So, you and your significant other have agreed: It’s time to take the little ones — we’re talking 6 years old or younger here — on a first-time ski holiday.
But as simple as that concept seems to be, it can be totally fraught, full of potential pitfalls that could easily turn a child’s view on skiing or snowboarding into something sinister, or perhaps even bleak.
And because you can never have a second chance make a good first impression, you must be certain you’ve got things right from the get-go. After all, a primary goal of this ski holiday is to establish in your child or children a life-long love of skiing and snowboarding.
Keep Kids Engaged
One way to get your child psyched up to hit the hill is to talk about where you’re planning to go and show them, via brochures or internet, what’s there at the resort. You should also listen to what the kids want and what their expectations are. They should have some say in the planning stage, if only to keep them engaged.
Also, it’s probably best that you pick a full-service resort that’s both child and family friendly, such as Northstar in California, Keystone in Colorado or Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont. These resorts also have many off-slope diversions to keep kids occupied.
A second consideration in getting ready for the ski holiday is making sure you have the proper and essential clothing and equipment for the kids before setting out. Wearing the clothes and clicking into the gear at home beforehand will allow the children to get comfortable with the stuff in a friendly and familiar environment.
Lessons Are Important
Once at the resort, it is vital to put the child, particularly if he or she is a first-time skier or snowboarder, into ski school. A half-day lesson on the first day of the holiday will get them used to the on-hill process and set the groundwork for a successful get-away.
However, if the child insists on hanging out with the parents and wants nothing to do with ski school, make sure you, as instructor, make it your primary duty to have the child learn how to stop, safely and on command. Nothing good ever comes from of a wildly out-of-control kid schussing down even a lightly crowded hill.
Another huge consideration is that kids burn a lot of energy fast, and bonking on the hill is a common and not very fun experience — for either party. Makes sure you take breaks often — hot chocolate stops are the best —and have munchies — pockets-full of M&Ms and Skittles work wonders — readily available. Also, plan to have lunch early, say around 11 a.m., so you can beat the cafeteria lines and help stave off the child’s inevitable mid-morning meltdown.
Heed Their Feedback
Finally, listen to your child. He/she will know whether they are having a good time, or if something is wrong. It’s true some kids will try to game the system and feign being cold or hurt or tired, just to get attention and/or get off the bloody hill.
But if you have instilled the proper groundwork, there shouldn’t be much of that. In fact, you make have to drag them back to the lodge at day’s end.
NEXT WEEK: The best resorts to take your children to.