We have had a lovely family holiday in peaceful Bali. Away from everyday pressures and responsibilities. Bliss. However less than 48 hours later work, studies and housework resume their priorities. I walk past Jesse’s bedroom and see him at his desk, a 3rd year Uni student, tapping away on his lap top in preparation for an exam next week. We look at each other and he says, with his trademark gorgeous smile “Is it my mental health day today Mum?”
Mental health days. These were something I did with each of my boys individually, one day each term, for the whole of their school life. It got trickier to organise as they reached Years 10 and onward but we made it happen.
It was a day that they never knew was coming. I would literally go into their room draw their curtains, as I would normally do to wake them for school, and announce “Today is your mental health day!” It would make me laugh how instantly they were then awake. Covers thrown back off their warm bodies as they excitedly fist punched the air with a “YES!!” There was never any discontent from the one who had to go to school that day. They knew their day was coming.
These were days totally devoted to them. No devices, no housework, no phone calls, no shopping. It was complete and utter undivided attention doing something of their choice. Some days they would choose to take a picnic to a park and lay on a blanket together and make animals out of the clouds. Jesse particularly liked to do that. One time we planned to do this and the weather had other ideas and it bucketed down with rain. So we lay out the picnic rug in the lounge with all his favourite food and treats and we had a Lego building day. All day until it was time to collect Matthew from school. We would chat away and have lots of laughs. Other days we would go to the beach and collect shells and rocks and have ice-creams along the way with no time constraints. You might be picturing a leisurely stroll (cue relaxing music lol) but that type of day was generally Matthew’s choice and he ran and climbed everywhere as a little boy. His mental health days for me were sometimes very exhausting!
As they got older we went to the movies or out for lunch. I have recreated Gold Class milkshakes at home, played Monopoly (yes still) and once I even turned our family room into a Gold Class Movie Experience complete with favourite meals and drinks being brought out to them at their requested time.
The best of days and the boys still talk about them. I highly recommend doing this if you can. The passing of time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters. And all that matters is time. How you use it and who you spend it with is all up to you. I’m glad I chose and still choose to spend so much time with my boys. So in answer to Jesse’s question – yes he will have a surprise mental health day after this exam. It will probably start later than when he was 6 years old but I know a Gold Class milkshake and a lot of love and laughter will still be involved. Matthew’s is next term and he keeps reminding me!
These days were the boy’s mental health days but they did wonders for mine.