I have observed that when Michael is engaged in a planned activity he is an angel. He is engaged, focused, enthusiastic, and respectful and has a beautiful attention span. When left to his own devices to simply play with the many available toys in his home his behavior starts out fine and spirals downwards towards a hyperactive, attention-seeking, disrespectful mess. I think he is bored. I wish he could independently choose and engage in one of the many activities available to him, but he is just not doing that yet.
Without realizing it, over the past few weeks I have been coping with this behavior by slowly increasing television time to give myself a break. I think it has ultimately been counterproductive. He walks away from the tv even more wound up than before. This week I am going to attempt a detox. We will have little or no tv this week and a significant increase in planned activities.
In order to make the planning manageable I am going to try to hit several types of activities each day: art, physical activity, music, science, reading, and a fine motor focus activity. I will fill in an activity in each of those categories on each at-home day this week.
Today, for example, art is going to be making a collage. I'll give the children scissors, glue, paper, and lots of things to cut and glue onto their paper. This particular art project will be about process rather than product. For a physical activity we will play our run-around-the-circle game (our first floor has a continuous path through all the rooms around a central staircase). I sit in the playroom holding a play golf club about 3-4 inches off the floor and each time they run by they jump over the club. Then to change things up I'll raise it several feet off the floor and they crawl under it. They can keep this up for at least 15 minutes running around the circle a good 30 times. It is great exercise.
For music we will play the piano. For science we are going to try trapping alka seltzer tablets in a small container with a cap and watch the tops pop off. We'll talk about why that happens. We'll have a reading time with as many books as they'll listen to in one sitting. They can usually do that for at least half an hour. For a fine motor activity I'm going to get out the sand on the light box and we'll do a copy the pattern game.
I'm hoping that the plan will keep everyone happily engaged all morning without anyone getting crazy (myself included). Then we'll have lunch followed by nap. Wish me luck.