Mental health days are promoted as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle in adults but what about our children? Do they deserve a day of resting at home when the pressures of school and life all seem a bit overwhelming?
I believe so, and that’s why I let Cora stay at home some days from nursery when she seems tired, exhausted or over emotional.
Back when I was attending school (seems like a life time ago now) I would always have to go to school without fail unless I was actually dying! I’m not joking, if my left arm fell off; my mum would of wacked a plaster on it and sent me off because I am right handed and could still do the work. If I even complained of being tired or not wanting to go into school, I would get a proper telling off…(”in my day, blah blah blah”)
The thing was, I rarely wanted to go to school. I was shy and sensitive and found it overwhelming at times. I went to a very small school, like really small. I only had 8 in my primary class and there were 22 of us in high school, heaven forbid I had been at a bigger school, i don’t know how i would have coped with the crowds. I was often picked on and even though looking back I was not badly bullied, sensitive me thought it was hell.
I am dyslexic, so I had to work that little harder to keep up with everyone, and I bloody worked. I was also on the school basketball team and had many after school club like drama, Gaelic and bible study. Often my days were long, tiring and stressful but I was young and just accepted that’s the way things were. I also worked 3 evenings a week and all weekends at the local pub washing dishes so I rarely had any time to just relax.
I had terrible insomnia, often sleeping only a few broken hours a night. I was up and down and would often end up watching revision programmes as that was the only thing on the TV at 4 am in the morning, which actually were quite helpful but the lack of sleep was not. I was often burnt out.
I got really anxious about school, the amount of homework I was getting and everything else that went with being a teen. It got really bad and I would be crying in my bedroom wanting to scream and break stuff or just lay down and sleep forever at my worst times. Often crying in the shower to hide my tears, I was exhausted from trying to appear like I had my shit together. I was diagnosed with OCD at 14, was put on antidepressants to help me cope and started CBT therapy, I really think this saved my life, as my mind was going to some really dark places. I just wasn’t coping with the pressures.
Some high school students have such a busy schedule that most of the time, even their weekends are filled with school work. Every year there is more pressure put on students regarding their classes and getting accepted to college, jobs, clubs, relationships, friends, and family. Students have plenty to stress over and when you are a child everything is magnified 10 times the size and can quickly become overwhelming.
It is extremely hard to reduce the amount of stress in a child’s life, besides not overwhelming them with too much responsibility or limiting the number of extracurricular activities they are involved in, this can open up more time to focus on school work and also allow some much needed down time but as we know this isn’t always possible.