All skiing and snowboarding parents dream of the day that their children discover the love of skiing or snowboarding. They dream of leading them down the mountain, racing each other to the lift, trying out tricks and seeing the smiles of pure joy on their faces. Whether you are an experienced skier or close to a beginner yourself, you’ll have to adjust your mind-set to accept that this is not going to necessarily hoppen overnight. And knowing how to make the first few ski experiences positive will go a long way in reaching that perfect moment where it all clicks and you become that hoppy skiing family. I love sharing my tips I have learned from taking ski trips with my own children, so here are my ski mom secrets for new skiers that might help you too.
Many kids learn to ski pretty quickly. When small skiers discover they are so close to the ground that falling is really no big deal, they can become fearless. That can lead to making big jumps in skill level. Other kids need some time to adjust to the new activity, textures and equipment. Every child is different. To prepare your kids for a positive introduction to skiing, you’ll need patience. Then you have to outfit them with the proper clothes and equipment and teach them about safety and how to take care of themselves in this new environment. The rest will follow.
Tried-and-True Ski Mom Secrets for New Skiers
Choose the right mountain
If you want your kids to love skiing, choose the right mountain to teach them. A family-friendly ski resort will have the right tools and terrain for a beginner to gain confidence. It also will have plenty of kid-friendly entertainment off the slopes as well. Do not start them off on advanced terrain unless you want them to fail and quit. A good family-friendly ski resort offers a variety of terrain, plenty of green and blue runs, tools for teaching and kid-friendly ski schools. They also tend to offer a lot of fun and entertainment off the slopes such as tubing, ice skating, snow play, fun activities and more. Here’s a handy guide to some of our favorite family ski resorts to help you make the right decision.
Sign them up for lessons
One of my best mom ski secret is to leave the teaching to the professionals. Kids often take instruction better from teacher than from parents, especially when the teachers know what they are doing. Take advantage of first-time lesson package deals, which can save money on lessons and rentals.
When you ski with your kids, stay positive. Let them take instruction from their teachers. Don’t nitpick every little thing they do, or you will make them feel like they are doing it wrong. You are there to have fun and be encouraging. You are paying the instructor to instruct.
That being said, you can help prepare them for the sport at home. Kids who surf and skateboard will be able to transition some of those skills to a snowboard. Play balance games. Go roller-skating or inline skating. Jump on trampolines. Practice jumping and hopping on one leg. All these activities will help condition them for the sport and work similar muscles. You will benefit from these activities too! If you happen to have their ski boots at home, have them practice walking in them before the trip.
Buy them proper clothes
Avoid cotton, which absorbs water. Look for fabrics that breathe and wick moisture away from the skin like wool and polypropylene. You don’t have to invest a lot of money in a new ski wardrobe. Borrow, accept hand-me-downs or buy used clothing if you can. Just make sure to buy clothes that are meant for skiing. Especially make sure you have real ski/snowboard gloves or mittens to keep fingers warm. Some snowboard gloves have wrist guards built in to prevent breaks. Hand warmers do a great job of keeping fingers comfortable on very cold days. And layer up. You can always pull off a layer if your child gets hot.
Get a locker
With parking sometimes being so far from the ski resort, I find it is much easier to store some spare gloves, socks, layers, water and boots in a locker closer to the slopes. It is so much better to slip into some snow boots or Uggs after a long day of skiing to walk around a ski village or enjoy après ski time. Getting a locker is a sanity-saving tip that is well worth the few dollars it costs. Soaked gloves and socks mean cold fingers and toes. Having a dry set ready to go in the locker can turn quitting time into a few more runs.
Don’t push them too hard
At the end of the lesson, find out what level they are at and ask the instructor for the best places to ski with them. Don’t push them past their comfort zone or skills because they could lose confidence. For new skiers, it is important to build them up. A lot of success skiing is in the head. Let them take the lead to show off their skills and follow them down.
Keep them hydrated
You might not realize how much moisture you lose through your breath and sweat. Mountain air is very dry. Keep everyone hydrated with frequent water breaks or even outfitted with Camelbacks. Staying hydrated can help prevent altitude sickness and headaches. Your muscles will perform better if you are properly hydrated. Start out the day well hydrated and keep taking drinks all day long This is definitely a vital ski mom secret, because this is one area that kids frequently don't pay attention to.
Protect them from elements
The sun and wind are strong at elevation. Make sure your kids have goggles and sunscreen. A balaclava face mask or neck gator will protect their faces. Give each family member a lip sunscreen to reapply, because burnt, chapped lips are no fun at all.
Pack a snack
Put a bar, PB & J sandwich or some trail mix in your children’s pockets for a quick snack on the mountain if they need an energy boost. I especially love to slip a few chocolates into their pockets for a surprise treat. Be attentive to their needs if they need to go to the lodge for a snack and bathroom break. Take the pressure off to get in as many runs as you can.
Make it fun
You can make family theme or costume days. Is it Hawaiian Day? Maybe the family wears leis and Hawaiian shirts or hula skirts over their ski clothes? It sure makes it easy to spot one another on the mountain. Tutu Tuesday? Disco day? These fun twists on ski clothes can boost morale or bond your family together if the going gets tough.
There is so much fun you can have off the ski hill. Plan some free time for snow play, swimming, sledding or tubing with the kids.
Know when to consider adaptive lessons
If your child has any physical or cognitive disabilities, then you might look into adaptive lessons. Adaptive lessons are also a great idea for kids who have trouble following instructions in a group due to ADHD, sensory processing disorders, deafness, vision problems, Autism spectrum disorders, or other health issues that might mean that they need to take things extra slow or that require a specially-trained instructor who can work with their issues. The great news is that really anyone can learn to ski thanks to adaptive lessons. Just reserve them before the trip.
Dry boots and clothes overnight
There is nothing worse then heading out to ski in the morning and realizing that your boots or mittens are soaked from the day before.Nothing ruins a tadpole's day in the snow faster. After a day of skiing, lay equipment a safe distance from a fire or heater to dry, or throw soft items in a clothes dryer, removing any lift tickets first.
Teach children about ski safety
Teach your children the Skier and Snowboard Responsibility Code and to always ski with a buddy. Give them a brief lesson on signs and symbols so they know that green runs are for beginners, blue runs are intermediate, and black runs are more advanced. When they understand the rules of ski safety on the slopes and chairlifts, then they will lower their risk of injury and keep the parents much happier.
Try skiing in warmer temperatures
You might think of skiing as only a winter sport, but many resorts such as Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe are open well into spring and sometimes summer. That means skiing with way fewer clothing items and sometimes even without gloves. That equates to less hassle and less whining. We love spring skiing with blue skies, warmer temperatures, and smiles all around. Just load up on extra sunscreen, lip and eye protection.
Let’s face it, a mom is only as hoppy as her least hoppy child, so when your kids are all smiles you can relax and enjoy your ski vacation too. These ski mom secrets for new skiers may help your tadpoles grow to love skiing or snowboarding, and may make your trip much easier on yourself. Be sure to balance skiing with plenty of fun off the ski hill with winter activities, games and snow play. The tadpoles are bound to have a great trip! Be sure to check out our ski planning page for more hopful resources.