Photo: Kristin Van de Water

We all know getting out the door with little kids underfoot is an endeavor on an ordinary day. Preparing for a ski day with four kids under six, however, calls for a whole new level of parenting dexterity—and especially the determination to push through the craziness.

Getting my family geared up, outside and onto the ski slope is a whole lot of journey for a (thankfully) incredible mountainside destination. When I get bogged down in the process and wonder, “Is it really worth it?”

I just tell myself, “Yes” and keep moving through the steps. Any of these sound familiar? (Number 21, anyone?)

  1. Wake up and rejoice that it’s Saturday—my day to sleep in!
  2. Roll over and realize that it’s a ski weekend, so I do actually have to get up.
  3. Dish up and eat somewhere between 6 and 12 bowls of cereal.
  4. Brush six sets of teeth.
  5. Explain to my four-year-old that, no, she can’t stay by herself while the rest of the family goes skiing. And yes, that means get ready now.
  6. Make a note to invite friends along whose kids will motivate mine to ski.
  7. Turn thermals right-side out and squint at rubbed-off labels to decipher whose is whose.
  8. Search high and low for missing mittens, only to discover 10 minutes later that they are already clipped onto my son’s jacket.
  9. Pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into jacket pockets, knowing they will inevitably get squished and that you will end up eating them while the kids dig M&Ms out of your trail mix.
  10. Stock pockets with Kleenex and granola bars.
  11. There are too many bodies and too much gear around, so send husband ahead to take your toddler to daycare at the mountain, drop off skis and poles by the lodge and pick up lift tickets.
  12. Smear on sunscreen and Chapstick so no one looks like Rudolph at the end of the day.
  13. Convince kids to use the bathroom before climbing into snow bibs.
  14. Throw ski socks in the dryer after they get wet while washing hands.
  15. Shove kids’ feet into boots. Adjust buckles at least three times because they are too tight, too loose and lopsided.
  16. Stretch goggles over helmets without flinging them across the room.
  17. When husband returns, tuck ski passes into jacket pockets and pray they stay there.
  18. Zip up jackets for those who mitten-clad hands leave them helpless.
  19. Take off neck warmers because now they are too hot. Tuck them into your ski jacket because of course they will get cold later. Throw in an extra thermal top just in case.
  20. Send the kids outside to cool off while you take 60 seconds tops to use the bathroom and gear up.
  21. Open the door to discover your kids are sopping wet from stomping and digging around in two feet of snow.
  22. Take off your layers as now you are overheating. Strip off the kids’ wet bibs, socks and mittens and put into the dryer. Dump clumps of snow out of boots.
  23. Establish new rule: no playing in the snow.
  24. Feel like a grinch. Update rule: Make sure the elastic on your snow pants is covering your boots so the snow can’t get in.
  25. “I’m hungry!” How is it already snack time?
  26. Pray for patience.
  27. Brush teeth again.
  28. Potty checks again.
  29. Suit up again.
  30. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that skiing is a life skill and the fresh air will do everyone good.

And, hopefully, someday you will enjoy glorious ski vacations with your future grandkids because of the craziness you push through today—even if today only amounts to one run.