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Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Category: Teaching kids to ski

What Are The Mental Benefits of Skiing?

Did you know that in the U.S., around 77% of people regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress? You probably know the feeling: a racing heartbeat, tiredness, worry and the like. It doesn’t affect adults exclusively, of course; kids, too, can find it hard to negotiate daily life, as they attempt to juggle academic, sporting, and social goals. There is a perfect antidote to stress and anxiety, though, and it’s called a family ski vacation. Here are the mental benefits of one of the world’s best loved family sports.

Fascinating Findings on Skiing

A study published in the Applied Research in Quality of Life, undertaken in three major ski resorts, found that the joy people feel when zooming over the slopes on skis or a snowboard, can significantly increase overall happiness. This is true for both seasoned and occasion skiers.

The head researcher of the survey, Hyun-Woo Lee, surveyed 279 visitors at these resorts. He assessed their happiness level by asking them to report on their level of ‘flow’ or engagement in the activity, and their sense of satisfaction after a day out on the slopes.

The results showed that the more one felt ‘in the flow’, the greater was the impact on happiness. ‘Being in the flow’ or ‘in the Zone’ occurs when we become fully mindful of the activity we are engaging in, forgetting about everything else except the present moment.

In essence, deep engagement in skiing or snowboarding can enhance one’s positivity, even when one returns to normal life. Said the lead researcher, “Playfulness can influence people’s happiness, while activities and socially convening around a sporting activity such as skiing have positive psychological outcomes and contribute to overall well-being. This is also true for people who only casually participate in sports.”

Complementary Steps to Fight Stress

The above findings are one reason why sport is so often recommended for stress, a condition which experts recommend tackling from a multi-faceted perspective. That is, while you are skiing, it is important to boost the effects by consuming a sound diet and consider supplements to stimulate brain function. This will also helps you fight stress and promote a better night’s sleep.

Being Together, Away from it All

A recent review published at Texas A&M University, begins with this simple yet impactful statement: “For generations, a highlight of childhood memories included the family vacation.” The review, meritorious of reading by anyone interested in family dynamics, noted that as Americans started dedicating more time to their careers, they began travelling less as a family, thus leading in increases in stress and decreases in family time.

The report notes that travel (including ski trips and any activity adults and kids can enjoy together) benefits us in three important ways:

·      By creating stronger family connection and lifetime ski memories.

·      By improving the quality of relationships and reducing the likelihood of distancing.

·      By increasing individual and total family happiness, wellbeing, and overall quality of life.

Taking a ski holiday together as a family, one in which we disconnect completely from the things that keep us apart on a daily basis, is not a matter of luxury, but one of necessity. Enjoying a skiing holiday allows us to kill two birds with one stone, in that skiing and snowboarding are strongly mindful pursuits (i.e. they allow us to enjoy a sole mindful experience), but they also provide plenty of opportunity to enjoy the slopes (and a nice cup of steaming cocoa) afterwards, together.

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts for your Family Vacation
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in the World

Get Your Kids Ready to Ski

2-ski-timberline2The PSIA and I agree on how to get your kids ready to ski. Here is sage ski advice from the Professional Ski and Snowboard Instructors of America with our own Family Ski Tips. Confession: I was a member of PSIA when I taught skiing at Smugglers Notch Resort in Vermont in the 90s. Flash forward, as Editor of Luxury Vacation Guide and FamilySkiTrips.com, I have similar ski tips for parents on how to make skiing fun with less stress for everyone.

PSIA Ski Tips
1. Be active as a family before your ski trip

Skiing and snowboarding require physical fitness, so start an exercise program for you and your family. Whether it’s enrolling kids in soccer or another sport, to taking walks together as a family, it’s important to get moving. See my similar tips on quad strengthening wall sits pre ski season.
2. Do your weather homework 
blizzard-heatherSki resorts have mountain cams,  temperature updates, even meteorologists on retainer. Know before you go –  what the weather and temperature is like on the mountain and where you are staying, so you can dress your child appropriately for conditions. At some resorts temps vary greatly from the town versus the mountain, mind the elevation too!
3. Try on ski/snowboard  gear before you go
For younger children getting used to putting on ski or snowboard equipment and clothing helps them adjust to the mountain environment more easily. You can make it a game, we call it the pre ski season fashion runway show,  and help them see their ski/snowboard clothes and equipment as something fun to play in versus something strange or bulky to wear. For older kids, it also helps to check to make sure everything still fits and is working properly before you arrive on the slopes.
3family-lookout-pass4. Invest in lessons for your kids
Having your kids learn from an expert can make their ski/snowboard experience more fun, see our Top Tips for teaching kids to ski,  and also gives you time to enjoy the slopes. Set the expectation that the lesson is more like a sports practice than going to school and that they’ll have fun while getting to learn new skills.
5. Watch ski/snowboard movies or videos to get everyone excited
We couldn’t agree more – nothing like a Warren Miller family ski movie night to amp up the alpine enthusiasm among the fam! Use media to motivate your kids and set expectations of what their experience on the mountain and lessons will be like. Check out ski and snowboard clips on YouTube .
6. Pack the right gear
family-ski-trip-packingYou don’t have to spend a fortune on kids’ ski and snowboard gear. Just make sure they have a good snowsuit that’s wind/snow resistant along with goggles, long socks pulled up below the knee, snow gloves and insulated layers. If they become more involved in the sport then you can invest in wicking base layers and more expensive jackets when they will be out on the mountain for longer periods of time. There’s a science to packing properly – see our guide to packing for a family ski trip.

