Top 10 Tips for Skiing as a Family
When my sons were born, in 2010 and 2012, respectively, my husband and I had no doubt ours would be a skiing family. Skiing was how we met, and our relationship thrived and grew in the mountains and on the slopes. So we started our kids young. They’re still young, but the many days we’ve spent skiing as a family in has given me great insight. Here’s what I’ve learned.
- Ski school is better than marriage counseling
Ski school is worth every penny, especially when the kids are young. In ski school, our sons have learned independence (i.e. they schlep their own skis), honed their skills (our three-year-old finally embraced snowplow this season after just one lesson and hours of repetition with an extraordinary instructor, and made friends. We’re psyched for the day when we can all ski as a family—and that day feels imminent—but we’re also thrilled for the pros to set a good foundation for the boys. Plus on the days they’re in school, my husband and I get an all-day ski date.
- Buy ski lessons in packages to save money
If you’re only visiting Breckenridge for a one-time vacation, you can save money on lessons by purchasing online in advance of arrival. If you live in Colorado and have an Epic Pass consider Breckenridge Bombers multi-week lessons. And if you’re feeling rusty, take a lesson while your kids do—remember: you’re investing in the whole family!
- Snacks, snacks, snacks
Off the slope I am one of those “mean” moms who insists kids finish the food on their plate and don’t feed them between mealtimes (all the better for eating your dinner, my dear). On the mountain, my pockets are a veritable candy/health food store overflowing with gummies, M&Ms, old Halloween candy, mixed nuts, raisins, and sometimes even a tangerine. I shove food in their mouths on the chairlift and mid-run. All the better to keep their blood sugar elevated.
- Ditch the agenda
You may ski for hours. You might ski an hour. Skiing with a family is about creating a trusting bond. If the kids aren’t feeling the love on the slope, be willing to head to the lodge for a hot cocoa.
- Make it fun
Right now my boys are at an age where they want to spend all their time with my husband and me. My friends with tweens and teens tell me that will soon change. My hope is that if we make skiing a fun family tradition now, the momentum will carry us through any turbulence adolescence holds and provide familial structure.
- Develop a system
After forgetting one too many pairs of ski pants, we wrote out a checklist. For everyone. Before the gear gets loaded in the car, either my husband or I will go through the kids’ ski bags (we try to get them to help) and tick things off the list. This simple system has spared lots of anguish.
- Let the kids take the lead
Our five-year-old rips. I’m not bragging. I’m just saying he is super fun to ski with (see #1: ski lessons since toddlerhood means he’s comfortable on all sorts of terrain), and he loves to show off/feel like the family hero. And we like building his confidence that way. Ski the mountain repeatedly with your kids and teach them the trail names. Then let them take you down their favorite runs. Everyone is proud.
- Ski as a family
This might sound obvious, but it can be hard, especially when one kid is chomping at the bit to ski a mogul run (see: #7) and the other is wedging his way down his first long green run. We let the older son ski ahead, but we ask him to stop and wait for all of us. We want our kids to understand that skiing as a family is as much about togetherness as it is shredding the gnar. Sure, our five-year-old gets impatient, but he’s learning to wait and to cheer his brother on. That’s more important for a family dynamic than letting him show off all day.
- Minimize electronics
Thanks to EpicMix, which records the days stats, EpicMix Academy, which records kids’ progress in ski or snowboard school, and Epic Mix Photos, Breckenridge has you covered for recording your day (and letting you share it on social media later). Take advantage of the freedom and make your family ski day all about being outdoors. It’s nice to take a break from the wired world and focus on family, skiing, and fresh air. (That said, maybe keep the phone on to monitor lift line length with EpicMix Time.)
- Dress right
It’s been a cold winter. Our boys have balaclavas, facemasks, fleeces, warm jackets, insulated pants, and thick wool socks. We’d rather shed layers than deal with cold, frost-nipped hands.