I cried every day on my first ski holiday. Every day. I was out of shape and a bit overweight. I ached everywhere and couldn’t keep up. My boyfriend at the time took me to the top of a red run on my third day and I freaked out. I’m pretty sure I side slipped the whole way down and didn’t speak to him for most of the rest of the day.
15 years later, I’m married to that boyfriend and I’m writing a blog post about why you should take your kids skiing. Go figure.
Is it really a good idea?
I really wasn’t sure. As an adult I eventually got the hang of it and stopped crying by about the 4th trip. I was in better shape and things had finally clicked into place so I wasn’t snow ploughing the entire way down. We’d done a ski holiday when Thing 1 was 9 months old and somehow made it work. We had the help of a couple of doting grandparents and some strategic lunch breaks planned around places where we could meet up to breastfeed.
We agreed to wait until both Things were old enough to learn to ski. Every winter we bemoaned the fact that we weren’t off having fun in the snow.
And then came this year…
I grilled anyone who would talk to me about ski holidays. We extensively researched family ski holidays. And by extensively, I mean I’m pretty sure we made it to the end of the internet. We looked at resorts and companies that had been recommended by friends. There was the consideration of timing to think about. With a 3 day half-term were going to have to take the Things out of school for a couple of days. The costs compared to skiing as a couple were eye watering even after we enjoyed some discounts courtesy of a friend.
We went ahead and booked it anyway.
Apprehensive but excited
As the holiday came closer I began to worry. For those of you who don’t know me personally, worrying is the thing I do better than anything else. Even holiday planning. I worried about the Things. How would they handle it? Would Thing 2 get too cold? Or would Thing 1 get hungry and therefore hungry? Would they like skiing or would they cry every day like I did? What would the food be like and would they eat it?
Even so, Mr Wanderlust and I were super excited to get back on the slopes. Our excitement was contagious. The Things told everyone and anyone who would listen that we were going on a ski holiday. They counted down the sleeps and helped us pack. We all got on the plane ready for a new adventure.
I’m not going to say it was all sunshine and roses (or should I say snowflakes and icicles?!).
The Things didn’t love being left in the mornings. Frankly, getting everyone ready and out of the apartment to ski school every day felt a bit too much like the school run. They got tired and crabby by the end of the day.
To my surprise and relief, they didn’t cry every day and they had fun at Kids Club in the afternoons. They were so hungry that they ate the food they were given and they slept like champions.
Most importantly… They can now ski (sort of), they had fun and want to go back!
My reasons for taking them were aspirational before we went but I’m pleased to say that, even after our trip, I have my 9 reasons why you should take your kids skiing.
Maybe it’s kids these days or maybe it’s just where we live. I feel like we spend ALOT of time inside. Once we are home from school there’s food to be had and homework to be done. If they are lucky they get 30 minutes to zone out in front of the TV before we head off to an after school activity. On the days when there isn’t one, we go outside and they play with their friends but the reality is that we have an hour at best before it’s time to come in for more food and bedtime.
It was so good for the Things to experience being outside for such large chunks of the day. They saw snow for the first time (that they can remember) and learnt that each one is different. We talked about how pretty snow looks on trees. They learnt how to walk on snow in ski boots (and were total pros at it!). We talked about how mountains are made and they made snow angels.
I mean.. who doesn’t love a snow angel?
Just as we don’t get outside as much as I’d like, we don’t exercise as much as I’d like either. We certainly don’t exercise much as a family in our day to day lives (yet).
I’m probably too hard on myself: The Things do all the usual Thing activities like swimming and football. One goes to a martial arts class and the other does Playball. They love riding their bikes and racing up and down the street with their little Thing friends. We go to the gym, take yoga classes and I run.
I know that they exercise as a family thing will come with time. I already see it on holiday where we walk around together and swim together. We’ve been snorkelling together and we’ve taught them to surf. I want to take them canoeing when we go to Thailand in a couple of weeks.
I’m still super conscious of how much time they still spend playing inside, watching a screen or just in a classroom. So it was amazing to pick them up at the end of the day to see that they had colour in their cheeks and their eyes were sparkling. It’s a look you only really get from skiing and it suited them.
