I’m a mum of 4 girls and 2 of them have now gone through that moment where a mum blogger suddenly realises that it is time to STOP.SHARING.
You just can’t blog a period. You did teeth and potty training and the time they fell in the toy box and how they felt when a tooth fell out and what sending them to school did to you. And then periods come and you think…
Um. No. Probably best not. Not a blog post they will want their friends to find.
Possibly not going to thank you for the hashtag on Twitter.
Best leave it.
We are a very open household. I keep my sanitary requirements on show and Max is perfectly happy to go out and buy them for me. Since the older girls have needed supplies, I’ve encouraged them to ask him to get them like they are a normal item. Which they are. Over dinner the other week we ended up talking about this, and how it took me years before I felt comfortable to ask him to get them for me (Why? I have no idea. He watched me give birth so really….) and both big girls said that actually they felt really uncomfortable asking him even now. Max looked on blankly, completely unable to understand why it would be an issue.
“Should I be embarrassed asking you to get me shaving foam?” he asked.
But the truth is – and the nervous giggling of daughter number 2 made it clear that this is so – periods are embarrassing and intimate and a huge rite of passage (excuse the pun) and they manage to carry with them a notion of – and I hesitate to use the word dirty – something unsavoury and secret. Even here, where we don’t in any way ask for Victorian discretion, they’ve imbibed that outdated behaviour.
One problem with being a 3rd daughter – and a bolshy, savvy one at that – is that your mum does tend to forget that you haven’t necessarily had all the carefully considered education the first daughters got. I agonised over how to make sure I broached babies and periods and birth with 1 and 2 but Amelie has been an accessory to those conversations so often that I forgot she hadn’t had them in her own right.
The arrival of a Teen Parcel to review this week was an ideal opportunity to redress this. For once the obvious candidates got passed over and DD3 and I opened the parcel together and took a look inside. It’s suitably pink and all discreetly parcelled up, perfect for 12 year olds who haven’t yet got the hang of yelling “Can you get me some REALLY huge tampons…..?” at the back of a departing bloke with the front door open and on the phone to his rugby mate.
Our pack had a little cloth bag to tuck a tampon/pad supply in your bag and a set of pink parcels, 2 of which contained 25 tampons from the Tampax range and one was stuffed with face cleansers, sparkly nail polish, spot cream, sweeties, a hot chocolate deluxe style drink and a little phone charm.
So we opened it all up and took a good look. We discussed why face stuff might be in there (make you feel good, keep a handle on changing skin which deserves some tlc when hormones rage) and (going against all my frugal efforts) broke into a tampon, popped it out of the applicator, did a demo (through my fingers!) and discussed comfort, angle and reason for use. I explained pubic bones. Go me.
DD3 thought it was marvellous. The bling and indulgence of the whole thing suited her down to the ground and the idea of getting the equivalent of a Graze box for hormones tickled her (quite literally) pink. She loved opening up the little ‘presents’ and I think found it a really nice opportunity to discuss something with me that I hadn’t realised we had missed out on.
I think it is a lovely idea, particularly for a girl either a little intimidated or over anxious about an impending period or for a mum who needs to find a way to broach the subject with a tween girl. At £6 for the first box (and £10 thereafter) it isn’t overpriced (a box of 20 Tampax being about £3 and the associated goodies decent value too, probably less than I could spend on a hormonal chocolate binge 😉 ) and the cost includes p&p. The box itself is designed to be letterbox size so you aren’t inconvenienced by collecting it from the sorting office and the contents are tailored to your needs through the sign up process – you can choose from Lil Lets, Tampax, Kotex and Always pads and the tampon boxes are multi- absorbancy for different days. Pad boxes have night towels included. For the sake of a treat and not having to dash out for supplies, I might even sign up myself 😉 The amount this house currently spends on these things and the associated chocolate might well make it worth it 😉
On Thursday 20th November there will be a Twitter Party about “around building girls’ self-confidence, and preparing girls for the start of their periods, and all the changes that come along with this part of life” – you can join in using hashtag #**********
Here are my tips.
- Don’t be anxious about the period talk; speak openly about them from when they are young, with boys as well as girls. My experience is that youngsters are neither embarrassed or afraid and it prepares the ground for later discussion.
- Put together a bag of all different types of sanitary protection and make time to open one of each, discuss them and handle them together.
- Make sure important male members of the house know the subject has come up and are ready to ‘be nonchalant and open’ about the subject too. It’s just as normal as him shaving.
- Make sure there are bins in the bathrooms they can use discreetly and encourage them to be part of the emptying and cleaning of them. Also have conversations about leaving toilets etc tidy for other members of the house. It can be messy and my experience is they need quietly letting know if they need to be more thoughtful.
- Make sure you have a plan for knickers that need dealing with and neither parent particularly wants to encounter in a handful of washing.
- Talk through the other changes of puberty and sex (hopefully less scarily than school seems to!) and lay down markers to help them prepare such as chatting through things like pain being a precursor to things getting ready to start and moodiness or growing breasts and hair. Make ‘it’s normal and we all know it is happening’ your mantra and encourage them to acknowledge the signs.
- “Yeah. You are moody. Yes, it’s your hormones. Yes, it IS normal. No, you are not allowed to make everyone else’s life a living hell because of it.” I use this line a lot 😉