I am constantly filling up our water jug—I’d say about twice daily, the kids will shout from the kitchen: “Mom! We’re out of water again!” I’ll drag the emptied container out of the fridge, refill it from the kitchen sink, and slug it back on the reachable fridge shelf.
We’re are an 80/20 family. Kyle and I feel that if we feed our kids (and ourselves) 80 percent healthy, whole, quality foods, every now and then, we can treat ourselves with a 20 percent dessert or snack. In other words—we advocate healthy eating to our kids, but we don’t demonize the occasional sweet.
However, there’s one area where we’ve pretty much exclusively stuck to the ultimate health food/substance/whatever: water. From day one, our kids have drunk almost nothing but water, so it’s just not weird to them.
Here’s how we make sure our kids stay hydrated throughout the day with good old H2O.
1. We make it easy for them to get their own.
Read: the water dispenser above. This is a simple, affordable container with a lever spigot we keep in the fridge, and the kids are allowed to get their own drink whenever they want. Even the two-year-old. (Update: our youngest is now four, and we still use this.)
Yes, this means messes. But it’s only water, and I’d rather have to soak up a nonstick puddle over constantly getting up to get them more water. And I love that this fosters independence.
When we lived in Austin, the water was much harder and you could taste the additives. A Brita pitcher helped solve this problem—simple, regular refills from the sink, and we had clean water in the fridge at all times.
2. There’s nothing else to drink…
Tate will occasionally ask if we can get orange juice as a special breakfast treat, but I think we do this about twice a year. The rest of the time, it’s just water and milk, and even the latter is mostly a cooking ingredient, not a beverage.
It makes life pretty easy when the kids have no other options save water. It’s all they’ve known from day one, so they’ve never really complained about it.
3. …But we’ll make the occasional special drink pretty special.
Once in a blue moon, we’ll let Tate have an Italian soda at home (we love our Soda Stream), but we rarely drink anything but bubbly water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice.
When it’s Italian soda time, we pull down the syrups from the top of the pantry, mix it in a pretty six-ounce glass with a straw, and fill it with plenty of ice. And we each only get one.
Update: We now do this with fruit slices or purée. We didn’t dig the dyes in syrups.
4. They take sealed water bottles to bed.
From the crib to the full-size twin bed, our kids have always had water bottles near their beds. We don’t emphasize drinking a ton during the night, but it’s there if they need it.
Update: Our kids are now all potty-trained, and this hasn’t caused any bed-wetting. It took our six-year-old awhile, but he’s fine now.
5. They also take them when we leave the house.
Shoes on? Check. Diaper bag? Check. Books to read in the car? Check. Water bottles? Check.
We rarely leave the house without water bottles, which means almost no complaints of thirst. It saves us tons of money on needless drive-throughs, not to mention a significantly-reduced sugar intake. If we’re gone all day, we’ll even add a larger water dispenser to the back of the car, and refill as needed.
Overall, we just make sure drinking water is a normal part of the day. The grownups do it, so the kids do it, too. We don’t constantly preach the evils of soda or juice (but we’ll remind them of their lack of nutrition if the topic is breached)—we just drink water. It’s a non-issue, really.
How about your family? Is it hard to convince your kids to only drink water? Or is it just how things are in your home?