I Allow My Kids to Have a Mental Health Day When Needed

Mental health is a topic you hear about often in the news. And for good reason. It seems more and more kids these days struggle with topics ranging from stress management to bullying to anxiety. And thanks to social media, things are only getting worse.

Homework, extracurricular activities, making time for friends. It all gets heavy. It’s hard on parents who have to taxi kids around, but even more so for our kids, who do not have the mental capacity to always deal with issues they are confronted with on a daily basis.

My children are still young and as their mother, I know when they need a break. I’m a firm believer that taking a break from life is good for the soul, no matter what age you are. I can make the judgment call when I feel like they need a day to just veg out. If my oldest tells me she is too tired to attend dance class one day out of the week, I’ll let her miss it. Sometimes it is important to allow kids to be lazy. Sure, these activities are expensive but they aren’t getting anything out of their sports or dance classes when they are exhausted. And sometimes weekends and holidays just aren’t enough.

I have learned that kids get burnt out just like the rest of us. I know that my oldest child loves school and going from activity to activity so when she starts to show signs of fatigue, I know it’s not laziness. Pressure starts to mount at an early age it just gets worse as the kids get older. The pressure to get good grades, to juggle test schedules and projects due on the same day. And it’s not just school – there’s pressure outside of school to succeed at dance and sports and keep up with friends. It can come to a head sometimes and that’s when I let her enjoy a day off of school and activities to recharge.

My younger daughter seems to take after me with respect to being a homebody. While she loves her school once she is more prone to anxiety. She doesn’t have the stamina that her older sister has to constantly be on the go. Many times out of the week I have remind her how many days she has left until she is home for the weekend.

Since she is in an all-day preschool, she is still learning the basics, including socialization. She is also only 4-years-old and can be quite dramatic. And so I will let her stay home with me if her sister has a half-day or no school. I don’t send her if I’m home. Since I work part-time, there have been several days throughout the year when I allow her to do this. And it benefits her…and me.

They both have many years of school ahead of them and I know it is important to encourage children to have good attendance. My oldest daughter doesn’t like to miss class even when she’s sick. And I know her sister will eventually follow in her footsteps. But while learning and following rules are important, sometimes playing hooky and vegging out is just as important. Kids need to know that their well-being and mental health is something they need to nourish. And as parents must guide them. Perfect attendance shouldn’t come at the cost of mental health.

My mom used to let me play hooky once in a while when I was a kid. I have vague memories of just vegging on the couch to watch TV. I never had to lie and pretend to be sick because I learned at an early age, even when schedules weren’t as packed as they are today, that balance is the key to success. A few days here and there won’t mean that they won’t get in to the college of their choice or impact how far they will go in their careers.

When was the last time your kids took well needed break?

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