier?
If you are, what would you add to this list?
If not, what is stopping you from skiing?