First published on 18/01/17 – Republished on 05/01/2018
A recent Instagram post by jsperling www.jasonrunkelsperling.com made me laugh and rang so true with me that it inspired me to write my top tips to going skiing as a family! If my tips can in some way help make someone’s life easier I’ll be happy! The post highlighted our challenges as parents with young children and the need to manage our expectations. The greatest journeys don’t always lead to the expected destination!!!
Life with kids, especially young ones, invariably involves the unexpected. As we look at everyone’s “picture perfect” social media posts we are often mislead into thinking that everyone else is finding this “parenting” game much easier than we are. The reality is, like an event, even with the best forward planning you need to expect the unexpected…if adventuring with young ones is to be enjoyable we need to be flexible!
The aim of this post and my ten top tips for skiing as a family is to help make the experience of skiing as a family enjoyable and avoid as many “on mountain tantrums” as possible. So here goes!
DRESS FOR THE MOUNTAIN & THE COLD: Warm, dry children = happy children.I cannot emphasize this point enough, this w/e we were reminded of this as the temperatures plummeted to minus ten and one of our daughters’ hands were too cold, resulting in floods of tears and a hot chocolate stop. She still had last year’s gloves and they were a bit too tight. Never underestimate the importance of good quality equipment and remember that the accessories are just as important. Everything is important from good socks – knee-high, non-ribbed socks which don’t wrinkle inside the boot and cause blisters, decent quality, warm water-resistant gloves/mittens that are the right size 😉 (mittens tend to be warmer), one friend told me she has invested in hand/foot warmers (apparently there are two types the disposable ones that activate upon contact with the air or the rechargeable ones that activate when you click them and can be recharged by boiling them in hot water), a neck warmer – BUFF do some great ones, good quality goggles/sunglasses, a warm, waterproof ski jacket and salopettes or an “all-in-one” (I find “all-in-ones” best for Babies/toddlers that are still in nappies and don’t have to rush to go to the toilet, it makes sure they stay 100 % dry). Remember layering is the way forward…it is better to be too hot than too cold – you can always take a layer off. The minimum is thermal underwear, a fleece and then a ski jacket/salopettes
USE SUNCREAM. The sun at altitude can be particularly strong and you can burn easily with the reflection from the snow. Protect your children’s sensitive skin from the elements.
FOOD = FUEL. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, when skiing, breakfasts become even more important than ever. Skiing uses lots of energy especially when it’s cold. Make sure your kids eat a decent breakfast and drink lots of water. Dehydration at altitude is common. Pack a snack in their pockets and ensure they have some money should they stop for a drink.
SKI PASS SPECIFIC POCKET…Make sure you designate a pocket specifically for the ski pass and don’t use it for anything else at all and don’t EVER take it out! Most jackets incorporate a ski pass pocket for children’s passes on the right side of the jacket (the left-hand side). Brief your child NEVER to take it out and let them know exactly where it is so they can position themselves correctly when they go through the controls 😉
LEAVE INSTRUCTION TO THE PROFESSIONALS. If your children are taking lessons, then leave them to it. There is nothing worse than a “loitering parent”, especially if the child is a bit unsure about the whole experience…this gives them a glimmer of hope they won’t have to go/they will be rescued! (I used to work for a ski school 😉 Loitering parents disrupt their children, the lesson, and the instructor no matter how well intentioned they want to be. If you MUST spy, do so from a distance!!! (I admit it I’ve hidden too 😉 As previously mentioned ensure that your child has some pocket money (if they do stop for a hot chocolate), a snack and your contact info (you never know…). Regarding lessons there is no doubt that private lessons mean your children improve very, very quickly. One of our daughters had a few private lessons at the end of the season last year and in just 6 hours she’d moved up a full level. Unfortunately, budget-wise this isn’t viable for us. Group lessons, however, are great fun and enable children to learn with other kids the same age/make some ski buddies/learn the value of money ;-). Lessons with friends or kids the same age are great for encouraging kids. We have used the ESF a few times for group lessons and have had mixed experiences – some great instructors, but really who can learn in a group of over 13 children in the holidays? This year we have opted for Evolution 2 in La Clusaz for the holiday lessons…their groups are limited in size to 8/per group, their lessons start at 10h30 which will make the mornings a much more relaxed/enjoyable experience and they have a great team . http://laclusaz.evolution2.com/ Morning lessons are a good choice for children as legs are fresher and your children will be more alert, ready to concentrate.
DON’T PUSH YOUR CHILDREN TOO MUCH; keep the focus on having fun rather than performance. Like everything, every child will progress at their own pace…even if their buddy who is the same age, is a better level…who cares! Remember we all have good and bad days too…If your children want an afternoon off, let them have an afternoon off, no matter how much you’ve paid for their lift pass. Even active kids need time to relax.
SKI TO THEIR ABILITY, when skiing as a family…There is nothing worse than dragging your kids down a “black” when they aren’t ready for it. Subject to the child, you risk their confidence plummeting. When skiing as a family, make sure you plan and you know the pistes (or at least the level), so that they will not only “make it down” but actually enjoy it! Don’t force it and if they want to do the “fun park” 6 times in a row…why not! (Yes, I did this last w/e!!!).
BE PATIENT because things WILL take longer than anticipated, everything always does. Just when you’re ready for ski school, someone needs the toilet, has forgotten their gloves/ski pass– you name it. It’s better to get there early, you avoid stress, missing the lesson and the potential “on-mountain” tantrum! A friend of mine told me, she and her family now leave extra early and have breakfast in resort pre-lesson – that way they avoid the traffic, find a good parking spot, have a nice relaxing breakfast as a family and get everyone to their lessons on time. We’ve had most scenarios from kids throwing up in the car “en route” to forgetting their boots/ski passes/skis!!! With extra time, you can normally find solutions of forms 😉
Last, but not least…BE POSITIVE, HAVE FUN, ENJOY THE ADVENTURE AND LOOK AROUND YOU…IT’S BEAUTIFUL!