TAG | Skiing with kids
February 2, 2012
While the slopes beckon for many, there are plenty of non-skiing activities at most ski resorts to keep non-skiers happy and entertained. Here are my top five non-ski activities to look for when selecting a ski resort town for a family vacation:
- Sledding or tubing hill. Some resorts have groomed tubing hills complete with magic carpets or tow ropes. These tend to be pricey (up to $30 an hour) so if you are looking for the budget option, ask some locals where they go sledding, pick up a couple of sleds in the local grocery store and head out. A thermos of hot cocoa and some cookies will round out the perfect afternoon. If you are heading to Breckenridge, check out Carter Park behind the elementary school – great sledding (but beware of the rough ride down the middle – little kids should stick to the smoother path on the sides).
- Dog sledding. Kids and adults of all ages will enjoy this fun activity – there are packages from an hour to a full day.
- Children’s museum/rec center. Many mountain resorts have a children’s museum or indoor rec center (or both) that are fun for a day or even après ski. These are generally very affordable but can be crowded and/or have odd hours.
- Shopping. Shopping at a resort can be limited but ski towns have a wide variety of unique stores to fit every budget and taste. Kids will enjoy browsing the local toy store, small book store and even the eclectic gift shop. Ask around for fun kid spots – for example, there is a small indoor play area in the back of Peek A Boo toys in Breckenridge. The upstairs kids area of the Breckenridge visitor center is also a hidden gem – rarely crowded and fun, educational activities for the kids.
- Ceramics studio. Spend an afternoon or après ski evening painting a masterpiece to take home. If you do this early in the trip, you can generally take it home with you, otherwise, they will ship it to your destination.
Of course, no trip would be complete without fun games for the condo/hotel room. You can find our favorites here.
What are your favorite activities?
January 20, 2012
Comments off · Posted by jennifer in Ski Vacations
Gearing kids up to ski is no easy feat – especially the first few times you head out to the slopes. Read the ski school guidelines and they give a laundry list of required items but we have found that it is the little things that make or break the day. Here is my list of little things to remember.
1. Glove/Mitten Cats. Kudos to the Spyder company for finally designing mittens with a convenient loop snap that attaches to a loop on their jacket sleeves. If your mittens/jackets aren’t this hi-tech, your kids NEED mitten clips. I prefer the Glove Cats because the clips hold firm and they are just the right length. Why are these necessary? Little kids are always pulling off their gloves – just ask any ski instructor and they will tell you they spend half the day putting mittens back on kids. These clips prevent mittens from getting left behind. The length is important – too short and they are difficult to attach but too long and dangling mittens drag on the ground and fill with snow.
2. Good socks. It is worth the money to buy high quality padded ski socks that fit properly. Never get socks with “room to grow” that is a recipe for blisters! Also, our socks tend to shrink during the year so I buy an extra pair to open later in the ski season.
3. Labeled helmet. No one likes to dwell on their kids getting injured but when you see someone coming down on a sled with ski patrol, all helmets look remarkably similar. Label your kid’s helmet so you can easily distinguish it. My kids have a purple snake drawn in Sharpie on the top of their helmet and helmet tails (we made fish tails and cheetah tails that attach to the back goggle strap with a zip tie – comment if you are interested in instructions on how to make your own).
4. Contact information. Tuck a business card with your mobile number in at least one pocket.
What little things do you need for a successful ski day with kids?
January 5, 2012
As with all sports, ski resorts know they have to appeal to younger skiers – and not just the coveted 18-24 demographic. Ski resorts need the toddler set to grow up loving to ski. Not only does that breed an adult skier, resorts understand that the entire family will not book a ski vacation if one of the kids hates to ski/board. With that in mind, ski resorts are pulling out all the stops to build a safer, less frustrating bunny slope experience.
