Exercise is great both for kids and adults. But it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm to get outdoors on cold, dark winter mornings.
Take up a snow sport, whether it is alpine skiing (downhill), snowboarding, cross-country (Nordic or Skate), or even snowshoeing. Sure, there’s some commitment involved with learning and gearing up, but taking up a winter sport provides great fun and fitness for your family, and a framework for your children to develop a host of important life skills.
Life Lesson: Be Prepared
No matter if you are five or fifty, heading out for a day in the snow requires some planning. Make a list and check it twice. Everyone needs a gear bag and a check list. Write down the essentials.
Your list will look something like this:
- Neck Gaiter
- Baselayer top and bottom
- Socks (ones that fit snug without bulk that extend up above your calf).
- Insulating layer (at least on top)
- Warm, waterproof jacket
- Waterproof pants
- Gear (boots; skis, snowboard or snow shoes; poles if needed).
Life Lesson: Early to Bed, Early to Rise
This is a great lesson to learn, whether you are heading out for a winter sport or heading to school or a job. The sun goes down early in the winter, so adjust your schedule accordingly. Use the evening to get excited about skiing/riding/snowshoeing the following day. All sorts of adult activities depend on getting a good night’s rest and early start. Train your kids early to focus on the prize (in this case a great day in on the snow).
Life Lesson: Learning is Fun
There are three stages to learning. First, you try to do something that you can’t do. Then you understand what you need to do, and, with help, accomplish the task. Finally, you master the activity and can teach others.
The neat thing about snow sports is that there is always something to learn from a child’s first snowplow to perfecting slalom turns or 360 at the terrain park. The other neat thing about snow sports is there is always room for improvement; every day you hit the slopes your kids (and you) will get better.
Life Lesson: Get Tough
Ok, we won’t lie. Winter sports can be cold, uncomfortable, and sometimes awkward. Sure, there will be perfect bluebird days where there’s not a cloud in the sky, when the snow is as light as champagne bubbles, and when your every turn or step seems guided by divine provinance. But, there will be times when the wind is gusting like an unnamed hurricane, the snow blowing like a snow globe on steroids, and conditions so icy you wished you’d rented skates. But that’s good too.
Your child (and you) will learn that perseverance can be fun. That sometimes, going mano-a-mano with nature and surviving to tell the tale (the good thing about most ski areas is that there’s always a lodge for warming up after that last bold, brave run, snowshoe trek, or circuit on the Nordic course.
Life Lesson: Learn to Laugh
Don’t leave your sense of humor at home. Even if you’re learning something new, braving the wilds, or wishing you’d worn a warmer layer, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. So you face plant into a snowdrift? That’s the signal for a deep belly laugh, maybe one so hard tears run down your cheeks. No joke, snow sports are fun, whether you’re laughing at yourself or your teenager who just managed to fall over in the lift line.
Life Lesson: Stop and Enjoy the Moment
On any snow sports day there are moments when the view is so poignantly beautiful you’ll be reaching for a handkerchief. It might be watching your four-year-old ski with her grandpa, or the light catching the freshly fallen snow like a million of scattered diamonds. But there will be times when the world slows down and you think. There’s no place I’d rather be than here.
Not only do times like that help develop memories that get a person through all sorts of school tests, career challenges, and relationship trials, but learning to focus on the moment is a skill all of us can benefit from.