Family ski vacations...Can you ski with kids??

Before I had kids I did a fair bit of skiing.  I remember watching parents struggle to hold their kiddos up or to get a break of their own to enjoy actually skiing or boarding.  I remember thinking simultaneously that I'd love to do that with mu kids one day and that I never wanted to take my own kids skiing because it looked wonderful and difficult all at the same time.

When my oldest was little I just went for it.  I figured worst case scenario we all hate it and never do it again.  Best case scenario we have a fun day and get some great pics.  He was 3 and fortunately it was a great day.  He was a natural and skied with ease.  I decided to forgo the skis myself for the beginning then get him a lesson at which time I could ski a couple runs and then join him.  That worked perfectly.

For the few winters we enjoyed this same ritual although over time it turned to snowboarding for him.  I stick with skis after an intensely failed attempt at boarding as a 20 something in Vermont. But that is a whole other story. I had another baby and did the same thing with him until the time that we moved to the tropics and snow, cold, and skiing was swapped for sand, warmth, and surfing.

Another child was had and travel continued albeit around the equator for the most part so cold and snow just never was part of our year.  The older two boys and I missed it but not so much that we'd forgo the beach life we'd come to love.

Last year my 9 year old, who had literally never even seen snow before, decided he was ready to try out skiing.  We had recently moved to Washington state from Hawaii and since we have good friends that live up in a ski resort in Canada, a mere 5 hours away by car, we decided to make an almost whole family trip up to give it a go again. Hubby stayed home with the newest member of our family Koa, a golden retriever puppy.

Big White ski resort in Canada is in beautiful British Columbia.  It's located about 40 minutes from the large city of Kelowna, making it a great location for a family ski vacation or even as a place to live for the season to really get into the ski lifestyle while also having good access to a large city with everything you could need in the way of shopping, theaters, experiences, etc. We spent about 5 days there skiing, sledding, taking lessons, and watching fireworks over New Years Eve.

As it had been a long time since we skied last the younger kids took lessons while my oldest and I hit the slopes. I would love to say it was a perfect few days on the slopes but it most definitely wasn't.  My youngest has a harder time dealing with things than my older children and between the cold, sore feet, and the blustery days it was the challenge I had predicted way back before I had children.  There was whining and crying and full on collapsing to the ground...the very cold snow covered ground.  We survived though and even did it again the next day, which of course went more smoothly.  It did teach us a few things though, as harder experiences usually do.

~~~For starters the more sets of hands you can bring the better especially if trying to ski with multiple first timers or children under 5. Anyone the kids will trust and can physically maneuver it all.  Older siblings, friends, spouse, anything with hands.  One of the harder components for me was managing to keep my eyes on both younger kids at the same time.  And don't even get me started on how hard it can be to take them to the bathroom.  Having 2 people really helps divide the work load.

~~~If you can try and find a resort that offers lots of assistance.  Many of the ski resorts in Europe offer beautiful chalets set on some of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world and then on top of that have amazing child care and ski lesson options.  Check out for more info on in chalet child care as well as group lessons and more. Its not even as expensive as you might think and certainly worth every penny!

~~~For money saving I strongly urge you to rent rather than buy.  Some kids won't do much with skiing long term and even if they do its unlikely they will remain the same size for even 2 consecutive years  See if any friends ski and borrow if possible or try and hit up a used equipment stores.  If in BC there are 2 great ones in Vancouver.

~~~Layer up!!  It may make those bathroom breaks harder but its the best way to tackle the freezing cold outside only to be overheated in the lodge.  Also be sure to attach their misc items like gloves or hats.  We've lost so many hats and gloves.   And don't forget goggles as well as sunscreen to protect eyes and skin.  It'll be more comfortable when out there and save a burn that will cut the fun short.

~~~Provide enough time to relax and be patient with your kids and yourselves. Take time getting to the resort so you can stop often and make it fun.  Get there before lessons start so you can all get used to all the area and play in the snow before starting lessons.  Leave extra time in the morning to get ready at a slow pace to avoid meltdowns before even officially starting the day.  Relax and breathe, it will have its stressful moments but remember this is a vacation and meant to be fun!

~~~Safety first. Have them wear their helmets and be sure they understand how important it is for them to listen closely to the instructors. Collisions with trees and with other skiers is a real concern and should be taken seriously.  And be sure insurance is all in order.  Out of network or international coverage if that's applicable.

~~~Seems simple but have fun!  Go out sledding or ice skating or bundle up in the resort or chalet with hot cocoa and a movie if they seem over whelmed or just plan sick of the cold.  May be nice to get a room with a pool or hot tub for a change of pace.

~~~Package deals are not always the way to go but in regards to ski packages it usually is a cheaper offering and it just makes things go more smoothly once you get there.  No need to buy one thing in this building and another in another building etc. It definitely saves time and almost always money as well.  Win-win!

There you go.  Some of the best tips for family ski vacations.  In short the answer to the title question is yes.  Yes you can ski with young kids.  It will be challenging, exhausting and frustrating at times, but mostly fun and a memorable experience for all involved.

Have you been skiing with your children?  Any tips to add?  Let us know in the comments below!

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