5 Tips for Skiing with Toddlers
This post is sponsored by Pistachio Chewy Bites. One of the questions I have been getting the most this past season is how to prepare your littlest skiers for their first day on the mountain. Last year (just after Huck turned two) was..... more challenging than I expected. This year (now that Huck is nearly three), I've totally changed my mindset and approach- and the results have been COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. We've ALL loved skiing together! This year we are focusing on the FUN factor, and leaving the goals at home. Thank you for sponsoring this post, Pistachio Chewy Bites! (Photos taken by Ski Utah).
1. Amp up your Parenting Pre-Game
Before your little ones wake up and rule your roost, take some time and get things ready for the day. Gather gear, load skis on the car, and make the PBJ sandwiches before the chaos of family life sets in. There’s nothing like a toddler spilling juice all over the kitchen floor to make you forget a pair of gloves or goggles.
*Pro tip: Take the brain-work out of the equation by having a packing list handy. Plug and chug and get out the door.
2. Timing is everything
Last season I made the mistake of taking Huck up the mountain after a leisurely morning at home. We arrived as the sun was high in the sky, and naptime was around the corner. Big mistake. Position yourself for success by arriving either early in the morning or later in the afternoon (after naptime). You might not be skiing “bell-to-bell”, rather starting at the morning bell OR ending with the closing bell. We prefer arriving early at Alta to get the close parking, and ending our day before naptime (noon) with a cocoa and chocolate marshmallow at Alta Java.
3.Keep the day focused on play, and keep the expectations low
Expecting your kiddo to hop on the lift your first day out together might be lofty. On his first day out on the mountain, success simply means that your kid had fun. Leave the list of goals at home, and tune into her feelings. Success might look like doing snow angels (but if he’s wearing goggles and a helmet, it’s a major accomplishment!). Success might look like playing tag in the snow (but if she’s in bulky ski clothes, it’ a major success!). Hell, success might even mean a day of enjoying lunch and cocoa on the patio (but if your kiddo walked through the cafeteria in ski boots, it’s a win!). When you’re lucky- I mean REALLY LUCKY- your future shredder will be ready to click into bindings and slide around in the snow. It’ll happen before you know it.
4. Never underestimate positive reinforcement… or bribery
Remember when you trained your dog to sit and stay? The constant reinforcement with miniature treats worked pretty well, right? Well, turns out that us humans aren’t really all that different from our canine counterparts. Your kiddo doesn’t want to stuff his feet into stiff ski boots- how about for a skittle? “One more try!” doesn’t sound so bad when you’re rewarded with an M&M. Would you be willing to slide in front of mama for a gummy worm? Don’t worry- after a few days of bribery, your kiddo will realize that sliding around in the snow is the ultimate reward.
5. End the day on a high
During my first visit to the Ski Utah office, I asked Nate Rafferty for his number one tip for teaching a toddler to ski. He told me to always end the day on a high--- to leave before tantrums set in, and more importantly to actually pack kids to the car while they beg for MORE SKIING! On our first day of the season, I decided to try this tactic. After a day of high fives, fist bumps, and kisses, I wondered, “am I crazy to leave when he’s doing so well?” As naptime was drawing near, and Huck’s spirits were at an all time high, I wanted to test Nate’s recommendation. Well, Huck was the kid screaming for “FIVE MORE MINUTES” on our way to the car. But you know what Huck’s been saying all week? “Mama, we need to go back to Alta today!”
Hey, be good to yourself too!
Skiing with a toddler is no joke. It's sweaty. It's tiring. And sometimes it tries your patience. On days I'm skiing with Huck, I forgo that second cup of coffee, eat a good breakfast, and pack a snack for myself. The last thing either of us needs is for me to be jittery and snappy. Sure, I pack some skittles for Huck, but I always make sure to pack some dark chocolate covered pistachios for myself. When you take care of yourself, it makes it easier to take care of others.
Check out this video Ski Utah made for more!