Let’s talk skiing with little ones. With Del now almost five and having skied four times, we’ve gone at this a few different ways, so here’s my perspective having experienced this from several points of view. This is for people like us who ski once or twice per year. For those who have access to skiing in their backyard, I’m sure the experience is much different.
So… if you as parents are solid skiers and you have a little one(s) who takes direction well from you, you can always take your LO out and teach her to ski yourself. We have a strong willed fella who takes direction better from others. After trying this several different ways, I would highly suggest their first time skiing including a private lesson or ski school. If you stop reading here, I’d say ski school, ski school, ski school. Put them in the care of professionals and you and your spouse or crew can also enjoy your day stress-free. You can always get your kid(s) out early or take some runs with them after ski school if you’re worried about spending quality time with them. But doing straight ski school this go-round, Del loved every day of it, as did Fynn in daycare, and Keith and I got to enjoy skiing/boarding and even had lunch to ourselves – lunch dates on the mountain!
For any type of booking, book in advance!! We rolled into town Spring Break one year and took the sparse openings that we could for Del and Ella for their first time skiing. We were lucky to get anything at all. Hey, Fynn was a newborn staying with grandparents during that trip, so I blame the baby brain on my lack of planning. If you can avoid peak times (weekends and holidays like Spring Break), it’s nice to avoid a lot of the crowds, lines, etc.
Here’s the low-down…
There is an age minimum for ski schools that varies, so if you have a very little one, you’ll sometimes be forced private lessons if you want professional teaching, but it makes sense. Teaching a gaggle of three year olds to ski could be a daunting task. I think this is important so they learn the basics the right way, which will save frustration in the long run.
This is a great option for kids, even if they have skied a few times. They will divide them up by skill level, have plenty of hot chocolate and snack breaks and lunch. Ski schools will vary by mountain in starting age, length of time, what they offer, etc. but most all will offer a ski school of some type. Often the ski school includes equipment rental and some even hold the equipment over night. This is worth its weight in gold to me to not have to lug your children and all their equipment back and forth to the car in the snow. You’ll usually need to arrive early and especially so if you are renting equipment, so be sure to check.
If you have a tiny tot who’s not yet ready for the skis, choose daycare when available. It’s one thing if you have an infant that you’re still nursing and need to keep close to mama, but once they’re on the go, I can promise you they’ll have way more fun in daycare than you keeping them in a crowded lodge all day, foregoing a day of skiing for yourself. You could also divide up a day of lessons/daycare. Keep in mind that not all children are created equally. My kids have very different personalities. We felt confident Del was ready to go at three years old (and he was). Fynn, however, at three years was not a fan of being cold and very much enjoyed the baby dolls in daycare. 🙂 Don’t force fit a choice on one child just because you did it with the other.
- Rentals: there are usually quite a few ski equipment rental places in mountain towns and usually several along the way to the ski mountain. We’ve done this both ways. You can rent the day before at the end of the day if you want to get it done and rush less the next morning. I believe in most cases if you rent after a certain time, you’re not charged for that day, so you’re not paying an extra day. It’s nice to have it done and beat the rush, but the down side is you’ll have more to carry from the parking lot. As mentioned above, sometimes the ski school price includes rentals, so be sure to check that out. I rented mine on the mountain at Ski Cooper this year and they even stored mine overnight. Doesn’t seem like a big deal until you’re (not) carrying two sets of skis, four boots and poles through the snow in high altitude.
- Own: What you wear really does make a difference, as if you/your kids are cold, it will make the experience less desirable. That said, you don’t have to break the bank and get the best-of-the-best, just be sure to have enough warm layers. You can always strip a layer if necessary. We always do at least three layers, depending on the temp (spring skiing can be warm). Good thermal underwear, a second layer, ski bib and ski coat (important they are for skiing/waterproof). Socks make a difference too, so get good wool ski socks. Plus you’ll need googles and gloves. You can rent a helmet. Extras would be a neck warmers if needed and face protector. Don’t forget the sunscreen and chapstick. I’ve included the exact ski equipment we bought for Del (other than jacket which is no longer available). Add a layer over the long underwear.
That’s all I have, folks! If you’ve been contemplating a ski trip but not sure how it will play out with a little one(s), I hope this will help guide you. I say go for it! It does take some work and planning, but can be a ton of fun for everyone when done right!