Passionate About Cincinnati
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Mental Health Days for Kids: Growing Up Balanced

I am the kind of mom who lets my kids play hooky sometimes. Hooky from school, hooky from responsibilities, even hooky from homework sometimes. I mean, everybody needs a little mental vacation from the daily grind, am I right?

Growing up is hard work. Going to school each day, is quite literally, the children’s job. And it is not just the math and reading and writing that is taxing. It’s all of the socialization, emotional challenges, and learning how to be a decent human too.

Like the day my son came home from school out of sorts because his best friend had started in his classroom. And now other kids wanted to play with her too. Learning to share his friend, was rough.

Just thinking about it all makes me exhausted for my kids! It’s good work though, that is necessary, and most days we encourage the kids to push through. This is real life.

Every once in a while though? We play hooky.

What We Do On Mental Health Days

When I can sense that a child really is just overwhelmed with life’s challenges, especially if they have been working really hard to overcome and I am seeing progress, we take a time out. A break. We go do something fun, and let the responsibilities slide for a minute.

When everyone is in a funk, sometimes the best way to break out of the mood is to totally change the scenery. For us this might look like:

  • A trip to the play cafe. No morning school or work, just coffee for mom and play for the kids.
  • A trip to the donut store for breakfast, or McDonalds for lunch. No cooking, no dishes, just really happy little people.
  • An afternoon at the zoo in the sunshine. No homework or chores, just a lot of vitamin D and exercise for everyone.
  • A 10-20 minute break doing something we love, like watching a TV show, or reading a book. After these mini breaks, it’s sometimes a lot easier to jump back into something hard!

What Mental Health Days Do for Us

These Mental Health Days are a part of our family culture, and one that I hope sticks. It isn’t about quitting when things get rough. It’s knowing when and how to take a break, so that we can come back and do the hard work later. Like when my daughter is stuck on a challenging set of math problems, and the frustration is building. Setting a timer for a 10-15 minute book break is sometimes exactly what she needs to keep moving forward.

I also think that taking Mental Health Days, or mornings, or moments, can serve to help inspire us. When we see the same people and do the same things day in and day out, sometimes a little break in the monotony is re-energizing. It helps to give perspective, and remind us about why we love our daily life too. McDonalds out of the blue is fun every once in a while, but if it was daily, it might make us sick!

Also, the Mental Health Days just plain are fun. They are a blast to make memories with my kids, which none of us will forget.

Mental Health Days

My daughter and I, playing hooky with a couple of her friends one morning at the Cincinnati Ballet.

Do You Let Your Kids Take Mental Health Days?

Do you ever pull your kids out of school for a morning or a whole day to go and do something fun and relaxing together? Or let the homework wait while you get out of the house and the daily grind? What ways have you found to help your kids strike the work-life balance, even from a young age? 

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2 Responses to Mental Health Days for Kids: Growing Up Balanced

  1. Tara L.
    Tara L. April 5, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    We aren’t always successful, but we work hard at balance. Mental health days (or half-days) are definitely part of our lifestyle.

    • Kate Rich
      Kate Rich April 5, 2017 at 11:22 am #

      I am so glad you do these too. I think it helps keep life balanced, and let’s the kids know too that rest and self-care is just as important as hard work!

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