It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Motivational Mary

water“Drink up, guys!”

I am a Water Hardass. By the time a child is two, I am expecting them to drink an appropriate amount of water. No juice at Mary’s. Water. Even milk takes second place, because I serve other dairy products routinely and I know they all get all the milk they need at home.

Water is important, but because it’s essentially flavourless, kids raised on the too-sweet North American diet tend to turn their little button noses up at it.

Not here, they don’t. They have to drink half their daily allotment before they get morning and afternoon snack. (At lunch, they have the option of water or milk, in whatever amount they like — including none at all.) With this as the expectation, motivation has to be provided.

“When your water’s all gone, you can have your apple slices. Good job, Timmy! You can have one, two, three apple slices!”

(Appropriate amount of water? Take the child’s body weight in pounds, divide that by two. They should consume that many ounces of water in a day. Of course, there is water in milk and in soups, etc., but I’m trying to engender the healthy habit of drinking water.)

“I’m the fastest drinker!” Timmy is Very Proud.

“You are a fast drinker, but you know what? I know someone who’s even faster!” (Motivation!)

Anna and Emily slurp diligently at their bottles, each assuming I’m talking about them. Timmy is finished. They are not. I know. But hope springs eternal in the toddler breast. Not a whole lot of rationality, but lots and lots of hope.

“You know who?”

No, they don’t. Slurp, slurp, slurp.

“ME! Watch this!”

I fill my pint glass (yes, I drink water from a beer glass; Boddington’s, today). “See how BIG it is?” (A draft pint is 20 ounces. You all know that, right? Sure puts the average water glass in the shade. This is a glass for SERIOUS (water) drinkers.)

The girls giggle and slurp.

I lift it, I take a dramatic deeeeeeep breath, and …

… finish that sucker off in about eight large gulps.

The children are suitably impressed. Slurpslurpslurp.

I open my mouth, and let forth the Mother of all Belches. Long, loud and deep.

The children are REALLY impressed. All slurping stops for an astonished moment.

“And when YOU can drink a REALLY BIG glass of water THAT fast, YOU’LL be able to do that, too!”

The girls slurp as if their little lives depend upon it. Timmy tugs my sleeve.

“Can I has some more water, Mary?”

Their parents will be so proud, I’m sure…

November 6, 2008 - Posted by | food, health and safety, manners, Mischief | , , , , , ,


  1. definitely need to work on this with my little guy…the water drinking, not the belching! good motivator, though!

    The kids liked it…

    Comment by Dana | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  2. My whole family needs to drink more…

    My husband and I do fine; my teens, less so. They do know that any headaches they get are almost certainly the result of dehydration, though, and are as likely to reach for a glass of water as a pill. So that’s good!

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  3. This is great – I know we drink a fair bit here – but I need to try and motivate more. Thanks for the tips!

    You’re welcome. I used to do something with my eldest that I could probably not in good conscience recommend to others (but it worked for us!): “magic juice”. Magic juice, you see, was water, and she got to choose the colour her “juice” would be from the four vials of food colouring. One drop into the glass, and — ta-dah! — green or red or blue or yellow “magic juice”. Yup. Food colouring, straight up… Water was much more interesting when it was coloured. I don’t know how long we did this, but it worked to get her switched from juice to water. I learned my lesson from her: the other two didn’t get juice at all until the water habit was established.

    Comment by Anita Kaiser | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  4. I need to get my younger one to drink more water. He will drink it, but he prefers milk. My DH complains that the kids always want water in the car – no matter how short a trip. My fault, I’m sure – I always have it.

    My 12 yo, I have to try to get him to drink juice – OJ with calcium, because he doesn’t drink milk. So 4-6 oz of OJ in the morning and then water the rest of the day. Water is ALL he wants to drink.

    My mom did “fancy milk” with me, adding color (and sugar at first) to the milk when I only wanted juice. Then dropping the sugar and keeping the color.

    My kids are not huge milk drinkers — but they love smoothies, which thye make from (home-made!) plain yoghurt and fruit, all pureed in the blender. Sometimes we add a tablespoon of liquid calcium supplement. A couple of those and that’s their dairy and their fruit for the day, with no added sugar or colouring.

    “Fancy milk” sounds pretty much like my “magic juice”. When it comes to their kids’ health, mothers do what mothers must!

    Comment by Katherine | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  5. My youngest is a water FIEND! Has loved water since the first time he tried it. In fact, at one point I was worried about him because he drank SO MUCH of it! He’s been tested, though, and he’s fine. He doesn’t drink milk though (usually), so it’s really his only liquid. No juice for my kids, except as a treat at parties.

    We keep a sippy cup of water beside each kids bed, as well as having water around all the time. They are good at asking, too.

    Your youngest is UNUSUAL! but you probably know that. I see the occasional tot who quite likes water and will drink sensible amounts without being prompted (Nigel was one such), but they’re the exception.

    I always have a glass of water beside my bed. Hate waking with an ick mouth and no sip at hand!

    Comment by Naomi (Urban Mummy) | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  6. I think that it’s great you can give the children a choice at lunch. I’m required by the food program to serve milk at breakfast and at lunch. Whole milk for all children under 2 unless there’s a doctor’s note. Children over two can have 1% or 2%. I don’t buy juice at all. However, it seems that there is always a parent in the group that I continually have to send back out the door with a cupful of juice in the morning. I will do this until the parent finally figures out that the juice will not pass the front entry. I do explain to all parents when they interview that I do not serve juice to the children. Real fruit is better than juice.

