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Whether you’re gearing up for your very first day of skiing, or if it’s just your first day of the season, the first ski day of the year can be tricky to navigate. There’s lots of gear, weather, food, and emotions to deal with and it can be overwhelming for both parents and kids.
The good news is that skiing gets easier with time and more practice (I promise the second day of the year is always easier), but it also gets easier if you’re prepared.
Even though we’ve been skiing with our kids for 15 years, these are still the tips that we use to get our family ready for ski season (because we all forget a lot in the 6 months of the year when we’re not skiing).
Truth: I didn’t do anything to get ready for our first day of the season 3 years ago, thinking that we knew what we were doing and that everyone would remember our routine and rhythm. It was a disaster. Gear was forgotten, everyone was frustrated and I found both my kids and myself crying more than once during the day. Don’t make the mistake I did, and put some prep work into getting ready for the first day of skiiing – it’s worth any work that you put into making your first day of skiing easier!
Tips For Getting Ready For The First Day Of Skiing
Whether you’re a first time skier or have been skiing for years, the first ski day of the season with kids can be A LOT of work. Here are our 10 best tips for an easy first day of skiing with kids.
Talk It Up
Use anticipation to your advantage and talk about how much fun skiing is going to be this season. If your kids have already skied, spend some time chatting together about the things that they love about skiing. For older kids, show the a great ski movie or two to get them extra excited. Check out our tips for skiing with toddlers here.
Older kids will also remember more of the details from previous years, so take some time to review the basics with them. This is a great time to go through a mental checklist of what it takes to get from home to the slopes, including getting gear in the car and then getting it on at the ski hill.
Choose A Family Friendly Ski Hill
Not all ski resorts are created equal, especially for families with kids. Choose a ski resort with easy access to the slopes, that doesn’t require too much driving, and that will have smaller crowds to make the first day of skiing easier. Consider what you want from a ski resort and then use that to plan the rest of your family ski trip. A good place to start is checking out Kids Ski Free Resorts.
Prepare The Night Before
This is a huge one. The night before your first day skiing, take some time to get all of your gear together and put it in the car. This includes skis, poles, helmets, gloves, goggles, neck warmers, and any other accessories that you or your kids will need. We put our ski boots in the car as we’re headed out the door in the morning since it helps keep feet warmer if ski boots aren’t cold from being in the car all night.
We get our lunch and snacks ready the night before as well, and also have a plan for breakfast ready. If we’re trying to hit the road really early, we just have the kids sleep in their base layers to make getting ready to go in the morning even faster.
Read: On The Go Ski Lunch Ideas and Best Ski Breakfasts for meal ideas
If you have to buy or rent any gear, do that in advance so that you’re not scrambling on the morning of your ski day. Most ski rental shops will let you rent the afternoon before your rental day, which makes things much easier when you’re trying to get to the ski hill in the morning.
Test Ski Gear Out At Home
While you don’t have to actually ski, testing out how to get gear on and off at home will make your first day of skiing so much easier. Moving around in ski gear is really tricky for younger kids, so practice will go a long way.
Have kids practice getting their ski boots on and off and walking around in ski boots at home. If you’ve got snow outside at home, have them practice walking in their ski boots in the snow, and also have them practice walking in their boots while holding their skis, just like they will on the way up to the ski hill.
Put their skis on the carpet and practice stepping into their bindings and how to get up when they fall. Carpet is also a great place to have kids practice getting out of their bindings to take their skis off.
Dress In Layers
If it’s your first day of skiing, it’s difficult to know how warm or cold everyone will be in their new ski gear. Dressing in layers is the solution to this. Start with a high-quality base layer (merino wool or synthetic – never cotton), add an insulating mid layer, and then top with waterproof outerwear.
If you’re worried that kids will be too cold, take an extra layer or two and stash them in a backpack so you can hurry and put them on if the kids get to cold, or take one off if they get too hot. Keeping kids at a comfortable temperature will help them to relax better and ski longer.
Keep your expectations LOW and offer lots of praise
Your kids aren’t going to become Olympic skiers on their first day of skiing, so keep things FUN! Likely, they won’t figure out how to stop that first day, or they’ll forget a lot of what they’ve already learned – AND THAT’S OKAY! The goal is to have kids who LOVE TO SKI, so keep the expectations low, tell them how great they are, and get them excited about today AND the next time you’re going!
Have A Plan For How You’ll Ski
This is likely the most important factor to having a great first day of skiing with kids – a plan for where to ski. If you’ve never been skiing before, have a plan for how to teach your kids how to ski. Are you going to sign them up for ski school (advance reservations are required) or are you going to teach your own kids to ski (a harness and edgie wedgie are so helpful for little kids)?
What ski runs are going to be best for helping your kids with their ski skills?
If your kids have skied before, where is a good place to start the day skiing with them? We always recommend starting with one full color below where they were comfortable skiing last season (blue skiers start on green, black skiers, start on blues). Think about what skills you want to refresh with the kids before you move them onto more difficult terrain.
Don’t forget the TREATS!
One of the best ways to keep skiing fun and positive is with treats. We usually pass out an M&M or two to each kid on the chairlift ride and it works wonders for keeping the mood happy and fun (even for teens). Yes, a couple tiny little treats not only makes kids really excited and helps them feel loved, but it’s something they can look forward to as well. Don’t forget some bigger snacks to help when kids get extra hungry between runs too!
I can’t tell you the number of times that we’ve had a hard run with one of our kids and told them that if they could make it to the chairlift with a smile, I’d give them an extra M&M and it totally changed the tone of our ski run (this happened with our 9-year-old multiple times last year). If you don’t want to pass out candy to your kids, think of some other fun reward that you can offer multiple times throughout the day.
Take lots of breaks
Your kids will probably not ski all day on their first day of the season, so plan for it. Hot cocoa breaks in the lodge may be a lifesaver when your kids energy is getting low. Remember that skiing is a lot of work both physically and emotionally and a break can really help boost kids all around. There will also be points where you as a parent might be getting frustrated, so own it and take a break then as well.
End With A Reward
The most important thing we always try to do is to make sure that everyone ends the day with a smile on their face. For our family, this means that we have an insulated jug of hot cocoa and mini marshmallows waiting in the car at the end of the ski day. This is something that everyone looks forward to and we all share our favorite moments and stories of the day laughing at the back of the car with cups of cocoa in our hands. Maybe for your family, it’s a movie, pizza, or an extra fun playlist on the way home. Whatever it is, make sure that the kids feel special and rewarded for all their hard work at the end of the day.
Remember to keep skiing FUN! The goal of taking your kids skiing isn’t just to have one good day but to set the stage for a lifetime of memories. Even if your kids don’t progress much with their ski skills, if they leave the ski hill with a smile on their face, you can consider the day a success!