Middle Aged Spread: Skiing With Kids Survival Guide
By Sam Masters
Every serious discussion about skiing with children should begin with an overview of effective parental contraception.
Don’t be that couple who trades a quickish honeymoon knee-trembler for 18 years of curtailed powder skiing. That’s the problem with sex education: they tell you all about the squishy-squashy stuff but neglect to mention that the middle third of your life is spent buying the next size up of everything for the spoilt brats you have spawned to replace yourself.
If you take the kids then don’t pretend that you will actually get to go skiing for yourself. I see too many angry dads in the ski resort cafeteria; incandescent with rage because they have mistaken their internal needs for those of their children. For once you need to realise that this isn’t about you. Forget trying to sneak in a few runs for yourself – especially if it is a powder day. Instead make a virtue of the slower pace.
Never be in a rush to have a good time. In the early years of skiing with kids it is more about snowball fights, hot chocolate and tobogganing than ripping turns. After dispensing with a rigid ski-day timetable you can really appreciate a ski-resort carpark BBQ, carefully-prepared flask of gluhwein and epic mountain scenery. Road trips are a lot more enjoyable if each family member gets to choose a tune in sequence. They get introduced to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, Johnny Cash and early Detroit Techno. You get to listen to Taylor Swift.
You can’t indoctrinate enthusiasm. Part of a child’s job is to push back against your pathetic interests – to forge their own identity by dispensing with your genetic blueprint. Your children are often the abattoir workers assigned to your particular sacred cows. Any kid that slavishly follows their parents’ interests won’t be prepared for the competitive deathmatch of modern life. Don’t expect your grommets to love snowsports just because you do. A better question is: are you a big enough human to allow them to follow their own path?
Take a good friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous. Let’s call him “Mattias” and pretend he is from an imaginary country sandwiched between France and Poland and famous for producing soldiers that can’t shoot straight in Hollywood war movies. Mattias’ father was a keen skier and used the time-honoured method of ensuring his children enjoyed his passion by shouting instructions and criticism with every turn. It put Mattias off skiing for 20 years. I make no racial slur against Europeans; some of whom are very pleasant.
The harsh reality is that there is a three-week window when your kids are good enough to ski powder with you before they leave you gagging in their rooster tail and you never ski with them as equals again. Enjoy this period.
Photos: S Masters, J Larraman
*Buying kids’ ski boots is a recurring nightmare but at least they hold their value for resale (remember to buy your ski gear in October and sell outgrown gear in May and you might even make a profit).
*Familiarise your kids with all the equipment before you hit the snow. Walking around on the carpet at home for an hour or two works wonders.
*Enjoy winter moments as children do: bursting through an inversion layer in the car, the fracture of a frozen puddle underfoot, even the hassle of fitting chains with your kids can be an adventure if you aren’t in a rush.
*Flip the paradigm: have lunch at 10:30am in an empty cafeteria then ski through midday with no lift queues.
*Don’t force it: if your child wants to read comics or play cards in the lodge rather than ski then so what? Just get them to make this decision before you buy a ticket…
*Chill out. Breathe. Be present. Maybe one day, probably long after you are dead, you will be rewarded with thoughts of gratitude by your children as they teach your grandchildren to ski.
Have you heard about the Chill Parent Pass? It gives awesome value for new parents with someone 5 years and under*.
*Ts & Cs apply.