Happy happy Thursday, friends!
Today’s post is all about…
…my TOP 10 TIPS FROM A SKI MOM 🙂 .
I’ve had so many requests lately for an updated “taking your family skiing” post now that it’s ski season. Since I’m fresh off the snow and while it’s still on my brain, I thought I’d share my TOP 10 TIPS.
But first…some disclosures/disclaimers/a lot of words so that we’re all on the same page…
1: Um, I’m kind of new at this, so please ask a lot of other people their tips too. We’ve been taking our kids skiing since Dec/Jan of 2016/2017, so even though that’s a handful of years, I’m no expert, so please, ask others as well.
2: For the simplicity of this post, I am going to use the word “ski” and not include the word “snowboard” when talking about my tips/experience/ family…but my family is made up of two very passionate “boarders”, so I’m just throwing that out there. All of my tips are for both skiing and snowboarding as I have one kid who boards and three who ski.
3: So, which should your kid do? I don’t think it matters, they’ll probably not love either at first. What’s the old saying “Skiing is easier to learn, harder to master than snowboarding”…something like that. I think they’re both great, but just remember, your kid probably will fall a ton, not love it, struggle with either, so in my opinion, I would select the one they seem the most excited about.
4: I could prattle on about this topic for days, but I’m going to keep this post as simple and concise as possible. If you have other questions or if I didn’t hit on something, just ask in the comment section, and I’ll reply!
5: Can your travel agency send me on a ski trip? We can as long as it’s outside of the US. We focus primarily on international vacations (with some exceptions…I’m talking to you Hawaii and Walt Disney World), so that means family ski trips to places like Utah, Colorado, Montana aren’t a part of our services…but Canada, Switzerland, etc, are destinations we service.
6: Haven’t you done this post before? Sort of. In 2020, I did a Q&A post on skiing with my family that you can (and probably should!) read HERE. Since that post, I’ve taken my family three more times to ski, so my opinions/procedures/thoughts might be a little more developed now (my actual ability to ski though, unfortunately, has not developed).
Whew! Okay, here we go…
1: LESSONS, LESSONS AND MORE LESSONS.
I can’t sing the praises of private lessons and ski school enough. In my opinion, your kids need lessons. Our kiddos took lessons at least the first 3 years (some for four years). Even after they “learn to ski” lessons are so valuable to make them better, safer, more equipped skiers. We’ve done a combo of ski school and private lessons. My little girls much prefer ski school (Friends! Hot Chocolate! Snowman building! A cool cafeteria with French fries!) while my older two liked private lessons more. Smith is very analytical and wants to really learn…private lessons were more focused for his learning style as he was there to take it seriously and didn’t need to pause for hot cocoa and a snowball fight. Kensington on the other hand was a very, VERY shy younger kiddo, so private lessons were a “safer” place for her to learn without feeling timid/shy/unsure. No matter which route you take, sign them up. If it’s your kid’s first year? I would sign them up every day you want to ski (so don’t anticipate one day of ski school will make them ready to hit the slopes with you on Day Two…it won’t). We have tried ski schools/lessons now in four or five different towns and loved them all. They’ve always been such positive experiences for our kids.
2: PACK WELL. BE ORGANIZED. TRY ON BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
My husband needs to start a business where all he does is get your family ready for skiing. The man has it down to a science. Every year, it blows my mind when we arrive, how well he does this.
Here is what he does:
Well in advance of the ski trip, he pulls everythinggggggg (and I mean, all of it) out and calls the family in there to make sure everything fits. Each of us tries on what we have, makes sure everything fits just great, that we have enough of everything (enough layers, pairs of socks, etc), and then he makes a list of what we’re missing for that season.
He buys what we’re missing and brings it home. Maybe Smith outgrew his warm layers? Maybe Mades is missing a glove? Whatever it is, he takes his list and purchases the missing pieces BEFORE our trip (where it’s much less expensive).
He takes one large individual packing cube PER PERSON and puts every single item inside other than actual ski jackets and ski pants. In Park City last week, as I was about to get ready to snowshoe, he handed me one pink packing cube that contained two pairs of shirts and leggings for layering, two pairs of socks, one gator for my neck and my gloves. They were all clean, fit me and right there in one packing cube to make getting ready all week super easy.
So, after the trip (ie: today in our house), we bring all of these packing cubes home (filled with each person’s now dirty items) and wash and dry them. After they’re clean, we pack them back in the packing cubes and put them away until the next trip. We now have a storage spot in our house for these packing cubes but for YEARS, we just put them in a big plastic tub up on a shelf in our garage.
If you do all of this, I promise you, it makes your life so much easier. You’ll have everything you need on Day One of your trip and everything will fit properly. Trying it on in advance also gives you the chance to move things around for your growing family. Ashby is now wearing Kensington’s old gloves, Kensington is wearing my old “under” layers, Madeley is wearing Smith’s ski jacket, etc.
One last Andrew tip, he says to always bring extra gloves as someone is bound to lose one.
3: RENT, RENT AND MAYBE BUY.
If this is your family’s first time to ski, you can rent almost everything you need. There are a plethora of places in ski towns that allow you to rent helmets, boots, skis, poles, and snowboards. You will need to bring your own ski goggles which you can buy in advance or there in town. For items like ski jackets and ski pants, there are so many ways to acquire them. People borrow them from each other (so many times, people borrow them from other friends and family!), Ebay, your local Facebook Marketplace, etc has gently used ski pants, bibs and jackets for the whole family. Or of course, you can purchase these items new. We have an AWESOME ski store in McKinney called Doug and Lynda’s that we frequent this time of year.
