Some mornings back when I worked I'd wake up and reward myself a "Mental Health Day." I'm sure you've had days like that as well. Sometimes the old body just could not drag itself out of bed. Sitting around on the couch curled up with a book while it poured outside was far more important than tackling the every growing pile of paperwork at the office. I took the cues from my body and stayed home. I reasoned that I'd be far more productive around the house than in the office. A day off on during the work week in more special that being off on the weekends. Sometimes I just needed to be alone, enjoy my home and the quiet. A vacation day for the brain.
My company offered a few personal days and sick days but my boss was a micro-manager. Personal days had to be approved days in advance. This made so sense to me because I never managed to predict that three days from now my brakes would go. I recalled the grilling she'd give me as to what the personal matter was exactly. Leaving voice mails requesting days off was prohibited; I had to speak with the Sergeant directly. This woman made it clear that she didn't give a hoot if I called her at 3AM. Me and my colleagues had her cell phone, home phone, work phone and her personal carrier pigeon.
My manager was even more ruthless Heaven forbid I needed a sick day. Lucky me she was a former nurse. If I didn't provide the correct symptoms of a stomach virus she would have no compunction calling me a liar. She worded carefully but she might as well have slapped me in the face. Any more sick days required a doctor's note or preferably an essay.
I enjoyed my job and worked overtime for no pay many a day. I didn't have children yet so If I was needed until 10 or 11 at night, I was there. So, my company had a human resources department and I had my own "personal personnel." I offered myself 2 or 3 Mental Health Days a year.
I've been on sabbatical from work for about 12 years now. My job is home with my three kids. I keep crazy hours, work for free and deal with new stresses everyday. Best job yet. The stress is still there but I can put off laundry or vacuuming and take a walk. No one will care if the beds aren't made so I can do a few crossword puzzles. Being a homemaker affords me tiny mental health breaks all day long. I'll take it.
I believe that my childhood was a whole lot easier than my kids' today. Call me crazy but I think children are way over scheduled. The pressures of school combined with extra-curricular activities can be overwhelming. Then add Boy or Girl Scouts, church activities and the most time consuming, sports. Me and my husband are not the kind of parents that push our kids into an activity if they interested. I have to say that they did try a little bid of everything. The boys settled on ice hockey and my daughter love gymnastics.
I know just running my kids from one activity to another makes me tired. Helping three kids with homework assignments is like taking the SATs again for me. I've sat at the kitchen table nodding off while doing long division with my son. Homework from kids' church groups is even more challenging for them. They go on Wednesdays and sit there bug eyed next Tuesday night trying to remember what they were taught 6 days ago. Why they hold hockey practices at 8PM and gymnastics at 7PM is a mystery to me. Sort of defeats the purpose. The poor souls need good grades to get scholarships. It takes superhuman efforts to maintain at least a B+ when they're dog tired.
So as I did for myself, I let my kids have Mental Health Days. Why not? They're people too, just smaller. Last Monday morning the little troopers got up for school, did a zombie-like march for the stairs, saw me at the bottom and A. assumed they were in trouble or B. thought they were late. I told them to go back to sleep. There was a cacophony of screaming in joy second only to Christmas morning. "Mother, dearest Mother, thank you! May the good Lord Bless you!" Before I could pour myself a cup of coffee, I heard them snoring.
Now while for me having the three of them home all day gave me a Mental Breakdown, it was worth it. Their little batteries needed a good re-charge. And, get this, they were nice to me...ALL DAY! I got nothing done but I was hugged, pleased and thank you'd all day; I swear I heard them call me Ma'am! I was Mother of the Day. They sang "Mom is great! She gave us a mental break!"
I don't regret doing it for a second. Playing hookie never hurt anyone. It makes life easier for everybody. The stress levels subside, there's less fighting and even better the kids read books! On their own! Without being told to! It saves me from shelping them all over creation and I can even sneak in a nap. One or two, even three times a year, Mental Heath Days for kids is now a tradition in my household. Yes, the downside is that they resist going to school the next day as if they were resisting arrest but deep down I know they miss their friends.
I can't imagine I'm the only mom who does this. Occasionally I feel guilt but as they say, this too shall pass. I know deep down the kids are the better for it. Everybody needs a break.
Gosh I hope they remember these days when it comes time to take poor, old dementia suffering Mom in! One of my three kids has got to buy a mother-daughter home!