It's great having children; they give you unconditional cuddles, wrinkle their noses in a really cute way and have dimples on their bums... all of which can make you forget that they land you with a crippling financial burden for at least twenty years, are advanced sleep-deprivation agents that make Red Bull look like Camomile tea, and will really, really mess up your snowboard holidays for the best part of a decade.
If you have reconciled yourself to the downsides of procreation, and have embarked on the long and arduous journey towards making your kids competent snowboarders, you have to face up to the prospect of kitting them out.
"Here are some pointers on buying gear, now that I have made it out the other side and have three kids who can shred better than me"
There's a pretty strong argument for renting gear in the early years; the kids grow so fast that you'll inevitably be changing kit every season, and buying stuff just creates more shit for you to hump around airports or fill up the car with... but this ignores a couple of important points.
Firstly, if you have multiple kids you can get good value from your gear by handing it down. We had three little toe-rags, and between them they squeezed every last ounce of life out of the gear we bought, which saved us money in the long run. Secondly, and definitely more importantly, it's fun buying little snowboards and they look really cool on your garage wall.
Here are some pointers on buying gear, now that I have made it out the other side and have three kids who can shred better than me.
Consider Their Ability Level
It used to be the case that all kids' boards were beginners' boards. They were all super soft, spoon-like buttery sticks that were mainly designed with avoiding edge-catching in mind. A face plant to scorpion will crush your kid's stoke levels faster than finding a poo in your snowboard boot after a big night out (this happened once, and it actually made my boots smell better), so this design principle was understandable.
Nowadays, there are way more options, which has become a necessity since we now have eight-year-olds who can casually drop double backies between hits on the Haribo bong. Not all kids are beginners.
If your kid is starting to shred age four, then they are going to need something very different than if they are eight and have already done a couple of mountain trips. Basically, go softer and noodlier the smaller/earlier they are in their learning curve (the Burton Chopper is a good option here). If they have already got some skills, then something stiffer to handle speed will be needed (check out the Jones Discovery, or Prodigy).
"Cranking someone else's bindings requires a lot of love, especially when doing it for the 32nd time that day"
Avoid Complicated Fiddly Stuff
This is less about snowboarding proficiency as their general level of doing stuff for themselves.
Complicated binding systems, or bindings that are tricky to put on and off will cause you a world of pain. If your kids are generally a bit feeble, and like to have stuff done for them (all of mine fell into this category for extended periods) then make sure you get gear that is super-simple to adjust and do up.
Cranking someone else's bindings requires a lot of love, especially when doing it for the 32nd time that day. Anything with single buckles gets my vote here. When doing a recent gear test, we found there were some genuinely rubbish bindings that were a nightmare to crank up, so make sure you get your hands on a pair and feel them out before splashing the cash.
Also, avoid boots with laces. I would always go for a Boa system for kids. Honestly, it's just way less effort in the mornings. No seven-year-old in the world can do up snowboard boots with laces, but with the Boa they can sort out their own shit whilst you are still eating breakfast croissants with almond paste and watching Robot Food videos on your iPhone.
Buy The Right Size
My mum used to buy my school uniform two sizes too big, so it would last. I just ended up looking like someone who had discovered grunge ten years before it was a thing and it was a constant trip hazard (and that was just the sleeves). Don't do this.
Firstly, your kid will look like a douchebag (which reflects badly on you). Secondly, it will massively impair their progress, which just elongates the period during which you can't snowboard fast (which is also bad).
It would actually make more sense to have another child than buy over-sized gear. Unless of course you like people laughing at your progeny, watching them break their ankles, and barely being able to turn their board for three years.
Get Stuff They Like The Look Of
If they like it, your life is a lot easier. What a six-year-old girl wants may not be something you would choose, but that literally doesn't matter (NB: if you haven't already realised that what you think counts for jack shit once you have kids, then there are some bigger lessons to be learned first).
Tempting though it is to buy a snowboard as a surprise Christmas present, it can quickly turn sour when the skull and monster graphics don't go down well with your daughter. Try speaking to your kids about what they want - this can actually be useful input (once you have discounted the requests for hover boards, unicorn wings or laser beams).
"If you haven't already realised that what you think counts for jack shit once you have kids, then there are some bigger lessons to be learned first"
Look At What's Tried And Tested
When doing the recent gear test I was surprised by how experimental the brands were being with kids' shapes. This is not a good idea.
You don't want anything funky that could compromise progression. A simple board shape, without weird rocker/camber hybrids and without double sidecut radii, will give you confidence that if things aren't going to plan, it's down to the kid and not the gear. It's much less easy for them to blame you for their struggles along the progression journey (which they will do, repeatedly) if they've got something 'normal'.
And you really don't want to be having second thoughts about what you've bought the kids at the top of a red run stacked with moguls. If they go into meltdown, you can tell them to suck it up, totally guilt-free.
Yes, if you had used an effective birth control method, you wouldn't need to be doing all this... but protection in this sense is all about wrists and knees (I am assuming that you have already realised your kid needs a helmet).
Wrist guards are a must; just make sure you buy gloves that are big enough to go over the top), and knee pads will make a massive difference in the first couple of weeks. Watching my kids' eyes well up with tears after they slipped out on a toe edge and landed on their knees on an icy piste was heartbreaking. Don't go breaking my heart.
"Stuff breaks, and trying to find a random little screw for a broken binding is a quick way to ruin a holiday"
Look For What's Widely Available
Stuff breaks, and trying to find a random little screw for a broken binding in a resort where none of the shops stocks the brand you've bought, is a quick way to ruin a holiday. Better to go with brands that are widely available and thus easy to get spares for.
Even better to go with brands that make stuff that lasts. But, based on my experience of my binding-breaking munchkins, I would say that nothing is indestructible, so playing it safe will be worth it.
So, follow the above rules and you have a chance of getting through the pain of the early years without breaking your kids' legs or confidence, or melting your credit card. If none if the above advice works out, you could just steal stuff, work for a snowboard brand and get freebies, or become a banker or internet millionaire.
But never, ever let them ski. Better to go to jail for theft than one day seeing your kids wanting to wear salopettes that go up their bum, being casually racist about Eastern Europeans and asking for a second bottle of rosé at lunchtime.