Mental Health Days – for kids.

What I noticed

My daughter was in desperate need of a mental health day. She hasn’t been herself. I had put it down to, well, being a teenager really. I remember that age where your hormones are all over the place and you are pretty sure you know as much, if not more than your parents. Because they’re so old and the world has changed so much since they were young and ‘with it’. So I hope my daughter doesn’t have these thoughts about me, but I know I had them about my parents at her age.

It’s easy to dismiss what our kids are actually thinking and feeling deep down. Often they’ll come home from school (all talking at once) and you catch glimpses of what homework they have and ” 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. Don’t forget you’re fruit mum for soccer this week. Remind Stella to take her flute for her lesson. Get Chad the green apples and tell Isla her singing lesson has been switched around. Damn it! I didn’t get Cash new insoles for his soccer boots today!” This is all on the short drive home from school.

How hard can it be?

Because we bare such a load for our kids (that’s our job), it’s easy to be a bit blazé when they seem to be having a hard time. With young children their problems can usually be solved with a chat and a 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 and polite. She was lashing out at the smallest things. What got my attention was her outbursts gave me flashbacks to being her age. I remembered what it was like having all those feelings and remembering how hard and confusing being a teenager is. And that was before social media was a thing!!

What I realised – kids need a mental health day too

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 hours. 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. With age and experience we learn to ignore and not give a second thought to. But our teenagers 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 rang the school and told them my daughter would be having a mental health day. They were completely supportive of it.

We went for a big walk, out for breakfast and my daughter was able to spend the rest of the day catching up on assignments and watching some tv.

I know we can’t actually stop time but I believe that taking a day every now and again is the closet 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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