tips for skiing with kids

My husband and I are not natural skiers. I was born and raised in North Carolina and have never been a skier. My husband grew up in Virginia and only skied a handful of times as a teenager. But as our kids have gotten older and we’ve struggled to figure out what to do to get out energy in the long New England winters, we’ve gradually accepted that learning how to ski might be something we want to do!

We decided this would be the year to really invest time and energy (and money) into helping our kids learn. Surprisingly, they’ve loved it — and it’s been a lot of fun for all of us!  

In case you, like me, are intimidated by all the options and choices out there, let me share six tips we’ve learned this year. 

Get seasonal ski rentals.

This saves you from buying expensive skis that your kids will quickly outgrow, and it also saves you quite a bit compared to renting at the mountain. More than that, though, it takes so much logistical pressure off of a quick ski day or weekend trip, because you can just pack your gear and go. If kids hit a growth spurt mid-season, many places will do a swap out. Lots of places around Boston offer seasonal rentals for kids — we used Ski Haus, but you can also try places like Boston Ski + Tennis, or Ski Monster.

Pay for a few lessons, then commit to getting out regularly!

Lessons are super smart when your kids are first starting, because it can be really helpful to have external (and peer) motivation. (Book early! Lessons fill up quickly!) Once your kids have had a few lessons and are feeling more comfortable, the key to success is consistent practice. Get out whenever you can swing it. While ski pass costs add up quickly, if you do a little bit of research you can find cheap or free places (check our list below of our favorite New England ski resorts!), especially when they’re little!

Pack your own food.

Skiing takes lots of energy, and your kids will be hungry! As all mamas know, hangry kids are rarely successful in anything. Pack snacks — and pack lots of them. Resort meals tend to be expensive, and the lines can be long. Splurge on coffee, hot chocolate, and aprés ski libations — not sandwiches and chips.

Take breaks before your kids are puddles on the slopes.

We take hot chocolate breaks in the morning before anyone starts complaining so that everyone is excited to get back out and keep going. We stop for lunch before the kids start whining for food. When kids are cold, hungry, or tired, they tend to enjoy skiing less. Plan strategically to take breaks to prevent this!  

Ski on the weekdays or off days.

This cuts down on lines and generally makes for a much more fun (and cheaper!) ski experience. We often times will ski on Sundays rather than Saturdays. Arriving at the slopes early will ensure that you get parking. (But lots oftentimes start to clear out around 1 p.m. as well.) For beginners, a few hours is all you need for a fun experience — that really builds their skills and confidence without leading to burnout.

Start young!

When they’re young, they’re closer to the ground and less scared of falling. It’s easier to learn because there are fewer mental barriers. Once they’re able to consistently put on their own boots and snap into their own skis, it becomes significantly easier to take them!

Learning how to ski

Need suggestions on where to go? Check out these ski resorts where kids ski for free!

Mountains where passes are free for 6 and under:

Attitash (Bartlett, NH)
Berkshire East (Charlemont, MA)
Bousquet (Pittsfield, MA)
Catamount (Hillsdale, NY)
Crotched (Hillsborough, NH)
Hunter (Hunter, NY)
Killington (Killington, VT)
Mt. Snow (West Dover, VT)
Okemo (Ludlow, VT)
Pico (Mendon, VT)
Quechee Ski Area (Quechee, VT)
Wildcat (Gorham, NH)

Mountains where passes are free for 5 and under:

Black Mountain (Jackson, NH)
Bolton Valley (Richmond, VT)
Burke (East Burke, VT)
Cannon (Franconia, NH)
Cochran’s Ski Area (Richmond, VT)
Cranmore (North Conway, NH)
Dartmouth Skiway (Lyme Center, NH)
Gunstock (Gilford, NH)
King Pine (Madison, NH — free on weekdays, $15 weekends/holidays) 
Lost Valley (Auburn, ME — $10)
Loon (Lincoln, NH)
Mad River Glen (Waitsfield, VT)
Magic Mountain (Londonderry, VT)
Mount Abram (Greenwood, ME)
Pats Peak (Henniker, NH — also has a fabulous “Passport Program” for adult lessons!)
Pleasant Mountain (Bridgton, ME)
Ragged Mountain (Danbury, NH)
Saddleback (Rangeley, Maine)
Ski Ward (Shrewsbury, MA — $15)
Smuggler’s Notch (Jeffersonville, VT)
Sugarloaf (Carrabassett Valley, ME — $5)
Sunday River (Newry, ME — $5)
Titcomb (West Farmington, Maine)
Wachusett (Westminster, MA)
Waterville (Waterville Valley, NH)
Whaleback (Enfield, NH)

Mountains where passes are free for 4 and under:

Big Rock (Mars Hill, ME)
Bretton Woods (Bretton Woods, NH)
Saskadena Six (South Pomfret, VT)
Ski Sundown (New Hartford, CT)
Stowe (Stowe, VT)
Stratton (Stratton Mountain, VT)
Sunapee (Newbury, NH)

Mountains where passes are free for 3 and under:

Blue Hills (Canton, MA)
McIntyre Ski Area (Manchester, NH)
Kristen D
Kristen is Southern by birth but has called Boston home since 2008. Unlike most Boston natives, she still really loves the snow and cold. She and her husband have two energetic and kind sons (2013, 2014) and a sassy baby girl (2016). Kristen jokes that she has a Master's degree in laundry and a PhD in conflict resolution — which she uses far more than her actual physics and politics degrees. After seven years as a stay-at-home mom, Kristen went back to work full-time in 2021, and has found that incredibly life-giving while also an additional "juggle." In her "spare" time, she runs her own business (Murph&Moose), serves on multiple school committees, and runs half marathons. Her passion is seeing moms feel comfortable in their own skin and less alone in the chaos that is motherhood. Loves: gardening, languages, coffee, running, time with her girlfriends, and the rare moments of silence when all three children are (finally) in bed. Dislikes: daylight saving time, non-washable markers, and noisy neighbors who disrupt her rare moments of silence.