As a mom of a whole bunch of teenagers, my home has been filled with people having periods over the last few years.
I have now joined the ranks of the peri-menopausal. It’s not awesome – I live never knowing when my period may or may not turn up. I deal with a constant state of hot flashes triggered by kid hugs and face masks. Most annoying? I seem to be carrying an unexplained 10lbs extra on my body. I have done nothing differently, and yet my jeans don’t fit. Hormones are a bit rude that way.
Hormones; why ya gotta be like that
The critical thing to remember about hormones is that they can indeed cause us grief at any age. Girls are getting their periods a year younger than in the ’70s and remember that adrenarche begins years before that! The average age is 12 years old. However, precocious puberty is anything under the age of 7 (now there is often an underlying medical reason for this, stemming from the hypothalamus, but it can often catch families off-guard). So, I stress the importance of talking to your kids about their period at a very young age. And make sure to speak with your doctor if your child shows any signs of sexual maturation (breast development, hair, acne)
Professionals suggest to start normalizing periods by the age of 4. So, start at 4 and keep the conversation age-appropriate and build upon the details as they get older. This type of open- discussion will normalize and take the shame out of periods. Here are some great tips on how to start the conversation.
So, aside from normalizing periods it at a young age, there are many other things you can do with your sons and daughters to take the shame out of periods.
These are the things I suggest:
- DO talk about periods in front of your boy children.
- Take kids to events – there are Period Promise menstrual product drives. Take your children and make a donation.
- Take your children to awareness-raising events, such as the movie “Period. End of Sentence”.
- If there is a Dad in the family, make sure he is on board so that his daughters are comfortable talking to him about their periods.
- Talk about the news! Recently, a wonderful company started offering paid menstrual leave, which takes aim at the stigma of periods in the workplace. As a young woman, I was SO sick on the second day of my period. Why did I have to pretend something else was wrong? Why do we have to pretend to have a migraine headache when we have cramps?
- I may be a bit cheap in the Christmas stocking department….my kids get underwear, toothbrushes, deodorant, and yes, DIVACUPS! They open that in front of the whole family and express thanks.
Speaking of underwear- I love this option, and it’s a great idea to use this period-proof underwear during significant events (dance recital, etc.) Also, be open and honest about why you’re suggesting new underwear. So when it happens, it’s not a shock. You’ve already prepared and normalized it.
I have a few examples that prove my “normalization” of period tactics worked:
- My six-year-old son once turned to his 13-year-old female cousin and said, “in case it has not started yet, are you feeling ready for your period, which will likely start soon?”
- My 15-year-old son said to me this Hallowe’en that I should create my own Superhero costume called “Hot and Flashy.”
- I once had a daughter inform me that she got her first period. We were at a family farm, and I suggested we go to the farmhouse about 2km away to get a sanitary pad. Her response was, “oh, no worries – I rode the motorcycle back a few hours ago and put a tampon in. I’m all good.”
All of the changes our bodies go through are completely normal. Let’s start treating them that way. Extra 10lbs and all.