A friend with college/post college aged kids recently shared that she gave her kids 1-2 personal/mental health days off of school a semester/year. One of her theories was that it allowed them to be honest with their parents and not feign illness/symptoms in order to stay home. She also acknowledges that we all need a mental health day from time to time. I’m curious … Do you/have you done this for your kids? Starting at what age? Thoughts/rules surrounding it? I’d love to hear your wisdom on this. Thx!!
Dear Inquiring Mom,
Yes, we’ve done that. We’ve haven’t done it quite as proactively as your friend has…we’ve allowed them as needed rather than stating up front that they get a certain number of personal/mental health days a year. We started in late elementary school with one of our kids. He just needs a break sometimes. He’s very much an introvert and when life gets hard and heavy, he needs a break. Although I will say that his need for personal/mental health days has decreased once we diagnosed and are successfully treating his ADHD.
With our other kids we saw the need in high school sometimes. I do believe, however, that we’ve become more in tune with this need with our younger kids than we did with our older kids. Experience brings about wisdom.
I love how your friend has handled this…particularly for high school/college students. I think doing it proactively, does several things. First, it helps kids tune into their emotional health. Being aware that sometimes we need to step back and take care of ourselves is a life skill we all need. Second, it keeps them from having to be dishonest about needing a break. Without setting up a plan for handling the emotional side of life, we force our kids to use physical ailments to “legitimize” their need for a break.
Your letter has caused Mark and I to talk about this subject again and consider moving it from being something we do reactively to something we do proactively for our boys still at home.
Let’s see what other moms think. Did your parents allow you personal/mental health days when you were a student? Have you ever done this or considered doing this as a mom?