I hear it a lot. “I can’t wait until my children are older when we can do ______.” (Fill in the blank.) And while, yes, there are some things that children simply cannot do, I think we also don’t give them nearly enough credit. Maybe your children cannot do it as well or as fast as you can, but what better time to learn how to do things than while a child? This holds true for all sorts of things, but I want to talk with you today about cross country skiing with toddlers.
Skepticism turned Fun Family Time
I’ll be the first to admit, I was skeptical. As usual, Ben had quite a bit of work cut out for him convincing me that taking our toddlers cross country skiing wasn’t an awful idea, especially when they struggle with sensory processing disorder. He picked up cross-country skis for himself first. And after showing our kids biathlon in the 2018 Winter Olympics, we all ended up with sets of cross country skis. I was not sure how the kids would react, but Jules, who at the time had JUST turned 2, immediately started skiing across the living room floor. With zero coaching.
The next day, we took them in the back yard. Ben and I broke a trail and taught them to cross-country ski around the backyard. Actually, Ben taught all of us how to ski. I had been cross country skiing one other time, without the kids, so I was definitely not an expert. And that’s when I realized – cross country skiing with toddlers was FUN. And they loved the sense of accomplishment and learning something new which is so healthy for their confidence and mental development. Also, when kids fall it’s a much smaller gap between them and the ground than when you are 28 learning how to cross country ski. You might even guess that I learned this from experience. You’d be right.
When Children Excel with Challenge
After practicing in the backyard for several days, we moved on to some calm trails in the area. I was not sure how far they would get, but once again my children surprised me. I’ve become steadily convinced that children excel with challenge. If you give them the opportunity to succeed and make it fun, they will likely rise to the challenge. On their first real cross country ski trip, they went a full mile. At the time our children were 6, 3.5, and 25 months old. Were there some tears? Yes. But truly, we had a blast. We passed a Mama moose on the trail (and stayed a healthy distance away). We had some great conversations, some laughter, and Ben and I LOVED watching the children excel in this area.
Over the course of the next few months, we enjoyed several more cross country skiing trips. We never made it more than a mile and a half, so I’m not going to claim any of us were pros at it. It was always slow going, and there were frustrations involved. But cross country skiing with toddlers is still truly fun.
Cross Country Skiing with Toddlers is 100% Possible
And that’s where I think the mindset has to change. Most likely your toddler will not be cross country skiing 7-8 miles at a quick pace (although I’ve no doubt that some do). But the activity is not, in the least bit, impossible. For parents it just means shifting our mental game. It means saying, “We are going to do this as a healthy activity to get our kids outside and go at whatever pace the children can go.” It means doing your best to make it a fun activity instead of getting frustrated by a slow pace filled with many learning opportunities. Remember, this is not just about teaching your kids how to cross-country ski. It’s also about teaching them perseverance and giving them confidence to try new things. It is showing them that Mommy and Daddy will help them succeed at their level, and as they succeed they will advance. Make it fun. Reward them with praise. Give them quality time. Talk and laugh. Cross country skiing with toddlers is a blast and so rewarding. And what better way is there to build healthy relationships, breathe in fresh air, and teach new skills during the cold Alaskan winters?
I’d love to hear what activities you’ve tried with your children, and how you make it fun and possible for them to succeed! Be sure to also check out my post on Reasons to Hike With Kids!