Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kidaddle off to the snow

Do you remember your first visit to the snow? I do. I had the cutest little pair of yellow gumboots. We drove up to Smiggin Holes in the EH Holden and Dad lifted me out of car and put me on a mound of the stuff on the side of the road ... whereupon I promptly sank up to my knees and the slush rose up and into my boots. I recall little else beyond the cold and a lot of crying.

Last weekend I observed a lot of that going on - babies, toddlers and kindies standing on the snow, crying. And beside them stood frustrated, stressed out and thoroughly disappointed parents trying every trick in the arsenal to get the kids to do what they wanted them to do: enjoy it.

The key, friends, is to manage and, dare I say, limit our own expectations of how much our child is going to love the experience.
Kids get tired. Very very quickly, and it doesn't take a genius to work out that throwing cold, the unfamiliar environment and getting overexcited into the mix results in kids getting tired even quicker than usual. Here's what we worked out:

  • Don't rush into it - what point is there in taking a baby to the snow? Will they remember it? Not likely! So all that's involved in this enterprise is a lot of hard work for Mum and Dad, for little gain in the child's development.

  • Make a conscious effort to underestimate their stamina: with a toddler, assume half an hour is all they'll be able to take; with primary school kids, maybe work it up to about half a day. Better to leave while you're all still having fun, than hang on for the inevitable meltdown.

  • Take your own food - food they like. Nothing is worse than fighting five million people at the Perisher Centre for two stools at a bar table and watching your kids reject the horsemeat pie that you yourself can't stomach, even after you have grappled with those annoying plastic tubes to pour tomato sauce all over them. And don't get on your high horse about them eating a little of all five food groups, or insist that today's the day he/she tries spinach. We kept it simple - ham and cheese sandwiches (with pickles for the adults), iced tea (the favourite drink), chips, chocolate biscuits and apples. Everyone was happy and it was a relatively balanced meal.

  • The ski tube might be novel, convenient and fun, but consider taking your own car. It gives you a time out option when things get a bit much. Get there early so that you can park neatly between the snowplay area and the toilets. You don't want to have to hike through the snow with a small child when they are, reportedly, "busting".

  • Hire your own toboggans before you leave home - that way you don't miss out if they run out at the resort or decide to stop hiring them for some bizarre safety reason (eg a patch of ice on the toboggan run).

  • Hire the right clothes: jacket, pants, gloves and boots. Hiring kit for one adult and two kids for four days cost us less than the marked price on a child's parka. Take and make them wear beanies and sunglasses. Proper gear makes all the difference to stamina on the day.

  • Let the kids tell you what they want to do. The skitubing might look like fun to you, but careering around on a tyre may not be your child's idea of a good time - so don't force it. If they want to toboggan or build a snowman all day, why not let them?

Kidaddle recommendations for the best snow holiday with kids:

Perisher: NB - the only place you can toboggan is Perisher itself - not Smiggin Holes, not Blue Cow, none of the others.
Thredbo: Not as high up as Perisher, so the snow down below may not be in as good condition late in the season ... at least that was our experience in early September.
Crackenback Cottage: The dinner served up to us was the best we'd had in years - and we've eaten everywhere from Paris to Papeete. But the best bit? Kids are welcome, the atmosphere is not so fine dining as to be alienating, and the kids menu is very very nice.
Wild Brumby Distillery: We happened to be passing the gate every afternoon about 4pm and were very pleased to discover a place where we could enjoy beautiful schnapps while the kids gawped at the sheep, the dogs and the fabulous outdoor art.

And, finally, we loved on the Alpine Way. But don't go there if you don't like the bush, meeting interesting people and their dogs, wandering around a bush garden and admiring unusual objects. It's a great place that attracts nice people and is kid and dog friendly.

1 comment:

  1. Great tips - and, living in Sweden where we get our fair share of snow, I think I can say your comments are pretty universal.

    Even though we are surrounded by winter wonderland here for a few months of the year, I can say that I have not tried to venture out with the kids to any of the large ski runs because of all the difficulties involved with kids, cold and queues.

    My thoughts - good clothing is essential, but however good it is they will get wet. Young kids will enjoy the simplest stuff eg sliding on a cheap plastic tobogan by the side of the road. They will get tired and hungry very fast with all the running around. Wet, tired, hungry and cold are not fun to be at the same time - so a car nearby or a room are important.

    It is a recipe from hell - so should be managed in small doses.