This thought has been on my mind lately as I have 2 daughters reaching menstruation age…and I really feel the introduction is really important. Not knowing what to do exactly as I was basically shown the tampon and pads box under the sink by my sister (my mother didn’t even chat with me about it at all) and that was it! I’d really like to create an experience for my daughter that will shine a positive light on this definitive part of being a women, and in doing so I can maybe help her embrace her feminine side instead of seeing it as society often labels it…an annoyance (the curse! :O)
First things first, menarche (pronounced men-are-kee, although some people say men-ark) is the name given to the very first period a girl gets. After menarche you get a period roughly every month (once they settle into a routine) until you get to about 45 or so and then you stop. That’s a pretty long time, right? If you’re going to get something every month isn’t it worth making it special?
Studies have shown that girls who feel good about their periods, and puberty, have a much better time growing up. They also do better at school and go on to lead fabulous lives.
Girls who can talk to their parents about periods etc. and who celebrate things as a family are likely to be happier and are more likely to achieve their goals in life.
I started by looking at what other countries around the globe do…
Different countries and cultures have different ways of celebrating menarche, here are some of them:
If you were born into the Asante community you would get a big party for menarche and be showered with gifts. There would be lots of singing and dancing and you would be made to feel very special.
In the Mossi community the Mossi women take time off during menstruation and pursue their own creative projects or visit friends.
Traditionally in Japan when a girl gets her first period the family celebrate by eating red rice and beans.
In Australia the Aboriginal girls are traditionally washed and have intricate and beautiful body art applied. The women also take time to explain to the girls about feminine power and the changes they will go through.
If you were born in Sri Lanka then the exact time and date of your first period would be recorded so that an astrologer could chart your future. You would then be washed, dressed in white and given gifts to celebrate this special time.
As you can see lots of cultures celebrate menarche and there’s various companies and groups popping up in the western world as well, as mothers seek to help their daughters embrace their femininity in a positive light.
I found some ideas for menarche celebrations…
~ throw a fabulous party with hers & your best girlfriends
~ have a super sparkly sleepover with pink lemonade and cupcakes
~ go out to a really nice restaurant
~ get her ears pierced
~ have a grown-up dinner party for your BFF’s
~ go shopping and buy a truly fabulous new outfit
~ go to the theatre and watch a great musical like Legally Blonde or Mama Mia!
~ have a girls only evening with mum, aunts, grandma and girlfriends to celebrate how amazing being a girl is.
Wiki also gave some good steps:
1. Offer to tell her all about your own experience; don’t be offended if she doesn’t want to know. It’s very personal and may embarrass her.
2. Plan her favourite meal at home or take her out for a meal in an expensive restaurant.
3. Mark the date down in your planner and mark it on her calendar, so she’ll know when to expect her next period. Periods may be irregular, especially at first, so remind her of that, too, and don’t panic if the next one doesn’t arrive right on schedule. OR…help her download a period tracking app like iPeriod (or similar).
4. Give her a book about dealing with periods and puberty and let her read it by herself, if she chooses. Answer any questions she may have. Don’t forget to talk about related hygiene, and health matters, including dealing with cramps and periods in general. One popular book is “The Care and Keeping of You” from the American Girl library. You can get it at Barnes and Noble or Border’s. It is how to care for your body as a girl and a great section about tampons and pads etc. Also, “The Period Book” is a simple yet very informative book with a little more than the basics for everything relating to pre-and post-first period. You may want to give this to her before her first period, so she knows what to expect. Another favorite is Dear Abby’s booklet, “What Every Teen Should Know.” – Side note…who here learned everything they needed to know from Judy Blume’s book “Are you there God – it’s me Margaret?” – I did!!
5. In a pretty little box or basket, collect a selection the different types of pads she might want to use. Label the ones for nighttime, heavy, or light or medium. Present it to her privately; don’t announce it to the world.
6. Don’t forget period panties that are leak-proof and breathable. It will ensure her a stain-free period and protect her clothes and sheets from staining.
7. If your daughter is shy and really doesn’t want to talk about it, just give her a book or write a note. Don’t hug her in public for no reason, don’t exclaim that she’s ‘growing up’, nothing like that! If you feel it necessary, get her some flowers. Lavender is supposed to help ease mood-swings… but she doesn’t need to know that.
8. If she is nervous show her that nothing changed so much, her life will be the same and she still will be able to do things she like, ex. going to the beach, playing sports.
And some tips of advice…because every situation, relationship and experience is different:
~She may get embarrassed, so do not be offended.
~She may not want it to be celebrated, so support her by giving her the space or alone time she may need.
~Make sure she understands what it’s all about, and understands how to handle it and handle it hygiene-wise too.
~Give her chocolate and bananas, which help calm cramps.
~If she seems perfectly calm, she probably is – leave her be but mention you’re always there if she wants advice.
~She might be moody. It’s her period, after all.
~It’s best to remain neutral, but it really depends on her reaction.
~Try not to share your negative experiences too vividly, or she might take them on as her own story. Allow her to create her own experience – and starting with a positive outlook is a huge benefit.
~Just be yourself around others but near her make sure she knows she can tell you or ask you anything.
My daughter is a little shy so I asked her recently how she would like to celebrate getting her period when it comes…she shrugged her shoulders “Why?” – whew!! Think I have some more momma-daughter chat work to do 😉 Time to turn this into a positive, momentous occasion and I feel lucky that I still have a chance to do that!
If you have any ideas, rituals or thoughts, I’d love to hear from you. Post a quick comment and share your thoughts.
This little kit is a great gift to have on hand.
- The Dot Girl First Period Answer Book – answers questions such as ‘When will I get my first period?’
- My Period Diary – included in the Period Answer Book allows girls to track their period over the first year
- Five feminine hygiene pads so she is ready on the first day along with five disposal bags to learn proper disposal of used pads
- A reusable Dot Girl gel heating pad for soothing cramps
- Two hand wipes in case she is caught away from a bathroom
With this book comes a detachable Parent’s Guide will lead them through the learning process for themselves and their daughters—and even their sons.
The Parent’s Guide can also be found in its entirety on the Book Peddlers website at www.bookpeddlers.com. In it you will find:
• Talking About Menstruation • What’s The Right Age To Share Information? • Who Begins?
• What About The Boys? • Creating Your Own Right-of-Passage.
- This one of a kind kit includes some of todays best period products: U by Kotex Regular Pads, U by Kotex MultiPack Click Regular/Super Tampons and U by Kotex Liners. SW Basics Lip Balm, Plus a Baggu Zip Pouch to organize supplies
- No longer will you have to dig in your purse to find what you need. It’s all in one place!
- Surprise Gifts and Goodies! Everyone Loves getting Wonderful Surprises!
- Every Girl Should Have One. Treat your period right.