Skiing! A ton of people love skiing! Our family experienced skiing for the first time earlier this year, and the family as a whole loved it … the mom (me) had some mixed feelings about it. I’m sharing some of my honest opinions, both the good and the bad about skiing, in particular skiing with kids.
First off, you should know, I am not a risk seeker, but I am married to one. Even though I’m not a risk seeker, I do have this stubborn, determined streak in me that wants to be able to keep up with whatever my husband is getting us into! When we were planning our family trip for the Pacific Northwest, it was suggested that we fit in some skiing. I had never been skiing before, nor had any of our kids, so I was hesitant but willing to give it a go.
My husband, in his typical go big or go home style, wanted to ski at Whistler Blackcomb, the biggest ski resort in North America and where the winter Olympics were held in 2010. We did get one skiing experience in before Whistler at a small ski resort closer to home called Paoli Peaks. We just did a one-day thing there with a little lesson, just to get a taste of skiing before heading to Whistler, which was a whole other ballgame.
So … Whistler … and skiing … with kids. Overall it was a really cool experience, and the kids loved it, so I’m happy about that. Our oldest son says it was one of his favorite experiences we’ve had on our travels. So for that, it was all worth it. But for me, honestly this was by far the most stressful thing from a trip we’ve ever done – and that includes navigating travel through foreign non-English speaking countries with kids and luggage!
Skiing itself is not my favorite. I do like being out in the snow, especially in the mountains. And as long as I’m not going too fast, it is fun! But the whole feeling of not being in control, speeding down the side of the mountain with a couple skinny planks attached to my feet is way more fear than fun for me! There are also big crowds of people, or at least that was our experience; and that is not my favorite type of atmosphere.
Then add the stress of the equipment – for 6 people … Our kids at the time were 12, 10, 8, and 4, so for each one of us: helmets, goggles, neck gaiters, coats, ski pants, gloves (2 of them, which even though they can clip together, somehow both gloves prove difficult to keep up with), boots (crazy hard to walk in while you are holding all the stuff and herding children), skis, poles, lift passes. The older kids did a decent job managing their stuff, but the 4 year old really couldn’t, so we were trying to carry around all our own gear plus his.
I will say that Whistler has a very organized system for renting equipment, but even still, it felt stressful finding where we were supposed to go, getting all of the gear, carrying it around, putting it all on, finding a locker for our shoes and other things, and getting to the lesson location on time … without losing a kid or a glove … both of which may have happened at one point or another. Not to mention the bathroom breaks with kids once gear was on! Oh my goodness, I’m tired just thinking about this again. LOL. I’m certain there are parents that handle all this with no problem, calm and cool. I’m not that parent.
We only planned for 2 days of skiing at Whistler; one, because it is so expensive, and two, because we wanted to do and see other things on this trip (our plan was Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler). This turned out to be plenty of skiing for us and worked out perfectly.
We did one day of lessons and one day of just skiing. The kids loved their lessons, and I felt confident in their safety. Once again this is something Whistler does really well. It was well organized, they feed them lunch, and they put these tracker things on the kids so that if anyone got separated they would not be lost. Getting to see them excited and talking about how cool their instructors were was great.
Our adult lesson was not as good of an experience. It probably depends greatly on the instructor you get because I had read lots of great reviews for Whistler lessons. I won’t get into too much of the negatives, but I will say that it was slow. There was a lot of standing around thinking about how much money this costs and that we only have 2 days here. Also, on a more personal note, I was the weakest skier of our group of 4. I knew this, and that’s okay. I’m no athlete, and the rest of the group had all had more skiing experience than me. We took lessons to have fun and to get a little better in order to have more fun skiing. The instructor made it clear repeatedly throughout our day together that I was the weakest of the group, and always made me go first. For my personality type, this is definitely the way to shut me down and make me not even want to try as opposed to motivating me to get better. Instead of fun, it was just frustrating.
Family Ski Day
The next day was better all the way around. My husband and our oldest son got to do some harder runs together. Our girls had a blast skiing together on a green run where the little guy and I stayed on a bunny slope at the end of it. I didn’t really ski much that day because I was with our 4 year old, but that was okay with me. He basically wanted to stay in one spot going down this tiny little hill where he would jump at the bottom. It was so cute. He must have done it 100 times! And Whistler was gorgeous – the snow was powdery and just beautiful!
I know every family has their own dynamics, their own preferences; just as every parent has their own style and personality with what brings them stress and what they enjoy. Here are my overall mom-tips for skiing with kids:
- Know going into it that it is a lot. It is a lot of money, a lot of gear, a lot of figuring out where to go and what to do. Allow for as much time to get ready as possible, and just be prepared to be very patient. I think I could have done a better job handling the stress if I would have prepared myself and my mindset beforehand.
- Skiing with kids is not necessarily going to be “skiing with kids” if that makes sense. If you do lessons, you’ll be split up into different age/skill groups. If you don’t do lessons, you still might not be together as a family a ton if your ages and skill levels are spread out. Even though my husband loves skiing, one thing he didn’t like was how we weren’t actually together as a family much. Maybe as the kids get a little older that will change.
- Have designated meet up spots for the family because it is hard to keep everyone together, and make sure your kids know what to do if they can’t find you.
- Again, this is according to preference, but for us … I would not want to do an entire ski trip, where skiing is the focus and what you do every day. Two days and we were exhausted and fulfilled with the amount of skiing we did. It is tiring!
- Smile, have fun, take pictures, make memories … even if it is stressful. Kids won’t be kids forever.
So … I’m glad we did it. I’m glad the kids loved it. I have happy memories from it too even with the stressful ones. I would do it again for my family, but it is definitely not at the top of my list. I’m kind of secretly hoping that it isn’t too high up on the rest of the family list. I’m also secretly praying for lots of snow at home for sledding this year, which I think will scratch their ski itch, and which I am totally on board for!