I don’t particularly remember the day in school when I learned about periods, and vaguely recall a conversation at home. But what I do remember is the day my first period started.
My mum and older sister almost danced around me, congratulating me on this milestone as though I had some say over its occurrence. I was almost excited. That is, until the cramps, backache, low moods, and the possibility of bleeding through my school uniform made me realise I was not as prepared for this life change as I should have been. In fact, it is only now, as I find my way out of my 30s, that I have started to own my periods which has given me a better idea of how to help my two daughters navigate their own periods when the time comes. So, how can we prepare our daughters for their menstrual cycle and empower them to take control?
Break The Myths
We are slowly changing the conversation about how we interpret and challenge our menstrual cycle. Our period no longer has to stop or pause our lives momentarily because we are "sick". We can reduce our daughters’ fears surrounding pain, blood, and the unpredictable by ensuring they are prepared and as informed as possible to navigate the reality of their period. Ensure she knows that pain can be relieved, that there are numerous products to test out and become comfortable with, and that periods don’t take over our lives.
Balance The Conversation
Kids are much more informed these days than we were but don’t expect your daughter to know everything. A biology lesson is not necessarily what she needs but rather the acknowledgement that she is changing and will be experiencing life differently as a result. Your understanding and support are vital, so keep the conversation open and encourage her to talk to you about her worries or concerns.
After decades of periods, we know to always be prepared. A period kit is one of the best ways to help your daughter always be prepared and feel comfortable knowing she won’t be caught off-guard. Don’t wait until her first period to show her how to use tampons, cups, or pads. Invest in period underwear and have a period kit ready. This way, she is ready and prepared for that first period and every period after.
Tracking our periods and the various stages of our menstrual cycle is one of the most empowering things we can do for our kids. Our menstrual cycle comprises four distinctive stages – the menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulation phase, and menstrual phase – each with unique elements that can help us navigate our menstrual body clock. Helping our daughters track their cycle and monitor the phases of their cycle can help them lean into understanding their periods and how our hormones fluctuate throughout the month.