As I tucked into a good book, a bowl of hot chocolate and a warm savoury crepe an hour before my first snowboarding lesson, I realised I had cracked the secret to a genuinely enjoyable family holiday – childcare!
As the family ski trip drew closer, I was suddenly filled with doubt. I hadn’t skied since I was 14 and I couldn’t remember what we needed. People were telling me how brave I was, when the reality was more of the bonkers variety. I googled to my hearts content “what to pack for family ski holiday” ‘thermals’ was the helpful reply, but how many?! There were a few essential items we could have done with but the answers weren’t always clear so I’ve compiled some of my tips and tricks after the learning curve that was our first family ski holiday.
3 sets of thermals really were enough for the children as they could wear them 2 days in a row, however B is quite a messy eater still so a spare set wouldn’t have gone amiss. I only brought 1 fleece each but they could have done with 2 as I didn’t realise how often they’d wear them. I bought their jackets and trousers in the sale because I’m not going to spend money on something they’ll wear once before growing out of it. Thanks to the Beast from the East we got a little of my money’s worth.
***MITTENS*** – stuffing a small person’s hand into ski gloves in the 5mins you have between breakfast and their ski lesson is not fun. You try to look calm and collected in the boot room while angrily whispering (behind a smile and sunglasses) to your child ‘YOU wanted gloves, I told you mittens would be easier. Stop crying and just get them on.’ is probably not the best way to start every morning. (By the end of the week we were pros). On that note – by 2 pairs, so 1 pair can dry after all the fun in the snow while the other pair is being worn. Snoods are great, would have been a better alternative to the balaclavas I’d bought as B screamed the entire time he had one on. Ski goggles also great idea, the boys screamed in the shop so they just wore sunglasses the entire time but have both agreed that they will LISTEN to me next time and let me buy them goggles (1. If there’s a next time, 2. If they remember their promise to listen).
W was able to buy hot chocolate during his ski lessons, so a few euros in his pocket cane in handy. Individual sunscreen is something I didn’t consider as I’m used to bringing one to share on our usual sunny holidays, but as they were in childcare and it would need to be reapplied during the day would have come in useful.
Speaking of childcare, I booked with Esprit Ski who pride themselves on quality family ski holidays and top notch childcare, which it was. From 8.30am (after breakfast) – 6pm the boys were in childcare being watered and fed, participating in ski lessons, singing activity camp style songs, doing arts & crafts or having outdoor play in snow club, they even took the children on a trip to a local farm one day! The boys absolutely loved it, it gave me enough time to practice falling on my arse and the recover after my beginner snowboarding lessons! From 7.30pm-10.30pm there was a free babysitting service while the adults enjoyed a four course meal (canapés and prosecco in the bar). This was the part that worried me the most, I was certain I would be some sort of outcast, stuck on the end of a table trying awkwardly to make conversation with seasoned couples, however that wasn’t to be the case. Every evening they rearranged the seating plans so that by the end of the week I was on first name basis with most of the parents in the hotel who I was able to regale with tales of my various mishaps on the slopes, namely falling off the chairlift each time and having to be dragged out from underneath it, much to the despair of my wonderfully patient instructor.
Saturdays were free days, I had planned to do an excursion but we ended up going dog sledding on the Thursday afternoon, so I took the boys for a scavenger hunt around the resort, rewarding ourselves with hot chocolate and crepes of course. We were actually sorry to go, B and W had earned some badges and certificates which they were proud to show off, so upon our return home I promptly booked our return trip for next season!
So, to summarise:
- Euros for children to buy hot chocolate during ski lessons
- Individual sunscreens
- 2x ski MITTENS as moderation is not part of a child’s vocabulary/nobody wants to be sat in a ski room whisper shouting as they struggle to put gloves on a whinging small person
- Make sure you’ve researched and booked a table for the night that catering have off
- If you’ve got childcare and/or a messy eater – extra spare sets of clothing always come in handy
- If you’re travelling as a single parent or you’re worried about socialising everybody is in a similar boat and quite happy to chat and make friends for the week!