December 23, 2009

Skiing With Kids

Gear. Weather. Travel. Expense. All things to consider as you lug heavy equipment around a ski resort with a mini Michelin man at your heels. Nearby, children are crying and adults are in heated conversations. Gloves are literally coming off. But here you are, determined to get the family on skis.

We just returned from our third ski session with kids (since having kids), and I finally see the light at the end of the lift. Here is my checklist for attempting the slopes with little ones:

Flexible timing - This is the first trip we pulled off mid-week with good ski conditions. Less crowds + more powder = good times.

Ski school - My kids started the weekend with a ski school refresher course based on their individual levels. This gave them the instruction they needed while my husband and I took some runs together (and reminisced about the 'olden' days).

Hearty breakfast & lunch - When putting forth so much effort, the last thing I needed were hunger pangs. We timed lunch around the crowds and had snacks on hand for quick reboots.

Long breaks - Given we were only in Tahoe for two days, we wanted to make the most of each day. Taking a long rest after the morning session recharged us enough to go for another round. Using my iPhone for some impromptu entertainment was a handy bonus.

Rent in advance - On our next trip we'll rent the gear in advance and bring it up with us in the car. Ski rental lines can be lengthy if you don't time it right.

The younger, the better - Young kids pick up tricks quickly, and may have less fear than older kids.

Tahoe Donner - I like the Tahoe Donner Ski Resort because it appeals to beginners. With plenty of options for lessons, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it has everything you need to get started with confidence.

Harness - When my youngest found her balance, we were able to take her up the chairlift and ski down behind her using a harness. It was enjoyable for her to keep up with big sis and feel safe at the same time.

Friends - The only thing better than a great day is sharing a great day with friends. I'm thankful we have family friends to meet on these adventures.

Hotel - If the condos or cabins are hard to come by, grab something like a Best Western or Holiday Inn Express. You can book rooms on the spot, and the warm breakfast is convenient when traveling with kids.

Warm up run for adults - After snowboarding for 20 years, it wasn't such a good idea for me to get on skis without warming up first. Let's just say that I made the chairlift operator use the stop buttons a few times.

Chairlift - It's OK to ask the chairlift operators to slow down the lift if your are taking the kids up for the first time. They help you get situated and place the child on safely until you get the hang of it.

While it may at times seem illogical, the rewards of having all four of us play follow-the-leader (or, follow-the-pony) on skis was most definitely worth the effort.

Here they are practicing stops and starts

Turns and stops

Me, withOUT kids

My husband Mike, back on skis after many years!

She makes it on the lift - WOOHOO!

Holiday dinner with dear friends and expert skiers - the inspiration for getting us up to Lake Tahoe

Enjoy the rest of winter break!


Carolina said...

So funny, we must have been there around the same time. Great minds think alike. Good tips.
So Diego has finally shown interest in the whole skiing thing, but he actually wants to try snowboarding first.
I wonder if I should teach him to ski first?

Lorraine Akemann said...

I think it's great he wants to try snowboarding! The instructors at Tahoe Donner are good to work with, they might have some ideas on the best way to get a beginner started in terms of skiing or snowboarding. My personal feeling is that skiing has a quicker route to success, so you can start by building some confidence with skis and then switch over to a board. However, kids pick up stuff quickly, you could get him on a board and he'd be shredding before you know it!

minnemom said...

We've thought about taking the kids skiing, but would you recommend it if the kids outnumber the adults and everyone is a novice? Maybe when they're a lot older...

Lorraine Akemann said...

Hi Minnemom! You raise a good point on the outnumbering. I feel best on a 1:1 ratio because my ski abilities are not stellar. So with more kids, I'd split them into morning and afternoon ski school, for example, if you have 4 kids and two parents. Two in school, two with Mom & Dad. Thanks for the comment! Let me know if you make it out!