Slope Improvements: The bunny slopes used to be created out of an otherwise unusable hill somewhere on the resort property or, worse, at bottom of a long run. No longer! Resorts are paying attention to the beginner experience by regrading slopes, installing magic carpet conveyor lifts to haul skiers back to the top (instead of traditional lifts) and locating them near the ski school. Breckenridge actually has bunny slopes within the confines of their kids’ ski school so the under 7 crowd can learn to stop and turn in a controlled environment (that is conveniently just steps away from hot cocoa & bathrooms).
Safety Improvements: One of the most difficult things for kids to do on skis is get back up once they take a tumble. Handled jerseys help ski instructors (or parents) stand kids up when they fall. They also allow lift operators to give a much needed “pull back” to little kids riding the lift. Some resorts are taking this further with the addition of magnetized jerseys. The magnets stick to the backs of lifts for the ride and the lift operator demagnetizes them at the top so kids can exit the chair lift. An interesting concept that I would like to see in action.
Convenience Factors: Ski nannies and valets are becoming more and more popular with resorts. They help shuttle the kids to and from ski school, which is not an easy task with multiple kids and all their gear. Telluride has staff in parking lots to help parents get kids and gear safely to the ski school. Resorts have also spent money renovating and enlarging the children’s indoor spaces so they are inviting and fun for kids in between ski runs.
December 7, 2011
Comments off · Posted by jennifer in Ski Vacations
It’s that time of year when people start flocking to the slopes. Ski school is expensive and parents often wonder if it is worth it. In most cases, I think a few days in ski school are good for both kids AND parents.
- Realistic Expectations. Every year I see hundreds of parents attempting to teach their kids to ski. 95 percent of the time, the day is not going well – the parents are frustrated, the kids are crying and both are miserable. Kids need encouragement, frequent breaks and hot cocoa to have a successful ski day. Parents focused on maximizing their time on the slopes (an understandable goal given the price of a lift ticket!) are often exasperated by the slow pace. Save the frustration by putting the kids in ski school for the first few days of the trip. Once they have their ski legs, you can enjoy a few days of family skiing at the end.
- Fun with Peers. Ski school groups kids by age and ability. The kids learn faster and have fun in a group of their peers.
- Safety. It isn’t funny or safe to have kids skiing out of control down advanced slopes. Ski instructors teach the basics, with safety of self and others being a major focus. Learning etiquette and mountain rules is important; as is learning which slopes are appropriate for a child’s level. Ready for family skiing? Talk to the instructor at the end of the day about what runs are best for family ski days.
- Adult Fun. It is often hard to find alone time on a vacation. Drop the kids off at ski school and head to breakfast or take a nap!
The reality is that familial relationships make it hard for parents to teach their kids some things plus, just because you can do something doesn’t automatically mean you can teach someone else. It is often worth the time and money to send your kids to ski school for a few days – everyone has a better vacation!
As most of you know, we are avid skiers. Brian and I are not good skiers but we do ski a lot. One thing we don’t do very often is ski with our kids. There are several reasons (or it is fair to say, excuses) for this. First, with the exception of the three year old, our kids are much better skiers. The last time we went out for a family ski day, our kids literally skied circles around us – and I do mean literally! Frankly, the complaining about our slow skiing gets old after a while – I know I am slow but I also know what knee surgery and the 12 months of rehab feel like. I have earned the right to ski slowly.
The real reason is that I am terrified to be on the lift with my kids – especially the 3 and 5 year olds. I know, in my head, that they ride the lift numerous times a day with no issues. But, when they are sitting next to me squirming around and bending over to watch the skiers beneath the lift; the visions of all the things that can go wrong constantly flash through my head. And then there is the act of getting off the lift. I am comfortable getting myself off but have no idea how to help the three year old off. I am told she just needs a gentle push (really just support until her little legs reach the ground) but I can’t seem to grasp exactly how to do that and still get myself off in one piece (and without taking out one of my other kids).
I see people do it all the time so I am looking to you, my fellow skiers for advice. How do you conquer your fear of taking little kids on the lift and helping them off?