Did you know girls can get their periods anywhere from the ages of 8 to 16? As a woman, I know periods are not usually included in the highlight reel, so how was I going to tell my 10-year-old daughter about periods? I didn't want her to be scared, but in reality, how do I calmy and casually tell my sweet daughter, who still plays with dolls and believes in the tooth fairy, that one day, she will one day unexpectedly bleed from her vagina. I knew I needed to tell her because not knowing, and this day arriving, would be far worse. So we had the chat, and I have to say, it went over pretty well.
There were questions like how long will it last? Will it hurt? Will I bleed to death? And the best question was, why don't boys bleed? Then came the question of when will it come. How will she know? How do we prepare? I assured her it was going to be okay. I was there for her if she had questions, as well as her dad, as he joined in the chat at the end. I told her we would prepare together, and it wasn't something to be scared of or embarrassed about - it's completely normal.
As I thought back to when I was a tween, I remembered how embarrassed I felt to talk to my mom, how none of my friends wanted to say the word, period, and god forbid if you ever had to buy maxi pads with your dad, t,(this was a horrific day for me).
So how could I help my daughters be less embarrassed and more confident about this new stage of life and their bodies overall? I started by including them in more body-positive conversations. We talked more openly about the changes that were about to happen, using proper terms and words always helps, and being proud of the changes! "Hey, you grew two inches taller let's go shopping for new clothes!" vs. "Whoa, you outgrew your jeans again? I guess we need to buy you more clothes."
I tell my girls being a woman is a pretty cool thing, and although all these changes start when we are young, our bodies are actually getting ready to maybe one day grow a baby, and that is pretty amazing! I showed her how to use a maxi pad and talked about period underwear and period swimwear, so she knows about all the options available to her.
She mentioned that the schools had a machine that had pads in them, but she wasn't sure how to use it. Upon further research, I found out that the machines at the school are still from back in my day (like 20 years ago) and they have the old-school two-inch thick pads inside. To help ease her worry, I told her we would get her a kit with all of her own items that she could carry in her backpack or keep in her locker so she would be prepared if her period arrived at school. This actually is where we found a hole in the market as there was nothing affordable and "tween approved" so together curated our own first period kit with a few other essentials she might need that she can keep at school.
As a parent and especially as a mom of girls, I know how hard it can be. We want our kids to feel confident and prepared for all of life's trials and smiles. We want them to feel proud of who they are and what they are doing every day. In a world of social media, technology, filters, and unrealistic expectations, sometimes it can be hard to stay focused on reality and what's really important. As our kids grow, change is a constant, one day, we are wondering if they ever sleep through the night, and in a blink of an eye, we're talking about puberty.
If we help our kids navigate change at all levels, they will hopefully learn how to cope and be better prepared for the next level of change. All we can do is give them the right information and the right tools and hope they will be ok.
Good luck with your own period talk - you got this!