3. Good health
It’s not just the exercise that’s good for you although you can’t deny the cardiovascular benefits of going up and down ski runs all day.
Skiing improves your balance and co-ordination. It builds your core and strengthens your muscles. Being outdoors all day improves your mood and the exercise makes you sleep better.
You can’t argue with that.
4. Something different
I’m pretty sure you can’t accuse us, of all people, of having holidays that are too same-y. We aren’t the types to go to a range of all-inclusive resorts in different countries but where you could really be anywhere. But our holidays recently have developed a bit of a pattern.
We go somewhere. We do some sightseeing. We do some kid-friendly activities. We repeat this for the duration of the holiday and finish up with a few days at the beach.
To take the Things somewhere SO different (did I mention it was the first time they will remember seeing snow?!) was fab.
5. Better to learn young
I learnt as an adult and it was hard. You’re bigger and heavier. Your centre of gravity is waaaay higher. Your bones break more easily and you have a lot more fear.
One of the most irritating things about learning to ski as an adult is having fearless little Things bombing past you on the baby slopes as you snowplough your way down. Unlike you they tumble to the ground (when I fall it’s more like a tree being felled). They get up, shake the snow off and point their skis downwards while you’re still trying to find your second ski.
It’s definitely an investment of time, money and energy to take them so young but know it will be worth it in the end.
6. Life lessons
I am THE WORST for wanting to make life easier for my Things. Frankly if it will stop them whining or fighting with each other then it will make MY life easier. So I’m all for that. I do know, however, that we only learn and develop by challenging ourselves. I know if I do everything for them that I’m doing them a disservice. I try to stand back when I can. To bite my lips and sit on my hands.
No-one else can learn to ski for you. And whichever way you look at it, it’s really, really hard to learn to ski. Whether they love or hate skiing in the long term is (almost) irrelevant to me. Putting them in situations where they are challenged has to help create great life skills like perseverance and pushing themselves.
Not to mention that we’re fuelling the adrenaline addiction that may or may not run on one side of the family….
What happens when you challenge yourself and persevere? How do you feel when you can finally ski down a slope and not feel completely out of control?The Things were SOOOOOOO pleased with themselves. I don’t think there’s much that can make a parent prouder than seeing their Things proud of themselves. And going back to the last point – ending the week on a high teaches them that work and perseverance pays off.
The thing I was most worried about was leaving my babies. The day runs from 9am to 5.30pm which is a long day by any standards. It’s longer than a school day! I was relieved to learn that we could pick them up early – whenever we wanted really (bearing in mind we had paid for the facility).
They didn’t love being left every morning which was hard. I didn’t love being without them which was hard too (although check out my outtakes post for the delights of when we got them early). But they did it. They stood on their own two feet. They discussed with their instructors and teachers about being hungry or cold or tired. They learnt to ski and made friends doing it. They managed without us just fine. I can’t stop them growing up so I guess the best I can do it help them do it well.
Work with me here, Wanderlusters. I know family holidays don’t exactly scream “ROMANCE!” at you. And I’m not talking about candlelit dinners or mulled wine by the fire because, well, Things.
So the evenings weren’t our own, but the day time was a different story. We got to spend the whole day together. Every day! It was awesome! We skied together. We did every run together and waited for each other at the bottom to get the lift together. We had lunch together. We chatted without being interrupted eleventy million times.
It might sound soppy (it DOES sound soppy) but it took me until about half-way through day 2 to realise why I was so giddily happy. I spent more alone time with Mr Wanderlust since we had Thing 1 six years ago. And it felt great.
I mean no post of mine about the benefits of holiday would ever its this out! Travelling together for us is everything. Creating holiday memories with our little Things is by far and away one of my favourite things in life.
We all got excited together. We high fived our way through the airport and up the mountain. I can’t think of a better place to see snow for the first time. We drank hot chocolate and ate waffles together. The Things learnt a great new skill that they can do with mummy and daddy on future holidays.
And we did it all together.
True to my promise to you, Wanderlusters, my next ski post will be all about the outtakes. These are all the great things about skiing with kids but just as with any true Wanderlust and Wet Wipes holiday, there are the tough times and the hard work. Remember, they didn’t say it would be easy, they said it would be worth it.