Healthy kids, healthy planet—keep up the great (home) work

All summer you’ve done a bang-up job keeping your family’s water intake up and their thirst levels down! You’ve monitored everyone’s time in the heat and activity levels vs. their water drinking to prevent dehydration. You’ve implemented many of American Water’s hydration tips for the hot weather. Consequently, you and your children have had a pretty healthy, fun-filled summer. Now, your back-to-school and drinking enough water is just as important as making sure they have a backpack with plenty of school supplies! But, having your kids return to school can present some challenges that they can be overcome—quite easily. Here are a few parental tips to help keep good habits happening while your children are at school.

Bling the bottle. Decorate refillable water mugs/bottles to make them more fun and attractive for your child to take out—and, quite possibly “show off”—during the school day.

Check the calendar. Make sure you know which days your children have gym and athletic activities, field days, school assemblies—any unusual activity that will increase their activity levels and, therefore, increase their need for water. Give your child a second water bottle on these days and a morning reminder to “drink more.”  Also be sure to do the same if your child has after-school activities such as band, choir, sports practices or games.

Check the menu. Keep an eye out for cafeteria menu items that tend to dehydrate the body, such as salty foods. Along the same lines, check the menu for times foods are available that can assist hydration—or pack a bag lunch—and encourage children to eat things such as gelatin, melon, cucumber and tomato salads, yogurt or cottage cheese.

Mix it up. While, by far, plain water is the best source of hydration, adding a few drops of flavoring to your child’s water can go a long way to encourage him or her to drink it. Consider including in the backpack a separate bottle of water with a flavor enhancer designated for drinking on the bus home.

Be involved before and after the bell. Start the hydration process at home in the morning by placing a glass of water on your child’s dresser when you wake him or her up for the day. Include hydration-friendly fruits and skim milk at breakfast and for after-school snacks.

Lastly, I always have to throw in reminders about practicing environmentally-friendly activities despite hectic school-year schedules.  Some of my favorite examples include walking your child to the bus stop or to school whenever possible and save the atmosphere from fuel-burning, water-consuming vehicles.  Also, try to limit everyone in the household to 5-minute showers in the morning—you’ll save 2.5 gallons of water for every minute reduction.  Pack school lunches in eco-friendly boxes instead of paper or plastic bags, use silicon lunch packs and utensils, and encourage your children to bring empty food and beverage containers home so they can be washed and reused or properly recycled. Finally, when doing homework with your children, work out problems on dry-erase boards and print or write answers to turn in to the teacher on both sides of the paper to save trees and water. The lessons on keeping children and our planet heathy during the school year are many!