As a parent, winter can be a blessing and a curse. Everyone gets cooped up inside and were all forced to be together. This is is the perfect time for some quality family bonding, hanging out, watching TV, and talking to each other if you can believe it. Eventually, all of the togetherness starts to wear on even the most loving of families and you get to a point where all you want to do is get out of the house and change up the pace a bit. A weekend ( or weekday ) family ski trip to Minnesota can be a fantastic experience for everyone in the family to have a little “me” time, and a little “us” time, but it’s not always the easiest thing to plan for.
In my younger days, I loved tearing up the hill, starting at open and riding all day until they forced us out. While I might like to relive those glory days, I have small people half my height that like to tag along and probably wouldn’t think the day was as fun as I do. We all know becoming a parent means making some sacrifices and while taking a ski trip might seem like it’s “more for the kids” it doesn’t have to. On this post I’ll be outlining some of the best tips I’ve learned through some successful (and some not-so-successful) ski trips with our family.
1. Create Reasonable Expectations
Our first ski trip to Minnesota as a family was doomed to be a miserable experience before we even packed out bags. Why? Because I had unrealistic expectations for our family and their abilities, as well as to how much free time I would have. In my mind this ski trip was going to be like the old times, just riding all day only stopping to refuel. Great plan, but my spouse dealing with our 3 year old by themselves had another viewpoint on the matter. Lesson 1, be realistic and make yourself recognize ahead of time that things will be different this time, especially if this is your first trip with kiddos. Younger children get cold fast, push them down a hill during freezing temperatures and they get cold even faster. Your ski experience the first time might only be short sprints coupled with long sessions of hot cocoa, movies, and relaxing. This isn’t a bad thing, and actually might be exactly what you’re looking for, but if you stay focused on getting the most time on the hill as possible– you might be creating a frustrating experience for you and your family.
2. Rally the Troops
If you’re taking more than one child, especially under the age of 5-7, make sure you’ve got enough support to keep an eye on them. This isn’t to say they will be running around like crazy, but if you have a toddle skiing down the hill, you can pretty much guarantee you will need to be right there with them to dust them off when they inevitably fall. It’s possible that you and your significant can handle the situation, but you’d be amazed how much easier the trip feels if you invite a friend, relative, niece or nephew, or anyone else to join you on the ski trip. Tweens are fantastic for this as they get super excited for a ski trip and they tend to be much more grateful for the opportunity so that skiing with the little ones isn’t a burden. If you are spending 100% of your time handling the children and don’t have time to breathe and enjoy the trip, you might be sorry you even went.
3. Get those kids some lessons
Children aren’t grade-A skiers naturally, and regardless of their skill level they could always use a refresher course or some long hours learning from a qualified instructor. Most ski hills and resorts offer lessons for kids, and Giant’s Ridge has some fantastic instructors for their children’s ski lessons. Ski lessons for the little ones are also a great opportunity for the parental units and older children to get away and get some solid downhill time without having to worry about the youngest in the group. Get out and spend some time with the teenagers in the group, do some couple’s runs, or even let loose with some great “me” time.
4. Don’t forget to layer those layers
As I’ve mentioned, I’d be outside on the hill all day if I could choose to do so, so you can definitely count on the fact I’ll be doing everything I can to keep my kids outside for as long as possible as well. Enter the importance of layer of layers to protect the little ones from that Minnesota cold. We’ve talked about how quickly kids get cold, and the obvious answer is to wear layers, but you might want to consider adding more layers to decrease how quickly they’ve hit their limit of the great outdoors. The other hidden benefit of dressing your kid like a marshmallow, is that you’re adding additional padding for those wipe outs and falls. It keeps them safer, and it keeps you on the hill a bit longer if they do fall.
5. Plan your time wisely
This ties back into setting great expectations, but you should plan to cover all your bases and spend time doing things everyone wants to do. Make sure you’re getting some good time in moving at a slow pace with the younger kids, time riding with the older children and get that much needed bonding time, and never forget to spend time with your significant other and/or the adults on the trip. Even in small doses, a little adult time can go a long way for your family’s mental state on the trip.
Obviously these are only a few of the hundreds of tips that we could use when taking kids on a ski trip, and we’d love to hear any other tips that you might have on the topic. Let us know in the comments section below or write to us on Facebook.