I was in my mid-thirties before I ever attempted downhill skiing. Up until that point, I was adamant that I had no interest in the sport; after all, I’m not a big thrill seeker, I don’t like falling down and I don’t like getting snow down my neck. I just didn’t see the point.

But when my two older boys took an interest in skiing, I had a change of heart. I realized that skiing could be a fun family activity that we could do together for years to come, and I was willing to give it a shot, so all seven of us grabbed our cold-weather gear and headed to a ski resort.

We are fortunate enough to live near a lot of family-oriented, low-key ski resorts that offer fun hills without the pressure of a rocky mountain cliff (something I may never be ready for.) Over the past few years we’ve visited Crystal Mountain and Shanty Creek in northern Michigan, and last weekend, Grand Geneva in Wisconsin. All three resorts have been a blast, and over the years I’ve picked up some tips for hitting the slopes with the kids as a beginner:

1. Bring along an extra set of hands.

We are fortunate enough to have two teenagers who can lend a much-needed hand to help with skis and poles, or to assist if a little kid or a mom who falls down and can’t get back up on their own steam. But if you don’t and have more than one small child, I really think it’s worthwhile to see if you can bring along an extra adult or a tween or teen relative or family friend, especially if both parents are also beginners.

2. Take advantage of kids’ programs.

Every ski resort we’ve ever been to offers some kind of children’s programming, whether it’s a two-hour lesson or a full-day camp. The last two times we went to a ski resort we enrolled our boys in lessons so they could get the basics down, and last week at Grand Geneva, we put Clara, who’s 3, in child care so that the older kids would all have some time to ski with Mom and Dad. She loved it, and I was happy for the chance to get steady on my skis without having to help a small child.

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