It’s January 28 and my family has already clocked in 11 days on the mountain. And I mean full days, 9-4, with the exception of a 2pm quitting time on Christmas Eve and a mid-day movie break during a snowstorm. We do let the kids eat, though we prefer snacks to be consumed on the chair lift. After all the effort that goes into managing a ski trip for my family, I am not going to let a minute go to waste.
Since last winter, when I last wrote about skiing, I have fine-tuned certain procedures and have discovered some new sanity-saving hacks. I left my PTSD behind in the 2018-19 season, and this winter, I have fully embraced my role as “Family Ski Trip Mom-ager.” In this demanding role, I am paid extremely well – with proud, smiling and exhausted children who are skiing and snowboarding well enough that I no longer resent them.
A few mom friends have asked how I do it, and like everything parenting-related, what works for one family might not work for another. Heck, what works one week, might be a total bust the next. You need to embrace a trial-and-error, learn from failures, get back up again, and every other cliched attitude. That said, here are my latest realizations:
Bins, bins, and more bins! My husband would be happy throwing everything willy-nilly into the back of the minivan (that’s what it’s for, right?), but that lack of a system causes me to break out in hives. I have a bin for boots, another for helmets and gloves, and the mother-of-all-bins for ski clothes and other miscellaneous gear (masks, beannies, extra gloves and a life-time supply of hand warmers). I long to add two more bins into the mix – for food and the seemingly random items that bring ease to our lives (humidifier, okay-to-wake-clock, activity books, and the like) but I acknowledge that might be a tad excessive.
Excessive, we are not. My family is fortunate that we are able to ski, but our budget simply doesn’t allow for $6 Gatorades and $3 Cliff bars purchased at the resort. Therefore, I bring food to feed an army – in my case, three ravenous monsters. I am constantly tweaking our provisions – the type of granola bar, color of Gatorade and amount of crackers – but I will not cave to the $15 chicken strips and $9 fries, not to mention the $10 beers! This mama will stay strong and continue to BYOB!
Nor can I throw my kids in ski school every weekend. Of course skiing with the kids has brought its share of tears and tumbles, and I have missed out some epic powder days to cruise down the bunny slope, but the ski school price tag drives me to take on the role of teacher and ski buddy. That said, sometimes lessons are necessary – like when your 3-year-old is ready to get out from between your legs, or your 8-year-old snowboarder refuses to link her turns down steeper terrain. That’s when a nurturing and/or “cool” teacher has been necessary for us. To get the most out of a lesson, I don’t have a problem playing hooky during the week so my kids’ more affordable “group lesson” just happens to be a group of one.
I have also learned that chivalry still exists on the mountain. Two grownups are not enough to carry all of our gear – four sets of skis, two snowboards, plus a duffel bag full of our daily provisions. Even with the eldest carrying her board, my husband and I struggle to lug everything to our “camp” for the day, especially if a certain preschooler refuses to walk and a kindergartener needs to be herded. By now, I have come to expect a friendly, red-jacketed employee or a kind, middle-aged man to take most of my load, while my husband, walking just ahead of me, pushes onward. It’s such an extreme double-standard that it’s actually quite comical. though maybe I should consider the possibility that I just look pathetic. Even if that’s the case, I’m still okay with it, and I truly appreciate the help.
As do I appreciate the freedom skiing has granted me. As someone who is rarely ever flakey, the ski season has liberated me from the responsibility of attending and driving to and from birthday parties, playdates, dinner get-togethers, school events, community events and so much more. It has given me permission to simply say “no” because “we’re going skiing.” It eliminates the relentless weekend plan-making involved with having three kids, and allows me to focus solely on skiing together as a family. So despite the challenges I spew about, in some ways, our family ski habit has kinda simplified our lives.
And the relentless packing and unpacking, washing of techy clothes that must be hung up to dry, the accommodation search and the often scary mountainous drive – it’s paying off. My 6-year-old, who still can’t sit in a chair without falling off and hurting himself, is far more proficient skiing in the trees than me, and I worry that he will get his pass pulled for skiing too fast. Now that the three-year-old is cruising solo, I can put those skis away and return to my board full-time. And my boarder is just itching to shred harder than her mom. Bring it on!