As a stay at home dad, nearly every place I go I'm taking my kids. Like crab baskets towing behind the boats in Deadliest Catch, I'm moving through grocery store aisles, library atriums, and doctor's office parking lots. Because these children are three and five, they are not able to physically walk anywhere. They must skip, hop, jump, dance, or pretend they are flying. They are basically sprites. During these dance/hop/arm-waving productions, a stranger will always say something about how energetic they are. "Boy, I wish I had that kind of energy." is the most frequent refrain. I feel the same way some days, but not all the time, not as often as I get the comment from people. How do my kids have this energy then? Is it the CliffBars in our pantry? What does it take to have that kind of energy? This is what I've uncovered.
A) 10 Hours Sleep
On a regular basis my kids get 10 hours of sleep every night. Some nights they get more than this, other nights they get less. They wind down at night with a few books, then we take them to bed. There they lay until they fall asleep and rejoin their fellow imaginary fairies.
B) A diet of fruit, oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches, and Halloween candy
That's pretty much what my daughter eat day in and day out. Yesterday alone, between the two of them, they ate 3 bananas, 2 apples, 1/4c pomegranate seeds, 1/4c raisins, 5 strawberries, 1/2c blueberries. They also had nuts beyond the peanut butter. Even if we let them binge on Halloween candy they would stop themselves before they got sick.
C) They eat and drink as much as they feel hungry for
My wife and I have boarded the progressive parenting bandwagon for Healthy Eating City, and we never make them finish anything. I take that back, if they want some dessert immediately after dinner, they have to finish whatever vegetable was served. But beyond that they stop eating when they get full. There are no threats of starving children in the world and no plates that must be cleaned.
D) They are curious and imaginative
Everything in the world is interesting to them. We have toys strew all over our house, but just the humble blanket can serve as a good toy. In the last week our living room blankets have been; capes, tents, picnic blankets, a queen's robe, a magic carpet, a swaddling blanket for a dog from Ikea, a swaddling blanket for baby Jesus, and just a blanket to nap under. Their view from four feet is magical.
E) They do fun things
School is still fun for them. They get to see friends, color, and laugh at their teacher's jokes. They get to make popcorn in the middle of the day and watch Magic School Bus videos. At home they play with toys, look at books themselves, and have books read to them. They go to children's time at church and get the condensed version along with a glass of milk and donut. They run, climb, and jump around outside.
F) They have no habits
Most days they get up and immediately have breakfast, but sometimes they want to read books or play games instead. They don't sit down on the couch after dinner to watch television. They don't eat lunch at a certain time, again only when they are hungry for it. They don't spend anytime on the computer and only a bit on the iPad. They just do things as the need arises.
G) They laugh, a lot
Anything butt gets a huge laugh from them. Ditto for underwear.
None of these things are hard to accomplish, I mean, this post was about how a three year old does it. She doesn't have bills to pay or things to worry about, but I'm not sure that would cause her this distress. What does worrying do? Should she worry about a lost toy, no she'll look for it, then find another.
That then, is how to have the energy of a five year old. Eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full. Be curious and fill your life with fun things. Laugh a lot, especially about bodily functions.