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Jenna Bush Hager shares mom Laura Bush's inspiring school tradition

The former first lady was ahead of her time when it came to giving her girls exactly what they needed on particularly stressful school days.
/ Source: TODAY

The importance of mental health days — a time to recharge from burnout and restore from stress — is gaining recognition in the workplace and beyond nowadays.

But on Thursday morning, we learned about one trailblazing mom, who was way ahead of her time when it came to recognizing the benefit of a day off for overburdened school kids.

TODAY's Jenna Bush Hager shared the story of her own mother, Laura Bush.

"You know one thing my mom did, which I hope to do at some point, is she would always give us ... one mental health day like a semester," Jenna, who's a mother of two herself, recalled.

School attendance was important to both her mother and father, former President George W. Bush, and Jenna insisted that "they were very strict" about it. But mental health was also important to them.

"She could see that we were exhausted," Jenna explained. "She's like, 'OK, we're going to stay home (from school) and we're going to go. I'm going to take you to lunch and we're going to read together and we're going to have a day.'"

She added, "And it was just for mental health. I think you kind of need that — even little kids."

It's a tradition that started for Jenna and her twin sister, Barbara, when they were in the third or fourth grade, simply because mother knew best.

"She just put us first," Jenna said of her mom. "Always."