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ABC's of Ski Area Daycare - Top 10 Tips

While pregnant, I was medically cautioned against skiing. The fact that my ski pants wouldn’t zip was further reason to wait out the winter months while “with child.” What came as a surprise (shock to the system) is that you can’t ski when you have a newborn either. New babies = no bashing the bumps for a few months at minimum. But there is good news for young parents who have been sidelined from the fall line.

Ski areas are investing serious dough for the diaper set, babies and toddlers not yet ready for children's ski camp or lessons. Resorts are offering brand new daycare facilities just steps from the lifts to lure parents back to the slopes, with the hopes of hooking the family on ski vacations from infancy. You can make your way back to skiing as your child reaches about six months by choosing the best ski resorts for families with state-of-the-art childcare (not just your B.C. criteria of lift capacity, snowmaking and vertical stats). BC = before children.

New parents are understandably nervous about bringing their newborn to an unknown and away-from-home childcare environment. There are some simple steps (see the “1,2, 3’s so you can ski” below) to find the right childcare, assuage your fears, and satisfy your child’s needs - so you can get a fall line fix. You may need to remind yourself that its healthy to break out of the parenthood rut for a few runs, you deserve some literal down time and your child will be just fine in the meantime with no resentment (likely no recollection at all) years from now.

Follow these tips to get back on track with your own skiing, and start your new family down the right ski path.

The 1, 2, 3’s for Daycare so you can skis:

1. Do ask ski friends with young families for their recommendations on good ski area daycare experiences.
2. Do call ahead to speak with someone at the ski area daycare, ask questions, and request brochures & registration forms in advance if these aren’t posted online.
3. Do pack a “diaper bag” with change of clothes, familiar blanket and favorite toy, all labeled with your child’s name.
4. Do make a list of your child’s likes, dislikes, nap time, eating habits and allergies, and phone numbers.
5. Do ask about the schedule for the day, ie: any outdoor play, snacks, nap times, and pick up time.
6. Do explain to your child what will happen, prepare them for their new experience by honestly explaining that mom & dad are going skiing on the big hill while your child gets to play with new friends.
7. Don’t create a long dramatic tear-inducing separation. Say goodbye, and go. Like removing a band-aid, be quick and be confident in the care you have hired, then grab your skis and skedaddle.
8. Do ask for a pager or provide the daycare with your cell phone number so you can be contacted if they need you– then go with the “no news is good news” philosophy. If you must stop in to check on your child (discouraged), be sure you aren’t discovered by your child (read: disruptive).
9. Don’t be late picking up your child, as a courtesy to the caregivers, and as a promise to your child. Besides, steep late fees often apply.
10. Don’t spend you ski time worrying. Maximize your moments on the mountain, because the meter is running ($$$) and soon you’ll be back to diaper duty.

All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke

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