Get your kids ski bags and gear and get ready! See our reviews of the Best Family Ski resorts in the World and we’ll see you on the  ski slopes!

By Heather Burke, 2018 Copyright & Photography Family Ski Trips

10 Tips for Starting Kids on Skis or Snowboarding

3family-lookout-pass1. The magic age for starting your child skiing or snowboarding isn’t magic. It requires good judgment, versus overzealous ski parenting. Every kid is different; some 3-year olds are active, adventuresome and ready to get on snow before certain 4 or 6-years old. You know your child best, if they like to play in the snow, have balance and coordination, these are signs they are ready to ski, along with the obvious – potty trained.

2. Your child should be excited about skiing – eager to give it a try. Parents can spark interest with fun photos, ski videos and children’s books on skiing, but don’t push it until they show enthusiasm.

3. Start your child on skis inside on a carpeted area before you hit the slippery cold snowy slopes. An inside downhill dress rehearsal is ideal, having acquired skis and boots in advance at your local ski shop, ski swap or hand me downs. Let your little skier try out the gear in the comforts of home. As they clomp around in ski boots in a playroom or carpeted basement, even click into their skis and waddle around, they get the feel for the equipment. This is a great step to making the first day less intimidating.

4. If you’re a DIY do-it-yourselfer, pick a nice sunny soft snow day to take your child for a few gentle runs on the baby slope. Use a harness, or snowplow next to them (use a ski pole – giving your child the handle end and hold it across both of you). Keep the experience happy, safe and positive. Take photos. As soon as the child’s interest wanes, break for hot cocoa. One ski run is better than none.

5. Don’t think that you’re not a good parent for not teaching them yourself – the opposite can be true. Kids’ ski lessons and camps provide a well-choreographed learning environment. Instructors are experienced using specially designed terrain, often with colorful cutouts and mascots, and your child is with other kids their age and ability as motivation.

6. Call the ski area in advance or go online to get the scoop on learn to ski and snowboard. Reserve space and confirm what’s included (i.e.: lunch, equipment), what you need to pack, drop off and pick up times, and costs for hourly, half day and full day programs. Ask for forms in advance to expedite registration. See our Checklist of what to pack for ski camp.

7. Inquire about deals on ski resort lodging that may include free or discounted kids ski tickets and lessons. Avoid peak holidays and school vacations for the best prices, and fewer kids in camp. Also, think small, you don’t need a big ski resort with huge vertical for your child’s first foray into skiing. Save time and money by going local to start.

8. Prep your child in advance for their ski lesson with a description of their on snow day. Tell them Mom and Dad are going to bring them to camp, leaving them with an instructor and other kids who are also learning to ski for the first time. Tell them about snacks, lunch, and what time they will see you at the end of the lesson – no surprises. Pack their gear, label everything and include a favorite snack or toy.

amosblueberrypierrev9. Take ski pictures of your child’s first big day on the slopes. Ski pics are great later to amp up your new skier for their next ski adventure, and you are building their alpine archive in case they become famous free skiers. However, do NOT disrupt their lesson. Watch from away, unobserved. Parents can unwittingly upset the progress by popping up in their kid’s ski lesson space.

10. Teach your kids the joy of après ski. That doesn’t mean taking them to a loud bar with sticky beer on the floor and drunks dancing in ski boots. I am recommending cocoa, s’mores, a swim in a heated pool (or a bubble bath), followed by family ski stories by a fireplace as the perfect end to your child’s ski day – and a good chance they will want to repeat.

For more Tips on Family Skiing, see our Family Ski Trips Guide to Skiing with your kids.

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