Mark's Highly Sought After TIPS On Ski Vacations With Children
Ski vacations with kids have a magical appeal that totally and completely falls apart when you have a cold, cranky, runny nose child, ski equipment that nobody wants to carry, gloves falling off and getting lost, long lines and on and on. Rarely do parents do ski vacations right with young children, so finally you have arrived at the guru for making it work better:
a) Number one rule - Teach your children to carry their own equipment. If you don't own ski equipment yet, use sticks or logs or two by fours and teach your children how to carry their own equipment. Unless you really are taking your four year old skiing (why not just use the back yard folks?) your child can learn to carry her own equipment. When you get up there, don't carry your child's equipment. Teach them to be responsible and you will have a much happier vacation.
b) New To Ski Boots - Practice indoors. If your child cannot walk in ski boots, she is not ready to ski. Take clean ski boots and put them on indoors and let your child walk in them until they can. Walking in ski boots is not natural and expecting your child to learn to ski, carry, be cold and walk in boots at one time is not going to happen.
c) Ditch the Poles - You do not need poles to ski until you can parallel ski and most young children aren't there. I don't care that the poles look cool, they are a hinderance and you will all be much happier if neither you nor your learning child have to worry about them. Don't be afraid!
d) Learn on Easy Stuff - I am amazed at how critical it is for parents to advance their child to the next level of slope. This is totally irrelevant to your child's ski learning early on. Easy, bunny, and often free is totally fine. Your child can fall and mess up and learn and advance and never have to go on a chairlift. You will get much more accomplished if your child skis the bunny slope forty times than if he picks his way painfully down an intermediate trail taking half a day to do it. It is YOU who is so hung up on the level of trail. Not your child. Be willing to stay easy.
e) Don't Insist On Skiing Until 4pm - Your money does not come back to you if you push it beyond the limits of your own or your child's physical capabilities. Injuries occur late in the day when the slopes get icy and the skiers get lazy and tired. It is not a crime to quit at 2pm or 3pm.
f) Prepare the Night Before - Searching for that missing glove or neck warmer as you are running out the door gets the day off on the wrong foot. Teach the kids to put their ski clothes and apparatus in the same place and to have it ready for the next day. If you have a spare room in the house, put everyone's ski clothes in a different spot in the room. The next morning, going to your pile of stuff and having it all in one place will make getting ready for skiing easy on everyone.
g) Take a Day Off - If you are going for a whole week, take a day off in the middle somewhere. Allow a day to recharge, try something different, go cross country skiing, ice skating, shopping for new ski clothes or just hang around the hotel if there are things to do there. Your kids are not going to advance as much each DAY as they will each week that you ski. So, there is not a huge difference between skiing 5 days or 6 in terms of skier development, but the sanity of taking a day off will really help everyone to just be excited about the day to go back.
Now that all of the kid experiences have been maximized, its time to plan the adult fun, alot of which will depend on the age of your children. Here once again are some guru tips for having fun as adults while on a family ski vacation. It is critical to a healthy family vacation that adults look to having fun themselves. Parents who go into a family ski vacation totally focused on every moment of child entertainment will not only lessen their enjoyment of the vacation, but they will set a bad example for their children. Children enjoy and respect parents who like to be adults. That doesn't mean that they ignore their kids, but it does mean that they demonstrate their desire to enjoy the adult portions of the trip.
a) Put Your Kids In A Lesson - If you can afford it, your child will learn fastest and best from a professional instructor. No matter how excellent a skier or teacher you are, a pro can do it better, knows the tricks, has the little gadgets and will not subcumb to your child's whining the way that you will. Putting kids in a lesson will also allow them to meet other children and enjoy the social aspects of skiing. You can always grab them after the lesson and let them show you what they learned. More importantly, you can be freed up to SKI.
b) Invite A Friend - Older kids experience on a ski trip is completely different if they have a friend along. You will have less family battling, whining or behavior issues if your older child (8 and older) has a friend along. This is an overlooked trick that is virtually MAGIC. If you don't want to take on someone else's child, then plan your trip in conjunction with another family with similar aged kids. Get rooms in the same hotel, or rent a condo with two levels (many are organized that way) so that each family has their own portion.
c) Feed The Kids First - Feed them simply and earlier and get them ready for bed and put them in a room with a movie or video games or whatever occupies them so that you can enjoy some wine, a good meal and some after ski fun. Don't try to hold a big family dinner at 8pm. It's too long a day and you will lose your adult time having the kids to tend to unless they are all teenagers.
d) At Restaurants - Ski area restaurants are generally crowded and noisy. This makes for fun but chaos, especially with kids. Plan for this by understanding that your kids may be waiting for 2 hours before you eat and think about how you are going to occupy them so they are not cranky or getting lost running around. If you have children who are quite young, you may want to avoid these restaurants all together. Feed the kids something simple at home or take them for quick food somewhere, and then see if you can get an older teen or local babysitter to watch them. Many hotels have babysitting references or sitters and cell phones make it easy to just go out and leave your kids at home. Bring in pizza for older kids and let them eat at home. If you do take your kids with you which most people do, make sure that they are going to make it through the wait. You can try calling ahead for a reservation or going early to avoid the real crowds.