Is Your Child Ready for the Slopes?
As most parents know, winter can be a long and grueling time for a lot of families, but it doesn't have to be.
My husband Kyle and I are the very proud parents of our 1-year-old (19-month-old) son, Hobie. He is funny, wild, and all-around great. Like most of his toddler counterparts, Hobie loves to be outside. Kyle and I grew up skiing and snowboarding and it was no question that any child of ours would grow up close to the mountains and if willing, start riding young. We truly weren't anticipating Hobie to glom onto skiing and snowboarding quite as he has.
How did we know he was ready?
We didn't! Besides a few necessary basics: the ability to stand, well-fed, and well-rested, we ultimately just knew that WE were ready to be there to help him learn, and we knew that WE were ready to be okay with whatever happened. If he didn't like it, that would be okay, but he would have our undivided attention and positive attitudes throughout the process. The last thing we wanted to do was make riding a bad experience by disregarding his needs. *It feels worth noting that Hobie is just 1, and due to his current lack of language, his emotional ques are everything. The older your child is, the easier it will be to talk with them about their feelings, and for them to understand and hear encouragement if they are feeling discouraged.
We introduced Hobie to his skis and snowboard early, at home, before ever hitting the bunny hill. We tried skis first, putting them on his feet, helping him shuffle around the house. His snowboard arrived in the mail and was a living room staple for a week before it was ever used on snow. We watched short videos of riders, looked at pictures, and talk about riding enthusiastically. Hobie was engaged in the idea of riding before actually doing it. If you don't own equipment and plan to rent or borrow, that's fine! Do make sure to talk with your kids about riding, show video clips and pictures, get them psyched in ways they can understand. Talk about how binding go on their feet and point this out in pictures.
Getting out there.
I briefly addressed some "necessary basics" earlier, I shall stress them here. You know your child better than anyone; when they get hangry, when they need a nap, when they are borderline meltdown. Best to keep this all in mind before strapping your toddler onto aboard. Choose your window wisely. We take Hobie in the morning after breakfast or in the afternoon after lunch and a nap; these are his best times. Make sure all other needs are met before heading out, this will reduce chaos (ideally). Oh, and bring snacks? and the binky? and diapers? and water, just bring the whole dang knapsack. Kids are resilient, crave activity, and want to have fun with Mom and Dad, just be mindful of their limits and everyone will enjoy the experience.
Have fun! It may seem daunting, but let me assure you, Kyle and I have had more fun on the magic carpet with Hobie than one could think imaginable. We are delighted and surprised at all he is able to accomplish. We stay positive, and eagerly cheer Hobie on when he succeeds (your ears would bleed from the home videos). We are right there when he falls, and we high-five often. Overall, remember to have fun, be patient, and make some memories! These will be the days you and your kids remember forever.
About the Author: Megan Donahue lives and works on the seacoast of NH and has previously worked in the field of child development and safety. Her parents, Norm and Leanne, have a house in North Conway, NH where they like to spend weekends together as a family. Megan is happily married to her husband Kyle Donahue and is the proud mom of Hobie.