Our Snow Happy kiddos are now 6 and 9 (well, 6 1/2, to be precise, according to my daughter). They have been on skis since they could walk, tromping around the living room and yard in little plastic skis and then moving on to ski boots and skis around two. Now, when we see the little ones out there, stumbling around in cumbersome boots or riding along in a backpack, cheeks flushed we feel all the feels. There is so much nostalgia there for us in those early days. They were hard, but filled with joy and oh so worth it.
From day one, our kids have been with us, outside, no matter what the weather or adventure. While we have adjusted the duration and expectations, we have never stopped, nor considered stopping doing what we love, what brings us joy; maybe a bit out of selfishness, but really because we want to share a love of the outdoors and this sport with them. We feel strongly we want to raise our kids up on this this lifestyle skiing, hiking, biking and generally being outside. It is how we connect with one another and these are things we can continue to do together as a family as they grow, on into adulthood.
So, how, you are all wondering, did we raise up these little rippers? Well, it may have started in the womb…I hiked all over Boulder and even did some skiing while pregnant with both. But, probably not. They were always there, from infancy, bundled up, in a backpack or wrap or carrier ready to take on whatever the fresh air had in store. We skied with them both in backpacks (much to the dismay of many of our skiing brethren — you either love it or you think it’s crazy). Later, when they were walking, out came the plastic skis and they clomped around the carpet and grass. They started skiing around two, between our skis, and before we knew it they made their first solo turn and stop and we were off to the races! Now, we ski the whole mountain looking for moguls, jumps, terrain parks, fun trees and stashes of powder.
And, while we love that they love it, what we really love is the joy that they find in it, and how it brings us all together. It is a break from our daily routine. The phone only comes out to take a picture or video. We sit in silence and take in the snow globe around us as we ride the chair lift and chatter away at lunch about the “epic” things that happened. It is our most treasured time as a family. The world stops, there is no practice to run to, no laundry to be done, nor chores to be finished, no work calls to take, no screens to distract. We all smile more and laugh a lot. And, I believe we all could use a little more of that!
So, how do you do it? My friend recently commented to me “I love the skiing, but I hate all that schlepping.” Add an overtired toddler to the mix and boy let’s just wait to do this until they get older, am I right? I’d be lying if I told you it was all a dreamy run thru a glade of fresh because there will be days. Days when your crying kid is stripping off winter clothes faster than you can put them on. Days where you spent more time in the lodge that on the hill. But, I promise you it will be worth it and here is how you thrive – not merely survive this journey…
Lower Your Expectations
Your days of first chair to last chair skiing are waiting in the wings, but this doesn’t mean you quit. It means you lower your expectations…no, keep going, lower…okay, maybe just throw the expectations out the window for now.
Only got one run in today? Great! You showed up and introduced your kiddo to a lifelong sport that brings such joy and light.
You mostly sat in the lodge today and nursed a baby or played trucks on the floor? I see you and you are awesome! You were still all there together letting the littles take it all in.
Some days, all I did was take laps around the base of the mountain watching them toddle around in the snow. Change in perspective…in those shifts is where the good stuff is! Lower your expectations…on life in general for a while! It’s just a solid parenting recipe for harmony and happiness.
Dress for the Weather
Good gear that keeps those kids warm and dry are worth their weight in the small fortune you will pay for them. For the babies, a down bunting with fleece jammies is great. It is insulated enough to keep them warm when in a backpack, carrier or stroller, but not bulky. Always have a hat and sunglasses at the ready, too. For a more active toddler, you’ll need something with more waterproofing since they are likely to be on the ground and in the snow, or maybe even skiing some. We were always happy with Patagonia and Obermeyer brand snow pants and jackets for this age.
For warmer wet days or if you are in a wetter climate than we have here in Colorado, rain suits can be great, too. Layer over fleece long johns or even pajamas and you’re set. At this age, you’re going to need some amazingly warm mittens that actually stay on. We recommend Hestra for every age. They don’t dumb down the kids mittens and gloves – you get the same performance as the adult product, which I haven’t found to be true for all brands. For socks, wool all the way (Smartwool and Darn Tough). Stick those wool socks in a waterproof boot like Bogs and keep those cute little toes warm and dry for hours!!
All the Snacks
Bring all the snacks. All of them. The good ones. Keep them in your pockets, the kids pockets and any other available pockets you have. (This applies to kids of all ages…who am I kidding. I follow this rule for myself.) We are talking gummy bears, chocolate almonds, pocket cookies, bars, dried fruit, jerky. Hot cocoa (don’t put this in your pocket). Not only are these good for the I skied one too many runs before lunch emergency, but also make you a hero among children. Check it out: “Hey wanna gummy bear?” No one ever says no. I mean, how cool are you mama or papa with the stash of the good stuff in your pockets? And, it’s not bribery, it’s just like you’re paying it forward. So, in summary, all the food. All day.
When we ski with the kids, the answer is always yes. And how often do you get to have that as a parent?! Mama, can we go to the half-pipe again? YES! Mama, can we ski those trees we’ve done 802 times today? You bet! Daddy, will you come in the terrain park with me? Yes! Can we take break now? Of course. It’s freeing and good for everyone!
Stop Before You’ve Gone Too Far
Crossed the line. Past the point of no return. You what I’m talking about. End your day before they go to the hungry tired dark place. There will be a day again in your future you can ski your legs off. Today is not your day. You have a new job – to raise up the next generation to love these mountains and spending time in them!
I urge you to take you adventures outside. We all need it! You will be raising healthier happier more resilient human beings with a respect for the nature that surrounds them. Ski, bike, hike, play in a stream, dig in the dirt, take a walk in the woods, climb trees, build a snow man. Go fishing.
Whatever you do, don’t let your kids be the reason you stop doing what you love. Share it with them. Delight in showing them what make you tick. Find joy in that.