A few weeks ago I was putting my daughter to bed and before I left her room she told me she felt sad. I asked her what was making her sad, and she didn’t know. She said she was just feeling sad a lot and didn’t know why. The next day when she woke up she was grumpy and complained about everything, I took her to school and nicely asked her to try her best that day, and told her that she could rest when she got home.
When I picked her up later, my usually happy, silly, kid immediately started picking on her younger brother in the car. By the time we drove the three miles home she was in tears and ran to her room. I gave her some space, but I could tell she needed a break.
I love that mental health days are becoming more of a normal thing for adults. Sometimes, we’re too stressed with deadlines, and meetings and just the regular day-to-day to function. Taking even just one day away from everything in the middle of a week to decompress can be amazing for our minds and body.
So, why can’t we give the same grace to our kids?
I remember as a student being so upset when I would miss a day of school, even if I was sick because I wanted the Perfect Attendance Award. Don’t ask me why, but I was just so amazed that there were kids who managed to make it to school every day! They were a mystery to me that I would never solve. I never received the Perfect Attendance Award, and I hope my kids never feel like they need to strive for it.
The next day when my daughter woke up, I made her breakfast and let her sit down and watch cartoons. I told her she didn’t have to go to school that day, and that we could do whatever she wanted (within reason). She smiled brightly and gave me a hug. It was like the stress was already melting off her shoulders. She spent the day watching junk TV, playing in the backyard, and coloring in her room. She played nicely with her brother, and they even picked where to go to lunch together. By the end of the day, she fell asleep before I could even go into her room to tell her goodnight. After a good night’s rest, she went to school the next day with a smile on her face.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget as adults that we’re not the only ones who are stressed and overworked. We all need time to just do nothing and relax. I want my kids to realize that I’m here not just to make sure that their physical health is taken care of, but their mental health too.