The girls who hang out at our house may have discovered the closed lid basket on the top of the toilet. Though it is unlabeled it has been left there with an unspoken invitation, ”If you need something, take it”. I remember being a teen. There were times at a friend’s house when “Auntie Flo” came to visit and I wasn’t prepared. It was awkward to have to go and ask for supplies and it just felt wrong to rummage through the cupboards at someone else’s house.
So the basket sits, to be discovered by anyone. I am certain that my little boys know that it’s there. They may or may not know what the contents are for, but they don’t get into it.
If you have more than one girl, you will be relieved to know, teaching them about this stuff really does get easier. The first one is a bit more awkward but I really think it is us, as the moms, that make it awkward sometimes. We can approach the talks about our periods as a negative thing and act fidgety about it or… we can remain calm.
One way to make the conversation easier later on is to talk about it from early on. How many times when there are toddlers in the house have they walked in on mommy in the bathroom? Even if that can be avoided, when at a public bathroom there is no way you’re leaving them unattended. So what do we do? “Come in here with mommy and turn around and stare at the door.” Inevitably there is a good chance they see something and they will have questions.
With my children who were curious, I answered them plainly and tried to use terms they would understand. It went something like this:
”Mommy! Is that blood?!”
“Yes. It is but I am not hurt.”
“Then why do you have blood?”
“You know that babies grow in mommy’s womb. Well, they need a pillow in there to sleep with and make it a comfortable place to live. The pillow is made out of blood. If there is no baby in there right now, I don’t need to grow a special pillow. So my body sends it out.”
“Oh, but you’re not hurt? I thought you always have an owie if you have blood”
“That does make sense but this is a special kind of blood that only girls get. Someday when you are bigger your body will practice making pillows too until you get married and have a baby who needs to use it.”
“You mean that’s gonna happen to me?”
“ When you’re older. Don’t worry, it will be ok”
When it was my boys who were curious I would give them the same facts. There was just no need to tell them it would be in their future. Some did ask if their sisters had pillows and then it gave opportunity to explain that they don’t right now but that when their sisters are teenagers their bodies will work like mommy’s.
With a little bit of foundational teaching as to what is going on, now you can move onto the practical side. You need resources. There’s a series of books called Beautifully Made by Julie Hiramine. I liked for my girls. It is written with a positive message about our monthly cycles being a blessing and not a curse. This was another part of teaching for my girls. Having a monthly cycle is exactly what will allow them to be moms someday! No reason to be embarrassed by it. Another resource I liked is the God’sDesign for Sex series by Stan and Brenda Jones. While you are researching and preparing your resources, this is also a good time to consider Family Life’s Passport to Purity.
Some moms like to celebrate this milestone in a girl’s life with a gift. Often girls start their cycles between the ages of 9-13 so you may even want to gather a few things and have a few talks when your daughter is 8 or 9. Some moms put together a little box with sanitary pads, chocolate, ibuprofen, a heating pad and a new package of panties. One friend promised her daughter that when she got her first period, she could go get her ears pierced. For their family, it was part of their coming of age tradition. You know your daughter best and I’m sure you will make it special for her!
I understand that this may be personal preference but seeing used sanitary products in an open trash can in my opinion, is just gross. Teach your girls to wrap their products before putting them into the garbage (and let them know not to flush them down, not all plumbing can handle it). I know it is polite to empty trash before expected company arrives but I like to leave a little bit in the can so that if someone needs to dispose of used products, they have the option of tossing it under something. When our company leaves is often the time we empty the trash because… the puppy.
It did not occur to me until after we had a puppy that the garbage would ever be disturbed. How shocking it was to go around the corner and find that our sweet little Boston had scoured the trash and dragged a very private part of someone’s life down the hall. Even worse, at the other end of the hall was a teenage boy not sure if he should go back the way he came or continue down the hall. Need I say more?
Another item of personal preference is the modern movement to make announcements about bodily functions. If you disagree with this point, I understand, that’s your prerogative. But for our home, we choose to keep our cycles a topic between the girls. We did not/do not announce “I’m on my period”. There is just no reason that the whole house needs to know! One example of how to communicate personal needs during our “lady’s days” in a discreet way would be that our boys have been taught to not pry. When their sister or any other female says, “Oh, I dont think I will swim today” or, “I think I need to take a little nap, I seem to be tired this week” they respect it. We have taught them honor each other’s personal boundaries, training that they can apply in many instances of life.
There are times when hormones create a need for some TLC. Admittedly, I never recognized it in myself until my 40’s and until I had teenage girls that needed an extra dose of compassion. Sometimes I realize that one of my girls has been extra tired and I realize that her body is working overtime, causing her a need for more sleep. I let her sleep! Though we try not to use very many medicines, there are times when a pain killer or some select essential oils are necessary. That’s OK!
I think that it is important to convey the absolute normality of menstruation. It is a natural part of being a woman and exactly the way that God designed our bodies. It is through this gift that we prepare to carry and nurture life! What an awesome privilege.