Mommy Frog's Note: Before we hop into today's post, we have some important ski vacation news to share. While we're not yet selling lift tickets and packages (look for them in the 2017-2018 ski season), you can now book your ski resort hotel through us and save! Not sure which resort is right for you? With our handy ski resort decision matrix, we've got that covered too.
A lot of work goes into a family ski trip. It is a lot of pressure to make sure everyone is happy, but all that prep and planning really pays off when everyone’s needs are met and you are greeted with huge smiles on the mountain instead of complaints. Ultimately you want your family to enjoy skiing so that they will want to do it with you again and again. And all it takes is following a couple of easy tips to get and keep them in a hoppy place. I recently offered some sanity-saving tips for parents, but one of my best secrets at keeping myself sane is knowing how to keep the tadpoles happy. Hoppy tadpoles are much easier to deal with than unhoppy tadpoles, am I right? Here are Leap’s and my best tips on how to make sure the kids are happy skiers and snowboarders.
How to Insure Your Kids Are Happy Skiers
Play with them
This may not have anything to do with actual skiing, but this may be one of the most important tips for making your kids happy skiers (or boarders) on vacation. If you are lucky enough to get fresh snow, play in the snow with your tadpoles. Build a snowman, make a fort, have a snowball fight, race in the snow or make a snow frog angel. Go sledding or tubing or ice skating together. You’ll form hoppy family memories and get that snow play out of the way so that they can focus on skiing (or boarding) during ski time and not be fooling around in the snow drifts during lessons.
Buy them proper clothes and gear
Those princess mittens at the discount store might look cute, but when fingers get icy cold, nobody will have fun. Buy or borrow quality snow gear (mittens, wool socks, thermals) and consider using hand warmers or toe warmers to keep those extremities toasty. When getting dressed think layers, layers, layers. If you have beginner snowboarders, some protective gear in the early stages can help a lot. Wrist guards and some snowboard pads can protect wrists and that bum, since falls are inevitable.
Require a helmet
In some states it’s the law for children to wear helmets, but whether or not it is the law where you are skiing, make it your family rule and put a helmet on them. They could hit an object, fall or be hit by another skier, and having a helmet on protects them from injury and can even save their life. It helps if you model this safe behavior by protecting your own noggin with a helmet. If they own the helmet, let them personalize it with stickers, animal ears, Mohawks, etc.
Protect their face
The only exposed skin is usually the face. It can get sunburned or wind burned. If it snows, it can sometimes feel like icy pellets are attacking the skin. It is important to protect those sensitive faces. Moisturize in the morning, and apply sunscreen to the face and lips. The sun is more powerful at elevation. Even if it is cloudy, lather it on. Give each tadpole a lip balm with sunscreen to keep in a pocket so they can reapply. Goggles will protect eyes and the surrounding area, but a face mask, neck gaiter or balaclava is ideal to protect the rest of the face. There are a number of kid-friendly, super cool ones (think skulls, monsters, animals, flowers, Storm troopers, etc) that even the most stubborn child will be proud to wear.
Put them in lessons
Preserve your relationship by leaving the teaching to trained ski/snowboard teachers. After the lesson, ask your tadpoles what was taught and find out what you can do to reinforce their new skills. Find out which runs are best for your child’s ability and stick to them with your child. Picking up a green run skier and then expecting them to join you on black diamonds is not realistic, safe or fun. Taking a child on a more difficult run is more likely going to cause them to lose confidence and regress rather than help them get better. Keep your ski time together fun and light and have them "teach” you what they learned—they may be proud to show off their new skills. Be patient. Before you know it your tadpole will catch up to you and then be spraying you with powder as they pass you.
One of the best ways to insure your kids are happy skiers is to let them choose a trail or the next lift. Let them lead so they don’t always feel like they are following you. Help them learn the mountain so they can became confidant and lead you around. This is a launching pad for them learning to navigate the mountain on their own, and helps them know where to go if they should become separated from you.
Help out young skiers
If you have a young skier without poles, you can help them get about on flat areas by putting them in front of you between your skis and using your poles to push the two of you along to the lift. You can also assist them onto the lift. The detachable chairs move slowly during loading and unloading, allowing you to assist your shorter skier. If you need extra assistance let the lift operator know if you need a lift slowed down. If your little one is nervous on the lift, use lap bars if available and distract them with games of I Spy or 20 Questions.
Keep them hydrated
Dry mountain air and altitude can lead to your froglets getting dehydrated, headaches or altitude sickness. Have them start hydrating before the trip and talk about the importance of drinking a lot more water than usual. Take frequent water breaks or give them a Camelback so they can sip and ski.
Keep the hot cocoa flowing
Hot cocoa can warm them up and also sneak some more liquids into them. But they’ll think they are getting a treat. It can be a great motivator for a tired kid to get back to the lodge.
If you are not staying on the mountain, bring a bag of extras to store in the car or a locker. Store extra socks, gloves or layers in it because it is not uncommon to sweat through gloves. When that sweat hits the cold, the gloves become freezing. That bag may come in handy if anyone needs to shed a layer should they get too warm or decide they need another layer.
Pack a swimsuit
Many of the ski resort hotels have heated pools and hot tubs. It is surprisingly fun to swim in a hot pool while the snow is falling on you. And it is a great way to unwind after a day on the slopes.
Pack a snack
Put an energy bar in their jacket pocket in case they get hungry while on the mountain.
Be open to skiing vs snowboarding
As you know, I am an avid skier, but Tad and Lily are learning to snowboard. For some tadpoles, one sport may be easier for them to master than the other. Some kids do both! If you have a skateboarder or a surfer, then snowboarding is going to feel a lot more natural for them. Other kids like the control of two skis. You’ll have to throw your preconceived notions of having one type of mountain rider in your family and let the kids find their own way. And if your child is really struggling with one format, try the other. Things might click differently for them and turn some frowns upside down. Tad was getting frustrated in ski lessons, and the instructor suggested trying snowboarding. That was a game changer. He is all smiles on his board and has never looked back.
Travel with friends or family
If the tadpoles have close friends or cousins who ski or snowboard, it can be a fun and bonding experience to take a trip together. That means plenty of playmates, and even a friend to make them feel braver. And it is fun and even helpful to have more adults around too.
Know when to call it quits
If your tadpole is beat, know that it is time to stop and get some hot cocoa instead of pushing for one more run. Many injuries occur when people are tired. It’s more important to be safe and to end on a high note.
You can’t make everyone happy all the time, but if you follow these tips you’ll be greeted with more smiles than frowns and form happy ski vacation memories with your family. Do you have any tips for making sure your kids are happy skiers? Share them in comments below!
Related: Plan Your Ski Resort Vacation