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Skiing with 4-year-old and 9-month-old?

(19 Posts)
juneau Thu 13-Oct-11 10:29:59

DH is really keen to go skiing this winter, because we haven't had a proper skiing holiday since the trip when we conceived DS1. I'm not, if I'm honest. I'd much rather go somewhere warm. I haven't skiied for five years and I feel rusty and a bit intimidated by the idea. But anyway, I said I'd do a bit of research and I know my issues will only get worse as time goes on!

This is what I'm thinking, so if anyone can advise or add their experience I'd appreciate it as it will help my brainstorming:

1) Rent an apartment - hotel rooms are a nightmare with small children.
2) Try and persuade my mother to come with us (she hates cold and snow, so I'm not sure she'll agree - even if we say we'll pay for everything).
3) Make sure we're near the lift station.
4) Take toys with us.
5) Take DS1 to local indoor slope before we go to see if he likes it.

What I'm really wondering about is how to get there and where we should go. Is there a car train to the Alps? Driving for two days seems nightmarish to me, but then so does flying with all the huge amount of luggage we'll need (suitcase for DH, snowboarding boots and gear in separate bag, suitcase for me, ski boots in separate bag, suitcase or large bag for kids, stroller, possibly travel cot, carry ons - two of us will never carry it all).

Also, what about town or resort? I'm thinking somewhere like Chamonix or Innsbruck might be best - year round towns with plenty to do off the slopes. Any advice anyone?

greygirl Thu 13-Oct-11 12:53:29

I have been on skiing holidays with 4 year old, and with a 9 month old. i have not done both together. My advice is as follows:

1) your 9 month old, realistically is going to be stuck indoors all day, with either her parents, or the childcare you arrange (which could be grandma (or a friend) or could be paid for).

2) your 4 year old will be just right to start skiing, but won't manage a lot of it. You may have to spend part of the day 'not-skiing' with her - snowplay or swimming or what have you.

I took my 4 yr old away with my husband, and left my 2 yr old twins at home with grandma for a week. She had had lessons at the local indoor slope first, so she could ski, and we had a fantastic time. She was in creche/lessons in the morning so me and DH could ski a bit alone as grown-ups, and then in the afternoon we (as a family) did a little skiing or playing in the snow, whatever she fancied. In the evening she went to kids club (much to our suprise) and loved it. We had a great time. Grandma had a busy time at home but seemed to enjoy it no end.

I also took this same daughter skiing when she was 9 months old, and my parents too. Grandma looked after DD, and the rest of us skied. I didn't see much of her, but she learnt to walk in the chalet we were staying in (intense coaching i think!).

If you want to go, I would take the elder child and leave the baby if you can manage it, or I would consider sending husband on his own, if you don't seem too certain. maybe this winter you and your 4 yr old could go to the indoor slope to brush up a rusty technique/have lessons (although those slopes can get quite busy at weekends!).

you may need to take a pushchair depending on the resort, and we take tonnes of ski clothes for them and hardly enough for grown-ups. the joy of having a creche or on-site childcare is there will be toys to play with there, much more than you can transport.
we hire skis and boots at the moment, which may change as the kids grow and can do a bit more - i would fly if you can afford it, although i know people who do drive, and we are contemplating it in the next few years 9now they can play on nintendos!)

we go with a company called snowbizz, (this will be our third year,many others go repeatedly with them) and they are fab for families learning to ski - small resort, flats close to lifts, great creche/ski-school, catered option id required (but i prefer self-catering with little ones). There are other good companies, ask on here about any otheres you find, but you can search and most have been discussed at some point.
Hope that helps (wipes sweat from brow due to fevered typing in lunchbreak!)

greygirl Thu 13-Oct-11 12:56:40

*catered option if required

CristinadellaPizza Thu 13-Oct-11 13:03:57

I took my DS when he was 11 months and he was pretty miserable tbh. He didn't like the bright light, the cold or being wrapped up in so many clothes. And my mum and he got bored staying in with him the whole time because the streets were too snowy to push the pushchair so the only thing to cart him about in was the back-carrier and my mum couldn't manage the weight.

Sorry to be negative! I think the 4 YO will be fine - he's old enough to do morning sessions.

Given no one seems that keen though, I think your DH might be better off going alone or with some mates - it's a lot of money to pay for people to stay indoors the whole time! If you do go, I'd fly and just hire equipment rather than taking all your own stuff

juneau Thu 13-Oct-11 13:06:42

Wow thanks greygirl! Lots of useful info. I don't think I could leave the baby tho' as he'll still be BFing. So that really means either taking my mother to babysit or going with a family specialist company. I'll take a look at Snowbizz. I've heard of Ski Famille too and Mark Warner, but I think they do chalets or hotels and I feel that self-catering will probably work best for us as I can imagine a chalet full of strangers and their kids being a bit of a nightmare and possibly horribly noisy.

greygirl Thu 13-Oct-11 16:20:39

If you are likely to still be breastfeeding, will that be only a couple of times a day or several times a day? i was breastfeeding DD morning and night, so i could leave her during the day.

Also, if your kids aren't at school, you will be able to go in term-time, those kid-friendly chalets will be quieter (and mostly filled with kids to be friends with your 4yr old)and cheaper. I think you might enjoy other guests being sympathetic and talking about kids etc. I am not that enamoured myself, but I can see the attraction, and you might even make some friends to ski with next year!

juneau Fri 14-Oct-11 08:02:12

Yes, that's a good point about friends for the 4-year-old. He finds us rather dull company for a week without any little buddies to hang around with. I'll do more research before I write off chalets completely. We certainly won't be going at half term - I was thinking March because it should be warmer.

