3 Critical Tips on Skiing with Kids (that nobody talks about)

By Andrew J. Pridgen

Skiing with kids is the worst. It is. The problem is skiing, for most parents, is something they recall doing without kids, at a time the world was new, and with someone who was down for early aughts ski porn, Jagar Bombs and poached hot tub cannon balls.

Skiing was freedom. Skiing was an apple bong passed around the gondola. Skiing was 2 p.m. (noon?) beers and dancing on tables to Basement Jaxx. Yeah, skiing was all that.

 Guess what?

Skiing with kids ain’t all that. And you know this. Just like how you know sleeping in with kids ain’t all that. Showers with kids ain’t all that. Road trips with kids ain’t that. You know what’s all that? Being alone, for like five minutes, to read something—while you’re not in the bathroom. That’s what’s all that.

...So, why the outsized expectations about skiing?

Part of it is our dumb memory banks are full with those imprint memories of the time before your prefrontal cortex was fully formed. That, combined with, the haze of bong water and bad nineties music, and bodies that worked, all the time. It was glorious.

Skiing was glorious.

Which is exactly why skiing with kids is stacked so heavily against us now.

You’re at once trying to capture a better, more fun things-are-great version of yourself. And, at the same time, attempting to bring that version of yourself out of them. And, at the same time, giving them something that no other kid in the world really gets—skiing!

....All this so they can, you know, grow up to enjoy dancing on tables to their own soon-to-be-forgotten music.

Oh, one more thing, you’re also ...trying to have fun yourself, and capture a little bit of that person you were back and SHOW them to your kids.


 See, dad can dance on the tab—. Fine ...your father never could dance, but we love him anyway ....most of the time. Sometimes. 

 So, it’s condensed memories. Fake and outsized expectations. And, well, all the feels that go into being like, “Oh shit—I AM my father schlepping the cooler and slipping in the parking lot yard sale’ing salami sanwiches” crossroads.

 So let’s reset expectations a little.

 Below, three tips on how to do it so right that your keep your toes tapping on those tabletops ...for one more season.


1) You’re not on the clock.

Time is your literal mortal enemy every, well, second of the day. Meetings, appointments, drop-off, pick up, did I get X to Y on time? And what do they (THEY!!!) think of me because I can’t? Parents. have. no. time. So guess what? On that ski trip, the one you saved for or exchanged all the points for, or talked the other couple into going halves in—time stoooooops. That’s right. Stops. That means get up when you get up, go to bed when you go to bed and hit the slopes ...when you hit the slopes. It’s not a contest. Nobody’s standing there with a bean counter to see whether you get first chair. And guess what? You’ve got kids, sis. You’re gonna be stuck on the groomers anyway. So make those famous scrambled eggs, sip that stale cocoa you found in the back of the cupboard, and play a morning session of Uno (I know, I know, but it’s their vacation too, besides Uno kids test better, it’s a fact.) Do it. Even though the same won’t said in twenty years—the snow—it’ll be there for you. So make your way onto the hill ...when it feels right.


Pro Tip: Because there are a lot of families that tried to press that morning, a pre-midday meltdown often takes them off the hill. This means there’s usually good parking spots opening up starting about 10:30 a.m. Slowing down has its privileges.


2) Money is an object, not THE only object.

If you’re not a pass holder, you’re going to shell out a grip of cash to be able to see your kids slide down ice on epoxy planks. Deal with it. The best thing to do to avoid sticker shock on the hill is to get that part over with before you get up the hill. Whether that’s shopping online at sites like Liftopia or visiting the site of the resort you’re gonna be schralping at and buying in advance (advance sales can save up to 50%). Make sure you don’t pull in the lot empty-handed. There’s some stat about how pre-paid vacations cause like 20% less stress put out by the cruise ship lobby, so we won’t use that—but it’s true. When you shell out before you leave the house, that’s money already into the abyss. 


3) Don’t pack the one-last-run mentality 

Last season, my four-year-old son and I skied for three hours one day and a half hour the next. Coincidence? No. I ski with him the way people should ski, till he gets tired or cranky or till he’s not looking or feeling as sharp. It’s tough because, see: above, and see: above, and see: above. You’ve got limited time and a lot of money at stake to do this—and all for what? For the satisfaction to last less time (and deliver fewer laughs) than an episode of Frasier. That’s bound to happen and it’s, well, disappointing. But is it? I got to be outside with him. I got to ski with him. Repeat: I got to SKI WITH MY SON!!! WTF in the world is better than that? Take the time you get and don’t take one run for granted or run them into the ground. Live to ski anohter day and when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.


Pro tip: With kids under six especially, have plenty of snacks on hand, bribe them with lodge hot chocolate for being mindful and making good turns and stop (not for longevity on the hill), or let them take a half-hour detour to sit on a snow berm and make a snowman with you. Break up the day, keep it fun, and it’ll be worth well more than the Patty Hearst money you shelled out. 


Do some version of these things and you’ll be happier, less accident prone, and may even give yourself back a minute to take it all in, grab a 2 p.m. beer and get up on that ...No, wait honey, get down. You’re going to hurt someone. You’re gonna—oof.

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