Skiing is in our blood. It runs deep through our veins, it’s our common ground, it’s our winter sanity, it’s our social circle, and it’s so much more than I can ever put into words. Ian was born and raised in Maine, went off to boarding school for skiing with some of the best (think Bode Miller) and eventually moved west to chase the ski bum lifestyle. Me, born and raised at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon I’ve been skiing at Snowbird since I was three. My parents, much like Ian, moved west from upstate New York to live the ski bum life and from as far back as I can remember our weekends were spent waking before sunrise, cramming our tiny feet into those god awful ski boots (seriously can we make them more comfortable yet) and heading to the mountain not to return until late afternoon with tired little legs, a huge sense of accomplishment and the signs of fresh mountain air staining our cheeks red.
I didn’t always love it as a kid, and I distinctly remember asking my dad why I couldn’t go to church like the rest of my friends, to which he replied…”we’re closer to God up here”…and he was right and I am forever grateful that my parents took the time to teach us and spend so much undivided time with us week after week. Needless to say, when we had kids of our own we weren’t about to give up skiing, and I for sure wasn’t about to stay home with a baby while Ian heads off to the mountain each weekend. So form the time they were tiny, we packed them up along with all of our gear, headed to the mountain and made it work. It wasn’t and isn’t always easy, but without a doubt, it’s been worth it, and along the way, we’ve figured out a few tips and tricks that have made the entire experience so much easier! I’m sharing our five tips to make skiing with little less intimidating, and more enjoyable below:
I can not stress this enough. Patience is EVERYTHING. I can’t tell you how many days we got to the resort and took 1 run in those beginning days. Throw your agenda aside and be conscious of trying to make the day fun for your kids. That means if they put their ski’s on for a run and they want hot chocolate, that’s what you do. If they want their boots off while they drink hot chocolate…take them off. It’s really simple, the more they enjoy the experience the more likely they will be to want to keep going and learning. When they do want to stop we always try to lead with getting them back out to ski by saying something like “let’s do this run and then we’ll take a break and grab a snack, but after our snack let’s try again.” Patience really is key, frustration will never serve you or your kid.
THE RIGHT GEAR
The right gear really is key. When the kids were 18 months we started them on little plastic skis that strapped onto their Sorel boots, but honestly, if I did it again I may have just gone straight to regular boots and skis, giving them more support. There are advantages to both, the nice thing about the plastic skis (linked here) is that the kids can stay in their snow boots, so if they hate being in ski boots or are taking their skis on and off a million times (which they do when they are under 2) it’s a good way to let them still be able to walk/play in the snow and then get back on their skis. However, I wouldn’t recommend them for 2.5 years or older though, at that point go with real boots and skis. Also, check with your local ski shops a lot of places offer great rental programs for kids that allow you to change out your skis and boots each year as they grow, or they typically sale relatively inexpensive setups for kids as well. Secondly, no one wants to be cold and miserable when their skiing so make sure you have condition appropriate ski clothes, warm socks, a neck warmer, and the warmest mittens you can find (as that always seems to be what gets cold first). Don’t forget a helmet. We didn’t have a harness with Charlie, but I wish we would have. It has made all the difference with Jett, it also is WAY easier to pick them up off the ground with one! The benefit of a harness is it allows the kids to get the feel and movement of turning and stopping with you being able to assist them. It also allows you to let them try a little more difficult terrain with the security of being able to use the harness if/when needed.
MAKE IT SPECIAL
We always pack a ton of snacks, lunch, waters…and a typically a beer for Ian and I! The kids love that we eat there, it’s such a simple thing, but it feels different from their normal day and special to them. We don’t rush, we eat lunch, we let them play in the snow…we just enjoy being there and typically we let them lead with when they are ready to get back out and ski. Don’t be afraid to start and stop. Pack your lunch and snacks, so you can buy hot chocolates and let them play.
MAKE IT FUN
Search for ways to make the actual skiing fun. When the kids were littler we would print up a few toys that we would use for the kids to ski to. So I would ski in front and place the toys where I wanted the kids to turn and they would ski from turn to turn retrieving the toys. As they have gotten better we search for powder (which them love to ski through) anywhere we can find it, even the tiniest bit is fun for them to ski through. We also search for what we call “woopdy-doos” which are essentially small bumps typically on the shoulders of the run for them to ski over. Again, these things are so simple but they make the biggest difference. We also, throw snowballs at each other while we wait….you get the point…search for the fun.
TEACH THEM HOW TO BE SAFE
Even now, every time we ski we reminder our kids before we start the number #1 rule of skiing: BE SAFE We taught the kids from day 1 that if they are going too fast and can’t stop to sit their butt down and turn their skis. With little ones going too fast and not being able to stop is a real concern
A FEW QUICK TIPS
A lot of resorts sell a pass to just the bunny hill – this is a great option as it’s WAY more affordable and consistency is key and most little kids will only last a few hours anyway.
If you’re going to ski more than a handful of days, look to get a season pass, typically family passes are more cost effective than even just a few days of tickets for the whole fam. We also like this option because it allows you to ski more days for fewer hours without any guilt of the price of the ticket.
If you don’t have the patience to teach your kids. Put them in lessons. A kid will do way better in a lesson having fun then they will with a stressed-out parent.
Lastly, and I say this all the time, I don’t think our kids are necessarily going to be better skiers than if they started them at 5 rather than 18 months but the difference is they don’t know any different. We’ve been able to avoid a lot of the common barriers (don’t want ski boots on, too cold, it’s scary, etc.) because they just simply don’t know anything else and they are genuinely stoked on skiing. I won’t lie, there has been more than a few days where I would
Hope this was helpful!