Hydration is important. Staying well hydrated helps kids keep focused at school (and grown-ups at work), helps transports nutrients where they need to be, cushions your joints, and helps keep you from becoming tired and irritable. Water is the best choice - and while it's a myth that you require 8-10 glasses a day, it's important to have a steady intake.
I admit I rarely drink as much water as I should - partly because plain water can be boring. With the kids growing up and requesting more pop and fizzy drinks, I was happy to take a SodaStream for a spin - and now I'm not sure how we got along without one.
Sodastreams make sparkling water in about 30 seconds, just by pressing the button on top - kids of course love this, and love being in charge of making their own fizzy drinks when their friends are over. I generally don't drink carbonated water, but have plenty of friends who do - and it's nice to have this machine on hand rather than try to remember to stock up on Perrier. And I love that you get a sturdy plastic bottle to use over and over, so we can have sodas and fizzy punches without adding to the recycling bin. Although they do have flavoured syrups available, it's so easy to make your own and control exactly what goes into them - I like tart, tangy drinks, so I can control the amount of sugar we use, too.
To make a flavoured simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves, which should take under a minute. To flavour the syrup, add ingredients such as sliced fresh ginger, grated lemon, orange or lime zest, fresh herbs such as basil or mint, whole cinnamon sticks or star anise, or extracts such as vanilla, maple, mint - really, any kind you can think of. Even good quality loose leaf tea, such as Earl Grey, makes a tasty syrup. Let the syrup cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve if there are any solids to get rid of, and store in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Or with spring coming, you could make brilliant pink rhubarb syrup. You’ll need some rhubarb, fresh or frozen - the red stuff is best. Chop it up and add about as much sugar, or slightly less, than you have rhubarb. Cover it with water and bring to a simmer. It will turn soft and mushy, at which point scrape it into a fine sieve set over a bowl and strain it. You’ll wind up with something that resembles the juice from a maraschino cherry jar but tastes far better.
Of course fruit syrups can be made out of virtually any juicy fruit - if you have an abundance of berries (lucky you!) raspberry or blackberry syrup is divine. And of course you could combine flavours - rhubarb and ginger, for example, or vanilla and thyme. Once you have an endless supply of sparkling water, the flavour options are just as endless!
* Thanks to SodaStream for sending me a machine to fall in love with!