Mental Health Days – for kids.

My teenager hasn’t been herself. I had put it down to, well being a teenager really. I remember being that age where your hormones are all over the place and you have that very strong sense that you know as much, if not more than your parents. Cause they’re so old and the world has changed so much since they were young that they are outdated, therefore their opinion is completely invalid. Ok, I do sincerely hope that my daughter doesn’t have these thoughts about me, but I know that I had them about my parents at her age.

It’s easy to dismiss what our kids are actually thinking and feeling deep down. Quite often they’ll come home from school (all talking at once) and you catch glimpses of what homework they have to complete, how they went on that test and “who said what” and “who did what” at school. Sometimes I find myself nodding, smiling, trying to log and acknowledge what each of them have said to me. Meanwhile my brain is saying “Mel take note of when I have to rsvp for that party, remember you’re rostered on as fruit mum for soccer, remind Stella to take her flute for her lesson, get Chad the green apples, tell Isla her singing lesson has been switched around, damn it! I was meant to get Cash new insoles for his soccer boots today!” This is all on the short drive home from school.

Because we do bare such a big load for our kids (don’t get me wrong we’re mums, we’re meant to do this), sometimes we can be a bit blazé when they seem to be having a hard time. Most times with younger children their “big” problems can be solved with a little chat and a big cuddle. “There there, it’ll be alright, I’m sure it will be better tomorrow.” I mean how hard can a kids life be right?! I practically run it for you. Anyway back to my daughter. My husband went away last week for five days. It was hectic. To all the single mums out there I take my hat off to you superwomen!! Four kids needing to be in four different places over the weekend, and my daughters behaviour wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen before. Don’t get me wrong she has her moments but anyone who knows her knows that she is generally a very gentle, polite, caring soul. She was lashing out at the smallest things. The thing that rattled me the most was that there was a few things she said to me in some of her outbursts that gave me flashbacks to being her age and doing the exact same thing. It was as if I suddenly remembered what it was like having all of those pent up feelings and frustrations and remembering how hard and confusing of a time it is being a teenager. And that was before social media was a thing!!

We sat down after the other kids had gone to bed and she let it all out. She was in a state of complete overwhelm. Teachers, assignments, friends, not friends, name calling, grades, not feeling heard, not feeling good enough. It broke my heart because to her it is all so big and real. We talked it all out (for a few hours), we were both completely exhausted by the time we were done but I needed it as much as she did. I needed the reminder. What’s small to us is huge to them. What we have learnt with age and experience to ignore or not give a second thought to, they can’t think about anything else. When we were finished talking she asked if she could have the next day off of school. She said “Mum I really feel like I just need a day.” I totally understood, I’ve had those days. We all have them. The next morning I took the other three children to school, rang the office and said “My daughter will be absent today, she’s having a mental health day.” The schools response was “say no more, we absolutely understand we’ll mark her as away”. When we got home we went for a big walk in the rain to a cafe for breakfast and she spent the rest of the day doing assignments and watching a bit of tv. No we can’t actually stop time but I truly feel that taking ‘a day’ every now and then is the closest thing to hitting the pause button on life. Our little people need it, just as much, if not more than we do.

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