For years, you skied encumbered only by the weather or your own limitations. Now, you have one kid on skis and another in a pack-and both can change dispositions faster than you can get your ski boots on. Don't get frustrated. Remember that the success of an outing is not measured by number of runs skied, but by the breadth of the smile. Here are eight golden rules to help keep the family ski day meltdown-free.
- PICK YOUR DAYGive yourself the best chance for success by choosing a warm, dry day to start. The more comfortable children are, the more agreeable they'll be.
- PACK WISELY Fill a backpack with everything you might need, including plenty of snacks and water. Offer both on every ride to maintain energy and interest.
- AVOID YES OR NO QUESTIONS Pose questions that allow a choice, such as, "Do you want to ride the chairlift or the gondola?" or "Do you want to put your helmet or your gloves on first?"
- KEEP THE SHOW ON THE ROAD All kids will at some point express reluctance at trying something new, but if you keep rolling, they don't have time to object.
- BEING THERE IS HALF THE FUN The joy of skiing hinges on the mountain experience. Point out the clouds, the snowboarders in the halfpipe, the squirrels scampering between trees.
- BRIBERY WILL GET YOU EVERYWHERE Make sure you have some enticements (Gummi bears, M&Ms, stickers) stashed away for an emergencyattitude adjustment.
- BE PREPARED TO WALK AWAY Expect some whining, but if the experience turns traumatic, future outings will be an uphill battle. You're better off trying again another day.
- KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN The art in a successful end to the day is recognizing the last run and quitting just before it. Like showbiz, keep them begging for more.
Edie Thys, the top U.S. finisher in the 1988 Olympics, is the proud mom of new skier Chauncey (featured here) and Oliver.