The thing with kids is that when they come along, your life is never the same again. You go from being an independent adult with nothing to worry about apart from whether you can afford that gorgeous pair of shoes or where you should go for your next holiday, to a sleep-deprived zombie with permanent baby sick stains down your clothing.
Skiing holidays are fun winter breaks you take with your friends. They invariably involve spending all day on the slopes and all night in the clubs, with not much sleep in the middle. Then you become a parent and everything changes.
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Holidays are no longer a last-minute affair with an early morning departure to some godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere. Instead holidays need to be planned with the precision of a military campaign because if (heaven forbid) you end up ten thousand miles away without your toddler's precious pet lamb toy, you are in serious trouble and not even the promise of unlimited ice cream will save you from a week of non-stop sobbing.
Do Toddlers and Skiing Mix?
It is possible to enjoy a great skiing holiday even if you have toddlers in tow. It won't be the same type of holiday you enjoyed before kids came along, but it can still be lots of fun nevertheless. However, do remember that you can't spend every day on the slopes from dawn til dusk. Your children will need to have quality time with you and throwing them into a cr¨che all day, every day, is simply not fair on them. As much as you may want to ski all day long, a skiing holiday with toddlers needs to include lots of fun family time, too. So make time for play sessions in the snow, or take them swimming or bowling. It might not be the same as testing your skills on a challenging black run, but down time with toddlers can still be fun!
Remember to factor in the cost of childcare when planning a family friendly skiing holiday. Unless you take Grandma and Granddad along for the ride, the cost of childcare is often extra. Popular ski resorts such as Vaujany in France or Ski Armadillo in Switzerland have cr¨ches for babies and toddlers. Some family friendly hotels even provide experienced nannies, so your child has the same carer all week. Look for hotels with complimentary childcare services and make sure you check the child-adult quota before you book. It is also a good idea to take your child's health record along as you may be asked to produce it.
Before kids, accommodation was probably not high on your list of priorities when planning a last-minute ski break. As long as you have a bed for the night, who cares right? However, once kids come along, finding the right accommodation is critical or a lack of sleep will ruin your break.
Chalet breaks Family friendly chalets are a good choice for parents with small children, but you do need to pick the right accommodation or other guests won't be happy. Look for chalets that cater for parents and younger children by offering childcare and a host of other family-friendly facilities.
Hotel breaks Hotels are not for everyone, particularly if you don't want your ski break ruined by other people's noisy kids, but if you are travelling on a budget, hotel packages are ideal because most of the costs are upfront. Hotels can provide all the equipment you need to make your stay easier, including cots, high chairs and buggies, so you don't need to worry about taking it all with you.
Plan Your Ski Break Carefully.
Location is everything when planning a skiing holiday with kids. Before kids came along, the only thing that really mattered was whether there was enough snow on the ground, but travelling with kids is a game changer. Before booking a ski break, check the resort has lots on offer for toddlers and younger children. Some resorts offer child-friendly activities to keep little ones entertainedSwedish Lapland has husky tours and outdoor snow play areas and the Keystone resort in Colorado even has an outdoor snow fort!
Logistics are also important when travelling with children. Early morning flights or middle of the night transfers may be cheaper, but they are an absolute nightmare when you have a fractious toddler clinging on to your leg.
Ski Lessons for Toddlers.
Most parents don't bother with ski lessons for their children until they reach the age of four or five, but confident toddlers with a good sense of balance can quite easily start learning to ski, so don't be afraid to let them have a go if they seem interested in the notion.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink.
Travelling with kids' means that you have to be super-efficient with the packing. Toddlers need all kinds of extras that you may not be able to source abroad. If your toddler is picky with his food, take some of his favourite snacks and if he can't sleep without his favourite toy, make sure you don't forget it. There will be some things that you can buy when you are on holiday (nappies, wet wipes, etc. ), but it is usually a good idea to take the essentials with you to avoid any problems. It is also a good idea to check in advance what equipment can be hired from the resort (buggies being a good example). This will save you the hassle of taking it.
Don't forget to make sure your toddler has suitable outdoor clothing. He will need the same kit as you, including thermals, strong sunglasses and good quality ski socks. The good news is that you don't have to spend a fortuneyou can pick cheap skiwear for kids from discount stores such as TK Maxx and Aldi.
Taking toddlers on a skiing holiday doesn't have to be a complete nightmare. Choosing the right resort and accommodation, plus a bit of advance planning, will ensure everyone has fun on the slopes.