We’ve not long returned from our first family ski trip. Having not skied for some 10 years ourselves, we tentatively hit the slopes of Les Carroz, France to see if our children would enjoy it; and boy did they. It’s such a great holiday for spending time together and enjoying doing an activity together.
I was amazed at the progress of the children in one week, they totally blew my expectations. There were plenty of other things I was unprepared for taking a four year old on the slopes and so I will do you the favour of preparing you, should you decide to take the plunge. You won’t regret it!
Getting your four year old ready in the morning takes forever on the first day. There’s the gloves, the goggles, hats, ski pass, and umpteen trips to the toilet, just to make sure. It does get better on day 2 though. We had the genius idea to hire ski lockers right on the mountain which saved walking in ski boots with the skis from our hotel. We applauded ourselves daily on this decision, right at the moment each morning when we slipped our feet into warm dry boots. Oh yes.
Four year olds have no fear. I know you know this already, but it takes on a new dimension when your four year old is hurtling down a mountain. They have no understanding why slowing down is a good idea.
Four year olds CAN carry their own skis. Their skis are dinky, they have no poles to worry about and if they don’t carry them, you have to.
You cannot stop a four year old eating snow. No amount of “it’ll make you poorly”, “you don’t know what’s been there before you”, etc. etc. works.
A four year old’s gloves get soaking wet. This has a lot to do with them constantly sucking snow off the gloves, I’m sure. You do need to make sure the gloves are thoroughly dry for the next day’s soaking, or, if you don’t have the means to dry them out quickly, consider taking a spare pair.
Four year olds have a built in duckling instinct. Set off in front of them down the mountain, and they’ll follow your every turn. They do have an instinct to join the other ducklings, regardless and like us, you may find your duckling tagging along at the back of another ski lesson!
Four year olds fall down lots. An all in one ski suit is a bit of a pain in the toilets, so you’ll have to help out there, but they are more effective when it comes to not getting snow down your trousers.
Four year olds CAN do drag lifts. An amazing moment for us was seeing our four year old hold onto the drag lift and make it to the top during her first lesson. Clearly our expectations had been set by our own first shaky attempts at the drag lifts many moons ago. But be warned, it does take practise to set them off. Hold onto the lift too long when helping them get the button between their legs and you risk pinging them into orbit.
Four year olds recharge their batteries quicker than we do. After a few hours skiing they’re ready to stop. Even if they want to carry on, their legs do get tired. But a quick relaxer and lunch, and they’re ready to be entertained again. A chalet with a swimming pool helps lots.
Fuelling a four year old takes planning. A bowl of porridge worked best for us, followed by a Milkyway bar on the slopes, or a babybel, or both. (take your own as these are expensive to buy in the resort, or worse, on the mountain).
Goggles are easier for a four year old than sun glasses, they do tend to keep them on. Just make sure that the goggle strap is long enough to comfortably fit around the outside of the helmet. Some kids goggles are a little small, so watch out for that.
And finally, if you were amazed by your four year old on the slopes, just wait until they’re five year olds; more energy, stronger muscles and still no fear. Gulp. As I head in the opposite direction (less energy, more aches and pains), I know that it’s just a (very short) matter of time before she overtakes me on the slopes.
Have you been skiing with young children? We’d love to know what you learnt and what advice you’d share with other parents. Just drop us a comment below.