Snow! It’s one of Colorado’s greatest gifts. And what goes hand-in-hand with snow? Skiing! From the moment the first flakes fall, discussions turn to snowpack, I-70 road conditions, and how to get the family out of the mile-high city and into the mountains. Skiing with kids can take extra preparation, but we’ve collected tips on how to plan ahead, save money, and pick the right gear to make this ski season an easy one for your family.
Success on the Slopes
Experts agree that the most exasperating part of the ski day for parents is the time between loading your kids into the car to the point of drop off at the slopes. Practicing patience is key to get the day off to a good start. In addition to patience, here are some other points to consider before heading to the slopes with kids.
- Prepare kids for what’s ahead. The success of skiing depends on setting the right expectations. If you are prepared for the tears, trips to the bathroom, and family bloopers, then your frustration will not get the best of you. Likewise, talk to your children about what the day will be like in order to set realistic expectations.
- Don’t underestimate the walk from the parking lot to the lodge. It’s cold, slippery, and you are loaded down with equipment. If there is another adult with you, drop off one adult with all the gear and kids close to the lodge. If you are alone with your child, try to drop off your gear close to the lodge.
- Get your kids dressed first. Resist the temptation to put on all of your gear before dressing your child. Your patience will plunge if you are overheated in your own gear while trying to find that missing sock.
- Celebrate all successes. When the day is over, tell your munchkin that you’re proud, whether she’s mastered “the pizza” or just stood and cried. Skiing is hard, and just putting on the equipment and making it onto the snow is an accomplishment.
- End on a positive note. Have a hot cocoa or get in one final run; whatever feels like a happy way to end the day.
Before you know it, your child will have the ability to experience the freedom of skiing on her own.
Before you hit the slopes with your kids, make sure they have the right snow attire and gear to keep them comfortable and safe on the mountain. Here’s what the experts recommend:
- Helmet – All kids should wear a helmet as safety is the number one priority. Helmets can be rented, but if the child will be out on the mountain several times during the season, purchasing a helmet is the way to go. Children’s ski helmets are designed to be adjustable and will last a few seasons.
- Goggles – It’s recommended to buy goggles for various weather conditions with a medium-tinted lens. Ensure the goggles are helmet-compatible, meaning the goggles fit over the helmet, for a comfortable fit against the face.
- Jacket – Investing in an insulated, waterproof, and breathable jacket is essential. It should be warm enough for various snow conditions, yet not so heavy that the child sweats while skiing. Find a hip-length jacket to prevent snow from getting in, and opt for a detachable hood or hide-away hood.
- Gloves – Mittens are typically warmer for children and easier to get on and off. Look for well-insulated, waterproof mittens — they should have an extra couple of inches in the cuffs to be tucked under jacket sleeves.
- Pants – Invest in a pair of snow pants that are insulated, waterproof, and breathable. For kids, high-waist or bib-style with removable straps are best. Most pants also have ankle straps to keep the snow out of boots.
- Base Layers – Long underwear is a necessity for kids to stay warm when skiing and riding. Merino or synthetic wool mid-weight base layers are recommended. Stay away from cotton. For really cold days, medium to lightweight fleece layering pieces work great.
- Socks – To keep kids’ feet warm, look for socks made of blended wool and synthetic fibers that stop right below the knee. Again, avoid any cotton material. It is also not advisable to wear more than one pair of socks as this can make feet sweat which can in turn make feet cold and uncomfortable.
When it comes to ski and snowboard gear, it’s best to rent first. There’s no need to invest until your little one is more involved with the sport and you figure out what works best for their needs. Most rental equipment can be exchanged throughout the season, at no additional cost, if sizes aren’t quite right, a growth spurt happens, or your child decides to switch from skiing to snowboarding.
The list of expenses for skiing with the family can be intimidating. For many, it makes a day on the slopes seem out of reach. Doing research ahead of time and looking for money-saving deals can help make a day at the slopes feel a little less daunting.
- Look For Packaged Deals – Rather than looking for lift tickets and lodging in one place and equipment rentals in another, search for bundles. Booking lodging, lift tickets, and parking all together through the resort is typically the best deal.
- Find “Kids Ski Free” Programs – Nearly every resort has some kind of kids ski free deal, whether it is bundled with an adult pass or combined with ski programs or lodging packages.
Bottom line: Do your research before you go. Your best chance to find money saving deals is checking with the resort websites before you head out the door.
- Arrive earlier than you think you need to
- Pack hearty snacks and a lunch (If not provided with the lessons)
- Bring sunscreen
- Dress in layers
- Respect and tip the instructors
- Honor success, no matter how small
Whether you are a skiing family or new to snow sports, we hope this information proves helpful to get you and your family happily swooshing down the slopes this season. Remember to stay safe with the appropriate gear, dress appropriately for the day, and celebrate the successes.
Have a fun and safe ski season from all of us at Partners in Pediatrics — Denver’s first and best integrative pediatric medical practice.