Skiing with your kids can either be a dream come true or a complete nightmare.
“The biggest piece of advice I have is to do your research beforehand,” says Chris Linsmayer, the public affairs director at Colorado Ski Country USA.
If you want to avoid a temper tantrum on the bunny hill, it’s all about proper preparation. Here are five tips on how you can comfortably introduce your kids to skiing and snowboarding.
With a little luck, they’ll find a new passion, and you’ll have a new hobby you can share for many years to come.
1. Pick the Right Resort
Of course, the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out where you want to go. There are a few different factors to consider.
First, consider the distance. If it’s your child’s first time on skis or snowboard, there is no point in driving five hours to the biggest and baddest resort. Pick something close, and you’ll cut down on the chances of complaints in the car.
Next, make sure the resort has a beginner’s area and a ski school. Almost all resorts have beginner terrain, but you should always check beforehand just in case. You can either look at a ski area’s trail map (look for green terrain) or give the resort a call.
Finally, consider the price. Lift tickets can get expensive. Look for resorts that have package deals on rental equipment, lift tickets, and lessons. Some resorts even offer “Kids Ski Free” programs with the purchase of an adult lift ticket or season pass.
2. Dress for Success
If your kids are comfortable, they will have way more fun. Layering is the key component here. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer. Then a nice warm mid-layer. And finish it off with waterproof outerwear.
Don’t forget warm gloves, a helmet and goggles. Bonus tip: Pack some hand-warmers. These are a great way to cheer up a shivering child.
Also, don’t make the mistake of layering multiple pairs of socks. This can cut off circulation and is generally a bad idea. Modern ski and snowboard boots are plenty warm with just a single layer.
3. Pack a Lot of Snacks
Most parents know that the best way to quiet a complaining kid is to give them snacks. This is no different on the slopes. If you sense your kiddo is getting hungry or tired, hand them a snack on the chairlift or bring them into the lodge to warm up with some hot chocolate.
My personal favorites are soft cookies, Starbursts (as long as they’re not frozen), and Flavor Blasted Goldfish.
Bonus Tip: Store your snacks in an inner pocket to avoid freezing.
4. Opt for a Lesson
Lessons can be expensive, but they are totally worth it. Putting your kid in a lesson has a few benefits.
First, they will be in the hands of a trained professional. These people live and breathe snowsports. If you’re worried about handing your kid off to a stranger, look for an instructor that has their Children’s Specialist certification from PSIA-AASI (an association dedicated to snowsports education).
“Taking a lesson is a great idea because the instructors are very knowledgeable and can work with kids and adults who have never even been on snow before,” says Linsmayer.
The other benefit is that you get to ski by yourself all day!
It’s like hiring a babysitter and a teacher at the same time. Drop the kids off at ski school in the morning and head to the double blacks. This is especially important on powder days.
5. Have Patience
This is the most important tip. Don’t force it.
If your kid isn’t having a good time, don’t be afraid to call it a day and try again another day. You want your kids to have a positive experience, and forcing them to do something they don’t want is a great way to ensure they never want to ski ever again.
At the end of the day, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can slowly build your child’s passion for snowsports throughout the winter or multiple winters.
And if your kid hates it, don’t get frustrated. Skiing isn’t for everybody. Let them pursue their own passions; maybe they’ll revisit the slopes once they snap out of their rebellious phase.