Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mental Health Days

This morning when I went to make sure Mark dragged his sorry carcass out of bed, he did his usual whine and whimper thing about being tired, I did my usual go-to-bed-earlier-then response, and then he started muttering that he really needed a mental health day.

My first instinct was to say no. Repeatedly. Even when he begged. I explained that he would get further behind in his homework, he would miss whatever the teacher was *teaching*, he would miss basketball practice and he's got a game tomorrow, and coach would likely not start him if he had missed the previous day's practice. And that it's two days until the weekend. Listed out all the logical reasons for him to get his butt out of bed and get in the damn shower already. And don't steal my towel!

Then I came downstairs and started to really think about it. Went over the pros and cons.

He's been incredibly busy this year in school. He's taking a full courseload of seven classes, three of which are honors. He is playing sports, and since before school started, he has had practice or games five days a week for soccer, and six days a week for basketball. The bus picks him up at 6:30 in the morning, and sometimes he doesn't get home until 7:30pm (or later...tonight's practice is from 7:15 to 8:45). He is working out--to the point of exhaustion--every day for at least 90 minutes and on alternate days (phys ed) 170 minutes. He gets maybe 7.5 hours of sleep a night, and his baseline need is at least 10.

His schedule today: bus picks him up at 6:30, drops him back at home at 2:30, going to watch the busline semifinals after Kira gets out of school, Kira's practice from 6-7 (where he will work out also, playing bball with the older sister and dad of one of Kira's friends), his practice from 7:15-8:45. And somewhere in there he has to do homework and eat dinner.

So yeah, is he run a bit ragged right now? Definitely. Would he benefit from a day where he could just catch up on sleep and homework? Oh yes.


In two days it's the weekend. Besides practice, he has nothing scheduled. Oh yes, Kira has a game, and he usually likes to take that hour to work out in the fitness room at the Y with that older sister of Kira's friend.

So after he got out of the shower (and dammit, he did steal my towel), I laid it out for him. I gave him all of the pros and cons. I told him to seriously look at what effect it would have on his game tomorrow, where coach would likely not start him and also limit his playtime, since playtime was earned by performance in practice. I told him that a mental health day would not include video games, TV, or computer except for homework. He could use the day to catch up on sleep and homework, and he said he had a book he needed to read for English. And I told him that he could make the decision.

He went to school.

What do you think about teens these days and the idea of mental health days? mk


Anonymous said...

I don't see anything wrong with mental health days. We all need them sometimes. I would limit them to one per quarter only if he is doing ok in his classes.

Beast Mom said...

Your post makes me worry about what's coming for us. We're already too busy w/ the kiddos and they're not even jr. high yet. It's sort of the way things are I suppose, and yet I wonder some days if all kids are too stretched now. I can't comment on current teens really, as I do not have that situation in my own family yet, but your post raises some very interesting questions to think about...


Capt. Brenda said...

I think you handled this very well. Having some guidelines for the day off was perfect and allowing him to make the decision was genius. Having the weekend to look forward to for sleeping in and less scheduled activity was a good carrot as well as starting in the basketball game.

I don't see anything wrong with a mental health day as long as it is not abused. An understanding that an employer will be less likely to understand a request like that would also be crucial.

markira said...

I like that I left the decision up to him, too (with optional parental veto). He is getting older and closer to leaving home, and he needs to start considering all the sides before making a decision, and he needs to practice it.

I like mental health days, myself, but they need to be used sparingly and wisely.