Because of a medical condition, I’ve always had to monitor my hydration and make sure I’m getting enough fluids. Years ago I learned that keeping a carafe of cold water handy in the fridge was a great way to ensure I did. What I didn’t realize was that by doing so I was actually helping my family drink more water. It was a great reminder that the actions and habits you make for yourself can spread to your loved ones, too. The carafe was a good start, but I learned that I can do more to encourage my family to drink more water and start a healthy habit.
Where we live, in California’s Central Valley, summers are H-O-T hot. And they are also very dry. Some years ago during the summer I became very tired of Isobel’s constant demands for water. I certainly didn’t want to discourage her from drinking it so I bought her a special water bottle that was kept on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. She could help herself whenever the mood struck. I solved additional problems (water was left out and became unquenchingly hot, water bottle was lost, water bottle was empty) by buying additional water bottles to nestle in their own little corner of the bottom shelf in the fridge. Then I bought adult water bottles, for Anthony, and when Elias came along, he got his own difficult-to-spill-despite-baby’s-greatest-effort model. I have been using my own lidded water cups that used to keep me company at the circ desk when I worked at the library. These are not kept with the rest of the bottles down below. In fact, I keep them inconveniently on the tallest shelf, because no water is as mouth-wateringly delicious as Mama’s Water, and although I used to offer generous sips to thirsty children, I now need to safeguard my immune system due to medication. My water is quarantined for my own safety. If everyone sticks to their own water bottles we’re also reducing the chance of spreading cold germs around, which was never a big concern of mine until I had kids and experienced the special sort of hell that occurs when the whole family is sick simultaneously.
I’m not exactly sure how many refillable bottles we have. The ones pictured in the photos are just some of our collection, as at any time some are being washed and some are out with Anthony at work, or Isobel at school. One or two is inevitably languishing in our car. I personally have two that I use, we have three adult water bottles that Anthony uses, two for Elias, and Isobel probably has somewhere in the neighborhood of four or five. She loves her cold water so much she rarely wants to drink anything else. And here’s the kicker, it must be cold, or she will be too offended to drink at all. The carafe is still a very important part of our water strategy because, especially during peak summer months, our water bottles are constantly drained dry. And if Isobel’s water bottle isn’t cold enough, it needs to be refreshed with carafe water.
I used to get fancy with my water, adding lemon or lime or cucumber and basil, but the family preferred and drank plain water so much more, that I rarely bother.
We are very lucky that we live in an area with superior ground water. Turlock’s wells are fresh and pure and consistently test better than those in neighboring areas. It tastes fantastic, so we can fill our carafe and bottles of water directly for the tap. My in-laws live just a few towns over, and all of their water must be filtered. It would make this system more difficult, but it is still doable if you have a water service or a filtration system.
The water bottles themselves are super handy to grab as we’re going out the door, and during the heat of the summer I don’t go anywhere without a bottle of water for each kid. Even if it’s just to pick Isobel up from school. By the time we finish our walk back to the car everyone is sweaty and thirsty and no one wants to wait until we get home for a drink. Not even me. Refillable water bottles save a lot of money wasted on bottled water, which is also one of the easiest things you can do to make a difference in the environment. Bottled water is unethical and horrible for the environment. Another benefit of using refillable bottled water around the house is that it prevents cat lickers, a serious problem that used to affect us on a daily basis.
At night I round up the water bottles from all corners of the house and decide which can be refilled and put back in the fridge and which need to be washed. I also refill the carafe so everything is all ready to go in the morning.
The thing to remember if you want to encourage yourself or your family to drink more water is to make it both convenient and appetizing. If the water is waiting for them and ready to go, it will be easy to start a new habit. If it is appetizing, they will look forward to it.