TIPs, IDEAS and EXPERIENCIES TO snowboArd with your babY
One of the first things I thought when I got pregnant was when would I be able to snowboard again. Some people may think, “Come on! You are going to be a mother, and that’s what you are worried about?”
I hope that if you are reading this article it is because somehow you share the passion (and the need) to enjoy snowboarding with me and you will probably be or already are a parent.
That’s why you will also understand that «don’t judge» takes on a new meaning and a new dimension because in the end we are all doing what we can, the best we know and most of the time we are just making it up, waiting and wishing that in the end the result would be more or less what we were looking for. And sometimes it works. But others it doesn’t, so what? The most important thing is to keep trying.
One of the first myths we have to get rid of is that children must first learn to ski before they can snowboard. Although if they feel like it, they like it and we have the opportunity to put them on mini skis as well, why not?
While it is true that the because of the peculiarities of snowboarding, at the beginning children require more tools and more help before they are independent than perhaps with skis, the truth is that much of this has to do with the right gear.
Until very recently, the boards designed especially for small shredders didn’t even exist, but fortunately, more and more brands make now boards and «tools» adapted to the needs of children and their parents or guiding adults.
I would like to emphasize that I am not a professional educator or an instructor specializing in children, I am simply a mother and I want to pass on my experience, still ongoing, of snowboarding with my daughter Pia.
The first thing I learned was that for my mental health and well-being I couldn’t change who I was, and if I wanted to keep snowboarding, I had to find a way to keep doing it. That is my decision, most of the time, but it doesn’t have to be everyone else’s. And that’s how our adventure began.
First of all the unresolved concerns and doubts: is it possible? Is it safe? When can I take her to the snow? Is it going to be cold? Will they let me get on the chairlift? Will I be able to pull it off? What do I actually need? And… is it worth it?
Personally, I did not snowboard during pregnancy because the seasons did not coincide and when it was winter again I didn’t feel physically good enough to do so. And this is my first realization: listen to your body. Other friends and women are snowboarding whilst pregnant and even enjoy the snowpark, everyone has to know their skills, limits and acknowledge how they feel. From that moment onwards it becomes whatever you want it to be.
1. START SMALL, JUST GET OUT AND TRY IT OUT
When you have doubts and you don’t have the confidence wether you have the tools or what you need, or even the fitness to start snowboarding with a baby «on your back», it’s best to start small.
Whether it’s close to home, for a short time, with a lot of people around you (partner, family, friends…) who can help you, without set goals or just to test how you feel, what your child’s reaction is and discover what you may need.
Here Pia was less than a week old, an there was an unprecedented snowfall so we went out into the garden. I could barely fit into my outerwear, but I squeezed in, wrapped up Pia, and went out to enjoy the snow.
My father built a small «kicker» for me and I could barely strap my bindings, but I put on my board and I was «snowboarding» with my little one right next to me. Excitement and having no idea what it was doing or what was coming is what you can see in my smile.
I think I barely lifted the board of the ground and I stopped when I fell on my ass. But it had started. I was a mum and I was snowboarding.
2. ASK, SEARCH, SHARE AND PLAN. Be ready for your plan to fail
Once you’ve started going out, you’re probably become aware of things you didn’t even think about. Ask all the questions, look for all the information or ask for all the necessary support until you feel safe and sound about your plan, and that includes knowing that if things do not go as you expected it’s okay too. You can leave, stop, change, readjust or start over.
Snowboard gear, stroller, rental car and let’s see how the hell we do this.
Can I use breastfeeding T-shirt as a base layer and combine it with a bib? Will I be able to get the stroller up in the gondola? Diapers, bum cream and mittens? We have it all, come on, let’s go.
Confidence in yourself and knowing that you have done everything possible to be sure of what you are doing is the most important thing, because it will help you to develop strategies for when things do not go as planned.
3. GEAR UP, TOWING IS EASIER THAN CARRYING AND two pull harder thAn one
At first when they are so small that they don’t even walk, for them it’s like going for a stroll and all the benefit of the snowboard outings (besides some fresh air) are for you. And that’s perfectly respectable.
Now, it’s time to buy, search, invent and try everything you can to make your life easier: sleds, strollers with skis, boxes with wheels… whatever you can think of and whatever you have access to to make your life a a little easier and help you spend a little less energy: towing is always easier than carrying weight, but there are times for everything.
4. EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR NEW LIMITS AND DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH ANYBODY, not even with your own
Physical and emotional fatigue will be completely different from what you were used to, but it is part of the game and this is where you have to learn to regulate your energy levels in anticipation of your baby, but without fear. A tantrum on top of the hill is not handled equally with or without fear or with more or less fatigue. The intensity, the how long and the how far is something you need to establish as a team with your baby. And there is no other way to do it than trial and error. What works for some, doesn’t work for others, for a thousand reasons. And what works for you one day may not work the next. Learn from your baby as they grow because he or she is learning from you.
If it doesn’t work, with a little sense of humor and hot chocolate everything seems easier. And if not, go back to the sofa and hide under a blanket.
During this process, the first year and a half or almost two, years I had shorter days than I was used to, and I celebrated achievements that I would have never imagined were important before because I took them for granted, but setting this challenge for myself to continue doing what I like has helped me define the mother I want to be. The worst times when I’ve given up or collapsed are when I’ve compared myself to others, when I’ve told myself I couldn’t do it or when I have compared this experience in the mountains with the ones I used to have before becoming a mother. It’s also part of the game. In the end, tomorrow is another day and we can keep trying.
5. DOCUMENT IT SO YOU CAN LOOK BACK EVERY NOW AND THEN
Even if it’s a quick pic, try to document moments throughout this experience because there will be times when you like to look back and realize how far you’ve come.
This does not mean that you have to become a professional filmmaker or an influencer, also then the focus will no longer be on the experience with your little one but on showing it to the Instagram world. But documenting small moments with a photo, a video, and perhaps a diary will help you assess your efforts, your journey and see the progress of your learning together. To me, these moments fill me with pride and give me the strength to face the new steps, the new challenges and the new «I don’t know what will happen today».
6. Allow yourself to enjoy your own snowboarding, even it it’s just want turn a day
Personally, one of the things that I struggle the most with is being able to going from worrying and being with Pia to enjoying my own snowboarding, especially on days when I only have a run, a few turns or a few minutes. And many times I have more support than I want to admit in friends, my partner or my family, but I feel it is my responsibility to carry the «weight» of Pia and her experience in the mountains. But the more I demand myself, the less I enjoy it and things take a wrong turn much faster. The days I remember smiling and enjoying a few turns for myself, not for anyone else, not even for my daughter, are the days when we all end up with the best memories.