Yesterday the kids woke up drained. With school and sporting activities, their little bodies were exhausted and their tired minds were on auto-pilot. 

So, instead of dragging their cranky pants to school like I usually do, I called in a sick day.

They could stay at home. But only on three conditions:

  1. They didn’t bother me.
  2. They didn’t use the phrase “I’m bored” once.
  3. And, they took care of each other and their baby sister.

I called it our “get along” day. Because either they all get along, or they go to school. One argument, one complaint, one whinge, and it was game over, Red Rover.

Get along… or go to school

The first thing to note about my two older kids is that they normally don’t get along. Like ever. They are constantly at each other’s throat, hurling insults and tattling on one another. So, when I told them they had to get along ALL day, I wasn’t really expecting it to happen.

But it did happen. They made waffles together. And they made me some! They watched a movie together without complaining about who gets the red blanket and who gets to hold the remote. They took funny pictures together to make into a collage.

My two kids, who NEVER play together, played together ALL day. LEGO, blocks, board games.

siblings having a mental health day

And they were actually incredibly helpful too. My son did a load of washing AND hung it out to dry. My daughter made me a cup of tea while I worked from my home office. And they did exactly as I asked and took care of their baby sister all day too. 

It was unreal. My partner came home from work and figured I had bribed them or drugged them into actually liking one another. Nope. It’s just our get along day.

Experts call these days ‘mental health days‘. But I like ‘get along days’ better.

Mental health day for kids: Yes or no?

Of course, I’m not the first mum to chuck a sickie on behalf of the kids. And this won’t be the last time I do it either. Although I know it’s not a good idea to take the kids out of school, is there really any harm in doing it once or twice a year?

Let them stay home!

Many employers now encourage their staff to take mental health days when they need it. A day off from normal activity, where you can press pause. Relax. Destress. Focus on your mental health. And return to everyday life feeling a little less stressed and more recharged.

But mental health days are not exactly welcomed in schools. But here’s the thing. We ALL need a bit of a break from routine and a day to just chill out, kids included. Sure, we have weekends, but weekends are usually spent grocery shopping, running errands and participating in some sort of sports activity, game or concert.

According to psychotherapist and author, Amy Morin,

Letting kids take the occasional mental health day — maybe once or twice a year — could reinforce to them that it’s vital to take care of their minds as well as their bodies. It can also be a great opportunity to help them sharpen their emotional skills and build the mental muscle they need to stay strong.

Seeing the signs that your child is stressed, exhausted and in need of a day off is showing them that self-care and mental health is important.

No, kids don’t need a mental health day

Of course, others argue that mental health days for kids are unnecessary and may be considered coddling them, especially if we are using it as an excuse simply because our kids “don’t want to go to school” or are anxious about a test, sporting event, etc.

It’s up to us, as parents, to know when our kids really NEED a day off or simply WANT a day off.

But, for us, our get along day was needed. It’s been a pretty intense few months and it was time to call a sickie and declare a get along day.

My kids needed a day to relax and reconnect as siblings. And I needed a day to be reminded of how lucky I am to have them. Especially if it meant I got a day off doing the laundry…

Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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