You have winter wonderland fantasies about frolicking in fresh snow with your family, singing “Let it go’, sipping hot chocolates and building snowmen, but you’ve got a nagging worry it might be cold and miserable… Katie Clark spends much of the winter in the snow at Mt Buller and has a lively toddler and a new baby. So we asked her – how DO you stay sane with a toddler in the snow.
Less is more
Aim for short stints outside and set up so you can duck in and out easily. It’s tempting to stay in the snow for longer – let’s face it you’ve spent 20 minutes wrangling them into that jacket and boots! – but short is sweet and 5 minute bursts of playing is sometimes the best, then back in to warm up.
A day visit is fun but can be a bit much for most little people.
Stay for a least a night if you can so you can settle in and enjoy the experience. A ‘home base’ makes it easier and many accommodation places do “Kids Stay Free” deals. Lodges are family friendly options with kitchens so you can bring your own food, games rooms for the kids and cosy communal lounges where everyone gathers for wine and cheese at the end of the day. If you do visit for the day, my tip is to plan at least one of the drive legs to fit around sleep times.
Bring more changes of dry clothes than you think you’ll ever possibly need. Kids manage to get snow in places you never thought possible and a dry, warm toddler is a happy toddler! It’s tempting to think just an extra pair of trackie pants or some gumboots are going to cut it – but seriously, get proper ski gear. It’s worth every cent. There is a huge trade in hand-me-down winter gear if you go online. Those cute one-piece suits are brilliant! Look for waterproof outer layers, one-piece outfits where possible to keep snow out and then light underlayers in bamboo or merino for warmth and breathability. I remember as a kid having wet and cold feet in my old rubber boots and being miserable, so definitely get good boots – or rent in resort. I think my parents ended up feeding me hot chips in the car because my toes were so frozen I couldn’t play anymore.
No love with gloves
If you’ve ever managed to get a small set of fingers into a pair of gloves, especially if those little fingers are wet… then you deserve a medal. Skip the screaming matches and get some velcro opening mittens. You can open the whole mitten and wrap up little hands easily. You are going to be taking them on and off, and on… and off… so simple is best.
Those cute little woollen bonnets with the ties that go under the chin. Get one of those, or a suit/top with a lined hood. Most little ones will pull a beanie off in seconds flat and drop it into a puddle.
This should probably be up near the top of the list. A good stroller, or even better a baby sling or backpack is your friend in the snow. There are some great backpack set ups that protect your back and leave your hands free to balance and keep your little one warm and cosy and able to look around at your head height. A good buggy with the big tyres is also a great option for when there is fresh snow. Consider getting boot chains for when it’s icy. They slip easily over the soles of your boots and give you more grip which is really reassuring. I was nervous about slipping when I first had my baby in a carry pack and chains make you feel more stable.
Starting on skis
At Mt Buller they will accept kids as young as 3 years old into ski school and it’s amazing how quickly some kids take to it. The Magic Forest is tucked away from the crowds and the instructors are specially trained in teaching young children at their own pace. The lessons are short and broken up with breaks, snacks and games. It gives you a chance to have a break or go for a ski yourself –because it’s your snow holiday too!
Check out the what’s on and event listings
Ski resorts have lots of kid’s entertainment and it’s usually the simple things that your little one will love. Marshmallow toasting, free music shows and even riding the shuttle bus are a
big hit with my little guy.
I guess I’d say to any mum, just slow down and assume everything will take a little longer in the snow, but it’s all about taking time to appreciate and enjoy those moments.
My husband and I have shared so many special times in the snow before kids, and it’s a real treat to now see our boys experiencing it for the first time. I hope you and your kids love it as much as we do.
Thinking of a winter snow holiday?
www.mtbuller.com.au has all the latest information and you can book everything from accommodation, lift passes, rental gear and even resort entry and parking all online.
By Katie Clark. Katie is a mum of two under twos from Melbourne and lives at Mt Buller during snow season.
Pre-babies Katie hit the slopes most winter weekends with her husband David and is now embracing the experience of being a snow-mum and working on her snowman building skills.
Photos Mt Buller | Andrew Railton.