When do you buy? Well, we buy pieces we know we’ll use for years to come and that can be passed down. We *try* to stick to neutral colors so that it doesn’t matter when Mades is wearing Smith’s old jacket with Ashby’s old pants…they complement and work. We know our family loves skiing and will use these items over and over again, so it makes sense for us to invest in certain things (this year, Kensington used my skis, Ashby used Kensingtons and Mades used Ashby’s). If you’re not sure about your family, don’t invest (yet).
4: LEAVE EARLIER THAN YOU THINK. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
If ski school check-in starts at 8:30 and you think leaving your hotel at 8:00 gives you plenty of time, you’re wrong. YOU ARE WRONG. I told Andrew this week, we have basically four adults getting ready and two very capable elementary aged children and yet it’s a freaking fire drill every morning. Seriously, if you walked in on my family trying to get dressed for a day of skiing and out the door, you would think the hotel room was on fire and we were knocking each other over to get out the door first. It’s chaos. There is shouting. It suddenly gets SUPER HOT in there. It’s sheer pandemonium. Why? It’s not like this on any other vacation or normal day of our life…but for the love, on ski days, it’s chaos. Wake up earlier than you think, leave earlier than you think and I promise you, you’ll still be five minutes late. Sigh.
5: SET THOSE EXPECTATIONS.
Over the years, I’ve learned that my kids do better when we set the expectation. If I tell them “you’re signed up for three full days of ski school this week but then we’ll ice skate and have two days off”, this helps. It helps because sometimes, their expectation is “I want to ski more” (so we try to accommodate, this happened this year with Ashby and Smith) and then sometimes, that’s one day too many so we (sometimes) make modifications for that too and/or find other fun things they’ll enjoy during their down time. Bottom line? I think it helps if they know the plan for the week upfront.
6: HYDRATE & FEED ‘EM.
Altitude sickness is a real thing. It’s hit our family only a few times (and all were very short-lived), but it’s real. We find that having hydrated peeps helps quite a bit. Make sure your whole family is drinking a ton of water, and go ahead and feed them those snacks too. I don’t know whether it’s the fresh air, exercise, high altitude or what, but my family is ravenous when they’re on ski vacations. Bring snacks with you while you’re on the mountain (protein bars are our go-to snack) and water. Hydrated and full people are happy people when they ski. You don’t want a hangry skier.
7: TAKE BREAKS.
Yes, I know you paid for that all day lift pass, but don’t kill yourself or your family getting in a million runs if they need a moment to take a break. Build a snowman, sit back and watch others ski, go get that hot chocolate or bowl of chili…take breaks. Skiing is both mentally and physically exhausting, so give them (and yourself!) a break as often as you need.
8: PLAN IN ADVANCE.
As soon as you’re ready to go skiing, make those advanced reservations. Ski school and lessons book up, sometimes there are limits on lift tickets…make those plans early. Look at your week, figure out when you want to be on the mountain and plan accordingly. The last thing you want to do is get there with all of your gear and your family can’t get on the mountain. Reservations just make everything easier…you can even make them in advance for your gear too…and your grocery delivery!
9: LET THEM HATE IT.
Here’s the deal, I think learning any new skill is super exciting and yet super hard. Learning a new language, a new instrument, a new hobby, etc is a lot of work up front with a huge payoff in the end. I would be lying if I told you all four of my kids skipped off happily their first days at ski school. Some kiddos had some tears on Day One. Some kiddos had tears on year two or three…but every single time, I’ve picked up happy kids. I might have dropped off hesitant/nervous/cranky kids a few times, but I’ve never picked one up. These ski instructors are amazing at making this fun, so let them hate it a bit in the beginning because, if they’ll stick with it, they’ll learn a new skill and have a blast. Even this year, we dropped off Mades on Day Two and she started crying because she really loved her instructor the first day and he was with another group on this day. We kissed her, dropped her off, my sad mama heart walked away and then when we picked her up after she said “I loved my new teacher even more!”. I’m so glad I didn’t let her get out of it. It was hard on my heart, but ended up being a great day for her.
10: THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN.
You guys, I just really hope you go and remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Time away from “the real world” is supposed to be fun. Vacations are supposed to be fun. Spending time with your kids is supposed to be fun. If your week turns a little wonky and crying kids means you only do two days of ski school instead of the four you had planned, oh well! Have fun. If your kids look exhausted by noon, even though your lift ticket works another three hours, stop and go have fun. If your kids want to go to the terrain park instead of skiing those blues with you, do it! Have fun. If your kid wants to do the same green run over and over again, but is having a BLAST, then do it. Have fun. You guys…HAVE FUN. If your personality is such where you can’t do this and “have fun”, then my advice would be pick another vacation destination. Getting away, no matter where/what you’re doing, with your family should be fun. Have fun.
And those are my TOP TEN TIPS FROM A SKI MOM.
Now, isn’t it about time for a beach vacation? I’m ready 🙂 .
Questions, thoughts, ideas I missed, your own tips, all of that in the comment section please!
If you’re looking for more “January-ish” posts from me, I have a few! Don’t forget, you can check out MY 25 KEYS FOR A PEACEFUL MORNING, MY 18 WAYS FOR PREPPING FOR A TRIP (should you be heading on vacation too!), my recap of ASPEN & BRECKENRIDGE, PARK CITY and TELLURIDE plus a recap from OUR TRIP TO LONDON LAST JANUARY.
I’ll see you back here tomorrow for my first Friday post of 2023! It’s SO GOOD TO BE BACK!!!!! xx