The pace of our daily lives is that of a machine, our value is so often measured by productivity. It's time to normalize taking a Hooky day.
Hooky has its origins in the traditional dutch game of hookie — To play hide and seek.
When my son began school, we introduced playing Hooky. In the US, we suffer from burnout. In part, due to the unrelenting false sense of urgency and never-ending to-do lists. In part due to our rugged sense of individualism — that begins to form in school with the constant competition to be at the head of the class.
Part of teaching our son to value his mental health and listen to his body has been to teach him about self-care.
The Hooky day ritual came from my mother. When my brother and I were little — she gave us one Hooky day a semester. We could do whatever we wanted and use it when we needed it. Rather than pretend to be sick- thus requiring staying home all day— we used this opportunity to spend time with our mom and also gain some independence by taking a break when we needed to. We also rarely had a sick day.
My son is in third grade and yesterday was our Hooky day! You may be wondering, what about the absence? I write a note to the school and let them know he had a mental health day.
I have fond memories of taking Hooky days when I was young- and as an adult, I continue this ritual. And just as when I was a kid, I rarely get sick. My work as an anti-racist consultant can be mentally and physically exhausting. I listen to my body when it needs a break.
Let’s normalize prioritizing our mental health as urgently as our physical health. Your work will be there waiting on you when you get back, I promise!
Skye Howell (she/her) is an Organizational Consultant with Full Humanity, an Equity Advocate, Curriculum Designer, Keynote Speaker, and Storyteller. You can also find me on Medium. If you enjoy reading this and want to support my efforts — you can buy me a coffee to help me write more stories. Your support makes a difference.