A mum has revealed that she lets her kids skip school to play video games whenever she feels they need a break, to teach them to prioritise their mental health.
Rita Templeton, a mum and blogger from Ohio, has opened up about her reasoning behind giving her children the excuse to stay off school for a ‘mental health day’, claiming they need the quality time and a break.
In a blog post for parenting website Scary Mommy, Rita explains how children’s lives can be difficult as well as adults, and in the same way we take a day’s holiday or pull a sickie, sometimes children need a break from their ‘routine’.
‘Kids do need breaks, just as much as grown-ups. Though their lives aren’t stressful in the same ways as ours, they still go through things that, from their inexperienced perspective, are really rough.
‘And when the going gets tough, they don’t always have the choice to step back and take a breather (which is probably much of the reason why they resort to their only option: feigning illness).’
The mum of four boys revealed that ‘mental health days’ are a parenting lesson taught by her own mum, who would give her one unexpected day off a year to do something fun. These are now something she cherishes as favourite childhood memories and wants to pass on to her own kids.
Rita says the trick is to watch when your little ones seem like they need a rest, and then surprise them with some quality time.
‘I know it’s time when they start showing signs of strain: a fight with a friend, maybe, or an unusual reluctance to get up for school in the morning.
‘When they’re worn down, a free day is just what the doctor ordered.’
As part of the treat, the blogger lets her children pick the plan for the day, whether it’s lazing around at home or going to the shops – but says, ‘surprisingly, it’s never anything super-elaborate or costly.’
The most popular activity of choice in Rita’s household is playing the X-box.
‘”Let’s play the Xbox, Mom!” they’ll say, or suggest a trip to the grocery store to load up on Cheetos.’
But although a ‘Minecraft marathon’ isn’t this mums ideal pastime, she says watching ‘the joy and enthusiasm and relief they experience is worth every minute’.
‘Their shift in attitude is palpable. Their emotional tanks are being refilled, not just through a much-needed break from their daily routines, but through spending valuable one-on-one time with their mom.’
According to Rita, this practise is even more necessary for bigger families where she feels ‘in the hustle and bustle of everyday, I look at my kids without actually seeing them’ and so ‘quality time can be hard to come by’.
By keeping just one of her little ones at home at a time she achieves some one-on-one time with them.
‘There’s no one else to compete for my attention. We’ve got hours to ourselves. We get to talk and laugh, and I get to rediscover how awesome these little people I’ve created actually are.’
Ultimately Rita feels she’s teaching her sons to ‘prioritize their mental health’ which is a lesson she feels is important.
‘I want my kids to know that there’s nothing wrong with taking care of themselves, and prioritizing their mental well-being over other obligations sometimes.’
Would you ever allow your kids to have a day off school like Rita? Let us know in the comments below!