I love to ski and when I started having kids, I really wanted to share my love for the sport with them as well.
I grew up in the northeast United States, so skiing was around the corner. But as an adult, we live in Florida, so skiing is not only not convenient, it's also not front of mind.
As my kids got older, I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce them to skiing. After all, the mountains, fresh air, plenty of snow, and a rural atmosphere, seemed like a great change of pace and fun new vacation for my kids.
Of course, taking my 7 year-old to ski for her first time brought up all sorts of concerns: Will she be too cold? What's the best way to teach her poses and motions she's never done before? How would we keep the kid out of harm's way on the slopes?
I considered the options and ultimately, we decided to give it a try by taking her to Okemo Mountain in Vermont. There was enough for her to do, without sacrificing runs for me as well. Plus, they have a sizable ski school.
Here's how we skied safely with an elementary aged child.
I should have spent more on ski school
I knew getting my daughter ski lessons was a must, but I didn't anticipate how much time she'd need.
Prior to the trip, I was able to book her a private ski lesson for half a day. I figured a private lesson would give her more attention on her first lesson. Plus, kids her age have a tendency to day dream if not actively engaged, so I didn't want this to become glorified babysitting.
The private lesson was great, and we lucked out with a fantastic teacher who really connected with her.
My regret was not booking another lesson or two.
When I tried to take her on my own after, I realized she was still very green and I don't have the patience or skill to be a good ski instructor.
Lessons aren't cheap, but they are such a helpful way to kickstart anyone's ski careers.
Ski mid-week when there are fewer people
Anyone that is new to skiing will need lots of space for the inevitable falls and slow speeds they'll go at, so skiing when the slopes are clear is super helpful.
Weekends bring out the crowds, and the difference between how crowded the slopes were on a Wednesday or Thursday versus Saturday was quite noticeable.
When there are less skiers around, I think it made my daughter feel more comfortable that she wasn't as likely to run into others or be a nuisance.
This is especially true on the bunny hill, which is always more crowded than other parts of the mountain.
Get the right ski gear
It's easy to think a first-timer doesn't need all the same ski gear as someone that skis all the time, but that's a mistake.
Before the trip, you'll want to make sure your kid has a good ski jacket, ski pants, gloves and boots.
Avoid the temptation to try the chair lift
As a veteran skier, the rope pull up the mountain is agonizingly mundane, but it's exactly what kids need when they are starting out.
It's easy to think after a couple of runs with just the magic carpet that they are ready for a chair lift, but it's a mistake.
You want to rely purely on the beginner's hill until basically she complains it's too boring and wants a challenge.
Take a break before they ask
As a parent, one mistake to avoid is the "I spent a lot of money on this trip, so we're going to get every minute of value out of it" thought process.
First and foremost, you want your children to love skiing, and if you force them to ski past the point they are getting tired, it will become a chore and not a fun sport.
I looked for signs of fatigue, but also would insist we take a break before the normal lunch time just so she could ski away with enough energy. Plus, it saved my sanity from trying to teach her.
Buy used clothing
Everything skiing costs a lot, but ski clothes are one area you don't have to spend a fortune.
I found great deals on used ski clothing for my daughter on eBay. It was clear to me most of the ski clothing was from other kids that had one trip and likely grew out of it.
Not only will used clothing save you money, it protects if they don't love skiing and it becomes a "one and done" situation.
Don't lose your cool
Kids learn at a different pace than adults, and skiing is tough for just about anyone to pick up. So don't yell at your kids when they struggle with the basics.
I'm not the most patient person on Earth, so I had to remind myself this will not be a major issue if she takes longer to grasp something simple.
Not only will yelling not motivate kids to learn any faster, it's more likely to turn them off to the experience.
This piece of advice was a good reminder that ski lessons are worth the money considering the instructors have a better temperament than I do.