Why My Kids Are Limited to One Cup Each. Period. (And How That Works)

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When my first daughter was old enough to use a sippy cup, it was easy enough to keep track of it.

Because the cups we used did not leak, and because she wasn’t a good drinker (which created issues), she was allowed to carry her cup around the house with her throughout the day, and usually slept with a cup of water at night.

As life moved forward, there were soon three little mouths to feed, with three different stages of cups. Potty training ensued, and general organization took a down turn. It was clear that our cup situation was not working well.

We were often losing track of them, and we never seemed to have what we needed. We often could not remember who had used which cup most recently, so the dishwasher top rack was always laden with them.

I wanted a change.

But how to make the transition to a new system? What would the solution look like?

Slowly, things began to evolve. We lost almost every sippy cup we had ever owned. I’m still confused as to where they might be, but they’re long gone.

Then, we found and purchased these six little kids cups at IKEA for under $2 (total).

I soon realized that even my two year old was fully capable of drinking from an open cup (after a few weeks of teaching, setting expectations and even disciplining). And what’s more, it was very natural to relegate these open cups to the kitchen.

Problem cups-all-over-the-house solved.

We no longer took them out of the house. We started using drinking fountains more, or waiting. With cups confined to the house, and more specifically the kitchen, we quit losing them.

Problem losing-cups solved.

But I still felt like I was constantly rotating them in and out of the dishwasher –juggling cups and always forgetting who had which colored cup last.

So, I told each of older my children to choose one color to be their personal cup, and I put the other four up high in a cabinet for company. Clara is always purple. Matthew is always green. Now there’s much less washing, because there’s no more confusion. I love it.

When needed, I hand wash the cups, so they’re never detained in the dishwasher.

(I wrote a post on how hand-washing more relieves the burden of washing dishes here.)

Problem washing-too-many-cups solved.

Problem all-the-cups-are-in-the-dishwasher solved.

I love this system! If there is milk left in a cup, it’s placed in the refrigerator, and on the whole they are required to finish it before getting water or another drink.

While there has been some re-training required, this one-cup, drinks-in-the-kitchen-only system has made my life MUCH easier.

If you think this would benefit your home, let me challenge you to give it a trial run!

  • Assign each child one cup
  • Disallow drinks from leaving the kitchen or dinning area

I hope it simplifies your life as it has mine. I’ve heard great reviews from other moms who use a one-cup policy.

How do you keep your dish situation as simple as possible?

Do you ever wonder how some women make running a home look so natural?

I certainly have!

However, after many years of watching my friends who do this well, and after much trial and error, I’ve boiled it all down to 3 essential daily habits. With these 3 habits in place, a home can function pretty well! Without them, it will be perpetual catchup.

While I used to feel like a failure as a homemaker, I know feel a sense of success and satisfaction.

I’d love to share these 3 simple (secret) daily habits with you. If you focus your energy into establishing them, I believe you will achieve the same breakthrough in your homemaking that I did.

Can I share my secrets with you?

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  1. Elsie says:

    I’m definitely going to do this with my kids someday! Growing up, I was yellow, if I remember correctly(:

  2. Alana Lumsden says:

    My children have drink bottles of water in the fridge at all times and my three and four year olds help themselves and my one year olds gets left on the play table and then when they have juice or milk they get one cup that goes in the sink when there done.

  3. Becky Brown says:

    When my big kids were little (they are now 15&13). They were allowed 1 cup of their choice a for the day. They were responsible to remember their cup and it stayed in the kitchen. They now teach their friends this rule when they come over. We get funny looks sometimes but the guest friends all comply.

  4. Susan says:

    We have the smaller Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottles with the sport cap that they take to school or have in the car – with water only (we live in CO where it’s very dry and everyone carries at water bottle all the time).

    My kids (now 5 and 7) have been drinking out of open cups or these bottles since they were about 13 months old (I’m not a fan of plastic sippy cups AT ALL).

    I use the smaller IKEA glasses for my kids at meal times (very durable; the only time we broke one was when I dropped it) but I love the idea of a different colored one for each to cut down on the dishes – maybe I’ll swing by the thrift store this afternoon and see what I can find. I do also have some rubber bracelets, so that’s another option.

    Our fridge often fills with half-drunk glasses of milk that no one claims, so this will cut down on waste, too!

  5. Lindsay says:

    I have 2 cups for my 4 year old and 2 cups for my 2 year old, and they get a fresh one every day, with the old one going in the dishwasher. They are required to keep them in the kitchen/dining room area except in special circumstances or going to town (we bring them along in their cup holders). They get water in their cups to drink.

    If they get juice or milk, it’s at meal times, and the cup stays at the table or in the fridge if they don’t finish it. Juice or milk goes in smaller cups than their water cups so I know the little ones shouldn’t be left out.

    We rarely lose cups this way (and we always find them quickly) and always have a clean one every morning. Plus, having different styles for different kids means it’s easy to remember whose is whose.

    • That is so smart Lindsay! I may be re-imagining my system in the coming months as it is still new. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Lindsay says:

      I should also mention that taking their water cups to town with us makes sure they don’t get thirsty, we don’t have to worry about finding water fountains (they’re hard to find sometimes – not everyone has one any more), and if we go out to eat, they can drink their water instead of us having to order a drink for them (which is both expensive and usually full of sugar).

  6. Julia says:

    My kids are middle school age now, but I was really tired of finding half finished glasses of drink and having way too many glasses to wash. There are only 4 people living here! I went to Walmart and bought some of those rubber bracelet/band things and assigned each person a color, then placed them on the drinking glasses. Now when I find a half-finished drink, I know who it belongs to. It’s easier for me to keep up with my own glass as well. It’s cut down on the dishwashing somewhat.

  7. I’m definitely going to give this a try. I’ve found more lost/forgotten cups of milk than I’d care to admit 😉

  8. I keep telling my husband that I LOVE the transition from sippy cups to regular cups. They are so much easier to clean and keep track of. All of my kids use them now (5, 4, 2). We don’t do a color-coded system, because really I run the dishwasher enough. My husband and I drink from mason jars and my kids often drink from half-pint mason jars too. It’s either that or a simple set of blue cups from Target. I am all about easy too!

  9. Nurah says:

    That is a really great idea. I hope to try with my little obes

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