Sliding past the twisted snowgums of Thredbo’s Cruiser area is fun but I’m ready to show my five-year-old son more of the NSW resort’s terrain. He’s been learning to snowboard for a couple of years now, surely he’s ready for a t-bar, I thought. So, we slide over to Anton’s T-bar, one of my favourite spots on the hill.

We face each other – me in natural stance, him in goofy – and brace ourselves for take-off. The liftie is encouraging and swiftly places the bar in between our legs. It immediately becomes obvious that no, my son is not ready for t-bar riding.

He doesn’t fall off like most beginners though. Instead, the bar lifts him completely off the snow, while simultaneously gouging my knee. Crouched over like a hunchback, I grasp him tight until we reach a traverse, our first opportunity to bail from the track in one piece. My mistake is laughable.

Why I thought a small child could ride a t-bar I have no idea, but that’s the thing about taking little kids to the snow, you don’t know what you’re in for. Some days, you’re dealing with a toddler meltdown over cold fingers; other days you’re sidelined building snowmen on a powder day.

If you’re game to give it a go, read on for our no-holds-barred guide to what to expect on your first, or fifth, family ski trip – and why you’ll keep going back for more.

Your child’s clothes will get soaked

There’s no way out of this one. Whether your child is at stomping-in-slushy-puddles age or snowball fighting stage, there will be at least one item of clothing that ends up drenched. Most likely, it will be their socks, but it could also be the cuffs of their thermals, their fleece or the insides of their mitts.

Tip: Take a change of ski socks (not cheap cotton socks) with you up the hill, left in a locker or your car. Also pack tracksuit pants and a jumper to change into after skiing, if you’re not staying on the slopes.

The upside: Watching your child be mesmerised by this strange, cold substance called snow is the best science lesson you could give them.

Toddler tantrums are unavoidable

That’s right. The best way to prepare for a tantrum in the snow is to simply expect one.

Whether your toddler is at the “terrible twos” stage or “fearsome threes” (as I liked to call it), there will be a time when they get overwhelmed by the weather or frustrated by the new sport they’re being told to try.

Tip: As like all meltdowns, try to be patient and remember your child is in a new, cold environment. Give them a cuddle and go inside for a hot chocolate.

The upside: Hot chocolates with your little one are never a bad idea.

You can forget first to last lifts

In fact, some days you won’t get any runs at all. (I can see your eyes bulging. Hear your gulp.) Yes sirree, snow holidays are no longer about you. Of course, you can always pop your child into a lesson or the on-snow creche – and I highly recommend you occasionally do – but there will still be plenty of waiting around at drop-off and pick-up, and early finishes to your days.

Tip: Accept that anytime on the snow is better than no time. If that’s hard to swallow, book holidays in spring, when the slightly cheaper lift tickets and hotel rates eases the pain of short riding days.

The upside: One day, I promise, it will all be worth it and you’ll (hopefully) have kids who end up skiing and boarding better than you. Hello, future mother-son heli trip.

You can also forget healthy eating – and schnappy hour

If you’re skiing with kids in Australia, chances are your meals will err on the unhealthy side. Of course, there are exceptions – I’m looking at you, Husky Kitchen, Falls Creek – but, as a rule, your mini snow bunnies will be refuelling on hot dogs, burgers and chips.

The sad truth is that family dining is usually found in resorts’ cafeteria-style venues, where kids can be loud and messy. In those places, you’ll have to be content with swapping an apres cocktail for an apres beer.

Tip: Book accommodation with a kitchenette and make healthy breakfasts, as well as the odd hotel-cooked dinner. Raw food platters (carrot sticks with hummus etc) are an easy option for exhausted parents and children.

The upside: The money you save on eating out can go towards the cost of a kids’ lesson, so you can finally ride with your partner with no offspring slowing you down. Remember those days? Also, what parent doesn’t want a night in, reading by a fireplace as their babies turn into angels as they nod off to sleep?

5 real parental fails from one mother's first family ski trip