I have now taken my young children skiing several times - and I HIGHLY recommend it! Have a read of my handy hints for taking the kids to the slopes...
“Let’s take the children” said my husband whilst reminiscing about the good ‘ole skiing days before kids. “Nah, lets not” said I. Too expensive, loads of kit to take, our son doesn’t like to wear a coat, nor long trousers for the matter, but hates the cold. And there’ll be no après fun!
Fast forward, we did it, had no regrets and have just returned from our fifth family ski. One of my most precious family moments from the holiday was when we skied down our first run as a family and one of the most depressing moments was when my 6 year old flew by leaving me for dust!
It takes a little bit of planning but when that's done it’s one of the most exhilarating family holidays you can have.
Things to consider:
1. Short transfers are always a bonus as winding mountain roads sometimes cause sickness - make sure you pack a suitable ‘catcher’!
2. Choose a family-friendly resort of which there are plenty. Something to bear in mind when looking at resorts is off-slope activities in case one of your parties doesn't like skiing or the weather closes in. Bigger resorts will have ice skating, swimming pools, bowling alleys and soft play areas. Make sure that there are nursery slopes close for beginners.
3. Accommodation - budget dictates a lot when skiing with the family. Irrespective of the accommodation type be aware of the distance/transport from your bed to the ski school - a stressful commute to ski school can be disastrous!
4. Skiing holidays are sociable. If you have friends who want to take their children, hook up together, familiar faces for your children when they are in ski school is always a comfort. A self-catered chalet filled with your friends has the making of a fabulous break. You can be flexible on food choice and feeding times and make a packed lunch for a mountain picnic. If you prefer a bit of space then book self-catering accommodation with apartments next to friends: you can eat and drink together but retire to your own space, particularly useful if you have babies or toddlers who rise early! Catered chalets and hotels, albeit more pricey also have their advantages - cooking and cleaning all done for you and often cake and tea when you get back after a hard day of fun on the mountain.
5. If you book with a family-friendly tour operator invariably they will take your children to ski school and collect them once the lesson finishes, and, depending on your requirements, lunch can be provided too. If you are skiing with babies and toddlers, look for resorts who have a creche close to your accommodation or near to the slopes - make sure there are plenty of English-speaking nannies. Consider taking grandparents who don’t mind childminding whilst you have a blast on the slopes. Or if you are skiing with families with similar aged children then draw up a ski/childcare rota.
6. Make sure your children are kitted out accordingly. Jackets and salopettes need to fit and not three sizes too big so they can grow into it - I’ve had friends guilty as charged! The first day admin of getting boots on can be quite an eye opener, hang in there. The getting ready can be stressful, very stressful, especially if you have more than one child to get ready in a busy boot room! Get yourself ready in plenty of time so you’re not stressing to get to ski school on time. It might be worth booking ski school times and pick a time that suits your routine better.
7. If you’re skiing early in the season then layer, layer layer! We all know you can take off layers but you once you're cold it’s really hard to warm up - so also remember glove liners and snoods.
8. Pack your child a snack, I usually put a small bag of sweets in their pocket - it improves morale dramatically if they’re tired during or after lessons. Lip protection and sun block are essential too especially if skiing nearer spring time. Our children have happily skied in a thermal and a fleece - it was that hot.
9. Book ski lessons for the children, it will be a more pleasant experience for all involved. Look for a school with teachers that speak fluent English - sounds obvious but it can make all the difference. Private lessons may advance your child's skiing but it's a fun and exciting sport and children love to share their enthusiasm and skills so do have a look at group lessons too. Just be sure to check class sizes as these can vary from school to school.
The dramatic backdrop of snowy mountains is just about as beautiful as you can get. Enjoy the wonderful fresh air and have some good quality time with the children. Skiing is exhilarating, snowball fights are a tradition and nothing comes close to the joy of tobogganing. Going on a skiing holiday with the family might be different from BC (before children) but it’s much, much more rewarding.