    I agree totally: Fruit is better than juice, for a bunch of good reasons. My parents don’t send cups with the kids, which is great.

    I don’t serve them breakfast, except on rare occasions, so the only meal I worry about milk is at lunch. If I knew a child wasn’t getting any dairy at home, I’d give them it at lunch — if, that is, it wasn’t because parents have health concerns about dairy. Are you required to serve milk even if the parents ask you not to?

    Comment by Theresa | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  7. I’m a beer-glass water drinker too, but for now, all of my pint glasses are puny “American” pint glasses. So, I found some 30oz acrylic cups that we use for water (and smoothie) glasses around here. Shazaaaam. Three of those, and I’ve more than done my water for the day. (Wish it were only two, but eh.)

    BTW, when I hit the end of the post and the belch (and Timmy’s response), I just about fell over. Love it.

    I don’t particularly love drinking water, but I love feeling hydrated, so I probably down five or six of those pints in a day. Room temperature, gulped down every time.

    Yeah. Mary’s not always so prim and proper. Once in a while I let you all know that. 🙂

    Comment by Allison | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  8. Bahaha, nothing amuses like explosive bodily functions.

    What I find funny (strange) is how we have to “train” kids to drink water. When you consider that water is nearly 98% of our physical make up, you’d think it would be a natural thing.

    Also, I remember reading somewhere that dehydration can often be misinterpreted as hunger and, assuming your child is generally eating properly, you should offer them a glass of water first before offering them food.

    Have you heard this?

    Yes, I have, though I heard it in the context of adult diets — often we think we’re hungry when really, we’re thirsty, and we should have a glass or two of water, then wait half an hour, and see if we’re still ‘hungry’. With that understanding, it seemed reasonable to me to ensure the children drank water first.

    Comment by Zayna | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  9. Much your like place Mary, at my sons childcare centre, you must provide a drink bottle for your child filled with water. They will not allow you to bring juice or any other drink.
    My son has never had any problem drinking water, he has a straw-cup with him all day long and will drink it without prompting. An excellent habit that his mother has yet to acquire!!
    Will have to convert your formula to kilos and millilitres to see if he’s getting enough water!

    If he drinks like that, I’d bet that he’s almost certainly getting enough water. Maybe you should approach it like I do — medicinally. I enjoy feeling hydrated; I do not enjoy feeling thirsty (and I think, probably because of years of diligent water-drinking, I have a better idea when I’m thirsty than most). But I don’t sip water for pleasure. I keep a pint glass by the water filter, and every couple of hours, I fill that thing and toss it back. Medicinal. A woman I know fills a container in the morning with her day’s allotment, and makes sure she empties it by evening. Another good strategy.

    Comment by Tammy | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  10. In answer to your question I’m required to serve milk at breakfast and at lunch unless there is doctor’s note on file with the food program.

    A doctor? A parent’s note isn’t sufficient? Wow. Well, at least that makes the expectations clear with everyone.

    Comment by Theresa | November 6, 2008 | Reply

  11. Good for you, Mary 🙂 When I visited North and South America, folks could not understand why I drank so much water! And I couldn’t understand why they didn’t any LOL

    Btw, u r good at what u do!!!

    Thank you. What really, really baffles me is people who drink pop instead of water. Bleah. Doesn’t matter to me if it’s got sugar in it or not, it’s so sweet — it couldn’t possibly be truly thirst-quenching. And unhealthy? Take a perfectly healthy thing like water, and stuff it full of additives and colouring? Bleah.

    Comment by KittyCat | November 10, 2008 | Reply

  12. My sister-in-law doesn’t give her son water because then he’ll need his diaper changed more often.

    Which mightn’t be as bad as it sounds, depending on his age and stage of development. Strictly bread-fed babies don’t need water, except perhaps on very hot days. How old is he? Is he still strictly breast- or bottle-fed, or has he moved on to table foods?

    Comment by Erin | November 10, 2008 | Reply

  13. We don’t do juice in our house – in part, I think, because my mother only bought “Juicy Juice” for her kids when we were young and we all HATED it (canned juice, disgusting). But we were all huge water drinkers, because we had the sweetest-tasting well water you could find. I’m still a water lover, decades later, and am happy to say my toddler loves water as well (although that’s probably just because there’s nothing else to drink here except milk). I always find it weird that so many other people drink juice because they think it’s “healthy;” I know someone who claims that he gave up sugary snacks and drinks 40 years ago but he drinks about a quart of juice a day. Talk about denial!

    I’ve never seen the need for juice. There’s milk, there’s water, and, if you want the taste of apples or oranges or peaches, there are (imagine!) apples and oranges and peaches!! Much more filling, more fibre and vitamins, and fewer calories per serving.

    Comment by Kiera | November 10, 2008 | Reply

  14. Once again, there you go prattling on again, torturing me with the reality that The Perfect Daycare is on the wrong edge of the coasts, and in another country.

    When will the torture end?

    My daughter learned that trick with seltzer water – more bang for your slurp – and WHO do you think taught her that?

    Oh yeah.

    You make me laugh. Yeah, I think we’d get along just fine. Earnest Mommies do not teach their children to belch. (And look at all the fun they miss out on!)

    Comment by gwendomama | November 11, 2008 | Reply

  15. Brillent. I don’t do “juice” either- I’d rather serve and the kid’s really enjoy real fruit more. I use the klean kanteens too…LOVE ‘EM. I’m not proud, but I must tell you…you can run over them with your car and they look good as new. It’s un-canny. ( HAHA Punny.)

    Comment by Coley Moley!! | November 29, 2008 | Reply

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