The best moment for parents is when we actually plop down on the chairlift and head up the hill. You've finally made it to the slopes, whether the kids are with you or in ski school, and that exhilarating first run down the mountain is just moments away. There are some tricks to keeping it simple.
Mary Flinn Ware is the Kids Mountain School Manager at Park City, Utah. She says to do your research first. Browse through OnTheSnow.com to learn which resort is best for you. Big or small? What is best for your family? Learn as much as you can about the ski school program available, if that is what you are doing with the kids. Make reservations. Check out the cancellation policy, in case you have travel delays or a kid gets sick.
Park City has the Kids Signature 5 program, which guarantees no more than five children in a lesson, with one instructor. Kids are ages 6-14, and can learn to ski or snowboard. It includes an all-day lesson, lunch at an on-mountain restaurant, and a lift ticket. It's all-inclusive. This just might be what your family needs to keep it simple.
Start by making a checklist with everything you need as the trip (or ski weekend) approaches. Each kid might need his or her own personalized list. Laminate it if you'd like. It's easier to gather the gear if you store the gear together.
Lili Pickett of Denver keeps each ski pass in each person's boots. You won't go skiing or snowboarding without your boots, and this way you won't forget your ski pass. Your list should include at least the following: skis or snowboard, boots, poles, ski pass, sunscreen and lip balm, helmet, neck gator, glasses and goggles, snow boots or indoor shoes, long underwear, bibs or snow pants, shell or ski coat, turtleneck and/or sweater, gloves or mittens, socks, and spare clothes.
Have small children? Don't forget to pack car snacks (Goldfish, fruit snacks, juice boxes and water bottles), car toys, and baby Tylenol. Babies have their own set of needs including diapers, wipes, and formula. Have an Emergency Car Kit and First Aid Kit in the car.
Load the car the night before you leave. Don't try to do it in the morning when everyone is hungry, cold, and sleepy. Then you can leave early and get a good parking space at your favorite local resort. This is also important. Get there early enough so you can pull right up to the front row, which makes it so much easier to unload, rather than negotiating the frozen tundra of a parking lot in your ski boots, while lugging skis and kids. This works exceptionally well for smaller resorts.
Get signed up for lessons and rentals the night before if you spend the day traveling, and pull in early enough to do it. Park City's Mary Flinn Ware says it helps simplify things. "It helps acclimate your child as to where they are going the next day. You can avoid long lines, and it can relieve a lot of stress for parents and apprehension for the kids," she says. You also can make sure all of the gear is fitted properly, especially boots and bindings.
Blair Seymour of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club says she sees so many parents on that first day, yelling at their kids and getting frustrated.
"Take the first day and just ski with them. Take it easy. Get acclimated. It's OK if you don't get out there until noon."