We’ve heard of sick days, mental health days, vacation days, and whatever other labels are assigned to time off, but for kids, I think there should also be a “health day” category. As my kids get older and have school stressors, overwhelming days, and are just generally tired- there will be a health day waiting for them whenever they need it.
Growing up, I loved going to school. Not necessarily because I wanted to learn, but more because I didn’t want to miss out on things if I had to stay home. I never played sick, and generally would beg my mom to let me go to school even if I was actually sick. Times have changed, I know. So, it’s hard to navigate those lines as a new school-mom myself.
After only three weeks of having two kids in school, I’m saying forget labels, because this is how we do a health day our way.
You see, just like me, my daughter loves going to school. This is her first year, and she genuinely loves everything about it. So, when she woke up on a Friday morning and didn’t want to go to school at all, this new school-mom will keep her home for a health day.
Sure, some people are probably thinking, “If they’re not sick, just send the kids to school” but I pose the question- what good will that do? Sending my kids to school when they are exhausted not only adds additional stress and discomfort to my kids, but it also disrupts the classroom. Teachers should focus their efforts and attention on teaching, not supervising my less than cooperative daughter who would be attending school in body but not mind.
What message does that send to our kids if we say, “Go to school even though you’re not feeling well?”
To me, we focus way too much on the idea that feeling well is just a reflection of physical symptoms, and the absence of common colds, flu, and now COVID. Only recently has mental health been included in the spectrum of wellness, but I still think supporting health involves more than just mental health and the absence of infection or disease. Would you want an airplane pilot to show up to work tired? Probably not. Do I want my kids to show up to school exhausted and miserable? Absolutely not.
Let’s insert a health day here and there, as needed.
My kids are military kids. They experience long drill weekends just like their parents do. They experience early mornings, later evenings, and no break between the school weeks. It’s not uncommon for them to have little time to rest, recover, or settle. Throw in an occasional family birthday, and that’s enough excitement to knock out any five-year-old. She clearly needed a health day to recover. I feel no need to call it a sick day. All you need to know is come Monday morning, my daughter will be rested and ready to hit the school running, well, hopefully just walking.
So, how do you handle school absences in your house? Do you give your kids the option to take an occasional health day? What are your thoughts on having regular health days for your kids?
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