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Teaching a 20 Month Old How to Snowboard

What I learned while trying to teach my 20 month old to snowboard

First I would like to say, teaching a little one how to snowboard is a very rewarding experience. The feeling I got when I saw the joy in my daughter’s face the first time she was able to stand up and slide down the hill was on par with the feeling I get shredding some untouched magic pow line. 

That being said, there is definitely a lot of preparation that needs to be put in before you get to that point and an extreme amount of patience. I have never been a person to bring a bunch of stuff with me to the mountain; my packing list has always been short and to the point. However, when a little one gets added to the equation, the list grows exponentially. First on the list are snacks!!! Making sure you have an ample amount of snacks is essential to your success as a hungry baby equals a grumpy baby and grumpy baby means trying to teach them anything new is just not going to happen.  Speaking of a grumpy baby, timing your shred sessions around their nap times is key as well. This is something I learned the hard way because I thought the joy of snowboarding would give her the power to skip nap time. 

Instead, this usually ends in a temper tantrum of some sort and a frustrating experience for all who are involved. Another thing I’ve learned the hard way is the importance of picking days to go up when the weather is favorable. I find that slightly overcast days with some light snow to be the best. She refuses to wear goggles right now so when it’s super sunny out, I think the snow can be too bright for her eyes. Days with heavy wind, snow, or rain are best to be avoided at all cost. Not only is it hard with a kid because they are miserable, but when you have a kid, I find that the doors of my car are often left open for one reason or another and everything just gets wet inside- making matters worse.

So we always check the weather the night before we want to try and bring our little one up with us. If the weather permits, we pack the car up with everything we need with the exception of boots and boards. This is to make it easier in the morning so that all we have to do is get ourselves and the little one dressed, grab our gear, and go. We usually have some sort of on-the-go breakfast as well. The baby will usually eat some apple sauce or a yogurt before we even get to the car and will split a breakfast sandwich with mommy on the way up. Once we get to the mountain, I turn my Subaru Outback into a full service day care. 

The car seat gets moved to the front seats for storage so that the back seats can lay down, the snacks and diaper bag go on the floor behind the front seats, and then I have a self inflating paco pad that turns the back of my car into a tiny bouncy house. Throw in a sleeping bag and some pillows, and it’s the ultimate nap spot! We also make sure to pack a tablet loaded with lots of different kids movies, and educational programing. With a few lawn chairs for mommy and daddy, we are all set.

Now, the order of who gets to go snowboard changes depending on what we want to shred, of course but it usually goes something like: we start by both taking the baby up together (she’s only hiking to rope tow line at this point), let her do a lap or 2 on that, and Mommy will go do some laps while me and the baby take our time walking around the parking lot or snuggle up in the back of the car watching Toy Story. Then we switch. We will have lunch and try and get the baby to take a short nap before we try to take her back on the slope again. One of us usually sneaks in another lap or 2 durning this time then we go through the cycle one more time. Finally, it’s time to pack the car up and head home and a good day was had by all. 

I am sure you have noticed that I spend most of my time talking about how we prepare to take our child snowboarding more than I did of how we actually teach our child to snowboard. That is simply because at 19-20 months, there is no real teaching going on. It’s more about just trying to share with them the family hype of being on the mountain. Getting them to stand and slide down the mountain is just a bonus. The whole day is supposed to be a fun experience for them. Even just walking in the parking lot is something she enjoys throughly. We love the mountains and just want to share that love with our child. We would never force her to go snowboard. Once she’s over it, she’s done. And that’s perfectly acceptable.

That is the gist of what I have learned up to this point so far. This is a new adventure for me and I  know I have so much more to learn. I am sure I will find out the hard way a few more times before I get this thing streamlined but that is what life is about. The mountain is our home, our place to grow, learn and gain perspective on the fast moving world all around us. If I am able to pass on that sentiment to my little girl, I will gladly call my life a success.

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