I looked at Snowbizz and thought it looked lovely. DH is a snowboarder tho' and he hates drag lifts and there seem to be quite a few from the piste map. Boo!

snowmummy Fri 14-Oct-11 12:42:42

There are a fair few drag lifts in Puy St Vincent but there are enough chairllifts to access the best bits of the hill. I'm a snowboarder and didn't find it a problem. Puy with Snowbizz is the best snowboarding holiday we've had by far with young kids.

snowmummy Fri 14-Oct-11 12:44:18

Oops posted too soon.

Can't wait to go back although we're giving it a miss as a family this year because our youngest will be 11 months or so. We went away with the other two at this age and it was difficult.

snowmummy Fri 14-Oct-11 12:45:44

Greygirl - you and I should stop recommending snowbizz. They'll be no availability if we don't watch it wink

greyghoul Fri 14-Oct-11 15:23:58

The lifts at snowbizz are mostly chairlifts from what I recall. They replaced the 'black draglift' (i kid you not - no snowboarders/children under 10/beginners) with a chairlift. i can only think of 2 draglifts - 1 at the very bottom for beginners and 1 a bit higher up. We were snowbaorders before kids, and we are planning on hiring some boards this winter for old time's sake.

Snowmummy - I book my holiday for the next winter the minute I get back from this years ski trip - no fear about availability here!
Although last time we were there,one of the other guests was a writer for the times travel section, and she won't do a write-up for snowbizz because she likes the way it is so quiet.

And as I say, we thought our 4yr old wouldn't like ski evening kid club, but she adored it (she felt like a big girl - discos and pizza parties and film nights!) and this year she asked to go in at 9am with her sisters - we got 4 hours of adult skiing, which was great (but not as great as watching all my kids zoom down the hill screaming with delight and racing each other!)

juneau Fri 14-Oct-11 16:15:51

All this research is actually making me quite excited about the thought of going! DH and I will 'talk' about it this weekend. I just did the maths of a ski trip with childcare and sent it to him. Think he might need a stiff drink when he gets home grin

jojobee Fri 14-Oct-11 17:11:56

We have also used Snowbizz. I submitted the first review of them on Mumsnet! I would also recommend them. Their childcare and ski lessons are excellent. Definitely a very good option for a first family skiing holiday. I think you are also doing the right thing looking at self catering options. However make sure you go for an apartment to sleep 6 rather than 4.

jicky Fri 14-Oct-11 19:10:44

We first took our 3 when they were 5, 3 & 6 months. The 6 month old was still breast fed with the occasional bottle of expressed, so never left more than 3 hours without a check in from me.

We put the older 2 in ski school for mornings only and the little one in the creche. I then did a quick ski with dh, sometimes passing by to check littlest was happy.

In the afternoons ds2 & 3 came back to apartment with me while ds1 either did more ski school or skied with daddy. By the end ds2 was up for afternoon ski school and I was more confident about how long I could leave ds3 for so got some extra skiing in.

In the early evenings we tried out other activities - well ds3 slept in his pram while his brothers tried tubing and climbing.

We get round the luggage by always getting a place with a washing machine - can then take far fewer clothes. Also didn't need many toys - black thermals, ski helmets and goggles gave the boys hours of 'power ranger' games!

nametapes Sun 16-Oct-11 21:05:35

You will probably need help with two children of such different ages.
Is ski school for 4 yr possible in the mornings?
Plus childminder for baby so that you get some time to ski.
My partner has a tiny studio apartment in the French Alps , but that wouldnt be big enough for you all.
I am a very experienced Nanny and mother of 3 children. My youngest son is now 11yrs, and at weekly boarding school.
I would happily com with you expecting no wage, but, just as you said for your mother, all expenses paid.
I love skiing and started when my son was 3 yr old.
I love being in the snow whether skiing or not.
Your youngest could be out for a walk /sledging in the snow for half an hour or so?

greyghoul Tue 18-Oct-11 12:41:02

I have just thought to say - different resorts have different age limits for lessons - so Puy starts from 3, but Andorra (and a lot of France) start at 5/6 yrs of age. So check this before you book, or you could be paying for private lessons. Austrian resorts often start at about 4 i think.

My other advice is that this isn't a skiing holiday as you are used to. The aim of this trip is to introduce your family to skiing. So it should be gentle, easygoing and FUN. Hot chocolate and snowball fights, snowman building and cuddles. spending all afternoon on a very gentle slope (often without the adults wearing skis). mini mars bars in coat pockets to eat at the end of the ski lesson (so you need to take a supply with you!). treats to make sure your kids enjoy it. They won't be fabulous skiers by the end of the week, but if they have enjoyed it, they will go back willingly every year with you. If they hate it this year - it will be harder next year. Childcare is expensive I am afraid, but I think it allows adults to have some ski time, and for some family time without the adults resenting their loss of skiing.

Oh and make sure you get helmets!

QuintessentialShadyHallows Tue 18-Oct-11 12:44:00

You MUST go to Levi in Finland. It is fantastic for families with young children, and the slopes are perfect for all levels, and there is a skiing school for your 4 year old with english speaking instructors, and a creche, and aqua land with water slides. Great food, and just fab, really! Last year we met an English family who had been going there for 8 years!

snowmummy Tue 18-Oct-11 20:31:36

Quintessential, what were the temperatures like? Its in the Arctic Circle isn't it? I'd imagine it'd be very cold.

QuintessentialShadyHallows Tue 18-Oct-11 22:32:58

We were in March. It was very cold in the evening but sunny in the daytime, so pleasant! Levi resort information

(Bearing in mind we lived just 5 hours drive across the border in Norway then, we were pretty used to the climate)

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