12 Feb Your Family’s First Semana Blanca
Did you know that next week is nicknamed Semana Blanca or “White Week”? It is called that because some schools across Spain have vacation and many families head to the ski slopes. Are you wondering when is the right age to introduce your family to skiing? The Nanny Line, Spain’s premiere nanny agency has all the answers to your family ski vacation questions. We’ve got you covered… with plenty of warm layers and other suggestions to make sure your family’s first semana blanca is a hit.
How young is too young?
Unfortunately every child is as individual as a snowflake so there is no one right answer. The general advice is that your child should be at least able to walk, be potty-trained and be able to balance on skis to try skiing. Other ski teachers argue that children should be at least four years old and feel that kids don’t really enjoy skiing until they are five.
A Warm Skier is a Happy Skier
Make sure to bring plenty of layers. Moisture-wicking (non-cotton) base layers are a must with waterproof outer-layers. Kids need to wear ski helmets to protect them from injury. Did you know helmets are actually warmer than hats? Most ski stores will rent helmets as well as skis, boots, poles. Make sure to invest in proper ski socks and ski mittens (warmer than gloves). Cold toes and fingers are the first thing to ruin a child’s first skiing experience! Look for the air-activated warming packs to help warm up cold fingers or toes quickly. You can buy them in bulk boxes before your ski trip- much cheaper than paying ski resort prices on mountains. The American outdoor gear outfitter, REI, has a great post filled with technical information about what to look for when buying ski clothing and equipment for your young skiers.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
Waiting in lift-lines, long chairlift rides, and grumbling stomachs are all reasons why you don’t want to leave the ski lodge without a big supply of treats and snacks. Plain-old bribery with candy works wonders when you are trying to get “just one more run in.” The promise of hot chocolate to warm cold fingers is also something to use to your advantage. Your kids are going to be working hard out there on the slopes- make sure they have the energy to keep going!
Many parents chose to ski with a backpack that they can fill with extra layers, dry mittens, warming packs, water bottles and of course snacks. Don’t forget that at higher altitudes, you and your children need to stay hydrated with plenty of water. Skiing in Spain can be sunnier than some other mountains in the world, so don’t forget your child-friendly sunblock for your child’s sensitive facial skin as well.
To Lesson or not to Lesson, that is the Question
If you can afford it, then ski school is the answer. Have you ever noticed how much better behaved your children are when they are not with you? Your child will be much less likely to whine, get frustrated or refuse to ski down a slope if you aren’t there. Peer pressure is also a wonderful thing. Your kids will happily follow the ski-train of their new-found ski-school friends up the mountain and forget all about being tired, scared, or cold.
Not to fear if you have an infant or toddlers too young for ski school. Many of the family-oriented mountain resorts have infant or preschool-care facilities that get the little ones out playing in the snow and used to being dropped off by mom and dad: Preparation for future ski school drop-offs! If you don’t think your youngest is ready for ski-mountain child care, you may want to consider bringing along a Nanny Line holiday nanny so that you can still get in a full day of skiing.
Adjust your expectations for your family’s first ski trip
If you do choose to ski with your children, remember to adjust your expectations for how many runs you can log in a day. REI has some more great suggestions (like chairlift I-spy and follow-the-leader) for how to make teaching your children how to ski fun. You might also want to choose more of a resort town that has non-skiing family-friendly activities. Don’t be afraid to take a day off from skiing just to give everyone in the family a break. Your children will be exhausted from ski school, have tired muscles, and be adjusting to altitude. Kids love activities like hot tubs and swimming pools, ice skating, sledding, and sleigh rides.
What is home base for your family’s first semana blanca?
For your first family ski trip, you might want to pay up for lodging close to the mountain. Nothing will make a young child hate skiing more than having to walk a long distance in uncomfortable ski boots to the lift or ski school, overheating and lugging awkward skis. It makes you cranky no matter what your age!
Another option is to make a day trip, especially if you live in Barcelona or Madrid. That way your child won’t be exhausted by multiple days of skiing. Check out this helpful article from The Barcelona Edit about ski day-trip options from Barcelona. Madrileños have Puerto Navacerrada just 50 kilometers from Madrid. You can read about all of Spain’s best ski resorts here.
Many families prefer to rent ski condominiums, apartments, or chalets when traveling with young children. That way you are able to prepare child-friendly meals at home, have separate rooms (a better night’s sleep for everyone), and maybe even room for a Nanny Line holiday nanny.
Another family-friendly trick for a successful first ski vacation is to travel with another family or with grandparents. Your little ones will be less teary at ski school drop-off if they are with a good buddy. Bring costs down by sharing a chalet with another family. Or, get free childcare from non-skiing older grandparents excited to spend time with grandchildren.
The Nanny Line is excited to make your family’s first semana blanca a big success. We are experts at making kids happy, be it on a mountain or in Madrid, Barcelona or Ibiza. You can book our English-speaking international nannies online for full-time, part-time, occasional or even ski trips.
Skiing: A Spanish Pastime
Skiing can be a life-long sport and many families ski together long past childhood. Why not introduce your family to Spain’s ski slopes? Do you have any other tips to make skiing with younger children a success? What are your family’s favorite Spanish ski areas? Let us know on Facebook, Instagram or in the Comments section below. Not up for snow and skiing? We can also offer babysitters for the Balearic Islands, which we think make another great family-friendly destination, even in the off-season.